New Balance vs Under Armour: Which Is Better?

As an avid athlete and shoe enthusiast, I’m always interested in learning about the latest and greatest in performance footwear. New Balance and Under Armour are two major players in the athletic shoe industry, but they differ quite a bit in their technologies, fit, style and intended use.

I’ll analyze the key distinctions between these two brand’s shoes to help fellow active folks decide which might be best for their individual needs and preferences.

Comparison Table

CategoryNew BalanceUnder Armour
Founded In19061996
Comfort & FitRoomy toe box, wide range of widths, firm arch supportSnug heel and midfoot, lightweight, moderate arch support
Color OptionsClassic & mutedVibrant & bold
DurabilityVery durable, long-lastingModerate to high durability
PerformanceCushioned & supportive for all levelsResponsive technologies for competitive athletes
Design & StyleClassic, retro, simple stylesSleek, modern athletic styles
PopularityWell-established brandGaining popularity
Best Selling Model880v11UA Charged Assert 10

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.

Under Armour Overview

Founded in 1996 by Kevin Plank, a former college football player, Under Armour exploded onto the sportswear scene with moisture-wicking shirts that were a game changer for athletes. Since then, they’ve expanded into footwear to make their mark in the shoe world too.

Kevin Plank (Under Armour Founder)

Under Armour running shoes focus on lightweight, breathable construction. Synthetic uppers and airy mesh provide ventilation to keep feet cool and dry. The smooth inner lining prevents irritation so you can focus on your training.

Their shoes also implement performance technologies to give athletes an edge. Charged cushioning offers responsive landings while Micro G foam brings flexible stability. Models like the HOVR Machina optimize comfort and energy return.

While some shoes like the HOVR Sonic cater to runners, Under Armour also markets lifestyle designs for casual wear. Their expansive selection ranges from minimalist sneakers to basketball shoes to golf cleats. So no matter your sport, they aim to outfit your feet.

Major Differences Between the Brands

Comfort & Fit

New Balance shoes have a roomier toe box and provide wider sizing options compared to Under Armour. They offer excellent arch support which works well for plantar fasciitis and other common foot issues. Under Armour shoes hug the heel and midfoot more tightly for a “locked-in” feel that some find restrictive.

Durability & Performance

Both New Balance and Under Armour shoes are known for impressive durability that withstand intense training. New Balance shoes incorporate stabilizing features like medial posts and durable cushioning which suits the needs of casual trainees to everyday athletes. Under Armour, performance shoes integrate the latest responsive technologies geared more toward competitive runners and serious athletes.


On average, New Balance shoes start around $75 while Under Armour models typically start around $100. So Under Armour footwear comes at a bit of a premium, though New Balance does have premium shoes extending upwards of $150 as well. Ultimately, New Balance may better suit buyers on a tighter budget.

Design & Style

When it comes to aesthetics, New Balance has more understated, classic good looks while Under Armour skews modern, bold and attention-grabbing. For wearers who like retro runners or timeless casual sneakers, New Balance has better options. But folks who want shoes that make a flashy statement will likely prefer Under Armour’s energetic color palettes and sleek silhouettes.


As an older brand, New Balance enjoys greater brand recognition and has a broader consumer base. But Under Armour’s savvy marketing and athlete sponsorships have fueled incredible growth lately, especially among younger consumers inspired by sports stars like Steph Curry and Tom Brady repping the brand.

Target Market

With their wide range of sizes/widths and emphasis on stability and support, New Balance appeals enormously to runners and athletes who struggle with foot issues like plantar fasciitis or knee pain.

Their classic styling also suits casual wearers looking for comfortable lifestyle shoes. Under Armour aggressively targets younger athletes and draws fans of popular sports like basketball and football where their sponsored superstars play.

Performance Comparison

For Nurses

For nurses and others who are on their feet all day, New Balance shoes make an excellent choice thanks to their durable cushioning and ample arch support. Models like the 1080v11 or 860v11 work great to prevent fatigue.

For Walking

Both New Balance and Under Armour offer great options for walking shoes, with excellent shock absorption and arch support. For casual walkers prioritizing comfort, New Balance caters really well. But Under Armour’s HOVR walking shoes provide impressive responsiveness too.

For Running

Competitive runners would likely lean towards Under Armour shoes that integrate cutting-edge Energy Return technologies to improve performance. But New Balance Fresh Foam running shoes also deliver a smooth, well-cushioned ride that provides the stability many runners need.

For Flat Feet

New Balance running shoes outfitted with firm, stable arch supports like the Vongo v5 or the 1540v3 can work wonders for athletes with flat feet. They control overpronation well while cushioning.

For Back Pain

With their medial posts and motion control capabilities, stability shoes from New Balance can effectively prevent excess rotation that contributes to back pain when training. Models like the 1340v3 or Prism deliver ample support.

For Standing All Day

For occupations that require being on your feet for prolonged periods, New Balance comes out ahead again thanks to their durable cushioning technologies that prevent fatigue and absorb shock well. The made-in-USA 990v5 could handle all-day standing with ease.

For High Arches

Wearers with high arches require ample cushioning but minimal arch support to avoid discomfort. Models from both New Balance and Under Armour could work, but Under Armour options like the HOVR Phantom SE might align better with high arches.

For Hiking

The intense grip and durable outsole of Under Armour hiking shoes make them a top performer for hitting the trails. Waterproof models like the Infil GORE-TEX provide great traction and keep feet dry over rugged terrain.

For Plantar Fasciitis

With their smooth cushioning and motion control features, New Balance shoes can significantly relieve common causes of plantar fasciitis pain. Models catering to overpronators like the Vongo v5 and 1500v6 offer great arch support.

Final Verdict

In the battle between these two athletic footwear juggernauts, choosing the right brand ultimately depends on your foot type, training activities and personal preferences around style, fit and budget.

For runners and athletes who struggle with knee pain, plantar fasciitis or other nagging injuries, New Balance shines thanks to their comfort technologies, ample stability and extended width sizes. The reasonable prices and classic styling also make them enormously versatile lifestyle shoes as well.

But Under Armour takes the cake if you crave shoes with flashy modern looks and responsive cushioning to give you an edge in high intensity training and competition.

Their innovative material construction and dynamic technologies like UA HOVR and Michelin rubber outsoles certainly appeal most directly to younger athletes focused on amplifying their performance.

Hopefully this detailed brand comparison helps fellow fitness enthusiasts choose which footwear brand best matches both their feet and their needs! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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