First impressions are pretty impactful. Fresh out of the box, you’ll undoubtedly experience an “ooooooh” phenomenon after trying on the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 ($135). The bulkier look and what my hubby interpreted as a mud flap on the back heel made his first impression less enthusiastic than my own. In an effort to make fun of my mud-flappy heel, he snuck a close-up picture and posted it to social media, only to receive rave reviews of previous New Balance models from my fellow endurance junkies. Their comments included “best shoe ever!” and likened their comfort to the feel of a maximalist Hoka One One shoe. Frumpy as they may or may not be, I’ve been perfectly pleased with the Hierro v6. Lighter than their predecessor, the Hierro v6 provide an undeniably cushy and medium-weight ride on and off trail at a reasonable price point. Weight-wise, a women’s size 7 has an advertised weight of 9.9 ounces (282 grams) and a men’s size 9 has an actual weight of 11.4 ounces (323 grams).
Furthermore, New Balance will donate 1% of the purchase price to 1% for the Planet through the end of 2021, benefitting organizations working on climate change and public lands.
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 Upper
The upper of the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 is an engineered mesh strategically infused with TPU for durability and lockdown. A gusseted tongue and loop attached to the heel make these shoes easy to get in and out of; simple laces with traditional eyelets offer a no-fuss closure. Perforations in the toebox boost ventilation. At first glance, the toebox doesn’t appear to be circumnavigated by significant extra protection. However, when you feel the perimeter, it strikes me as some distant running relative of a steel-toed boot! I presume what I’m feeling is New Balance’s Toe Protect technology, which aims to guard and protect your feet from rocks, roots, and debris. I have a narrow foot and prefer a roomy toebox to accommodate toe splay and bunions; the shoe feels plenty roomy without feeling sloppy and has been true to size. (I run in a women’s size nine.)
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 Midsole
The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 has an 8-millimeter drop that retains the Hierro v5 midsole and outsole in their entirety. Fresh Foam cushioning is meticulously engineered to deliver an ultra-cushioned ride with lateral stability. I was recently descending several thousand feet in another pair of trail shoes, frustrated and significantly slowed down by a lack of lateral stability. Overpronation is something I’ve battled since childhood, resulting both in impressive bunions and a rock-solid respect for shoes that don’t cause me to topple off. While considered a neutral, rather than stability-focused shoe, I have not experienced any stability issues running in the Hierro v6. The majority of my trail shoes in recent years have housed a rock plate. I was surprised after running more than 150 miles (with plenty of rocks) in the Hierro v6 to realize that they in fact did not have one! The bed of Fresh Foam cushioning with a heel stack height of 28 millimeters is slightly firmer than some of New Balance’s Fresh Foam road shoe models, and in my experience has provided adequate protection from rocks and roots, despite the absence of a rock plate.
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 Outsole
I recently tested the grippy Vibram outsole on the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 while pushing my 60-pound “Lucy sled” (aka, stroller with toddler) up a 25% grade on a rut-filled jeep road. I’m still confused as to whether I should regard that particular section as “stroller friendly,” but in any case, the Hierro v6 proved to be reliably adhesive under such demands. I have run in these shoes during dry summer months only, and have had no difficulty maintaining appropriate traction with modest lugs. It may be safe to assume that something more aggressive than the Hierro v6’s relatively flat and broad lugs would be superior if confronted by significant mud or snow. Despite my husband’s rash presumptions, it turns out that the funky heel rudder was not designed to flap away mud, but rather to improve stabilization on the downhill as you land on your heel first. In preparation for an upcoming trail marathon that concludes with a delightful 3,500-foot decent, I look forward to rocking the Hierro v6 and benefitting from any and all extra downhill stabilization they have to offer.
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 Overall Impressions
The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v6 is marketed primarily for hiking and trail; I’d vouch that they’re a great option when your route also involves some road. The standout feature for me is, hands down, the Fresh Foam cushioning. If you’re looking for a trail shoe that is especially comfortable while maintaining resilience and a competitive price point, consider New Balance’s Fresh Foam Hierro v6. Alternately, if your goals are all about being light and fast or especially technical with ample precipitation, the Hierro v6 might not be your ideal shoe. Without significant updates from the previous model, if you ran in the v5 you’ll no doubt have a very similar experience with the v6.
Call for Comments
- Are you running in the New Balance Fresh Foam v6? Let us know what you like and dislike about the shoe.
- Have you also run in the Hierro v5? If so, can you compare the v5 and v6 models?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]