New Balance had our shoe of the year last year with the FuelCell Rebel V2. It is a shoe that we recommended to a ton of people and we’ve gone through multiple pairs of and honestly would still be running in today. We were excited when he first saw the pictures of the Rebel V3 in terms of that redesigned upper, but the real question was can it maintain it’s status from last year as one of the favorite shoes in our lineup. The answer is a little complicated and inevitably overall while being a great shoe, it’s definitely gone through some upper changes that pulled it off the podium for us this year. Here’s why.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Last year’s champ gets a full upper redesign and a bit more cushion, but can’t quite hold onto the title this year.
- Weight – 7.25oz or 206g for a US Men’s 9, 6.5oz or 184g for a US Women’s 7
- Cushion – 29.5mm of cushion and a 6mm heel/toe drop
- Pricing – $130.00 USD
- Colors – 3 options for men and women with more coming.
Construction and Materials
- Upper – Uses a fully updated lightweight lace knit upper with a gusseted tongue for improved fit.
- Midsole – Almost 30mm of supercritical FuelCell foam
- Outsole – Uses blown rubber for traction and durability.
The thing we loved about the Rebel V2 was how easy it felt to run in them. The upper felt like nothing on your foot and gave you plenty of room in the toe box while the FuelCell midsole delivered a nice responsive and bouncy ride. The Rebel V3 continues to offer the same experience from a ride perspective, but New Balance has actually added additional cushion to the midsole giving you a slightly higher stack.
The midsole itself is the success on the Rebel V3 as it still delivers that same amazing responsive ride that we have loved on the Rebel, SuperComp, and Elite in the past. The additional stack height is minimal really, but we like the fact that the shoe is closing in on that 30mm+ range as we are seeing that as a new sweet spot. The outsole continues to use that blown rubber for traction and durability, and we can confirm that it does handle wetter roads with ease.
The big change here comes in the upper and it’s actually one of the areas we struggle with. The shoe, to us, feels narrower which is not something that we were expecting nor necessarily wanting. New Balance probably got some feedback on the Rebel V2 that the toebox felt too voluminous because a lot of people just aren’t used to a more open forefoot. For us that was actually one of the successes of the shoe because it keeps your foot more relaxed through the ride. It also gives you a more stable and secure landing platform during your run. And while not incredibly different in terms of actual measurements, everyone we have talked to has had the same comment about the shoe seeming to be narrower across the forefoot and even in its stance. The V2 also had a more flanged midsole design which has been eliminated as well which does make the Rebel V3 feel like a lot of other shoes in the market, but it hurts a little because these items are what we think made the V2 really successful.
Note the upper itself feels great and material choice in terms of this new lightweight lace knit and how they implemented it works well. The heel counter and slightly padded collar do a good job protecting and holding your foot. So a lot of the choices are great up top. in fact for a lot of people the V3 will probably work great, but if you ran in the V2 before we bet you’ll have a pretty strong opinion about the changes.
So yes, this is a case where we didn’t really love the changes. The New Balance Rebel V2 was truly our shoe of the year in 2021 and we had such high hopes for the Rebel V3 which maybe was a bit unfair going in. We do think New Balance took out some of what was really successful in the V2 especially that wider forefoot, but the changes they have made to the upper in terms of material design are solid. Also, that FuelCell midsole really does still deliver the same level of ride that it has prior and extra stack is even better. We would definitely tell anyone considering to try these on and give them a little run around before you buy them. The bounce and responsiveness is solid and you’ll see that the moment they’re on your feet, but the feeling of narrowness is also there, so just something to keep an eye out for.
Learn more on the New Balance website
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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.