When you’re new to running and trying to figure out what shoes to purchase or if you’ve been running and want to switch brands, it can be hard to know what brand is best for you.
In this one, we’ll look at two great running shoe brands—ASICS and New Balance (and the two I’m currently using right now actually)—and what makes them great.
We’ll also cover their differences if you’re deciding between them. By the end, you’ll know which one is right for you.
Let’s start first with a broad overview. ASICS is a Japanese shoe company. Their name stands for Anima Sana In Corpore Sano (ASICS). This Latin phrase means healthy soul in a healthy body.
What ASICS is most well known for is their GEL cushioning and snug fit, especially in the heels. Because they are known for providing support, many people who need stability shoes will turn to ASICS.
By contrast, New Balance shoes tend to be much less snug than ASICS and feature a wider toe box. New Balance is an American shoe company that also makes a wide variety of shoes and clothing for many different sports.
New Balance has a large line of running shoes and are well known for their Fresh Foam midsoles. I personally have owned several Zante shoes and my current favorite Gobe shoes, which are for trail running.
ASICS shoes and New Balance shoes definitely have a different construction, so you’ll want to know if you want a light, flexible shoe or something that is still light but provides more support.
If you need a wide toe box, ASICS is probably not the best option for you because it can run small. Although it’s always good to order a half size up for running shoes, you’ll definitely want to do that for ASICS shoes because they also fit snugly in the midfoot and heel.
The ASICS upper uses the FluidFit technology, or an elastic and non-elastic mesh system that helps to hold your foot in place. This keeps things snug as well as breathable.
New Balance also has breathable uppers, using a knitted upper on many shoes so that you get that sock-like fit. I like the knitted uppers for New Balance because they are softer than other brands. There is also plenty of flexibility in your forefoot.
ASICS is your brand if you have narrow feet, but New Balance is the better option if you need a wide toe box whether you have bunions or just wide feet in general. Some New Balance shoes are even particularly wide to ensure that you get the space that you need.
What’s iconic about ASICS is the midsole and its GEL technology, something the company has been using for years. There are small bits of gel in the forefoot and heel of your midsole, which is designed to help with heel striking.
For foam technology, ASICS uses Flytefoam. There is also a lighter version of Flytefoam, which is half of the industry weight standard, if you need very light shoes. You won’t get as much energy return with Flytefoam—it ranges between 60 to 65 percent—but that’s still plenty.
As we mentioned above, New Balance is known for its foam technology, Fresh Foam. You’ll get an incredibly comfortable ride, and the material is light and springy, which I love. A more recent addition is LAZR, or New Balance’s laser-cut Fresh Foam midsole that is one piece.
ASICS uses outsoles made of AHAR or AHAR+ to give you good traction and to increase the durability of the shoe. The company also uses a Trusstic system that splits the forefoot and rearfoot, which helps prevent twisting of your foot.
New Balance also splits the outsole, using blown rubber on the forefoot. Because it’s blown rubber, it’s more soft and comfortable, making your runs more enjoyable.
While ASICS and New Balance make pretty differently designed shoes, you still might be interested in other considerations in deciding which brand is best for you.
As we mentioned above, ASICS shoes tend to be lighter, which can impact the durability and how many miles you can get out of them. According to ASICS professionals, you can expect to get between 450-500 miles in a pair of their shoes.
New Balance, on the other hand, gives the standard 300-500 miles as their estimate for how many miles you can expect to run in a pair of their shoes. So, depending on the shoe, you could get many more miles out of a pair of ASICS as compared to a New Balance shoe.
Speaking from personal experience, my ASICS shoes have held up better than my New Balance shoes, but I also tend to use my New Balance shoes more regularly because I like the fit so much better.
If you want a classic gel cushioning, then you need to get a pair of ASICS shoes. Because of the gel placed between the forefoot and the rearfoot, you’ll get extra cushioning every time your feet hit the pavement.
New Balance uses its Fresh Foam technology for cushioning, and many people—like me—choose New Balance shoes specifically for Fresh Foam. I’ve found that it provides great energy return with plenty of cushioning.
Overall Fit and Comfort
If you prefer a snug fit and don’t want your feet to move around, ASICS is a great brand for you. It’s especially popular among master’s runners because your feet will stay nice and secure. But if you don’t like tight shoes, you won’t like ASICS.
New Balance, by contrast, is a great option if you like a wide toe box and a more roomy shoe in general. Although I don’t have wide feet, I prefer New Balance to ASICS because my feet just have more breathing room.
To me, New Balance shoes feel plenty secure while still giving the flexibility that I like. I may feel differently as an older runner, but I definitely prefer New Balance shoes now.
The cost of running shoe brands can vary widely, but the average price for ASICS and New Balance is actually fairly similar. For example, ASICS tends to cost around $120 a pair while New Balance is $125.
This means that you can expect to spend about the same amount of money on a pair of ASICS shoes as on a pair of New Balance shoes, so if you’re still not sure which brand you might prefer, cost isn’t going to be a deciding factor.
As someone who has owned and used both ASICS and New Balance shoes, I can assure you that either option is a good one.
If you’re looking for a snug, secure fit, go for a pair of ASICS shoes. But if you like something flexible and slightly wider, then New Balance is your better option. If possible, it’s good to go to the store and actually try shoes on to see what feels most comfortable to you.
At the end of the day, the shoe that is best for you is the shoe that you’re always looking forward to wearing because it feels so good!
Best Selling ASICS Running Shoes
ASICS Gel-Kayano 27
Best Selling New Balance Running Shoes
New Balance 1080v10
New Balance 990v5
New Balance 880v10