The dead shoe: New Balance 990v4

Made in what?

Just prior to writing this blog post, I realized that New Balance released a new version of their “dad shoe”, the New Balance 990. The latest is version 5, but mine are v4 and cost around 180 EUR when I bought them three years ago. Little did I know that these would be the WORST pair of shoes I have ever bought.

nb990v4 are shit!

I bought them out of curiousity and necessity, because I had liked my two pairs of low budget NB 364, the popular 574 and thus had the expectancy that these 990 would be the ultimate deal in terms of comfort and longevity. Quality that comes at a higher price. Furthermore, I was longing for strong shoes that could handle my weight and that I could wear for walking the dog. Imagine these relatively heavy boots are advertised for runners, which is something I will never understand. To my mind, they are way too heavy for most runners, and also way too uncomfortable for that cause. Comfort? Maybe for obese US Americans.

nb990v4 are shit!

The 990v4 are “Made in the U.S.A.”, and right now I believe that this just stands for really bad quality. The upper leather work is great and durable, it seems to be the part that was made in the USA, but the grey middle sole started to disintegrate just after a few months of use. Now, I do own a fair share of other sneakers and never wear them 24/7, so this early failure really surprised me. No other shoe has ever failed me in such a blatant way.

nb990v4 are shit!
My Stormsure repair that lasted a few month. I will now try to fix this with Sugru.

The black under sole peels off, but isn’t the problem. The problem really is the middle, foamy sole that is supposed to be a strong bed for the lower sole and the upper leather work. It’s a material problem, and I do not seem to be the only person with this problem. That foamy part under the heel is supposed to have a rubberized cover that quickly came off. As a consequence, the foam starts to soak up water whenever it is wet outside. Pictured here is one shoe still with that Stormsure coating, and the other one with the naked heel.

When I tried to fix this some month ago with Stormsure (UK-made glue), I realized that the middle sole is the problem and that the heel area wasn’t the only problem. It feels like as if it was dissolved by some sort of acid – which is very, very strange because I only use these shoes for walking the dog in a local, very urban forrest. Any other pair of shoes – mostly Made in Vietnam-Nikes or my beloved Brooks Dyad 10 – remain durable even though they are exposed to much higher wear and used on the same track and for the same purpose. And you’ll probably see from these pictures that the upper leather work is still ok. Why, New Balance, why do you even ship such a bad product? This is unacceptable! Especially for the huge amount of money this pair of shoes cost. My most expensive shoes so far, and also the worst. My Brooks were also expensive, but never failed me so far. New Balance “Made in the USA”? A sad joke.

nb990v4 are shit!

Of course, New Balance never replied to my reviews and mails, hence this blog post. Maybe it will prevent someone from buying this crap aka the New Balance 990v4 and other New Balance shoes. Made in the USA is exactly this: A bad product that costs a lot of money but falls apart after a few month. Most certainly my last pair of New Balance, and remember: I am the guy who spends 180 EUR on shoes. Not anymore.

180 EUR >> /dev/null

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

3 thoughts on “The dead shoe: New Balance 990v4”

  1. Been using the 990 shoes since they came out, have 10 pair I haven’t used yet. Never had any of the issues you speak of with the 990v4. Grayson Russell

    1. That is exactly the point: I never abused these shoes, especially not as I only wore them a few times. So “I know” that I did not abuse them. These shoes are nice and have a nice leather upper, but the mid sole is of low quality which disintegrates over time. It’s a quality issue of the material used.

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