New Balance vs. Nike: Best Shoes on a Budget

About a quarter of runners spend between $101 and $125 on running shoes. Some runners spend up to $200 on a pair of running shoes.

High-mileage runners have to get multiple pairs of running shoes each year. It doesn’t take much to spend close to $1,000 on running shoes alone.

In this economy of inflation, it’s important to reign in spending as much as you can. You want to get a quality shoe, but you don’t want to spend thousands on it.

You might be curious about the two top shoe brands, New Balance vs. Nike. If you’re wondering which shoe brand is the right one for you, you’ll want to keep reading.

Keep reading to learn the differences between New Balance and Nike shoes and how you can find the perfect pair of running shoes.

New Balance vs. Nike Shoes

Let’s start with the history of these running shoe brands. New Balance started to produce shoes in 1906. They were originally orthopedic shoes with arch support.

The shoes were popular with people like first responders and retailers who were on their feet all day. The company made the very first running shoe in 1938.

It made footwear for baseball, tennis, and boxing. In the 1960s and 70s, the company renewed its focus on running shoes. The company continued to grow over the last decades and maintain its reputation as an excellent shoe.

Nike pretty much invented the modern running shoe. Phil Knight was a track athlete at the University of Oregon. His coach was the legendary Bill Bowerman.

Bowerman experimented with track shoes to make them faster. He created a new type of rubber sole with a waffle iron.

He asked Phil Knight to test out the shoe. Together, they created Nike and the rest is history.

Popular Nike Shoe Models

There are some shoes that cross the line between timeless fashion and function. Nike’s Air Force 1 is one of them. The shoe was developed in 1982 by Bruce Kilgore.

They were basketball shoes that had Nike Air, the shoe technology that changed the game. Not only were they worn by the pros of the early 1980s, but they became a huge part of sneaker culture.

Between 1986 and 1991, Nike would release one-off designs that would cause sneakerheads to line up for blocks to get a pair on release day.

Today’s Air Force 1 shoes are just as fashionable as they are functional. Can you buy Nike Air Force 1 for running?

You can, though you might not want to. You might want to keep them as is for your collection.

The shoes are flexible enough to keep up with your running stride. You can wear them to train, on the court, or wherever you run.

What shoe models from Nike should you consider? If you’re just looking for affordable shoes, check out the Air Zoom Winflow 8 shoe.

A great everyday trainer shoe is the Pegasus 38. Of course, who can forget about Air Jordans? These rank among the top collectible shoes.

Top New Balance Shoe Models

New Balance offers dozens of shoes with names like 991 or 530. New Balance has a code that tells you more about the shoe.

You might find letters like MT or WW. The first letter refers to the gender and the second is the purpose of the shoe. MT stands for Men’s Trail and the WW stands for Women’s Walking.

US means that the shoe was made in the USA.

The numbers range from fitness running to speed work. Shoes that end with 40 are for control and stability.

Shoes ending in 90 are for fast runners that want to optimize their running. You can find the full guide here.

The New Balance 574 is a durable shoe that’s perfect for winter. The 327 shoe has the retro look with a lot of comfort.

Comparing the Shoe Technologies

Nike and New Balance use two different types of technology in their shoes. Nike still uses Air technology in its shoes. The technology in its running shoes evolved to include the React technology.

React is a foam cushion that is softer than previous shoe models. It combines React with Air to provide a lot of comfort.

New Balance isn’t a slouch in this department. Its midsoles are what made the company great over the last century and that hasn’t changed.

The company uses Fresh Foam X in some of its models. It gives more cushioning and energy return to help runners with endurance.

How to Choose the Right Shoes

Here’s the secret to comparing Nike shoes and New Balance. They’re both great running shoes. It really comes down to what you need from a pair of running shoes.

Determine what you’ll use the shoes for, whether you need shoes to train for your first 5K or something to wear at the gym.

If you’re going to buy New Balance or Nike shoes for running, you’ll need to think about the type of support you need. You might need more stability or cushioning depending on your stride and running style.


Shoes are expensive. It’s hard to find good shoes on a budget, but it is possible. There’s not a big difference in cost between the two shoes.

Both companies offer affordable shoe models. Both companies roll out new versions of each shoe model every year or two.

You can time your purchase with these rollouts. Retailers have sales on outgoing versions to make room for the new versions.

Finding Shoes to Fit Your Feet and Budget

If you want a quality pair of shoes you have to compare New Balance vs. Nike. These shoe brands have a lot of history and they both offer a broad range of shoes for every purpose and style.

You’ll be able to find the right shoes within your budget. If you want more tips for guys, check out the other articles on the blog.


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