Saucony and New Balance are both popular brands with similar types of running shoes. But there are unique distinctions and one brand might work better for you the other.
Both offer a range of shoe types, including neutral, stability, road, trail, track spikes, and more. But they differ in style and have unique running technology that separates them from each other.
Let’s dive in and discover the similarities and differences between these brands.
Both Saucony and New Balance have been around for more than a century! They have a long history making running and more casual shoes.
The Saucony Shoe Manufacturing Company started in 1898. Originally, it specialized in children’s footwear. In 1968, the company was bought over by Hyde Athletic Industries, and rebranded to Saucony in the 1990s.
Since 2012, the brand has been owned by Wolverine Worldwide, which owns Merrell and numerous other shoe brands. The brand has famously been mispronounced for decades—their latest shoe boxes spell out “Sock-a-Knee” to eliminate confusion!
Back in 1906, Irish immigrant William J. Riley started the New Balance Arch Support Company. He was inspired to help people gain “better balance” through better support, and his ideas for his three-pointed arch support products came from watching chickens!
They created their first shoe in 1961, after fielding many shoe-related questions from athletes using their arch support. While the shoe enjoyed moderate success, it wasn’t until 1972, when Jim Davis purchased the company, that New Balance became well-known.
The New Balance 320, featuring the iconic “N” logo on its side, was released in 1976. This shoe put New Balance on the map after being declared the top running shoe of the time by Runner’s World magazine.
Both brands use engineered mesh in most of their uppers and leather for some of their walking shoes. Each uses its own specialized technology to set them apart.
Saucony’s running shoe uppers come in synthetic mesh for optimal breathability.
They use the “Run for Good” standard, their baseline measurement for meeting sustainability goals. Shoes with the Run for Good badge feature 75 percent or more recycled, organic, or renewable material in the upper.
Built into some of their uppers is what Saucony calls FLEXIFILM, a light, strong material that allows for fewer layers in the upper, increasing the flexibility and the breathability of the shoe.
Saucony shoes tend to fit wider in the forefoot and snugger in the midfoot and heel. They’re a great choice for someone looking for more space in the toe box.
New Balance running shoes mostly feature mesh uppers, although some have leather uppers. The engineered mesh uppers are typically plush and comfortable. They may use FluidFit technology, which is a system consisting of alternating elastic and non-elastic sections for both flexibility and support.
Some of their uppers are made of Hypoknit materials, a tighter-knit material than regular mesh. This has an extra element of plushness and a sock-like fit that adds to its comfort.
The upper of New Balance shoes is naturally wider than Saucony, and the wide fit continues throughout the shoe, from toe box to heel.
Each brand has its own unique midsole cushioning options, as well as various other pieces of technology incorporated into the shoe.
Saucony midsoles feature various foams and footbeds, depending on the shoe’s purpose. Their footbeds include Foundation Platform, a versatile footbed that’s designed specifically to be used with orthotics; FORMFIT, a 3D fit that molds to your foot for a personalized feeling; and FORM2U, a light memory foam footbed.
On top of that, they have several different cushioning levels for every kind of runner. Whether you’re looking for softness or responsiveness, a Saucony shoe fits the bill. Their most popular foam is PWRRUN, an EVA foam that combines comfort, durability, and bounce.
Some shoes feature PWRRUN PB, a more energetic foam, or PWWRUN+, a lighter, softer foam for comfort. You may also find VERSAFOAM in some of their older shoe models.
Their stability shoes use a classic medial post and a strong TPU heel plate to keep the foot stable and safe in a neutral position.
New Balance’s most well-known foams are FRESH FOAM and ABZORB, but they offer a few different foams in their midsoles. They tend to have fewer technologies than Saucony, but they have enough to provide support, comfort, and balance.
- EnergyArc: An arch-fitting carbon plate designed to absorb shock and return it to you for a great bit of bounce.
- Rocker Geometry: Some shoes feature a rocker in the midsole, helping you to transition faster from the landing to toe-off.
- Medial Post: New Balance stability shoes use a traditional medial post—also called a shank—to provide robust support under the arch.
- LAZR: A laser-cut FRESH FOAM midsole, reducing waste and making the shoe more sustainable.
Both Saucony and New Balance have outsoles that do a good job of providing traction on loose, slippery, and smooth ground.
Saucony outsoles are made of carbon rubber for the best combination of durability and grip. They also use various technologies to provide different levels of grip depending on your needs.
- PWRTRAC: Specially-formulated rubber with a coefficient of friction three times more than regular carbon rubber.
- XT-600: Carbon rubber with excellent grip and durability.
- XT-900: Premium carbon rubber with even better traction and anti-abrasion properties.
- VIBRAM ARCTIC GRIP: Found on trail shoes, this rubber offers exceptional traction in slippery conditions.
- iBR+: Blown rubber that’s 33 percent lighter than regular blown rubber.
- TRI-FLEX: Combined with EVERUN foam to create better weight distribution and impact dispersion.
New Balance running shoes feature an impressive full-length blown rubber layer underneath. All their athletic shoes feature non-marking rubber that won’t leave marks.
- Vibram MegaGrip outsole: An ultra-grippy outsole designed for use on rough ground or wet, slippery surfaces.
- AT Tread: The most versatile outsole, featuring specially-designed lugs that can handle trails and roads.
- Walking Strike Path: A guidance line down the center of the outsole, designed to guide the foot into its natural path more easily.
Both Saucony and New Balance recommend replacing your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. They both have special rubber compounds in their outsoles and enough cushioning to support your feet for many miles.
But the exact mileage you’ll get out of either brand depends on many factors, including how hard you are on shoes, the terrain you run on, and whether or not you rotate your running shoes.
Both New Balance and Saucony shoes feature great cushioning that does a good job of absorbing shock. They both have enough options that everyone can find the kind of foam they like.
Saucony offers various foams so every runner can find something to suit their goals. The do-it-all PWRRUN foam feels good, lasts a long time before needing to be replaced, and gives you enough bounce to feel like you can pick up the pace.
Runners who want extra energy return will find it in shoes with PWRRUN PB, while those who value soft cloud-like comfort will enjoy PWRRUN+. Whatever your preference for cushioning, Saucony has something to suit you and your goals.
New Balance also has a variety of foams in their shoes, so consider which one you need before shopping. Many of their shoes use FRESH FOAM, which is plush and comfortable, especially on long runs.
FRESH FOAM X is geared towards heel-strikers, with excellent heel cushion for protection and a firm forefoot for a good push-off. Then there’s ABZORB, which is shock-absorbing and light, a good middle ground for most runners.
Those who want a lighter shoe should consider models with ACTEVA LITE, REVlite, or FUELCELL, which make you feel like you’re hardly wearing shoes but spur you forward with their energy return.
Runners who value plushness and softness will enjoy CUSH+ foam, which provides a luxurious feeling and is excellent for comfort and durability on long runs.
Overall Fit and Comfort
Both brands’ shoes feel plush and comfortable thanks to sleek sock liners and quality materials. Saucony has a narrower fit in the midfoot and heel, whereas New Balance is wider throughout.
Those who need wide shoes should opt for New Balance – not only because their shoes are wider in general, but because they offer many models in wider widths. If you only want some extra space in the toe box, Saucony is a good choice.
New Balance running shoes start at around $100 for entry-level options. These are the less tech-heavy options and may use older foams. They’re still pretty decent and have all the classic New Balance features — a great choice as a first running shoe.
Their most pricey running shoe is $245. It’s designed with their best, latest technology, made for racing in comfort and style. You can find a huge range of shoes between those prices, ranging from more basic shoe styles to those with more innovative foams and features.
Saucony’s running shoes also start at about $100. Like New Balance shoes, these are the more basic beginner options, ideal for casual runners but lacking the fancy tech that can help you win races.
Their most expensive shoe is $275. It’s loaded with all their technology to make it light, fast, and comfortable. It’s also got the backing of American world record holder Parker Stinson, so you know it’s a good shoe!
You can find plenty of options between entry-level shoes and the most expensive ones. Find the shoe that suits you and your goals.
So which one comes out on top between Saucony vs New Balance?
We recommend choosing Saucony for those who want a spacious toe box with a more snug fit throughout the shoe and runners who place high value on technology in a running shoe. They’re also better for energy return.
New Balance would be a great choice for runners with wide feet and those who prefer soft comfort to bounce.