New Balance 990v4 Review

Last Updated on

Last Reviewed on 12 March 2019 - Minor Update - 15 December 2018 - Main Content Update

by Curtis

New Balance 990v4

New Balance Shoes
89
Overall

Pros

  • A shoe that may help overpronators
  • A good treadmill and hard surface shoe
  • Removable Insoles for orthotics
  • Wider Toe Box
  • Supportive heel area
  • Good Sizing Options
  • Good Flexible Upper
  • Quite Good Breathability

Cons

  • Not great for trail walkers
  • Get the right width fitting - upsize on length
  • Dirt gets trapped in stitching
  • Questions on quality of mesh

This is a shoe for walkers - too heavy for runners which is fine for WooWalkers. 

It is a good option for overpronators but you may still need orthotics depending on your needs - removable insoles help with that.

The mesh uppers have been criticized for being too easily damaged and wearing out too quickly.

Overall a comfortable shoe that will suit many people but it's pricey. So if you want to buy it, keep an eye out for offers.


Best Similar Shoe Type Alternatives to This Shoe
ASICS Gel-Kayano 25
Our other Full Shoe Reviews for Men and for Women


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Classics are loved for a reason and the New Balance Men’s 990 v4 is a great shoe brought back from the dead with new and improved features.

The return of the 990 series marked the start of a fun and retro shoe collection for many sneaker-heads. Luckily, these shoes aren’t all show and nostalgia.

New Balance has excelled before and once again it has earned its place as one of the top walking and running shoe makers with the men’s 990v4.

General Overview

The revived 990v4 maintains it’s unique retro look and comes with updated features for maximal arch support and enhanced comfort.

Women's Version of
New Balance 990v4

Recent buyers are in love with this shoe.

Longtime fans are also happy with how the midsole and outsole turned out, the flexibility of the upper, and the overall ventilation which makes it an optimal long distance walking shoe.

The 990v4 is also durable and can withstand mild trails and semi-rough terrains without wearing out too quickly.

We have not personally used this shoe but have spent many hours checking information from the manufacturer and gathering reviews from around the web to arrive at an opinion based on actual user reactions.

This is the same process we use for shoes we personally own and is the combination of hundreds of users feedback rather than simply our own.

Sizing

The 990 series is among the only shoes that always strives to be consistent with sizing.

The model is available in Narrow (N), Medium (M), Wide (W) and Extra Wide (XW) for both men & women and in many color variations.

It is also available as a boot as shown below and in the same width fittings except for narrow.

Most shoes, especially lightweight speed walking and cross training shoes usually have problems in the width and overall fit department.

However, when it comes to sizing the New Balance 990v4 has all the necessary criteria.

Men's Version of the 
New Balance 990v4

This is a standard walking and running shoe so lengthwise it is consistent with dimensions.

More importantly is the availability of wide-width options that allow customers to choose between more narrow and tight shoes or those with wider feet to go with the more roomy options.

Most reviewers loved how well the shoe fit and had no sizing complaints for the most part. Any issues you may have is likely due to poor knowledge of shoe size so it’s always a good idea to get your feet measured before buying a shoe.

Outsole

The 990 v4 highlights a Blown Rubber outsole that is strong and impact resistant.

The build is highly specialized with grip technology for maximum traction making this an ideal shoe for traditional terrain like asphalt roads and pavements as well as mild trails.

Generally, people were happy with the responsiveness of the outsole and had no problems with the cushioning.

Features of the Midsole

One of the coolest features on the men’s 990v4 shoe is the midsole. Design wise this area is perhaps the most technologically advanced.

The midsole uses ENCAP technology made from strong ACTEVA LITE foam with a Polyurethane rim. These are all fancy words that translate to a midsole with optimal shock absorption, impact dispersion, and durability.

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Subdued Grey Matches Anything

The midsole has the necessary cushioning to keep your foot supported and stable while you walk and there is a nice transition from heel to ball and toe.

One of the best features that had fans and critics alike raving with four and five-star reviews was the stability and support the midsole offered for overpronators and people with flat feet.

The updated New Balance 990v4 Shoe has intricately configured sole unit that strengthens support around the mid-foot area and reduces stress from pronation.

While pronation is the natural inward roll of our feet as we walk, a more pronounced movement (overpronation) can lead people to experience soreness and pain throughout the day. There is evidence to suggest that if overpronation is not subdued then long-term injury to the knees, ankles, and back is possible.

Luckily New Balance is known for its commitment to arch support and the 990v4 is a great example of that.

A few reviewers who mentioned having mild and moderate pronation found the shoe to be supportive and comfortable for all-day wear. People with more severe pronation should consider custom medical orthotics and cushioning inserts.

Features of the Insole

In general, there wasn’t much information on the insoles and reviewers were generally happy with how the shoe felt during long walks and prolonged use.

Top Seller Dark Blue
New Balance 990v4

The footbed has the additional feature of arch support which may mean you won’t feel the need for custom orthotics or inserts.

Still, the shoe is spacious enough so that if you do decide to use medical insoles and extra cushioning, your feet won’t feel squeezed in.

Reviewers mostly loved the cushioned footbed and felt that the shoe performed well even after prolonged use and all day wear.

​Heel Area & Achilles Support

New Balance Women's 990V4 , Black/Silver
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Black & White for
Mix & Match

Built as a durable stability shoe, the New Balance Men’s 990v4 has excellent heel and Achilles support.

First of all, the gap is cut low enough on the sides to allow for proper and unhindered ankle movement.

More importantly, however, is the strong heel support that this shoe offers.

There is an outer pig suede and leather material that wraps well around the back of the foot and around the sides for enhanced stability and support.

Your feet are unlikely to skid off to the sides of the shoe as this material wraps around the entire shoe.

Online commentators loved how the new brand logo is placed on the back as an ode to the companies long history.

The best part? The words “Made in the U.S.A” in all caps proudly displayed. So you know you are getting quality here which is why this is a more pricey shoe than some of its counterparts.

The only issue you may have is that the heel tongue doesn’t extend well out of the heel which may be cause for concern if you have short socks or are prone to blistering.

Then again there were no complaints in this department, still be mindful of this fact.

Lacing

I don’t often get to talk about smart laces because most shoes tend not to spend too much energy, time, and resources on the lacing portion but New Balance is no ordinary shoemaker.

The 990v4 highlights an optional lace keeper that can be used to loop the laces through and keep the tongue in place to prevent slippage to the sides and cause discomfort while walking or running.

This is a great feature that really enhances user experience. Other than that no major concerns or comments as it relates to lacing or loose ties.

The Upper

With a shoe of this size and weight you expect a closed off and rigid upper but New Balance has never been one to shy away from a challenge.

New Balance Men's 990v4, Orange
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Pink Shows Some Style
New Balance 990v4

The men’s 990v4 has optimal ventilation and incorporates a unique blend of materials in the upper.

The construction includes a mix of breathable mesh and pigskin leather or suede for flexibility, durability, and air circulation.

Compared to the v4 model this latest update has 30% more exposed mesh which means you get an overall more ventilated shoe with great temperature control and cooling.

More importantly, New Balance has used leather and suede patches that intricately wrap around the shoe and blend with the upper to create a three dimensional and textured look.

The flexible mesh allows for natural movement while the leather material ads stability and support almost hugging the foot like a glove so that it expands and retracts according to demand.

Online reviewers were in love with the soft breathable nature of the upper and the enhanced comfort it provided. Again almost all reviewers enjoyed the well-fit shoe.

Foot or Toe Box

The toe box is probably the least updated aspect of the shoe and stays consistent with the rest of the series for the most part.

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Comfort is a Luxury
Great Shoes a Necessity

The outsole curves upwards over the front to add protection and the leather and suede patches are well stitched and fixed in the front to make the exposed area water resistant.

While the shoe is generally high quality and durable some commentators have noted that dirt gets stuck between the stitches.

This makes the shoe difficult to clean but also wears down the shoe quickly.

As a tip, avoid rough wet terrain with these shoes and stick to mild-trails if you feel like hitting the outdoors.

Breathability

At first glance you think this is a bulky hardcore shoe, there is no way it is well ventilated and to that, I have one thing to say… don’t judge a shoe by its upper.

New Balance Men's 990v4, Grey
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Your Feet Take a Pounding
They Deserve a Little Comfort

In fact, breathability and enhanced cooling is one of the most promising attributes of the 990v4.

New Balance has really updated this model to be as well ventilated as possible.

The shoe is intended for long distance walking and running as well as light cross training and all day wear so air circulation and moisture control is a top priority.

That being said, you are unlikely to experience overheating, excessive sweat buildup, and blistering.

Active commentators mentioned how well the shoe performed after all day use; not only is the shoe comfortable but also very breathable.

Comfort, Stability & Support

Comfort is the name of the game… at least the game New Balance is playing. The 990v4 shoe is an extremely comfortable well built and properly fit shoe.

The heel guard and pigskin leather and suede wraps that go around the shoe provide superb support and stability.

Not to mention the quality midsoles that deliver necessary arch support, custom made to help support people with flat feet and overpronation.

Durability

New Balance Men's M990AF4, Arctic Fox
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Can't Go Wrong with White

I’m always afraid of saying a shoe is durable because then people take it to mean “an invincible shoe able to handle any terrain”.

While the New Balance Men’s 990v4 Shoe is very durable it’s not meant for all-terrain use.

The shoe is well adapted for traditional roads, pavements, treadmills, and mild dry trails.

By no means is this a hiking, forest, or rough trail shoe.

Durability is something people are generally happy with on the 990v4’s but some reviewers have reported that the shoe comes apart in the front especially if the shoe has been used on dirt trails.

In these instances, mud accumulates between the cracks of the leather and mesh causing the shoe to rip so if you value your shoes and want to use these rather expensive New Balances for a while, stick to traditional walking surfaces and treadmills.

Weight

There is no working around it, this is one heavy shoe!

The average men's model comes in at around 385 grams or 13.6 ounces which even for a stability shoe is very heavy.

The first thing shoppers said they felt was how heavy and bulky the shoe was in their hands.

However, those commenters that said the shoe was heavy didn’t necessarily give a negative review. In fact, the weight of the 990v4 isn’t a deal breaker because it is durable and supportive.

So the weight may not make this an ideal speed walking shoe but you can definitely put in some serious daily walking and running distance even if you are just a casual walker.

Because of the cushioning and support you won’t feel like the weight is wearing you down which is an ideal characteristic of an all-day shoe.

Design

Well… nothing is perfect.

While some shoes in the 990 series look trendy and give off a clear nostalgic and retro 90’s feel, the v4 is a bit bland and unattractive.

New Balance Running 990V4, Blue
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Blue / Black Makes For A
Smart Color Combo

While the shoe aims to revitalize the old model it has been criticized for having dull grey colors that look flat and unappealing.

Of course, you can’t buy taste and you can always find disagreement on the internet.

While one reviewer said the side “N” logo looked flat and rather old school another found the dualism of the old and new logo on the same shoe to be symbolic of simplicity and reflective of the companies humble beginnings as an all American brand.

Another angry reviewer said that the shoe looked large, bulky, and awkward when used.

The shoe comes with a few cool variations but nothing too eye-catching. If you are looking for an eye-catching piece, the 997 Enduring Purpose Fashion Sneaker may be more along your taste but for a truly well made and durable shoe that won’t let you down go with the “ugly” 990v4.

Personally I think the New Balance 997 is a bit overpriced but you can read our review on that shoe here.

​Responsiveness, Feel, and Flexibility

Despite the bulky build, the New Balance Men’s 990v4 Shoe has excellent flexibility in the upper.

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Men's Version of the 
New Balance 990v4

The large breathable mesh coverage with the pigskin leather material makes for an overall flexible walking shoe.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the responsiveness of the midsole unit.

Because of the ENCAp technology and dense ACTEVA LITE foam and a Polyurethane rim the midsole is a bit rigid and firm, despite providing excellent spring and shock absorption.

A few reviews noted that the shoe was unresponsive especially in the heel area of the midsole and was not optimal for quickly switching between terrains.

Terrain Suitability

Again, a lot rests on how you use this shoe. You can either have a great quality walking shoe that you use for a long time or an expensive toy that you cover in dirt and let tear apart.

The New Balance Men’s 990v4 is best suited for smooth asphalt, roads, pavements, treadmills, and in some cases mild trails. Avoid rough terrain and hiking trails.

The outsole uses a high-quality Blown Rubber and has uniquely placed grooves on the forefoot to enhance traction.

On the right terrain, the outsole grip will prove efficient.

Key Features

  • High-quality American manufacturing
  • Breathable and flexible upper
  • Consistent sizing
  • Durable and protective
  • Solid grip and traction
  • Excellent spring and kinetic build

​The bottom Line

At first glance, it seems like you are paying a lot for a rather ordinary looking shoe. But if we learned anything it’s that New Balance doesn’t play around when it comes to creating a quality and high-performance walking and running shoe.

The midsole and outsole materials deliver optimal impact dispersion and spring as well as necessary arch support and comfort.

With the breathable and flexible upper that feels snug and comfortable, you are getting a shoe able to go the long distance… literally. This is a durable shoe that won’t disappoint.

And hey, if you like the look well then there isn’t much left to be said; the New Balance Men’s 990v4 Shoe is definately worth consideration!

990v4

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