Nike Free 5.0 V4 Versus New Balance MR800: Comparison

For those of you who are interested in the proper style of barefoot running and it’s benefit but are not keen on waring odd gorilla like shoes, this comparison review is perfect for you. I’ve gotten many emails regarding both the Nike Free’s as well as the New Balance MR800, both shoes designed to imitate barefoot running as well.  The points below analyze major points of both shoes to see which one suites your needs better.  Some of these attribute for the shoe may reflect my personal opinion and should not be considered scientific fact.  Please voice your opinions on our comment sections.  We would love to hear from you.

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1. Style

Nike Free 5.0 v4: The Nike Free’s are stylish and come in a variety of colors.  Celebrities have been seen wearing them casually.  They look great even if you’re not cross training at the gym or running marathons.  The variety of colors allow you to match them with various outdoors outfits and the standard Nike Swoosh signifies quality and style.  Just like the Nike Air Force Ones that have been hot for the longest time, I think the Nike Free shoes have the same potential among a more outdoorsy and athletic crowd.

New Balance MR800: These shoes have a more rugged look than the average New Balance running shoes.  They look like a cross between standard running shoes and cross trainers.  They look nice and I can picture people wearing them when working out, running and hitting up the track for various cross training exercises.  As far as casual wear I don’t think they compare to the Nike Frees.  The style of the shoe is strictly more athletic than fashion.  The rugged soles look cool and distinguishes this shoe from other New Balance shoes.  Unfortunately these shoes only come in their standard red and gray color at the time of this post.  There is no variety of colors to choose from.

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2. Comfort

Nike Free 5.0 v4: Like I said in a previous post when comparing the Nike Free and Vibram Fivefingers, the Nike Frees are very comfortable and light weight.  They feel like slippers in some ways and are fit to wear anywhere in most situations.  At around 8.6 oz, it’ is one of the lighter running shoes and this fact is very noticeable rigtht when you slip them on.

New Balance MR800: This shoe is also comfortable but it is noticeably heavier than the Nike Frees.  The shoe is around 11.0 0z.  The show was designed so that the heel sits low on the shoe.  This allows the runner to strike the ground closer to the mid and front sections of the foot.  To be fair, after wearing both the Nike Frees and the New Balance shoes, I felt that both were very comfortable.  The atypical lightness of the Nike Free shoes was different than other running shoes I’ve worn and I enjoyed that.

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3. Performance

Nike Free 5.0 v4: These shoes are great for training.  Many athletes love wearing them when performing CrossFit activities, jogging and general workouts.  I personally like using these shoes when I go for long walks and hikes.  As far as competition in marathons or similar long distance activities, I can personally see myself running a marathon in these with no problem.  For short sprints, 400K and other athletic activities that require fast powerful movements, especially in competition, I wouldn’t recommend using the Nike Frees.

New Balance MR800: These shoes are touted as “fast shoes” by many.  The extra mid-sole cushion makes it great for fast sprints and shorter distance runs.  For long runs it is also a great shoe because of the design for imitating “barefoot running”.  It was designed for proper running form so if you run properly using the mid foot strike, you don’t have to worry about joint and back injuries as much.

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4. Durability

Nike Free 5.0 v4: Durable shoe for it’s light nature.  Although I’ve worn mine for 2.5 months and run about 6 miles every other day with them and they do seem to have worn out a bit.

New Balance MR800: Feels very durable.  I’m not much of a sneaker material guru so I’m not sure about all the materials used such N-Durance rubber and Abzorb cushioning, but many runners feel that the MR800 has been great for logging many miles at a time without wearing too quickly.

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5. Cost

The Nike Free 5.0 V4 and the New Balance MR800 are similar in cost, at the time of this writing you can get a pair of either shoe at a good price.  The New Balance with all it’s fancy material seems like it would be more expensive.  But the Nike Frees shoes is what’s hot now.

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6. Overall Analysis

New Balance has always been a leader in producing great quality running shoes.  This shoe is no exception.  It stands out from the crowd of standard New Balance shoes and has gotten great reviews from runners who have worn them for long and short distances.  The purposeful design of the shoe to allow the users to avoid heel striking the ground is great and falls in line with the rest of our “barefoot running” shoe styles.  The shoe does fall short in design and variety which isn’t too unusual since they focus more on being an athletic and running shoe than a fashionable shoe.  The shoe is also a bit stiff which is contrary to their competitors, the flexible Nike Free.

The Nike Free has been discussed by us many times and compared with many other styles of running shoes, including barefoot.  It is consistently reviewed by us and many runners world wide as a great and comfortable shoe.  The cost is reasonable and it looks great.

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Favorite: I will have to say that my favorite shoe in this case is the Nike Free.  The New Balance set of shoes are great, but in this particular case I think the Nike Frees win again.

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