New Balance 990v5: The Ultimate Dad Shoe
Price: $185 [$149 on Amazon]
The New Balance 990v5 is the ultimate dad shoe: comfortable, well made, and chunky as can be.
The New Balance 990v5 can be hard to style well, and is currently out of production.
|Model||New Balance 990v5|
|Materials||Pig Suede / EVA / PU / Rubber|
|Weight||480 g / 1 lb 0.9 oz|
|Country of Origin||United States|
The 990v5 was the 990 model when New Balance really took off. For a huge number of sneaker heads, the 990v5 is probably the shoe you think of when someone says “New Balance.” It’s also probably the sneaker you think of when someone says “dad shoe.”
Initially released in 2019, this shoe came out just 3 years after the New Balance 990v4. It was clear the brand from Massachusetts was on a mission. The 990v4 was the first time the model took a major step down in quality. The company had to do something to solve that.
It was also a change to the concept of the sneaker. The 990 originally launched by being targeted at hard core runners. Then it switched to being the sneaker for dads in upper middle-class neighborhoods. This sneaker was supposed to capture sneakerheads.
The New Balance 990v5 was offered to collaborators early on in its life. They also embraced the dad shoe vibe with one of the best ads ever made for a sneaker.
Now that we’ve had the 990v6 for a bit, and this particular model has been put in the vault, I think it’s time to take a bit of a retrospective on this sneaker. When these re release (or when you search ebay), is it worth picking up a pair?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Want to see more on the 990 series? Check them all out here:
By the time the New Balance 990v5 came around, New Balance knew what they wanted in the sneaker. There isn’t going to be much in the way of surprises here. That means the upper is covered almost entirely with that soft grey pig suede you expect. Under that is a grey mesh. Both of these materials look great, and while suede will never stay clean with regular wear, the grey will keep things OK long term.
At first glance, initial changes from the last model are few and far between. There is a plastic panel running along the back half of the sneaker to help with lock down. The toe panel is now under the midfoot panel instead of on top like most sneakers.
Getting closer, though, you’ll find that there are a number of changes that are big quality of life upgrades. All the panels that the 990v4 changed over to cardboard are back to plastic here. And even more substantial than they’ve ever been. The mesh is thicker – you can no longer see the foam underneath. Even the man-made dark grey panels have more detailing on them to make them pop.
It’s also important to note just how chunky these sneakers are. Sure, all the 990s are dad shoes, but the v5 is thick. Put next to any other New Balance and you’ll immediately be able to tell the difference.
Mid and Outsole
Taking a look at the underside of the New Balance 990v5, there isn’t anything revolutionary, but nothing to be upset about either. The midsole is tricolored – white, grey, and light grey – each representing different foams and densities. There is a plastic heel cap with the “NB” logo hidden underneath.
You will notice that this pair utilizes the shape to help with compression, rather than just relying on the foams themselves. I honestly can’t tell if it makes an actual difference in wear, but still good to see them trying to continue to innovate.
On the bottom it’s a pretty basic expanse of rubber. Black on the heel and edge, grey under the ball of your feet. There are cut outs to allow for better articulation, though not all that much.
A plastic shank provides some stability, as well as a bit of visual interest.
The New Balance 990v5 is the ultimate dad shoe. It’s chunky, it’s both brash and understated. And, like any product that dads love, it’s well made and will last you a long time.
I hate to keep banging the drum on this, but you do need to plan ahead on how you are going to wear them due to the visual heft.
If you want to style them well, you can’t throw them on as an afterthought. I’ve actually sometimes struggled with them, jeans are a little too dads-y, joggers don’t mesh well, etc. I’ve found something wide and structured works best. If your goal is something you leave by the door and throw on with whatever, the 990v3 might be the better option for you.
Fit & Comfort
The New Balance 990v5 fits pretty big overall. I personally went with my normal sneaker size, but I think at least half of folks are going to want to size down a half size from what you wear in Nike or Adidas. If you prefer a secure fit, I’m talking to you.
This sneaker is heavily padded, meaning that even if you touch all the sides of the sneaker, your foot will move around a bit as the foam compresses when you walk. Add in that these are wider than most other sneakers and they can feel a bit sloppy when going true to size.
That isn’t an inherently bad thing – I personally prefer a bit of space in my casual sneakers – just something to be aware of.
I take this sneaker in a size 13, which is the same as my Nike size. However, I could easily have gone with a 12.5 and been OK.
If you want a supportive sneaker, I’m not sure there is anything out there better than the New Balance 990v5. Even the 990v6, where New Balance made a point to increase comfort, trades a lot of stability for more squish.
If I needed to nitpick, I should say these are not the squishiest. They are not going to blow your mind when you first put them on. Similarly, if you’re going to be going for a run, there are better options.
However, for guys who are going to be on their feet all day this is it. The top. The best.
Materials & Construction
When it comes to materials, there really is almost nothing you can complain about. And I don’t mean not a lot to complain about for a mass-market sneaker. I mean at all.
The majority of the upper is made up entirely of pig suede. I know that some people don’t want to wear materials from pig, if you look around there are smooth cow leather options. However, the classic styles will be made this way.
The support sections are a man-made faux-leather, and the mesh is a polyester. Behind that mesh and suede is thick foam, and a cloth backing. The plastic support panels are a very soft rubbery plastic. As for extra lock down I’m not sure if they help, but they look cool.
Under your foot, the New Balance 990v5 features an Ortho lite branded insole, an open cell foam option. The midsole is New Balance’s ENCAP system. This means the white portion on the midsole is EVA foam, and that foam continues under the middle of the heel. The grey portions are a PU foam, and that help keeps the rear of the sneaker stabilized.
If you want more information on the various foams used in sneakers and what they do, click here.
The outsole of this sneaker is made of two different rubber densities (harder in black, and softer in grey), along with a plastic shank. The rubber is definitely on the harder side, good for durability but not the best with grip.
The New Balance 990v5 is a cemented constructed shoe, made in the United Sates. Cemented construction is by far the standard in making sneakers. If you want a longer explanation, click here. The short version is that the upper of the sneaker is sewn and lasted, and that is glued directly to the midsole.
This type of construction is the best for water resistance, the most flexible, and the cheapest to make. As for drawbacks, it is extremely difficult to replace the outsole, and they can separate with age or wear.
The New Balance 990v5 was priced at $185 in it’s most recent run, however if you buy from someone who isn’t New Balance, you can find it much cheaper. Most sizes are available on Amazon for $150 at time of writing (even less for other colors). Even better, there are free returns so you can get your typical size and a size down, just return whichever doesn’t work.
If Amazon doesn’t have your size, finding a pair on ebay for well under retail is super easy.
This price puts this sneaker on the more affordable size of New Balance 990s (both at retail and on sale).
Of course, $150 is still a lot of money for a sneaker. However, it’s actually less than the premium casual model from other major brands. Nike’s Jordan Brand sneakers now regularly hit $200+, and Adidas’ Ultraboosts were recently raised to $190.
Is the New Balance 990v5 Worth It?
The New Balance 990v5 is definitely worth it. While I can see why someone might prefer one of the other 990 models (in fact, I put myself on that list), there is no denying that the New Balance 990v5 is the best dad shoe of the bunch. And, honestly, the best dad shoe period.
It’s chunky, comfortable, well made, and should last you for years of regular wear. I don’t want to sound out of touch. I know it’s an expensive sneaker. However, this is a case where you actually get what you pay for. It’s actually better in some ways than the model that replaced it.
If you are considering getting the 990v5, I’d strongly suggest going for it.