Newton Running Shoes Versus Nike Free Runners

Barefoot running comes in many flavors, you can run barefoot with your actual feet, minimalist barefoot running shoes, or these 2 top brands that both say will help you train in the all healthy barefoot running style. One is a tried an true brand that has been in the shoe industry and in many ways has lead the atheletic shoe industry since it’s inception. The other is a newbie who has little athletic shoe development experience. In this post we are going to compare the two brands of shoes: Nike and their Nike Free set of shoes (including the really popular Nike Free Run+ shoes) versus the HOT Newton Running Shoes (like the Distance S shoes). Please understand that while some of the information is based of specifications given to us by the manufacturers, a lot of it is also my personal opinion, especially when it comes to style and how the shoes suit me personally.

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1. Style

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Nike Free Runners:

The Nike Free Shoes have a simple style too them that make them not only great for running shoes but great casual shoes to to walk around in. That might be why you see popular celebrities wearing Nike, in particularly the Nike Frees. Although I personally like the simplicity of the Nike Free 5.0s which are by far the most popular style, the Nike Free Everyday+2 and the Nike Free Sparq ’09 also look great. If it was up to me, I would rank the top 2 Nike Frees to be the 5.0s and the Everyday+2s.

Newton Running Shoes:

When it comes to the Newton Running Shoes, the styles do not change a whole lot between the different types. The consistency of the style between, for example, the Newton Running Sir Isaac and the Newton Running Distance or Gravity is what probably keeps it one of the most technically sound shoes in the market. They have a design that works for serious runners and that’s why there are many fanatics that love them. The actual look and feel is very generic, similar to the old Asics, New Balance and even some Nike shoes. Unless you’re hip to the running shoe game, you probably would not recognize these shoes off the bat nor do they stand out much. This could be a good thing or bad thing although many serious runners probably wouldn’t be concerned either way.

2. Comfort

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Nike Free Runners:

The Nike Free’s are light weight and in generally very comfortable. There has been some complaints about finding proper width sizes but that probably comes with any popular running shoe out there today. Like I said in previous posts and reviews, the Nike Frees at times feels like you’re walking in slippers. The thick heel also allows you to feel more support when you are walking, although this can lead many to say that it also trains you to improperly utilize the heel more than you should.

Newton Running Shoes:

The Newton Running Shoes are another pair of great light weight shoes. There’s not many that are as light as the Newton Runners and the Nike Frees. So in terms of weight they are definitely great. Because of the large variety that they come in, you can most definitely find a pair that suits your needs in any condition, helping raise their comfort points.

3. Performance

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Nike Free Runners:

The Nike Free’s performance grade is about a B+. It’s great for training and assists you in properly running IF you choose to train in them for that purpose. They are also great for cross training and all around athletic activities. But in terms of increasing speed while running in them, they probably don’t help as much as the Newton Runners. CrossFit athletes love training in them because of the lightweight nature and the flexibility of the shoe, but in terms of a boost in performance and speed, this is debatable.

Newton Running Shoes:

The biggest plus to wearing the Newton Running Shoes is their claims to have a definite boost in performance. Although the actual results of studies may currently be lacking, the company promotes their shoe as a running shoe that can not only help you run properly and injury free, but also increase your speed in long distance races AND short sprints. They do this by training you to run in optimal form. Many say that more advanced runners that already know how they are supposed to run don’t need this extra training or design that “forces” you to strike the ground properly, but even in those cases when doing sprints (100-400 meters), wearing the Newton Running Shoes may help you focus on speed as opposed to being distracted by form. The racing version of the Newton’s, which are less padded in the front and designed for the more advanced runners are the ones that should be considered if increasing performance and speed is the goal.

4. Durability

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Nike Free Runners:

Nike Free’s get a bad wrap when it comes to durability. The light weight nature of the shoe makes it feel as though it is shoddily made. This is untrue since the Frees were purposely designed to be lightweight. Because they were designed as running shoes, they weren’t made to last forever if you run in them regularly. So they are durable to the extent they were designed to be. That being said, the shoes do seem to wear out quickly after a month of hard running.

Newton Running Shoes:

The Newton Running Shoes are quite durable despite the light weight design. Many runners will put hundreds of miles on the shoes with the shoe holding up very well. I think from that perspective Nike can learn a thing or two from the team at Newton Running.

5. Cost

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Nike Free Runners:

At the time of this writing, you can get a pair of Nike Free’s for 65-85, depending on where you shop and where the sales are. I personally think this a great price for the type of shoe you get. Sure they can wear out quickly but even as a casual good looking shoe I’d get a couple pairs just for everyday wear. If you’re lucky you can find the shoes on sale at some stores although the selection may be limited because of the popularity.

Newton Running Shoes:

Newton’s sell their shoes at a very expensive rate. The average shoes can range from 155.00 to 180.00. At this price you can get 2 running shoes. You can mix and match if you want and get a pair of Vibrams Five Fingers as well as Nike Free and on average you would pay around the same price of Newton Running Shoes.

6. Overall Analysis

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Nike Free Runners:

Nike Frees, reviewed many times are always a tried and true choice for barefoot running shoes. They are cost efficient, comfortable and can double as everyday shoes.

Newton Running Shoes:

The Newton Running Shoes are the new hot items on many runner’s wishlist. They are also very comfortable but lack the recognizable style of the Nike Frees. They are seemingly more durable and more technically sound in developing your strike to become truly barefoot style. They also boast an increase in performance if you use them properly.

FAVORITE:

If money was not an issue, I would probably get a couple pairs of Newton Running Shoes to use when I work on my sprints and long distance running. Because I go through so many running shoes a year, I still say the Nike Free’s are my favorite when comparing these two shoes. I don’t think the Newton Running shoes will last twice as long as the Nike Frees if I run in them with similar frequency. And I currently feel that my running technique has been refined enough to have a need for such advanced trainers. If you are beginner runner that wishes to practice barefoot running with shoes, I’d say go with the Newtons. But for me, the winner are the NIKE FREE Shoes.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Ian March 22, 2010, 3:03 pm

    I’ve run in both the Free and Newton and as far a value for money and geometry go, Newton’s win hands down.

    Unlike the midsole foam in the Free, the action/reaction technology degrades very little over time. This is because it is based on a highly resilient membrane rather than relying on a blown rubber compound which takes a compression set. Efficient runners have reported 600 – 800 miles on their Newtons, while the foam in a Free will significantly compressed around 150 miles depending on your weight and gait.

    Newton shoes have a VERY low heel lift, between 2 mm and 5 mm depending on the model, much closer to the geometry of your foot. The Free by comparison has around a 14 mm heel lift, which engages the ground ahead of your center of gravity as you run, interrupting your gait cycle and causing heel strike/increased impact, and faster breakdown of the shoe.

    Reply
  • Monica Duncan October 6, 2010, 6:36 pm

    I have lower disc problems & stenosis. When I run my quads go numb and my back aches. I recently started wearing Newtons . I feel much less pain & presure and actually look forward to running again.

    Reply
  • Deb January 10, 2011, 7:11 pm

    Broke the cardinal rule of endurance sports of no new equipment for the event & bought a pair of Newtons 2 days before a 1/2 marathon. My feet and legs have never felt better. I love these shoes and had a great run!

    Reply
  • Nick Bauer June 22, 2012, 4:22 pm

    Barefootie- Freeruns do not last nearly as long as Newtons. One of my distance running friends managed to get over 1400 miles out of one pair and they are still fairly decent. Meaning, he can still use them to run in.

    Reply
  • Rhoda November 12, 2012, 7:31 pm

    I’ve switched to Newtons and by far better than all my 10 pairs of old Nike running shoes. I wished I’ve known about this brand before I bought my first Nikes. My 2 pairs of newtons are light weight, improved my speed, no injuries and eye catching. One day I had no choice but to run in one of my Nike shoes and at the end of the run, my ankles were hurting. I will never go back to Nikes! Buy Newtons! They’re worth it!

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