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New Balance 790 Trail Shoes

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Updated June 02, 2012

New Balance 790 Trail Shoe

New Balance 790 Trail Shoe

Wendy Bumgardner © 2008

The Bottom Line

The New Balance 790 is designed as a very lightweight trail running shoe, built for racing. But I and others bought it for style and comfort. It is lighter in weight than most stability or motion control shoes, a true pleasure to wear. What got trimmed? Cushioning. I enjoyed wearing this shoe until I had to stand up for more than an hour, then I noticed the lack of cushioning. With the minimalist design, they are fine for softer trails but won't give you the support and protection you need for tough, rocky, rooted routes. Bottom line: I immediately ordered a second pair in the men's colors.
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  • Lightweight trail running shoe
  • Flexible and breathable


  • Comes only in regular width
  • Slips on wet surfaces


  • Trail running shoe built on the RL-3 last for narrow heel, wide forefoot, built for racing.
  • Sole has protective Rock Stop plate and all-terrain tread.
  • Comes in men's and women's versions.

Guide Review - New Balance 790 Trail Shoes

Trail running shoes are great to wear when walking on natural surfaces. The New Balance 790 is at the extreme of the pared-down, lightweight trail running shoe category. It has a Rock Stop plate in the bottom to protect your foot from the sharp stuff, but it doesn't have much cushioning. It is flat, flexible, and doesn't have a flared heel -- all elements of a good walking shoe.

The upper includes breathable Air Mesh. The upper is lighter weight. The tongue is gusseted to keep out rocks and trail debris.

Unfortunately, the 790 comes only in regular width for both men and women. I need a wide width for trail walking. The shoe is wide enough for me to wear as an everyday shoe around home or work, but not wide enough for the foot swelling that is normal in fitness walking or hiking. I had no difficulty in arranging the sausage-style laces to provide less restriction in the forefoot and get a good retention for the heel. I had no bunion pain with this shoe.

Trail and Town
The 790 is not your first choice for rugged trails. It is designed for trail racing, not for hiking. It works very well in town -- good looking, comfortable, and it comes in black and gray with various trim colors. The sole doesn't have big, aggressive-looking lugs. After three days, I was in love with this shoe and ordered it in the men's black with gray trim.

Oddly enough for a trail shoe, I immediately had slipping problems on wet surfaces with this shoe. I can't vouch for it being a great gripper on trail surfaces. I felt the lack of cushioning when standing in them for over an hour. But the light weight and comfort made up for these. I can walk fast throughout the day with pleasure. If you need motion control or extra stability, these would not be good training shoes for you. Save them for when you need to move fast.

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