Precision Fit with the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Boa Review
When I first laid eyes on the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Boa trail running shoes, I was taken aback by their appearance. Boas and built-in gaiters are not something I’ve experienced previously in a shoe. I thought the shoe looked clunky. When I initially put them on, the “laces” or straps that run across the shoe felt stiff, and although I love Boa in other products, I was concerned that the straps would dig into my foot. I was also worried that the built-in gaiter would chafe my ankles during long runs. After going on just one short run in these shoes, however, all of my initial hesitations disappeared. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how comfortable, sturdy, and efficient the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Boa trail shoes are.
My favorite part about these shoes is the secure fit. I love the combination of the built in gaiter and how the Boa system feels. When I’m running longer distances, I generally have to stop at some point to adjust the tongue of my shoe and retie the laces. I took these shoes on several of my longer runs of roughly twenty miles and barely had to adjust anything.
Just before running down steep descents, it was nice to have the ability to quickly tighten the Boa one or two clicks for my own piece of mind and not have a tongue to worry about realigning.
My feet felt snug in the shoe, but at the same time the shoe has a roomy toe box. After just a couple miles of breaking in these shoes, I could no longer feel the straps along the top of my feet. What surprised me about these shoes the most is how laterally stable the ride is. They look clunky, so my ankles and I were nervous about how they would handle rocky terrain. I had an exceptionally stable experience in these shoes, and I recommend not letting their large appearance deter you from trying them out.
Even if I’m not expecting excessive amounts of water, snow, or mud on the trail, I will often run with gaiters in rockier terrain to avoid getting pebbles in my shoes. I was excited to see how the built-in gaiters would function. I read quite a few reviews where people complained that the gaiters made the shoes difficult to put on. My foot is average in width and I didn’t find this to be a problem as long as I used the strap on the back to pull the shoe on. It’s certainly easier to just put these shoes on than it is to have two steps of first putting your shoes on, and then adding gaiters, so I don’t understand the fuss. Unless someone has an exceptionally wide foot, or just isn’t used to using running gaiters at all, I would think that sliding these shoes on wouldn’t be too difficult. Furthermore, the gaiters work. Out of 150 + miles of running in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and rolling Front Range plains, only one little pebble made it into my shoe. The gaiters worked well with both the crew length and tab length socks that I run in, and I never once had any chafing. I couldn’t even feel the gaiters.
These shoes have a solid rock plate and protective reinforcement in the toe box. In addition, they have New Balance’s “Fresh Foam” cushion. I didn’t have any issues of feeling sharp rocks jab into the bottom of my feet or any toe stubbing. I couldn’t really feel the rocks whatsoever. This has pros and cons. They are very fun to wear when running rolling hills. They feel surprisingly light on the feet, and with all that cushion it feels like I’m floating on clouds. For more technical terrain, I prefer to run in shoes with less cushion so that I can feel what’s underneath my feet and can respond accordingly. I had a hard time with steep gravel in these shoes, and I think it’s because I couldn’t feel the pebbles sliding beneath me. The Vibram® MegaGrip outsole has exceptional tread and helps to counter balance not being able to feel any rocks, but ultimately I recommend these shoes for trails that aren’t overly technical.
Running shoes always come down to personal preference. If you are looking for a cushy trail running shoe that is easy on the joints and provides a steady ride, I recommend giving this shoe a try. It’s a fun shoe to have in your fleet of trail running options, but is not ideal for running in the alpine or overly technical terrain. If you are like me, and have to realign the tongue and retie your shoes during long trail runs, you might find these shoes to be a relief. I’m now completely sold on using the Boa system for running shoes. I would love to try out the Boa system on a shoe with less cushion, like on my La Sportiva Bushido II’s. These shoes have spoiled me, and now I wish all of my running shoes would use Boa. All things considered, I really appreciate having the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Boa as an option to run in, and I would recommend giving them a try.
Michelle is originally from Tri Cities, WA and has lived in Colorado for the past 6 years. She is an avid trail runner, splitboarder and mom to an awesome pitbull named Tundra.