2011 Running Shoes - Asics vs. New Balance

Asics or New Balance? Here's what makes them different and both effective running shoes.
Please note, I post mostly men's shoes but all these shoes are available in women's model's as well.

The Essential Comparisons:
The biggest difference between Asics and New Balance are the Asics Gel sole and the New Balance Abzorbs Foam sole technologies. Asics Gel soles give their shoes a plush gel cushion making them soft in sensation. New Balance Abzorbs Foam also cushions well using a foam technology that is equally as effective but not gel like. Depending on your activity you may find that you like one over the other. I simply find them different and they both do a pretty good job.

Upper materials are also somewhat different between the two manufacturers. Asics typically use soft stretcheable mesh uppers in most of their shoes giving them a snug feeling as the material surrounds the foot. This gives them the snug and comfortable feeling to their shoes that they are known for and that many like. Asics also uses something called Ahar Heel Plugs which supposedly absorb shock from heel strikes and less prone to quick wear.

New Balance tends to use lighter materials in the uppers but just as tough and breathable. Although they don't tout a special heel plug the shoes are just as effective. New Balance shoes tend to feel more like a runner's shoe as they are different from the insulated feeling of most Asics. Also, it seems in most cases that Asics technology and materials in the more advanced Asics running shoes are just a tad heavier compared to New Balance of the similar models.

Fore-foot/Mid-foot support
New Balance 890
Asics DS Sky Speed 2
The latest models of the New Balance 890 and Asics DS Sky Speed 2 are direct competitors in the fore to mid-foot support shoe market. They are good everyday runners with sufficient cushioning. They are two very different shoes but are worth every penny for those looking for fore-foot to mid-foot support.

Asics Blur 33
While Asics running shoes have essentially made small changes in recent years and have been typically following innovations they went all out with the Asics Gel-Blur 33 and Rush 33. Asics has come up with something completely different. They have practically no heel to toe drop so they provide a solid, free feeling, and natural experience. The Blur 33 are quite unique with the softest gel like cushioning I've ever felt. The only thing I can compare them to are the way Nike Free running shoes feel.

New Balance Minimus
New Balance has moved forward with new designs and materials with the New Balance Minimus series, which are purely minimalist shoes with little to no cushioning and closest to the barefoot experience, they are comparable to Merrel Barefoot shoes and Vibram 5 Fingers.

While Asics and New Balance may be your first choices for running shoes keep in mind there are other brands such as Saucony, Brooks, Nike and Reebok.  A shoe that is comfortable and doesn't hurt you during activities is a good shoe but if you're looking for performance I recommend moving away from the heavier, typical shoes to newer, lighter technologies.

For Pavement:  
Asics Kayano 17
From Asics, the popular 2011 Asic Kayano 17 provide a lot of support and Asic DS Sky Speed 2 provide good support for fore-foot/mid-foot runners. These two are favored by many for those wanting a good amount of support and cushioning in a running shoe. Asics also released the Gel-Blur 33 the softest gel cushioning I've ever felt in running shoes which have no heel to toe drop for a free feeling running experience.

New Balance 1226

The New Balance equivalent to the above is the new 2011 New Balance 1226, focusing on good foot support and arch support. The New Balance Abzorbs Foam is somewhat lighter than Asics Gel technology. What gets me excited for New Balance are their newer lines of shoes, the Minimus for minimalists and NB890s for those who are not ready to go minimal but want something close with just as much cushioning but lighter than a typical running shoe.

For Trails:
Montrail Mount Mashocist
For trail runners, Asics makes the Gel-Trail Sensor. More popular are the NB101 from New Balance and the trail version of the Minimus. Many ultra runners also consider Vasque, Montrail, Salomon and The North Face as well as many others. From Montrail, the Mount Masochist is a women's Gear of the Year award winner is proven to be a performance trail running shoe which is also available in a highly water resistant GTX version (gortex). Also check out Salomon, another performance trail running shoe manufacturer well known around the world.


  1. This post is really too informative to us, good perception of images and good description about asics shoes and different look and design and various description ,,,
    really nice
    Asics Shoes for Men

    1. I realize it is a bit informative as runner I took the time to compare a number of different styles of shoes that are particularly made for running. Perhaps I can split up such a post into a few smaller different ones. Thanks for the comment!

    2. The more informative, the better. Keep up the great work! You really helped me decide which shoes to buy. =)

  2. I am a beginner who just start running. Verg informative, thanks.

  3. A running shoe is generally not something I'd buy on recommendation, just because experience/comfort varies so much for everyone. But I do love info from others about whether a shoe is durable and what the traction is like. If a trusted source says a shoe has crappy traction on the kind of surfaces I run on, or falls apart easily, that goes in the "not even if it's comfy" list and I don't even consider it. I chose a running shoe based on online recommendations a while back (they were comfy as well), and unfortunately they fell apart very quickly - sure wish I'd known that going in, but all people talked about was comfort! Asics running shoes reviews

    1. Agreed, I buy shoes based on purpose, terrain, and use. I like to just provide some info to educate buyers rather than steer them in any direction. I too have bought shoes based on good reviews and for the most part found them pretty good but I go through road running shoes every 2 to 3 months before I can't use them for other than everyday use. Trail shoes tend to last me a lot longer and casual shoes a couple years before I've worn the tread away.