Switching to a new shoe brand can be a big decision for runners. We put so much trust in our shoes to take good care of our feet. With a favorite brand of shoe, runs just have a certain feel. We get used to the feel, the fit, everything.
And if you are shopping for your first pair of high-end running shoes, the choices can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve written this article: to help you think about two of the biggest brands out there: Saucony and New Balance.
We’ll give you a broad overview, compare the shoe construction of both brands, and conclude with other considerations like price, durability, and overall comfort. By the end of the article, you’ll have the tools you need to buy one of these two great brands.
Saucony has been around for a long time. While they make a variety of casual sneakers, they are better known for their running shoes with state-of-the art technology.
Not only do they service runners, but they also make shoes for walkers. Whether you’re a fast or slow runner, they have a shoe for you.
The shoes are known for their custom-style fit insoles and the many different types of foam that they put in their shoes. Their track and cross-country spikes are especially popular for high school and college athletes.
New Balance is known for traditional running shoes. Many people who are just getting into running opt for this brand because it’s known for being great. New Balance also makes shoes for a variety of other sports, including walking.
Like Saucony, they invest heavily in track and field and make a variety of spikes. New Balance has classic shoes like the 990 that haven’t changed for years. But they also are known for cutting edge technology, like Fresh Foam, their proprietary midsole.
It’s all about how the shoe is constructed that will decide what brand is right for you. In this section, we’ll compare each brand, including their similarities, so that you have a good idea of their construction.
Saucony created a custom upper construction known as ISOFIT. It has a comfortable, secure, sock-like build that provides gentle support. They have also started melding FlexFILM, an overlay tech, to the upper that greatly reduces rubbing.
The idea is that this melding should minimize your possibility of getting blisters. Look for FlexFILM in more of Saucony’s newer shoes, as they appear to be phasing out ISOFIT lacing.
Finally, Saucony has nice, light, and breathable uppers. If you like wearing a shoe that you barely know is on, go with Saucony.
New Balance too is known for their breathable uppers and flexibility in the forefoot. They use a knitted upper on many shoes to give you a sock like fit. Some people have noted that their uppers are softer as compared to other shoes.
New Balance shoes are known for having a wide toe box, and some versions are particularly wide. If you have bunions or wide-ish feet, New Balance is definitely a brand to try. Your feet will have plenty of room to breathe.
Sometimes known as EVERUN or PWRRUN, Saucony’s newest technology puts another layer of cushioning close to your feet. This means that you’ll have a more comfortable ride as you pound the pavement.
It is designed to give you great energy return, whether it’s your first time or 300th time wearing them. It’s more durable than traditional EVA foam and will keep its feel regardless of temperature. So while other shoes get mushy in hot weather or brick-like in extreme cold, Saucony’s shoes should feel the same.
Saucony is also known for their Powergrid+ technology, which spreads out footfall impact over a wider surface. As the name implies, it looks like a grid of holes, so when you land, you’ll feel less of an impact.
New Balance’s midsole technology on some of their shoes is known as Fresh Foam, and it provides an extremely comfortable ride. In addition, the material is light and springy so it will be easy for you to lift your foot up and power through.
Recently, New Balance has introduced LAZR, which is a laser-cute Fresh Foam midsole. Because it’s only one piece, it’s New Balance’s more precise fit yet and will give you a nice, plush ride.
There tends to be less waste when manufacturing shoes with Fresh Foam, so it can be considered better for the environment than other shoes.
You need durability and traction if you run trails, and you’ll love the XT-900 carbon rubber compound that Saucony uses in the heel. Saucony is known for its lightweight, sleekly designed shoes that stay nice and comfortable for long runs.
New Balance is known for using rubber outsoles on their shoes. The outsole forefoot is made from blown rubber that is split. This helps with making their Fresh Foam shoes super soft and comfortable as well.
If shoe construction doesn’t have you leaning one way or another, then you might want to factor in some other things like price and how long they will last.
Saucony shoes are known for lasting around 400 miles. It isn’t on the low end of the typical 300-500 miles, but it also isn’t on the high end. That being said, you can’t go wrong with getting 400 miles out of your running shoes – especially if you push your shoes hard.
You’ll get about the same number of miles from a New Balance shoe: between 300-500 miles. That means that there’s a chance you’ll get more miles from New Balance shoes as opposed to Saucony, but you could also get less.
Saucony’s cushioning is unique in that it’s closer to your foot than other brands. Their cushioning is known for holding up for a long time even after plenty of pounding the pavement.
New Balance’s Fresh Foam is so cushioned and comfortable. Many people specifically choose New Balance for this technology. I personally wear New Balance shoes and find them more comfortable than the two other brands I’ve tried—Nike and ASICS.
Overall Fit and Comfort
Saucony has always on the cutting edge. They have been around for a long time because their innovations and technology work. Make sure that you stay up-to-date on new versions of shoes to see if they have changed anything.
New Balance, on the other hand, is probably most famous for its Fresh Foam. They are also known for having wider shoes than other brands, which is great for runners with wide feet or bunions as good shoes can be hard to find.
I personally have found New Balance shoes to be plusher. And even though I don’t have wide feet, I love that my feet aren’t as crammed into the shoe.
In order to figure out what kind of fit you like, you need to go and try on a couple pairs of each and see what feels more comfortable to you.
You can expect to spend about the same amount of money on a pair of Saucony or New Balance running shoes. If you compare the price for all running shoe brands, New Balance and Saucony are right beside each other at the mid-range price point.
The average price for Saucony is $120; New Balance averages about $125. That means that cost is likely not going to be as much of a consideration for choosing between these two brands.
Personally, of these two brands, the one that is best for me is New Balance. The shoes are nice and soft, super-cushioned and comfortable, and feature a roomy fit. Plus, I love all the designs and colors they use.
I’ve also been super pleased with the price, and my shoes have held up for a long time. I’m definitely a New Balance fan. But New Balance might not be as great for you if you need a narrow fit or if you love all of Saucony’s new technology. One of our editors ran in Sauconies to set his PR in the 5k , 10k, and half-marathon; he especially likes the responsive feel.
You might prefer Saucony for track or cross-country spikes as compared to New Balance. And you might be able to get more miles out of a Saucony shoes as compared to a New Balance shoe, potentially making them cheaper by mile.
But you can only know this by talking to friends and trying on some different pairs of shoes. I had worn ASICS and Nike until I talked to some of my running friends. Both are solid shoes, but I decided to try New Balance for something different, and it’s a better fit for me.
I’d encourage you to do the same thing and see how you feel after trying on both of these shoes. There is likely going to be a clear winner.
Best Selling Saucony Running Shoes
Saucony Ride 15
Saucony Guide 16
Saucony Triumph 19
Best Selling New Balance Running Shoes
New Balance 1080v12
New Balance 990v5
New Balance Beacon v2