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New Balance 1690 Product Review

Short Take

A new take on their Minimus collection, New Balance has created a protective road/trail hybrid with a great fit and feel in the 1690.

Big Features

  • Seamless Interior: Welded overlays are used throughout the upper, providing structure while maintaining a no-sew environment for the foot.
  • Ionix Outsole: The outsole consists of dozens of hexagonal lugs, similar to that of the Minimus Hi-Rez, for excellent flexibility and traction.

Trail Test

Every now and then we receive a shoe here at the ‘House that simply surpasses our expectations. Taking the cake this time around is New Balance’s 1690, and it does so brilliantly.

The 1690 is a new approach to New Balance’s Minimus collection, featuring a fair amount of cushioning but retaining flexibility through its Ionix outsole design, somewhat reminiscent of the outsole found on the ultraminimal Minimus Hi-Rez. A benefit to this design is its ease of incorporating multidirectional lugs for traction.

So is the 1690 built for the roads or the trails? In the past, New Balance has vaguely described it as an “urban runner,” but our testers felt this shoe to be just at home off the beaten path as on it. It’s cushioned enough for a good amount of road use, so let’s call it a great choice for getting to the trailhead, doing your thing over a variety of trail types, then getting back home.

One of our favorite features of the shoe is the fit. The supple mesh upper features few overlays, and the few it has are neither constricting nor irritating on the foot, yet they hold everything in place nicely.

So who’s going to like the 1690 the most? Any runner looking for a versatile, low profile shoe that promotes an efficient stride should consider the 1690, especially if their runs frequent the trails as much as the roads. Expect this shoe to feel like a lower alternative to the North Face Hyper-Track Guide, or as a road/trail hybrid version of a Saucony Kinvara 4.

Runners Say

Erik

“Though this may be a 4mm drop shoe, to me it feels more like a zero drop shoe. The geometry of the platform really gets you landing on your forefoot, and you may feel it in your lower legs if you’re not used to a low profile shoe.”

Tera

“I wasn’t too sure what to expect with the 1690, but upon trying it I was surprised by its great fit and feel. New Balance has definitely hit the mark with this shoe.”

Matt

“While walking around in the 1690, the heel felt a little clunky. But at a running pace, the shoe really opens up and feels like an extension of your foot.”