New Balance vs Puma: Which Is Better?

When it comes to athletic footwear, New Balance and Puma are two brands that have carved out a spot at the top. Both companies have been around for over 100 years and offer a diverse range of performance and lifestyle shoes.

While the brands share some similarities, they each have their own unique strengths. This article will compare the key factors between New Balance and Puma shoes to provide a detailed analysis of their differences and help you determine which brand may be the best match for your needs and preferences.

Comparison Table

CategoryNew BalancePuma
Comfort & FitRoomy toe box, wide size rangesLightweight, flexible, snugger fit
Color OptionsClassic & understatedBold, bright, stylish
DurabilityVery durable, well-constructedLess durable than some competitors
PerformanceExcellent shock absorption and arch supportInnovative technologies for speed and energy return
Design & StyleTraditional, simple designsModern, athletic aesthetic
PopularityPopular for serious runners & athletesGaining popularity among lifestyle wearers
Best Selling Model880v11PUMA Cali

New Balance Overview

Founded in 1906 by William J. Riley, New Balance began by making arch supports and prescription shoes for people with foot issues.

Based in Boston, the brand gained popularity for technical innovations like ripple soles and heel counters to stabilize and customize fit.

While New Balance makes athletic shoes across sports, they remain deeply rooted in running due to their origins in correcting overpronated feet.

Core neutral shoes like the 880 use injected EVA midsoles for soft landings and Ortholite insoles for support.

Iconic models like the 990 integrate dual-density midsoles and Abzorb foams to combine cushioning with compression resistance for smooth transitions.

New Balance leans into retros styles while also incorporating new 3D printed midsoles and engineered mesh uppers. With masterful attention to fit adjustments for all foot shapes and biomechanical needs, New Balance delivers versatile performance and classic appeal across running categories.

Puma Overview

German brand Puma was founded in 1948 by Rudolf Dassler, originally specializing in soccer shoes and expanding into athletic fashion.

Rudolf Dassler
Rudolf Dassler

Puma incorporates technologies like NRGY beads for energy return in the soles of lightweight shoes catering to casual athletes and sports enthusiasts.

Major Differences Between These Brands

Comfort & Fit

New Balance shoes have a well-earned reputation for comfort thanks to their generous toe box, plush cushioning, and availability in wider sizes. Puma shoes tend to fit snugger through the midfoot with a more tapered toe.

Their lightweight, flexible materials provide great comfort for shorter distances. For all-day wear or long training runs, New Balance’s roomier toe box wins out.

Durability & Performance

When it comes to withstanding heavy athletic training and lots of mileage, New Balance shoes are hard to beat. Models like the 990v5 use premium materials and construction designed to last season after season. Puma shoes skew more towards fashion and lifestyle purposes, so their performance shoes may start showing wear sooner under heavy use.


New Balance shoes range from affordable entry-level models around $65 up to premium shoes priced over $180. Pumas tend to sit at slightly lower price points overall, with most models between $50 and $130. For budget-conscious shoppers who still want quality and style, Puma edges out New Balance.

Design & Style

If you like classic, understated athletic footwear, New Balance is the winner. Models like the 574 Core have looked similar for decades. Puma shoes have a modern athletic aesthetic geared more towards current sneakerhead trends. Colors and materials skew brighter and bolder. If you want shoes that turn heads, Puma has the style advantage.


New Balance has long been popular with serious runners, walkers, and athletes who need high-performing shoes. Puma has gained popularity in recent years among casual wearers who like the blend of sporty and fashion-forward design. New Balance likely still has the edge for popularity among athletes, while Puma leads for fashionistas.

Target Market

The typical New Balance customer is someone in need of comfort, support, stability, and quality construction above all else. Devoted athletes swear by New Balance’s performance shoes. Puma markets towards the younger, active fashion crowd who want style and comfort with the ability to keep up during workouts and sports.

Performance Comparison

For Runners

New Balance running shoes like the Fresh Foam 1080v12 provide plush cushioning and a grippy outsole to keep you comfortable mile after mile. Puma models like the Velocity Nitro aim to increase speed and efficiency with responsive foam and propulsion plates. For marathon training, long runs, or easy days, New Balance has the edge. But Puma’s shoes can help you pick up the pace on tempo or speed days.

For Walking

New Balance walking shoes have the cushioning, support, and roomy fit needed to walk comfortably for hours without foot pain. Puma walking shoes prioritize lightweight flexibility over the steadfast support of New Balance. For regular walkers, commuters, or travelers who spend all day on their feet, New Balance is the top pick.

For Standing All Day

The win again goes to New Balance. Their walking-focused models offer excellent arch support and shock absorption to reduce pain and fatigue from long hours on your feet. Puma lifestyle shoes lack the technology and construction to hold up to extended standing and walking compared to New Balance.

For Flat Feet

With stability technologies like Rollbar and T-Beam shanks that resist overpronation, New Balance shoes work great for flat feet. Some Puma models have arch support, but their shoes overall aren’t tailored specifically for overpronators. People with flat feet or collapsed arches need New Balance’s motion control and pronation support.

Final Verdict

In summary, New Balance and Puma both make quality athletic shoes, but excel in different areas. New Balance is the choice for comfort, support, stability and serious performance. Athletes, runners training for marathons, and people on their feet all day should select New Balance.

Puma takes the lead for shoppers who want athletic shoes with ample lifestyle and fashion appeal. Their bold colors and sleek silhouettes give their footwear a stylish edge over New Balance’s more understated look.

Consider your priorities – if performance and foot health are paramount, go with New Balance. If you want your shoes to make a style statement for both the sidewalk and the gym, choose Puma. Whichever you choose, you can be confident you’re getting reliable, comfortable shoes.

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