Review: New Balance Nitrel v3

Written by

Sarah Colligan

Trail Running Expert.

This expert review is written by

Sarah Colligan

Trail Running Expert.
Sarah has been running for a little over seven years, but she fell in love with trail/ultra running about four years ago. She has run thirty-one races at marathon or ultramarathon distance, including three 50-milers and one 100-miler (so far).

As a wife/mom/photographer/writer/wannabe farmer, Sarah uses running to burn off the crazy (and so she can eat more food)!

Weight

We usually consider 10 ounces a "medium" weight for a running shoe: less than 10 and we are entering the lightweight category and above 10 the shoes start to be heavy.

Heel-to-toe drop

Heel drop is the measurement in mm of the difference between the height of the heel and the toe of the sole.

A lower drop (0mm - 5mm) promotes running on mid-foot and fore-foot, while higher drops (8mm - 12mm) are more traditional and meant to support a heel-striking gait.
Expert score
7/10

Expert Review: New Balance Nitrel v3

Quick overview

Best for
Regular training, marathon and 50k trail races, ultra distances, 50 miles and greater
Terrain
Best for on dirt trails, on paved trails, on paved roads, sidewalks, etc..., through grassy sections or cross-country courses, along moderate trails
Grip
The Nitrel v3 provides good traction on most types of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Average Traction
Provide Traction
Cushioning
The Nitrel v3 offers just the right amount of cushioning
Little cushioning
Medium cushioning
Highly cushioned
Weight

10.4

 oz
295 g
Heel to toe drop
Drop

9

 mm

Pros and cons according to our running expert

Pros and cons according to our running expert

  • Decent grip
  • Toes stay protected
  • True to size
  • Affordable
  • Doesn't drain/wick sweat very well
  • Narrower toe box

Our verdict

The New Balance Nitrel v3 gives you comfort and affordability, while still being an overall decent trail shoe. While it may not be best on wet rock and leaves, it does very well on dry single track trail and even some light mud.

Introduction New Balance Nitrel v3

Touted as a “crossover trail shoe,” the New Balance Nitrel v3 is good for easier trail runs without a lot of technical sections.

While it can work on light mud and some wet terrain, as well as sections of pavement and small gravel, it does best on dry single-track trail.

For your money, you are getting a decent trail shoe that you can just put on and run because they are fairly lightweight (8.1 ounces) and decently cushioned. They also have an 8mm drop, for those who don’t like a flat shoe.

Cushioning Type
The Nitrel v3 is more responsive than plush:... Read more provides energy return and some shock
Responsive
Plush
Cushioning Amount
The Nitrel v3 offers just the right amount of... Read more cushioning
Little cushioning
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
The Nitrel v3 has a good mix between... Read more flexibility and structure
Rigid
Flexible
Stability
The Nitrel v3 has some inherent stability and... Read more support
Not particularly stable
Very stable

Impressions New Balance Nitrel v3

As someone who normally wears HOKA on road and on trail, I’m sometimes surprised when I like a more inexpensive shoe with medium cushioning.

But with the NB Nitrel v3, for your money, you get a decent shoe that delivers more than an average entry-level performance.

It’s the type of shoe you can keep in your car for those times you just want to get in an impromptu trail run on single-track trail without really having to think about how it will do.

I was able to put my arch support insoles into the shoe and just run. Since my insoles are a little thicker in the heel, it may have changed how well the heel of the shoe was originally supposed to fit.

But I didn’t find I got any blisters or rubbing in the heel area when I used my insole. The heel cup is not really made for a narrow heel, but I’m sure there are ways you can get around that.

I did find that the midfoot was a little loose for my narrower foot. However, when I tightened the shoe just a little more than I normally do, it worked well enough to short runs comfortably.

If I didn’t tie them tight enough, though, my feet tended to feel like they were sliding forward on downhills.

One issue I did notice was that after running through water or mud puddles, the shoe stayed too damp for my liking. I like a shoe that drains and feels like it dries quickly.

The upper on this shoe seems to keep moisture inside more than I would like. Even sweat didn’t seem to air out easily, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

The sole is pretty soft, so it’s not as comfortable on large gravel and rocks. But it worked great for easy, dry trail without a lot of sharp rocks and roots.

I found it was comfortable at different speeds, as well.

I was able to trust the tread on hills, for the most part, but I did find that the tread wasn’t enough for mud that’s more than an inch or two deep. It also wasn’t great on wet leaves and wet, flat rocks, but (again) it’s great on dry terrain.

A couple of other reviewers commented that the toe box was on the narrower side, and I agree. But, again, it wasn’t a deal-breaker for shorter, easy runs.

I even used these shoes for a trail half marathon, and they still hold up well.

Protection New Balance Nitrel v3

New Balance Nitrel v3 - Toe

New Balance Nitrel v3 – Toe

The toe box is a little narrower than I’d like, but it didn’t bother me much. The toe is reinforced and works well to keep you from feeling the stumbles and stubs as strongly.

It’s just an added bonus on a decent, inexpensive trail shoe, and I never felt like the toe was going to tear or split. I definitely put the toes to the test.

Rockplate
The Nitrel v3 does not have a rock plate.
Not present
Solid protection
Lugs
The Nitrel v3 provides good traction on most... Read more types of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Provide Traction
Water resistance
The Nitrel v3 offers great water protection.... Read more Not completely waterproof but dries quickly
Poor
Water Resistant

Durability New Balance Nitrel v3

New Balance Nitrel v3 - Sole

New Balance Nitrel v3 – Sole

I would say that this is a durable shoe for the price. It’s pretty straightforward as a good entry-level shoe and does what it is meant to do. I don’t think I could wear it on very technical mountain terrain.

I also don’t think I would wear it for ultra distances because it doesn’t seem to have a rock plate to reinforce the sole.

That would make it difficult to spend hours and hours on rocks and roots. However, shorter distances are good in this shoe.

As far as wear and tear, I didn’t notice any problems.

I definitely put them to the test by purposely dragging them on rocks and roots and through mud, but I never felt they were falling apart or lacking in the durability department, especially not for the price.

Responsiveness & Speed New Balance Nitrel v3

New Balance Nitrel v3 - Heel

New Balance Nitrel v3 – Heel

While I was unable to test them on snow or sand the Nitrel v3 worked quite well on dry dirt trail and light mud. There is just enough cushioning for me, and they are lightweight and handle speed well.

I could see these shoes working well on a faster, less-technical course.

The softer sole isn’t heavy, so it helped me feel like I wasn’t losing speed when I was really pushing the pace. I never felt like my feet were heavy.

The looser midfoot maybe didn’t help, but it didn’t detract enough for me to consider it a “con.”

Comfort and Fit New Balance Nitrel v3

New Balance Nitrel v3 - Top

New Balance Nitrel v3 – Top

The softer, medium cushioning in the sole feels like it works for most dry trail terrain, and it’s comfortable.

The fit seems to be true to size, despite the narrower toe box. The shoe is lightweight and never felt heavy or thick.

The midfoot is a bit lose for me, but tightening the shoe helps. I liked the cushioned ankle area and tongue.

My feet are quite bony, so I sometimes get hot spots when a shoe isn’t cushioned as much in the tongue area. This shoe never gave me hot spots on the top of my foot.

Sizing
The Nitrel v3 has average sizing: buy the... Read more usual size
Buy size smaller
Buy size bigger

Conclusion New Balance Nitrel v3

New Balance Nitrel v3 - Sole

New Balance Nitrel v3 – Sole

Overall, I liked the New Balance Nitrel v3! It had a few minor drawbacks that might be a deal-breaker in a more expensive shoe.

However, for the price, you are getting a decent, entry-level (or a spare) trail shoe. It’s affordable and comfortable enough for shorter daily runs, and even up to a half marathon on dry, single-track trail.

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