Neutral runners looking for a softe but not plush daily trial shoe suited for moderate distances and trails.
Runners looking for Minimalistic ultra sensitive, or ultra distance capable shoe.
The 7th generation of the Hierro has arrived and with it comes a whole New look.
New Balance has done a major redesign of the Hierro lightening the shoes load. The trail twin to the 1080 is now 1.3 oz. Lighter than its predecessor, a huge shift for this historically heavy shoe.
The upgrades don’t stop there as the shoe also has a reconfigured outsole with slightly deeper lugs and a Fresh Foam X midsole. The only consistent with this version is the tried and true Vibram Mega outsole.
MY first run in the shoe was a great surprise.
One of the first longer outings I used the shoe was a very technical and rocky trail with a lot of ascending and descending.
Quickly into my first rocky and cobbled descent I found this was not the best place for the shoe as I struggled for footing and slid constantly from one boulder to another.
Climbing was consistent and the shoe did well so long as it was dirt and only dirt.
After that initial run I got a serous education and kept to rolling and mostly flat single track. This is where these shoes are most at home and feel the best.
They grip dirt and sandy trails well and the transition and cushion is just right that floating down the trail carelessly is easy.
I was pleasantly surprised that the Hierro 7 offered more foot protection than I expected. Please don’t misunderstand that as a statement that the shoe offers the most robust level of protection but it’s definitely more of a shoe that is intended for light trails.
The flexible toe cap provides decent protection from the occasional stub but certainly not the most rugged I have come across.
What I did like about it was how it extends laterally to the midfoot which protected that area of my foot and also acts as an overly in that high wear area.
There is no rock plate to speak of and this was noticeable especially over rockier technical terrain, but not a deal breaker so long as you keep them on more mellow rolling single track or bridle paths that they are best suited for.
The finely bound mesh of the upper and semi-gusseted tongue, by no means are bulletproof, but did a notable job of keeping out trail debris.
The synthetic mesh of the upper is tightly woven which makes the shoe a little warmer than I would prefer, but also increases the durability of the material as it limits snags, scapes or whatever the trail may throw at it to pull it apart.
The use of overlays is also generous which really protects the higher wear areas of this upper.
Hard to say how long the midsole will go before it begins to break dow but after 70 miles of use is holding up fantastic and I would expect that they could go at least 4-500 miles.
Full Vibram outsole need I say more as the material has proven its durability time and time again, and this outsole is no different showing hardly any wear.
The Hierro 7 rolls very well which makes it a great show for cruising mild to moderate trails and are ideal for flowy trail sessions.
Despite is trimmed down appearance the 7 is not a speed demon by and means and certainly not the shoe you want if a new PR or fast trail race are in your sights as the responsiveness is just not there.
While the redesigned chunkier 4.5 mm lugs have improved the traction of the shoe they just don’t quite bite into the trail sufficiently.
This was very apparent over rockier or technical terrain especially when wet. For me the confidence in the shoe to hold over this type of terrain just wasn’t there and thus made me slow and carefully choose my lines to avoid potential disaster.
I will add that the lugs transition from pavement to trail quite well and would be a great door to trail option.
This is the arena where I feel like the shoe has really improved. The Hierro has always been a comfortable shoe but maybe overly plush, and in my opinion made it difficult to run in with all the added bulk and weight.
The trimmed down 7 makes it a more runnable but still comfortable right from the box. The midsole is firmer up front which could be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask but I had no issue with it as there was a little more oomph at toe off .
I liked the amount of cushioning provided as it falls nicely in between plush and firm, and this design really improved the sensitivity and flexibility of the Hierro. The shoe fit true to size and comfortable without a lot of extra interior space.
The toe box isn’t quite as rounded as before but still provided ample room without feeling compressed.
Gone are the days of the super plush Hierro but I think that’s a good thing.
Separating itself from the More Trail makes the Hierro a more versatile and appealing shoe. In the past I Iiked the Hierro as a trail Hiker in lieu of a hiking boot but the 7 is far from cry from that.
The lighter Hierro 7 is now my ideal shoe for daily jaunts over meandering trails at a comfortable worry free pace.