New Balance 910v4 Trail Running Shoe ReviewAugust 29, 2017
- Secure fit
- Protective rock plate
- Stiff heel
- Firm midsole
- Uninspiring design
- Unclear niche
The New Balance 910v4 is a reliable, versatile off-road shoe that can handle multiple types of terrain, but ultimately it fails to excel in any one particular area. Our wear-testers praised its comfortable fit, responsive ride and protective rock plate, but felt the stiff heel and overly firm midsole kept it from being a good choice for long-distance running.
The 910v4 includes a number of thoughtful upgrades to last year’s 910v3. The biggest changes are to the uppers, which have new protective TPU overlays instead of the previous version’s stitched-on elements. The midsole is New Balance’s proprietary, lightweight RevLite foam, built with a moderate 25mm rear and 17mm forefoot stack height (8mm heel-to-toe drop). The outsole gets some minor changes to the lug placement and design, particularly at the back of the heel and under the midfoot. All together, the 910v4 is a versatile, all-around trail shoe that a wide range of runners will be happy with on a variety of different terrains. It’s a reliable, multi-use trail shoe that’s hard to dislike. That said, our testers didn’t feel like it stood out in any particular way from a crowded field, which is often the danger of designing a versatile shoe. It’s good at a lot of things, but not outstanding at any one of them. However, at $110, it was far and away the most affordable shoe in this round of testing. That said however, it’s not entirely clear what niche the 910v4 fills in New Balance’s trail line. The Hierro v2 is a rugged, cushioned shoe with similar specs and weight, the Leadville v3 is a rugged ultramarathon shoe, the Gobi Trail is an all-around multi-terrain model, and the 690 at $80 is an even better choice for trail runners on a budget. If New Balance stopped producing the 910v4, it’s not clear that it would leave a hole in their trail line.
The 910v4 is built on a relatively standard-shaped last, and the forefoot is neither uncomfortably narrow nor terribly wide. One wear-tester described it as the best-fitting uppers in the test for his foot shape, while another said the toe box was pointy and rubbed his toes. Although the midsole height puts the 910v4 in the stability-support testing group, one wear-tester felt like the firm midsole and relatively low overall height made it hard to compare to more cushioned, more comfortable shoes like the Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4 and Altra Lone Peak 3.5. The materials in the upper are not uncomfortable, and the padded heel collar and tongue are particularly plush. The heel counter, however, is exceptionally stiff, which may irritate some runners’ Achilles tendons.
The firm RevLite midsole feels quick when the pace is fast, although one tester noted that it means, “you sacrifice some of the comfort and cushion for longer runs.” On climbs and descents, the 910v4 is stable and confident, although the lugs are relatively low for loose soil and soft ground and it doesn’t feel as fast as a shoe with deeper lugs like the Salomon Speedcross 4. The 910v4 is also relatively lightweight at 10.9oz for a men’s size 9.
Security of Fit
The 910v4 has a stretchy midsole wrap connected to the sides of the tongue that holds the midfoot in place securely when the shoes are snugged down. The laces have a bit of stretch, which helps the fit feel secure, and the lace holes connect directly to the TPU overlay. All together, the midfoot feels securely locked in placed. Combined with the medium-width forefoot and padded heel collar, our wear-testers rated the 910 v4 highly for its secure, comfortable fit.
The 910v4 performs adequately across a range of terrains and types of trail, from rocks and roots to smooth-rolling singletrack and fire roads. One wear-tester noted that the shoe’s relatively low profile compared to other cushioned models “gives them a nimble and precise feel through technical terrain, while the less aggressive triangular lugs gave me the traction I needed to bomb downhill segments.” Some testers wanted to see more cushion and a softer midsole, which would have let them run longer distances in the shoe. One member of the team said he’d have a hard time recommending it for distances over 10 miles.
New Balance’s RevLite midsole material is well-known for its responsive, firm ride, and that’s evident in the 910v4. One wear-tester praised the lightweight package and firm midsole by noting “these felt responsive on most terrain, and the stiffness of the RevLite midsole added to the energy return for a swift foot turnover.” Another tester expressed surprise that a shoe this lightweight felt so swift and responsive on technical terrain and steep climbs.
The 910v4’s standout feature here is the rock plate, which extends across the entire forefoot. Because the 910v4 has relatively low stack height for a cushioned shoe, the rock plate is necessary to tame sharper rocks and trail obstacles. The toe bumper is low-profile and integrated almost seamlessly into the shoe’s front end, but it isn’t as beefy as the bumpers on the La Sportiva Akyra or Altra Lone Peak 3.5. Our wear-testers also noticed some dust and dirt intrusion through the forefoot mesh, which is relatively thin and open-weave.
Jason is a trail runner and ultra-marathoner who lives with his wife and children in the frozen tundra of northeastern Wisconsin.