The Beacon from New Balance was a real success among portions of the running community. Most people had one of two reactions, they loved it more than anything, and then the rest kind of liked it but didn’t really get the fuss. No one really disliked it though, so it was interesting when the v2 came out and New Balance had made some pretty significant updates to the entire shoe. Most of that community including us found ourselves liking it a lot less. The Beacon v3 however changes all of that. This shoe is rock solid in so many ways that most reviewers in the running community are having a challenging time finding bad things to say about it. So let’s get into it.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- The v3 is a spectacular update to the v2 in literally every way, it is tough to find negatives even.
- Sports an updated breathable, wide, light upper, and an updated midsole that balances cushion and responsiveness.
- Weighs in at 8.0oz or 227g for a US Men’s 9, 7.1oz, or 201g for a US Women’s 8.
- Features 26mm of cushion and has a 6mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $119.99 USD and comes in 3 colors for Men and 4 for Women.
Let’s just start off by saying that pulling these things out of the box does not translate in any way into what you might expect to feel on the road. The shoe visually is fairly simplistic and also kind of bland but we knew the Beacons reputation going in so we knew there was more there.
As you first slip your foot in, you feel the very precise foot shape design that locks your heel in place. You feel how it tapers through the middle of your foot almost grabbing and holding you, and then how it opens up giving you wiggle room for your toes. Under your heel, there is a nice amount of cushion, but even a slight hop will give you a sensation of bounce so that responsiveness is clear from the get-go. Note, there is some tightness right in that middle foot area, but don’t let that stop you here because when you hit the roads it becomes really clear why that is there. It is holding your whole foot in place and ensuring you stay locked in.
The Beacon v3 comes to life the moment you start to run in them. It is a strange mix of comfort and responsiveness that you probably won’t expect from the shoe. It comes almost effortlessly and it gives you the ability to run faster or slower, all depending on how you’re feeling on a given day. It may seem strange to say it that way, but many shoes are designed for comfort while others just go fast, but it takes a special shoe to allow you maximum control of your speed and to give you the ability to run fast when you want and take it easy when you need to. That is where the Beacon shines. We ran these across a variety of distances and it really is a versatile shoe meaning you can grab these and go out for a couple of miles or you can take them out for your weekend long run and in both cases, they will fit the bill.
We truly struggle to find a lot of real issues with the Beacon v3 and we are really so impressed with the shoe. It has become one of those go-tos when you don’t know what else to wear, so inevitably you just go for the v3s. This is the sign of a great shoe and runners of varying levels will find appealing. So who isn’t going to enjoy the shoe you might be asking. If you just love comfort, if you need a lot of cushion for your knees, or if you need true stability, then you will do much better in an alternative. The Beacon v3 is going to be great for those intermediate to experienced runners who want to be able to push the time when they can and to then just have a nice easy chill run on another day. They will see great times in these, but also retain full control over their foot and their stride throughout. It’s a winner.
The Beacon v3s upper is an engineered jacquard mesh that is highly breathable and just slightly stretchable. The toe box has ample room for your foot, might be a lot for some people, but we love that roominess so you can relax those toes. The width of the toe box can make the shoes feel like they run a bit big, but we stayed true to size and had no problems with slippage, so something to keep an eye on at least.
As we move back to the midfoot, the visual changes to this pattern design which actually act as mid-foot support keeping you locked in. Top-down you can actually see the shoe narrow in the mid-foot. This finishes with their strange-looking 3D “Ultra” heel which we have seen on many shoes before including the 1080v10. However, on the v3, it is way better than the v2 and even the 1080 because it just doesn’t have as much material and feels a bit more flexible. This makes the shoe on and off really simple, yet the lower portion keeps you locked into place as it really molds around your heel.
Our nitpicks on the upper are in two places. First, the tongue, which is moderately padded, kind of just floats in there with no real way to fix it in place. New Balance could have added a gusset or switch to a one-piece design. Even more simply, they could just add a lace loop to the tongue so we can run the laces through it. The next thing is that just below the end of the lace box there’s just a bit too much material, so you will notice a little pucker. It doesn’t affect the run, but it is definitely noticeable.
Okay, so we need to first clarify something here because it comes up continually and most of us reviewers have been saying the wrong thing. To get the real answer, we went straight back to New Balance so we were clear. Is this Fresh Foam X and the answer is…. “kind of” and the problem is our definition of Fresh Foam X. That moniker is actually a reference to a collection of New Balance shoes that share a newer formulation of Fresh Foam. And yes, the beacon V3 is part of the Fresh Foam X collection meaning it uses a new formulation of Fresh Foam…
Regardless of what we want to call it, the question is how well it works and this implementation is light years better than prior iterations. There is so much responsiveness in the shoe, blended with a slightly firm yet comfortable cushion sensation, it’s just a really nice blend. The other change you’ll notice is near the back half of the shoe. They pushed up that midsole a bit higher which really improves comfort and creates a little ramp effect from heel-to-toe encouraging a bit of a rocker forward. You don’t feel this at all but it works really well. There are a lot of similarities here to a Hoka but without that’s super cushioned design. We are here for it.
The outsole on the Beacon v3 is super simple but also just well-thought-out. New Balance maintains a similar design to what they have done for the last few versions in that there are only a few small pieces of blown rubber at key contact points on the lateral heel and the medial forefoot. These are the spots that whether you are a heel striker, a mid-foot striker, or even a toe striker, you’re going to land on or push off from the most. This improves durability and keeps the overall weight of the shoe down because rubber is heavy and can weigh down shoes quickly. The rest of the outsole is exposed Fresh Foam that has been rubberized but will inevitably wear quickly.
Style & Aesthetics
Styling on the Beacon v3 Is probably the low point for us. First off, there are only three color options and the best option is clearly the gray and blue model you see pictured here. Even this isn’t tremendously exciting and we think they can do a lot better with the color schemes in the next models or even in a mid-cycle release. Additionally, the grooving on the heel and even the pattern on the side walls are all a little odd for people, just a real mixed bag. It doesn’t look as good as it feels.
The New Balance Beacon v3 is truly one of the best shoes on the market right now. It does a really good job balancing weight, cushion, and performance to deliver a comfortable and fast ride. if we needed to nitpick, then we will focus on aesthetics and maybe the amount of fabric in that toe box, but overall it just sports a ton of well-thought-out features. If you are looking for an everyday up-tempo runner, then you owe it to yourself to check out the Beacon v3.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.