New Balance Leadville v3
This is a good very lightweight trail running and light backpacking shoe and I would recommend this shoe to people looking to lighten up their backpacking footwear.
- Great traction
- Good construction, held up well
- Mesh uppers let in very fine trail dust
- Could have a little more cushion (at least for an older hiker)
I am 58 years old and recently retired and have been trying to get out more with the intentions of doing some longer thru hikes and was looking for wide trail shoes to use in place of my existing hiking boots and New Balance cross trainers have been my go-to shoe (for me and about a million or so other older people...), so I decided to give the New Balance Leadville v3's a try.
I ended up doing two section hikes on the JMT this summer and had a pack weight that max'd out at about 32 lbs with food and water (my base weight was about 22 lbs). The first hike was from Tuolumne Meadows to Red's Meadow (~38 miles) and then I went back a few weeks later and did the North Lake to South Lake loop to pick up Evolution Valley section of the JMT (which was very cool...).
In general the Leadvilles performed well and had great traction on any rocky sections of the trail and having a lightweight shoe was great, especially during the up hill sections. I was wearing Dirty Girl gaiters which did a great job keeping sand and rocks out of my shoes, but I did get dust coming through the material in the front of the shoe that was exposed so my socks and feet got pretty dirty by the end of each days hike.
I didn't have any problems during long downhill sections of the hike and was happy with how the shoes performed. It was hot (upper 70-s to low 90's) and the shoes did well at keeping my feet as cool as could be expected due to the mesh material used and was a trade off with the dust that the material let in.
I was using the shoes with the Escape version of Wrightsocks and didn't have any blister issues in the heel or toes, but I did develop blisters/sore feet under the front balls of my feet which is the reason I stop my first hike at Red's Meadows and I haven't determined if the blisters were due to the shoes, the width of the shoes (EEEE my standard size), the socks, or that I am just old and have tender feet.
On my second section hike I applied tape to the balls of my feet and that took care of the problem, but I would like to find a shoe and sock combination that would avoid me having to tape the front balls of my feet.
Overall I am happy with the shoe and can't see going back to boots (except for up here in the Northwest where it's generally wet), but am looking for another pair with more cushion to use next year. I have thought about getting different insoles like Superfeet, but since the cost is almost a third to half of a new pair of shoes I will probably take my chances with a new pair of trail runners or shoes.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110
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Historic Range: $49.00-$124.99
Reviewers Paid: $110.00
293 g / 10.4 oz