New Balance Hierro v8 Review: Killing Me Softly?

Designed for daily off road adventures, the New Balance Hierro v8 brings a soft life vibe. But, would you want to take your slippers on the trails?

New Balance Hierro v8: One Foam, Many Flavours

Silke: New Balance’s running lineup offers two different kinds of midsole foams. Firstly,  the Fresh Foam models which provide the most comfort and shock absorption. Secondly, we have the FuelCell line which is aimed more towards races and faster efforts. That being said, even within the Fresh Foam line up, the recipe changes for different shoes and purposes. For example the ride of the 1080 v13 is much softer than running with the 880 v14! 

 

For the Hierro 8, the Fresh Foam X has taken on a greener tinge. New Balance have given their trail cruiser a 40% bio-based version of their foam. The organically derived portion comes from renewable sources to reduce the carbon footprint. As always we want to see our shoes being as good for the environment as they are for our performance. How does this flavour of Fresh Foam X taste on the trails? Let’s find out!

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Specs: 

All specs from New Balance:

Weight in NB’s sample size: 317g | 11.2oz

Drop: 8mm

Stack height: 32mm heel and 24mm forefoot

Price: $149.99 | €160 | £140

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Hierro v8 Upper: A Familiar Friend

Silke: The Hierro 8 is extremely comfortable! Stepping into the shoe feels like putting on a favourite pair of slippers and step-in is just as easy. As the tongue is not gusseted, it opens up wide and with a little help of the pull tab, you can take them off even if you are very tired from your long run. The synthetic mesh feels soft and flexible. However, it is worth noting that it has a narrow midfoot. If you want to use the Hierro 8 for an upcoming ultra race consider going half a size up! The heel and collar are soft but not overly padded and foot charming. 

 

So is everything soft and flexible on the Hierro 8? Luckily no, it has a substantial toe bumper!

If it all feels so good while maybe a bit snug, can there be any drawback?  Unfortunately, there are some: the laces are  too long, too flexible. Furthermore, there is no place to tuck them securely and after not even a 100k they show the patina of serious use. 

 

I don’t concern myself with reviewing the colour of the shoes. You can discuss endlessly about it and it all comes down to personal taste. However, the red one I received reminds me a bit of the clown Pennywise. The pictures on the New Balance’s page are more orange, when in fact it is red.

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Midsole: Soft But Thin

Silke: Where the softness of the upper ends the softness of the midsole starts. Walking around the house in the Hierro 8  feels incredibly comfortable. However, the outsole squeaks with every step. At the start of my run, the soft and squishy foam of the Hierro 8 makes my easy runs feel like they should be: enjoyable and easy. I really love a squishy ride and the NB Rebel v2 and 4 belong to my most loved running shoes on the one hand. 

 

On the other hand, I have to admit that the longer the runs lasted, the more I wished I had a denser foam and a rockplate to protect the balls of my feet. The hard fact is, I tried to avoid stepping onto stones or roots which sounds crazy when you are wearing a trail shoe. When I ran more than 17k, the foam felt increasingly flatter. So much so, that I had the feeling of less than 5mm foam under my forefoot. Furthermore, the longer the runs lasted the less bounce I got from the midsole, long runs left my legs feeling tired. Shorter runs were great. Also, the flexible midsole works great on gravel and forest paths.

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New Balance Hierro v8 Outsole: Guess What? It’s Soft!

Silke:  If you have read about the upper and the midsole, you might guess it: the outsole is also soft. Very soft. New Balance chose a Vibram® Eco-Step Natural outsole  to create a protective shell of durability and traction.The lugs are not that deep, so no mud party with the Hierro 8! It is more a slide than a secure step. Surprisingly, the wear is not bad. After about 100k I would have expected less rubber to be left.

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New Balance Hierro v8 Conclusion: Short Day Superstar 

Silke: After some disappointing trail shoes in the last months, I have to state the Hierro 8 is the most comfortable trail (or more fittingly, road to trail) shoe that I have tested. It has everything that the Scott Kinabalu 3 doesn’t. It has an incredibly comfortable upper, offers an extremely cushioned ride and the grip is perfect for light trails. This shoe definitely is closing the gap between home and trail. But can a shoe be too soft and too squishy? In other words, is the Hierro 8 killing me softly? To me, it is a jein. That’s German for yes and no. If I am doing easy trail runs up to 15k, it is just perfect. If I am going for a long run, I would pick a shoe with a bit more stability and a slightly denser cushion.

Silke 

50 years old

167cm (5’4″) – 55kg (121lbs)

Midfoot strike 

@schlossstadtlaeuferin

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