Comparing New Balance vs Brooks running shoes is another breakdown of proprietary technologies, fit, and feel. Both brands are well loved and used because they make high quality running shoes for various running styles and foot types.
Both brands are known for their quality and offer a variety of models to suit different needs like overpronation, low arches, cushioning, and various styles of running.
I do admit to having a deep love for New Balance as I helped to create their first ever online Wear Test program back in my consulting days!
The Main Differences New Balance vs Brooks
New Balance and Brooks offer similar features and models for all kinds of runners, from the casual runner to extreme marathoner to the flat-footed or high-arched.
I break down the differences in more detail below, but here’s a quick overview:
New Balance Running Shoes
- Offers wider shoes than most brands
- Thicker midsole provides more stability
- Makes more shoes in the US than any other brand
- Also big in the athleisure market
Brooks Running Shoes
- Wider Toe Box
- Exclusively designs running shoes
- Science-driven to accommodate rather than correct gait
- Has more fun holiday styled shoes than any other brand (Christmas, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, St Pat’s)
I’ve worn both brands and will add some personal thoughts, along with links to detailed reviews.
New Balance vs Brooks Feature Comparison
Both brands have been around for a very long time and are leaders in running shoe design. They both offer various technologies to aid with comfort, support, stability, and cushion.
Where they differ most is in the fit.
The following breaks down each shoe based on the components buyers need to consider when purchasing a running shoe.
It’s gonna get a little TECHY…so you can just skip on down to the specific model comparison if you want, but personally if I’m shelling out $150 for shoes, I kinda want to know why.
The lifespan of shoes from both companies is fairly comparable.
- New Balance shoes have a life expectancy ranging from 300 to 500 miles, or three to six months, depending on your monthly mileage.
- Brooks shoes have a life expectancy ranging from 300 to 500 miles, or three to six months, depending on your monthly mileage.
Determining when to replace running shoes, of course, all depends on your gait, weight, and whether you run mostly on trail or road.
New Balance uses what is called a Hypoknit upper which offers the moisture wicking and breathability you want in your long run shoe.
Across MOST running shoes, the only time you now won’t find them to be breathable is if you get to Gore-Tex shoes that are designed to be water repellent or water resistant.
New Balance is one of the few running shoes that offer wide widths and go up to a lot more sizes. This is one reason they are so popular among workers.
Note, they also offer 2A which is extra narrow. And like most brands, they have a shoe finder to help you decide what might be the best fit.
Additionally, their shoe numbering system actually means something!! The last 2 digits tell you about the type of shoe.
40 (Optimal Control):
Shoes in this category provide superior control, stability, cushioning and support for biomechanical needs, such as pronation or low arches (e.g., 940, 1540).
50 (Fitness Running):
For training on roads or for indoor workouts, the 50 series offers the combination of visual attitude and innovation with the responsiveness and power athletes need.
Designs that offer industry-leading stability to reduce pronation while also providing unparalleled cushioning and comfort (e.g., 860).
70 (Light Stability):
The perfect combination of stability and speed, all in a lighter, sleek profile designed for runners who train at a faster pace (e.g., 770).
For high-mileage runners who require light shoes and the protection of superior cushioning (e.g., 1080).
For faster runners who want every advantage, including a superior ride and fit. The choice styles for professional and nonprofessional speed and distance runners (e.g., 890).
Brooks shoes have a wider toe box, which makes them a great choice for runners with wide feet or bunions. The brand recommends that buyers go up a half size from their everyday shoe.
This is an older, yet still very USEFUL graphic from the Huffington Post.
I forget we may not all know the lingo when talking about different components of the shoe and why they matter.
New Balance utilizes Fresh Foam and FuelCell foam depending upon the shoe. Both are designed to provide a lot of cushion without the weight. FuelCell is a nitrogen infused foam which provides additional softness and responsiveness.
Brooks uses two types of cushioning in their designs:
- DNA LOFT – Soft cushioning, that adapts to a runner’s profile, stride, and speed
- BioMoGo DNA – also adapts to runner’s profile, stride, and speed, providing a more balanced experience with a bit of spring.
New Balance utilizes a couple of tools to provide stability. The first is that similar to HOKA all of their shoes have a bigger platform, which naturally means more stability.
Then they have an S Curve to help with that side to side stability and a Ultra Heel that flares away from the ankle for comfort, while keeping your heel firmly in the shoe.
Brooks refers to individual running gaits as the “Run Signature.” Rather than “fix” the way someone runs, Brooks technology helps to stabilize your stride based on how you naturally run.
They put runners into two different categories: Neutral and Support.
Brooks GuideRails technology allows hips, knees, and joints to move naturally, offering support when needed. Neutral runners may only require them to kick in when their stride is off.
Read more on different types of running shoes to understand if you need stability >>
The prices between the two brands are fairly comparable. New Balance prices range between $80 to $130, while Brooks start at a slightly higher price at $100 to $160.
The most popular models for both brands are priced toward the higher range. Carbon fiber shoes and often trail shoes will go beyond those rates.
You’ll notice that every brand offers a range and this is indeed due to a difference in technology and where they sell the shoe. They know that the big box store can sell the shoe with less in it, while the local running store needs to be best for dedicated runners.
Brooks Vs New Balance Running Shoe Models
Now that you know more about each brand, let’s look at their top models in each of the main categories. There’s no winner declared here because all are great shoes, it’s just about which one is best for your foot.
Did you notice I even said the brands in reverse order this time…seriously no favorites, I have run in both brands many different times over the years.
Stability Running Shoe
The brand’s most popular road running shoe (GTS stands for go-to-shoe) just turned 20 and comes in a swath of colors. This supportive shoe is best for a medium to high arch, and is part of the cushion line.
This was one of the very FIRST shoes that I bought at a running store! I thought it was so incredibly cool my name was on the shoe…ha!!! But yes they were super duper bright white (as you’ll see below).
With their newest Fresh Foam X it makes for a lighter stability shoe, while still offering the motion control and responsiveness you need. When a shoe is too plush, it’s hard to provide the stability in the arch that prevents your foot from falling inward.
It also uses their Ultra Heel for additional locked and loaded feeling in the shoe.
Neutral Running Shoe
The Ghost offers smooth transitions and soft cushioning for road running and is best for those seeking neutral support. Runners’ World has awarded this shoe several Editor’s Choice Awards.
I personally was so intrigued by those awards that I snagged myself a pair last year and they are nearing the end of their life, but have served me very, very well.
The other similar shoe I’ve used is the Brooks Levitate and you can see my full review here.
While some runners are flocking to carbon plated shoes, we simply don’t want those as our every day trainers. We want something that is solid and dependable like this neutral shoe that also has a great wide toebox, allowing you to get full power out of those feet.
It’s going to have enough cushion for long runs without being overly plush and still providing just a hint of stability with the bigger platform. I can concur from my running in fresh foam that you absolutely notice the cushion, but it’s still a solid shoe.
File this under your great every day trainer.
Cushioned Running Shoe
The plushiest model in the Brooks line features plenty of DNA Loft foam, plus the Ortholite sock liner. Despite all the cushion, the shoe remains fairly light at 9 oz and has a 10mm heel drop, encouraging speed and comfort.
Listen, I like a good cushioned shoe and this one fits the bill.
The most recent version 11 of the shoe is getting rave reviews as it is slightly lighter and has the knit upper, which makes the shoe simply feel like it’s hugging your foot a bit more. That’s a feature that drew me to the Nike Epic React which you’ve seen me wear on repeat for years.
Trail Running Shoe
It’s almost embarrassing when I realize just how many of these shoes I’ve run in! But that’s 20 years of running!
Loved that these provide some additional stability and a rock plate under the ball of foot, making them really great for the more rugged terrain. While they aren’t a plush shoe, they are still cushioned and make for a nice long run with the feet feeling good and quickly draining any water you encounter.
I LOVE me some good cushion and here you’re getting that along with the Vibram outsole that is going to really grip the ground.
This is the 8mm drop that I prefer, along with a front rock plate to protect your toes. I have not run in a New Balance trail shoe, so I can’t provide a specific recommendation, but do in general love their cushion.
Carbon Fiber Plate Shoes
Are they cool new technology, yes. Do they last as long as your other shoes, nope.
So if you want to test these out use them for speed work and then race day!
Watch my detailed video on how Carbon Fiber Shoes work.
More About New Balance
New Balance actually started in 1906 as an arch support company! But their focus on feet is one of the reasons they do offer more sizes and widths than most other brands.
And that’s exactly what the Boston based company focused on until 1960. Athletes had begun using the arch supports and they decided it was time to venture in to sneakers.
The Trackster was the first shoe with a rippled outsole that provide additional traction. It caught on as a track and cross country shoe regionally.
But in 1976 the company released it’s first shoe with the well known N logo on the side and it was a success. They stuck to their goal of providing shoes for a variety of feet and took advantage of the 80’s running boom.
More About Brooks
Believe it or not, Brooks started out in 1914 making ballet slippers and bathing shoes. Since then, they have made everything from baseball and football cleats to roller skates.
It wasn’t until Frank Shorter won the marathon at the 1972 Munich Olympics that Brooks considered limiting its focus. The first running shoe debuted in 1974 and their most popular running shoe, the Adrenaline GTS first hit the market in 1999.
In 2001, Brooks decided to focus solely on running.
They introduced the Transcend in 2013, a shoe that used new biomechanics technology to create a GuideRails technology, allowing runners to run naturally without trying to correct their gait.
The Seattle-based company is also well known for its commitment to sustainability and giving back. Brooks donates time, gear, and money to companies that align with their values around diversity, equity, and inclusion and staff receive paid annual volunteer time.
How to Choose Brooks or New Balance?
Brooks and New Balance are two extremely well known running shoe brands, but more important than brand is the fit of the shoe.
Your gait and feet will change over time and you may need to change shoes.
This is also why I recommend rotating through several pairs of shoes at once.
And remember, just because these are two of the most well known brands on the market, there are still plenty of other shoe brands to select from if neither New Balance nor Brooks has the right shoe for you.
Keep in mind that shoe design can change, even with the same model, so always assess how the shoe fits every time you replace a pair.
For more help selecting the right shoe for you, don’t worry, I’ve got you:
- Best Trail Running Shoes
- Top 5 Marathon Running Shoes
- Asics vs HOKA
- ASICS vs Brooks
- Best Running Shoes
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