New Balance has been building running shoes since before I was born and trail running shoes longer than I can remember. No need to mention just how strong the New Balance brand is associated with running, because it really goes without saying. After a few years haitus, I slipped back into a pair of shoes from The Big N… the result? Like coming home.

New Balance 875 Trail Running Shoe Review

About the New Balance 875 Trail Running Shoes

Built as a stable summer trail slayer, the New Balance 875 trail runners arrive replete with ventilation and support galore–perfect for aggressive warm-weather running in rugged terrain.

Feature highlights include:

  • Lightning Dry® Liner: interior fabric built to wick away moisture
  • Lockdown Liner™: Secures your foot squarely in the sweet spot of the shoe
  • Abzorb: In the forefoot, heel and on top of the Strobel Board
  • Rock Stop®: Foot protection and stability for rugged terrain
  • N-Durance: Rubber compound for maximum traction and durability
  • Acteva Lite Midsole: Longer-lasting and 24% lighter than standard foam
  • Weight: 12 oz each
  • MSRP: $100

Trail Running in Corner Canyon - New Balance 875 Review

New Balance 875 Trail Running Shoe Review

It has been nice to slip back into a pair of New Balance shoes. It’s been several years, but my feet haven’t forgotten how well The Big N’s feel. I’ve now had the 875’s on-trail for several weeks and about 50 miles of mixed trail and pavement (80/20 split), so it’s time to spill the beans.

The 875’s have been super-comfortable for my feet from the outset. I simply slipped a pair of standard Sole footbeds inside and never looked back. A full day of walking the halls of Outdoor Retailer followed by miles of demanding trails in American Fork Canyon has shown the versatility of the 875’s in the all-around competition.

Construction of the 875’s is solid with huge vents on either side of the forefoot, which act like wind-tunnels expelling midsummer moisture. My feet are always hot, but these shoes run comfortably at high temperatures. My sock of choice has and typically always is the Lorpen Ultralight, but I also wore a pair Bridgedale X-Hale Speed Demon socks during the course of the review. Both socks worked well, but I always prefer the minimalistic design of the Lorpen’s.

On rugged and rough trails, the Rock Stop forefoot protection in combination with Abzorb cushioning is superb. Honestly, this is the best trail running chassis I’ve worn this year. I feel like I’ve got enough protection to run all day in the rocky terrain so common to Utah without fear of bruising.

My favorite feature of these shoes is the Lockdown Liner. Just as the name suggests… it locks down your foot for a precise and predictable feel on all terrain. This is definitely a unique system that puts the fit over the top.

Traction throughout the stride is solid and confidence-inspiring-except for extreme toe-off where the minimal toe treads lose traction on occasion.

American Fork Canyon Trail Running - New Balance 875 Review

Stability is excellent and overall fit is as good as it gets–without any overt stability tricks to add weight or complexity. Utilizing the Total Fit philosophy, the Lockdown Liner and integrated wrap-around N-Lock strap keeps the foot secured on both extreme uphill and downhill sections. I really liked the ribbed shoelaces (I know, a small thing) because I could tie a single knot without fear of it coming loose.

On pavement, the 875’s run smoothly–despite the large-lugged tread pattern and cushioning transitions well from paved to dirt trails.

Only a couple of gripes and one is rather obvious… the side vents, while large, do not lend themselves well to stream crossing or wet weather. I barely stepped into a shallow stream and my forefoot was instantly soaked (but it dried rather quickly).

NOTE: While at Outdoor Retailer last month, I was introduced to the all-new New Balance 876 trail runner, which will replace the 875. Expect a new outsole and revised uppers when it comes on the market next Spring.

Good 875’s

  • Fit is true-to-size (Men’s 10)
  • Excellent breathability
  • Comfort right out of the box
  • Smooth on/off road
  • Top-notch trail protection with Rockstop plates
  • Ribbed laces eliminate need for double-knots
  • Huge side vents keep feet cool
  • Abzorb cushioning offers just the right comfort

Bad 875’s

  • Not for wet weather or stream crossing
  • Lacks a scree-guard tongue
  • Toe-off treads could provide more traction

The Bottom Line: New Balance 875 Trail Runners

A household name in the running world, New Balance is also one of the best trail runners on the market. The 875’s are a solid choice for warm-weather trail running in mixed terrain.

Buy Now: New Balance at REI

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. I’m still enjoying the 875’s! They are my current shoe of choice. I’ll post updates as I find anything awry with the shoes, but so far they continue to perform well for summer trail running.

Leave A Reply