When the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v3 arrived at Canadian Running‘s HQ, one of the first impressions of the shoe was that it had a number of features found in a road shoe: smooth ride, relatively lightweight and a seamless, single-piece upper.

The third iteration of the Hierro comes with major changes from its previous edition including a Hyposkin upper (hence clean upper look), a sock-like wrap around the ankle and more of New Balance’s signature cushioning, Fresh Foam, the latter of which means the v3 is slightly heavier than the v2. The Hierro v3 is a great option for the all-around trail runner, someone who hits technical trails often, and who may need to run a few kilometres on asphalt or pathway.

First, let’s get into the quick hits about the shoe.

RELATED: The 2018 Spring Shoe Guide.

Essentials

Release date: Available now
Type: Lightweight neutral trail shoe
Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm
Weight: M: 328 g (11.6 oz.), W: 269 g (9.5 oz.)
Price (MSRP): $169.99
Terrain tested: Roads, icy surfaces, non-technical trail
Kilometres tested: 100

Upper

The slick skin upper looks waterproof (it isn’t) and is a single piece of stretchy rubber, which ensures a snug, and more importantly, consistent fit. An inner sock, which extends up to the top of the foot around the ankle, separates the Hyposkin outer skin from a runner’s foot, like a buffer. For breathability, the Hyposkin has slits, which encourages air flow into and out of the shoe. We haven’t tried the Hierro in the summer so cooling may be an issue.

The new sock fit basically prevents any sort of debris from getting into the shoe. The height of the sock fit is not too high either. An extra bonus, and any trail runner who has stubbed their toe will be happy of this feature, is that the Hierro v3 has a protect guard, basically a tough piece of material around the toe box for extra rigidness. (The v2 had a toe protect too.)

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v3

Photo: Adam Wojtkowiak.

A nice and perhaps underrated feature is the lacing system. The laces are a bit thicker and tougher than traditional trainers meaning they’ll be longer lasting.

Cushioning/Traction

The Hierro v3 features a Vibram – perhaps the most famous grip-manufacturing company in the world – sole. The drop is doubled from the v2 as the heel-to-toe transition is now 8 mm, with a thicker heel and a similar forefoot stack. With the additional height, and Fresh Foam cushioning, the shoe weighs in below 12 oz. for both men’s and women’s models.

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v3

Photo: Adam Wojtkowiak.

Something that should be noted is that the insoles are not removable, which is a consideration if you use orthotics or even when airing out the shoes.

Ride-wise, the Hierro v3 used Fresh Foam, New Balance’s signature running footwear cushioning and it’s used in much of the brand’s most popular shoes, from racing flats to trainers. So, if you’re used to running in the 1080 or Zante, the Hierro v3 is a natural fit for a trail running shoe. Although there is no rock plate in the Hierro v3, the cushioning is soft enough and the rubber outsole durable enough that you won’t be cutting your runs short if you misstep on the trails.

The structure of the shoe is neutral-cushioned, so basically there’s no lateral motion control features if you under or overpronate.

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v3

Photo: Adam Wojtkowiak.

Verdict

If you’re in the market for a light and robust trail shoe that won’t have you bogged down after tens of back-to-back kilometres, the Hierro v3 is a solid option. We see the Hierro v3 best performing on trails that range from non-technical to moderate technicality as there are subtle features – like the toe protect and sock upper – that can offer a runner protection on off-road adventures. New Balance’s trail running shoe retails, in Canada, for $169.99 making it affordable and mid-tier-priced.

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