I wear these $200 New Balance sneakers every day
The New Balance 993 may be pricey, but it's a worthy investment.
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Last summer I splurged on a pair of New Balance 993 shoes after hearing about their reputation for months. When it comes to the iconic sneaker, hyperbole reigns supreme on message boards, menswear publications, and social media alike, with many fans dubbing the New Balance 993 the holy grail of walking shoes.
First released in 2008, the sneaker—with its fat, chunky silhouette and pillowy heel—has recently skyrocketed in popularity thanks to the "dad shoe" trend. At $185 a pair, the New Balance 993 is the most expensive shoe I’ve ever purchased. But here I am, nearly one year later, and I still believe it was worth every penny.
What I like about the New Balance 993
These might be the most comfortable and versatile sneakers I have in my rotation. The New Balance 993 shoes are almost like slippers with their all-around softness and require little to no break-in straight out of the box. The padded suede-and-mesh upper feels like pillows on your feet as you move around and the overstuffed tongue adds extra cushioning without being obstructive. The 993’s thick rubber sole is sturdy and guarantees comfortable all-day wear, proving the shoe’s chunkiness isn’t just for show.
Despite its bulky appearance, the 993 is surprisingly lightweight, though not as light as, say, [the average pair of running shoes. According to the company, the New Balance 993 weighs around 13.7 ounces, compared to the popular Nike Air Zoom Pegasus, which weighs just under 10 ounces. The New Balance 993 is advertised as a running shoe, but I find them to be better as walking shoes or general “beaters”—shoes meant to be worn for everyday use. They're a sturdy, simple shoe fit for any situation—walks at the park, running errands, hangouts with friends—and they're soft enough to want to prioritize wearing. These are built to take a beating.
Since buying a pair, I’ve prioritized wearing my New Balances over any other shoe I own. It’s not just the comfort—it’s the ease of access as well. I haven’t untied my laces once since initially double-knotting them on the first wear. They’re so easy to slip on and off, it feels like they were crafted for my feet. I’ve been wearing these shoes weekly since day one, and they still look as clean as they did straight out of the box, without any visible dirt marks or scuffs.
One of my favorite features of my New Balance 993s is how they seem to go with everything I wear. I have the shoe in the grey with white colorway, which matches most of the neutral and black pants and shorts I have in my closet. My 993s can spice up even the most basic T-shirt and jean outfit, making a casual silhouette pop with the shoe’s chunky contrast.
The 993 also looks unlike any other shoe out there—in a good way. It's too distinct to resemble anything Nike or Adidas produces, yet it carries the familiar workings of other shoes, like the flat fat laces of ‘90s skateboarding shoes and the stubbiness of Asics’ Gel-Mai.
Are New Balance 993s worth it?
At $185, the New Balance 993 isn’t cheap. Similar to the 990v5 and the frequently sold-out 992, the 993 is made in the USA—a qualifier New Balance uses for shoes that are at least 70% domestically produced—which contributes to the higher cost.
That being said, I wholeheartedly recommend the New Balance 993 as an everyday lifestyle sneaker. If you’re willing to shell out $185, these shoes are an investment that will last you more than a few hundred miles. With soft cushioning and an extra-sturdy sole, the shoe provides more support and durability than other casual footwear. The 993—which comes in four colors and is available in sizes 7 through 16 in standard and extra wide fits—is versatile enough to wear almost anywhere.
However, if the shoe’s brawny style isn’t your thing, New Balance’s slimmer 990v5 might be a better option. And if the steep price is a turnoff, look elsewhere for a casual lifestyle shoe. Though I find the comfort of the 993’s cushioning incredible, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives if you aren’t willing to spend quite so much.