Editor Isaac Williams tests the New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4….

If the 2010s was the era of the ‘barefoot revolution’ – a shift towards minimalist running shoes catalysed by the book Born to Run – recent years have seen something of a counter-revolution. Brands like Hoka have spearheaded a return to the best running shoes that are big and bulky, and with the Fresh Foam X More v4 New Balance has taken up that mantle.

Men’s Fitness verdict

The ultra-cushioned X More v4 ticks all the boxes as a daily mile-eater, but is too big, if not too heavy, for pacier sessions. A great choice for beginners though.
  • Surprisingly light feel, despite the midfoot cushioning
  • Ideal for building up distance while minimising impact on joints
  • Heavy cushioning will divide opinion
  • Narrow fit may cause rubbing

How we tested the best running shoes

Our testers put each shoe through their paces over a mixture of distances and paces to see where they excel, and clocked up significant distances in each one to examine how they wear over time. Each reviewer focused on speed, stability and comfort during test runs, while also assessing the effectiveness of any high-tech features on offer. Their detailed reviews are sure to help you choose the right running shoe for you.

New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 shoes side by side
The most Fresh Foam cushioning used in any shoe to date, distributed across the entire length of the shoe

New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 design and features

It’s worth saying that heavy cushioning no longer means heavy weight. New foam technologies mean bulky midsoles are less dense than they used to be, absorbing impact without adding hundreds of grams to the overall weight of shoes. In fact, the More v4 weighs in at 10.4oz (295g), which is impressively light for a shoe this big.

The effect is that on the run you don’t feel weighed down by the cushioning at all, which was the case with this sort of shoe a few years ago. All of which makes for a decent entry-level trainers for anyone looking to increase their distances while protecting against impact-related injuries.

Potential issues with the New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4

I tested the shoes mainly on the concrete paths of my local park, with a small amount of trail here and there, and experienced a fair amount of rubbing on the inside of each foot. I suspect that’s because of the shoe’s fairly narrow fit, combined with that midsole cushioning that’s especially built up on the inside of the shoe. This is clearly to prevent excessive pronation (inward rolling of the foot on impact), but numerous studies have found that pronation is not as bad as once thought. My experience of this instep cushioning was that rather than absorbing impact, it actually provided an obstacle to my natural gait: stopping my foot in its tracks as it hit the ground and causing the aforementioned rubbing.

Now, this isn’t a problem that will affect everyone, and other runners – perhaps those who don’t pronate – will no doubt enjoy the extra underfoot protection, but it did cause me some discomfort.

Should you buy the New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4?

Short answer: it depends… While I experience some rubbing, that likely has as much to do with my own running style and shoe size (perhaps I could have gone half a size up) as it does the quality of the shoe. I’ve browsed other online reviews, and haven’t noticed any others complaining about hotspots on the instep of the shoe.

That issue aside, the lightweight but maximalist cushioning makes for a shoe capable of eating up slow and steady miles with ease. There’s simply too much shoe for pushing the pace in races, but if you’re looking for a training trainer it ticks a lot of the right boxes.

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