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New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review

Totally synthetic, luggy soles, and a breathable draining upper, plus a range of width fittings including really wide (4E). (Updated 9/22/09)


Overall Rating: Recommended

The wide fit, the light weight, and the good sole easily earn these joggers a Recommended rating. The mesh upper is a little strange and the trim a little tacky looking, but they don't detract from the performance at all.

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by Roger Caffin |

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 1
Courtesy New Balance.


Editor's Note: This review was updated September 23, 2009. See added text below.


The very low-cut Australian-made Dunlop KT-26 joggers, which I often wear when out walking, are very light (327 grams or 11.5 ounces each shoe) and have superb friction on rock. But, they have a very thin flexible sole as well, and in some country it is useful to have a shoe with a firmer sole and bigger lugs. For instance, slithering around on muddy farm trails in France (the cows had used the track as well...) proved a bit difficult as the light tread on the KTs just could not grip. The same problem happened on snow-covered granite scree.

Where I run into a problem with so many brands of joggers is the width. I have wide feet - EEEE width in fact, and many brands only go up as far as EE. Actually, many well-known brands don't even tell you what the width is, which really irritates me. And if anything is going to give you sore feet at the end of the day, it is shoes which are just that bit too narrow for your feet. Yes, there are other factors as well, like the width of the heel and the height of the arch, but the width at the front of the shoe is what concerns me most of all.

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 2
Camp and relax up in the mountains.

Fortunately, the New Balance company not only makes shoes in several different lasts, but also makes them in several different widths, and the company states the available widths on their web site. This is quite unlike so many other well-known shoe companies, which give you no idea at all what the widths are. In addition, their SL1 last in an EEEE width suits me fine. So, I rather like the New Balance shoes. But please note, the last and width which suits me may not suit you; select your shoe fittings carefully.

I recently reviewed the New Balance MT1110GT joggers and found that they may run just slightly larger than some other brands. For the MT1110GT shoes I tested in the winter, I had a US size 11 EEEE, and found that they were big enough for two pairs of socks. This was good in the snow. With another well-known brand, the US 11 was only big enough for one pair of socks, but the width fitting is only an EE on those. For these MT875OR shoes, I dropped back half a size, to US 10.5 EEEE, and wore them with one pair of Darn Tough Vermont 'Hike Trek Boot Sock Full Cushion' over a thin Gobi Wigwam nylon liner sock. This is a very reliable and quite popular combination among experienced walkers.

Product Details

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 3
The lugged sole, courtesy New Balance.

The web site specifications for these shoes contains the usual array of fancy marketing buzz word names for the various bits. I'll skip them. The rubber sole has fairly good lugs: you can see the pattern in the picture here. The lugs are about 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) deep over most of the shoe, dropping to about 4 millimeters (0.16 inches) at the front. The rubber is the usual grippy stuff.

The one place where some may find the New Balance shoes a bit light is in the amount of cushioning in the soles. New Balance describes them as 'A highly responsive lightweight trainer built for the off-road runner,' and that is what they are. They are not a big heavy trekking boot. The description goes on to mention 'exceptional cushioning and ground contact,' which is a contradiction in terms in my opinion. Lots of cushioning usually means not very good 'ground contact.'

The inner sole is an 'Ortholite' - it looks like a standard inner sole. The laces are lumpy, like on the MT1110GTs: New Balance calls them 'Sure Lace.' The body is synthetic and mesh: no leather to get wet and heavy, then crack. The top edge comes up at the back of the heel as usual - exactly why I am never sure, because my favourite KTs don't and suffer no problems from that. But, at least the back edge is well padded and causes no problems.

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 4
The lining layer.

Where life gets interesting is inside the shoe. The outer surface of the upper is two strong mesh layers, and inside that is a padded layer. The padded layer is different from most other joggers, however. While it is sewn at the bottom to the bed of the shoe, it is free-floating around the top edge. Pull it away, as illustrated here, and you can see in between the mesh layer and the padding. While not visible in this photo, you can actually peer out through the mesh layer if you try. The padding is not going to crumple up either, as it supports one side of the orange tapes which hold the laces. It extends all the way around the front of the shoe as well.

Exactly what benefits this construction are meant to bring are not clear at this stage. But the construction does mean you should hesitate before wearing these shoes while river walking. The potential for getting a heap of sand and gravel in between the mesh and the padding is high. On the other hand, it would be very easy to wash the sand back out again. That said, the side of the tongue does press against the top of the orange padding layer, so there is some resistance to the inflow of debris.

The plastic finish on the outside of the mesh is rather shiny, and this makes the shoes look just a little 'tacky.' It would have been better if a matt finish had been used. However, that stuff is mainly just trim and not very structural.

Field Testing

The shoes were worn around home a bit, just to check, and were then taken on a twelve-day walk through the Australian Alpine region. This was a bit of a high speed hoon trip on tracks, rather than a bushwhacking trip through scrub and rivers. We covered 290 kilometers (180 miles) with 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) of major ascents and descents - not counting all the little ups and down. The longest day, when things went just a little wrong late in the day, saw us doing nearly 40 kilometers (24 miles) with full packs. There was no water where we had hoped to camp, so a 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and 600 meters (2,000 feet) descent had to be made as the sun went down. The next morning started with a savage 400 meters (1,300 feet) ascent straight from the tent site. There were a few creaks.

The point of mentioning these details is that you don't want big heavy boots or uncomfortable shoes on your feet when you are dragging down the last half hour to camp. These MT875OR joggers were feeling just fine when we hit the river at the bottom of that long descent, and I was able to delicately hop across rocks to cross the river dry-foot. In fact, most evenings in camp, I was still wearing the shoes while cooking dinner: I felt no urgent need to get them off my feet.

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 5
Dirty toes at the end of a long day.

In places, we were walking on some very dry dusty dirt on the tracks - no rain for a long time. Inspecting my toes at the end of the day showed that the mesh construction had let some dust through. And if there is that much dust on my toes, through a pair of Darn Tough Vermont Boot Socks and a pair of Gobi Wigwam liner socks, then the socks themselves are going to pick up a bit of dust as well. This happens with the mesh uppers on such joggers. Our standard solution is to carry two sets of socks and to wash one set every two days. However, while some dust did get in, I did not find any build-up of dust or sand between the mesh and the orange padding shown above.

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 6
The soles, before and after.

Many of us have read some horror stories about very light joggers collapsing after just a few days wear. The first-generation GoLites quickly became infamous for this. The picture here shows the soles of the MT875OR joggers 'before' and after the trip. (The before photo is actually a New Balance marketing photo.) There is a little bit of wear visible in my photo, but not very much. And the uppers came out looking just as good. The insides of the shoes and the footbed also look much the same as when new.

I dislike shoes with very thick cushioning or big air-bags in the soles: I find I lose contact with the ground and this makes it easy to sprain an ankle. On the other hand, light shoe weight usually means a limited amount of cushioning between your foot and the ground. And so it is with these shoes. This does not mean that every stick and stone dug into my soles; far from it, but I did find that I could 'feel' the surface I was walking on. I could tell whether I was on a smooth bit of grass or a potentially unstable bit of scree, and this let me control how I drove my feet. I found I could dance across small rocks while crossing a river with some delicacy.

All in all, my legs may have been very tired by the end of the trip, but my feet were relatively happy.

September 23, 2009 Update

Six Weeks in Switzerland

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 7
Trails in Switzerland.

Starting in the middle of July 2009, my wife and I spent six weeks walking in Switzerland, doing the Chamonix to Zermatt trail and the Via Alpina trail right across Switzerland. Both routes seem to go over an Alpine pass a day, with nights spent in a valley at 500 - 1000 metres (1,600 - 3,200 feet) and the passes typically being from 2,500 to 2,900 metres (8,000 - 9,500 feet). In some cases there were several close passes in one day, but no matter. That meant we were typically climbing and decending over 1,500 metres (4,800 feet) each day, with packs.

Some of the walking was on a smooth track, but rough, stony limestone country and hard snow, shale, and serious boulder scree figured very prominently (left to right in photo above). There was practically no bushwhacking at all, though there was still plenty of abrasion on the soles and the sides of the shoes, especially from the limestone country and the scree.

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review - 8
Wear on the shoes.

Of course the shoes suffered some wear - any shoes would! This was compounded by the fact that these NB875OR joggers are definitely
lightweight shoes. The depth of the lugs on the soles was significantly reduced under the ball of the foot. I also noticed that the sole was a shade thin for some of the very rough surfaces encountered, and the lug pattern was a bit minimal under the ball of the foot (especially towards the end). Both were adequate, but a bit more thickness and a bit more tread pattern might have been nice. The result would have been a heavier shoe though, and the light weight of these shoes was really appreciated every afternoon.

The mesh at the sides of the shoes suffered towards the end. You can see the rips and wear holes in the photo. Frankly, I think the mesh was a shade light and weak: a stronger version would heve been good. Of course, brushing the sides of the shoes against sharp limestone for days on end can be expected to have some consequences, so maybe the mesh didn't do too bad a job under the circumstances.

When I first looked at these shoes, I thought that the trim over the top near the front would probably die fairly quickly. It looked like cheap vinyl, and I expected it to crack and tear off. I'm talking here about the thin ribbon sections pointed to by the red arrows, not the toe-cap around the front. Well, the leading corners of the trim did start to peel off fairly soon from abrasion against all that rock, but that was a failure of the sewing, not of the trim material. I solved that by sewing the trim bits back on with some saddlery thread from my repair kit - very strong stuff. You can see my stitching in the photos. The fault here was in the design of the trim: you should never create a leading corner like that. Fortunately, once resewn there were no further problems there.

In fact, the trim material survived very well. Sewing through it and the rest of the shoe with a #100 sewing machine needle required a very high amount of force too: it is not cheap vinyl by any means! I inquired of New Balance about the material, and they replied that it was "a polyurethane based synthetic leather with a non-woven backer." Well, to me it seemed rather like the Hypalon they use on snow shoe decks. A bit glossy, but very, very strong stuff.

These comments have been forwarded to the design group at New Balance. I note that a later model of trail shoe from New Balance (which will be reviewed here in due course) has stronger mesh at the sides and no forward-pointing corners on the trim, while still using the same trim material. It would seem the design guys do take some notice.

In summary, despite being very light, these shoes proved to be strong enough to handle both our Australian and Swiss Alpine trips: almost eight weeks of continuous hard use. That seems a good enough life to me.



New Balance


MT875OR / Late 2008




Synthetic fabrics and rubbers, no leather


SL-1 (see the New Balance site for further definition on their lasts)


7 through 15, with half sizes 7 through 12; in D, EE, and EEEE fittings


Quoted 340 g (11.9 oz) each
Measured 385 g (13.6 oz) for US size 10.5 EEEE (BPL measurement)


Grey: what you see is what you get


$100 US

What's Good

  • A low weight
  • A wide range of width fittings (including 4E)
  • A flat inner sole and footbed (no arch support)
  • Good friction and good lugs on the sole
  • No leather or suede anywhere
  • No air cushioning to destroy 'ground-feel'

What's Not So Good

  • Dust gets into your socks and onto your feet
  • Sand could get inside the shell when river walking (but it will wash out easily)


"New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review," by Roger Caffin. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-09-22 00:05:00-06.


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New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review on 06/16/2009 16:52:34 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review on 06/17/2009 12:33:09 MDT Print View

Thanks for this review. My feet are more in the E-EE range, so I end up making due with D-width INOV-8s, just a bit longer than my foot length merits.

One of the reasons for this is the dearth of review on New Balance shoes by people who UL backpack. I need information from people who will be evaluating the shoes on the same terms I will, and that's been hard to find.

That, and the NB shoes I've been able to try on at local retailers are just have too much between my feet and the ground. I like being able to feel the trail and it's nice to know these don't suffer from that issue.

These look like the kind of shoe I'm looking for; luggy, light, and wide.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Stiff sole on 06/17/2009 15:55:02 MDT Print View

I had a look at these the other day and was a bit put off by the lack of flex in the sole fore foot - they seemed very stiff to me.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: New Balance MT875OR Joggers Review on 06/17/2009 16:11:17 MDT Print View

Hi James

The 875s are available in D, 2E and 4E.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Stiff sole on 06/17/2009 16:12:47 MDT Print View

Hi Jason

I haven't noticed that myself in the field. It often happens that new shoes feel a bit stiff for the first 5 - 10 minutes.

If you want really flexible shoes, try the Dunlop KT-26s!


Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
KT-26s on 06/17/2009 19:15:01 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,

Interesting you should mention the KT-26's, as I am going to be visiting Australia in August and (based on your recommendations) am keen to pick some up. Are they widely available in stores? Where would be a good place to look?

I am definitely considering New Balance shoes in the future, as they are available her in New Zealand and because of the range of widths. Currently I have some Salomon XA comps that are comfortable, but don't have a great sole for wetter conditions. I have also just picked up some Flyroc 310's on a visit to the UK, but haven't tried them yet.



Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: KT-26s on 06/17/2009 19:30:59 MDT Print View

The best place to find them is in the big "walmart" type stores we have in Australia... K-mart, Big-W, Target. You won't find them in running shoe shops because they fall into the category of unfashionable joggers. They are cheap. Last time I looked about A$30, but maybe closer to A$50 now. They are really comfy. They don't last a long time, but never fall apart. Instead, the sole gets compacted so that they lose their cushion over time. The other nice thing about them is that they never change the style... it's the same year in year out. They don't look "cool" like a new pair of Inov8's, and because they have been around for decades in Australia they are actually considered a bit "daggy". But not many hikers are going to care about that, especially ULers.

But they are easy to find. Go into a big shopping centre and head to K-mart or Target. You'll find a bunch of them in the shoe section.

Edited by ashleyb on 06/17/2009 19:31:56 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: KT-26s on 06/17/2009 19:34:44 MDT Print View

Hi Jason

Well, I had better explain that the KT-26s and Volleys are very much Australian icons. Normally you find a shoe model lasts for about 1 year before marketing changes it. Well, both the Volleys and the KTs have been unaltered for the last 20, 30 or 40 years. The company dares not change them!

The Volleys are very light and soft. They are superb in wet greasy canyons, to the point that many Clubs here won't let you go on a Club Canyon trip without them. Also, they are the defacto standard footwear for roofing tilers. OSHA gets shirty about the lack of steel toe caps ... but don't have a chance of persuading the tilers to not wear them. However, the very soft sole is too soft for many walkers. And the sole does wear fairly quickly in comparison.

So, we also have the KT-26s. These have an EVA (foam) footbed with a thin carbon rubber sole. There is an extremely distinctive sole pattern. The 'lugs' or pattern in the centre of the sole does wear out after a while, but the carbon rubber soles then last a long time. A bit of a pattern remains around the edge. The carbon rubber itself has a better grip than most moulded soles on joggers.

You can find a lot more about both shoes on the Bushwalking FAQ web site I maintain, at

I had better add that I am 'rather well-known' in Oz for favouring KTs. Me, biased? Never! But I don't own any boots, and I only wear joggers in the snow and in Europe (snow and mud).

You should be able to buy them in places like most Big-W and Kmart stores, for about AU$39 a pair.


Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Available here in Aus? on 06/18/2009 19:23:02 MDT Print View

Hi Roger,

Great review. Did you get these in from the US or were they locally available? I did a quick call around this morning and none of the stores know what I am talking about.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Available here in Aus? on 06/18/2009 22:06:17 MDT Print View

Hi Mark

I get most of my gear these days over the web. It works out cheaper every time.


John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
New Balance MT87550R Joggers Review on 06/23/2009 12:05:26 MDT Print View

Thanks for your great review Roger.

I just wanted to mention for the Australians having trouble getting particular models of shoes, that there is an internet shoe company in the States called They have a very wide selection, a good reputation, and they ship to Australia (Oz?), for $60 American, which seems a little high to me, but on the other hand, you are a long way from the States. I have ordered from them and been very satisfied. (I live in Sacramento California)

Even if you don't order from them, I have found their shoe reviews to be fairly accurate, particularly if over twenty or so people have reviewed them. This could be useful in determining which shoe to buy, even if you don't buy from them.

I wear trail running shoes exclusively for hiking and backpacking in the Sierra Mountains near where I live. I have had good luck with the New Balance MT908(discontinued, but 909 is similar), the Brooks Cascadia 4, and The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR (water resistant Gore-Tex)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: New Balance MT87550R Joggers Review on 06/23/2009 16:53:57 MDT Print View

Hi John

I haven't tried Zappos, although I have heard of them.
We have had good responses from SierraTrading on end-of-run models at very good prices.

(no connection with them whatsoever)

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
KTs on 06/27/2009 05:10:03 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger. I have been to your FAQ section a number of times and found it very helpful. I look forward to my first pair of KTs. In my younger days at school in England everyone wore a shoe very similar to the Volley for PE.

robert courson
(bertcourson) - M

Locale: lake michigan
too tight for my 4e feet on 07/06/2009 09:23:41 MDT Print View

I have worn successfully the 872, 873, and 874. The 875s do not work for me because they have a piece of constricting rubber on the outside and down below my big toe that cause my feet to hurt. Had to send them back, darn it! I hope the 876 model goes back to the older design that lets my feet splay out like a size 11.5 4E needs to!

Ryan Luke
(rluke) - F

Locale: Atlanta (missing CA)
Just right...........hopefully on 07/09/2009 13:57:06 MDT Print View

Great review Roger! I have been struggling with finding a lightweight, lightly cushioned shoe that will fit my wide forefoot. I just received a pair of the 875s from Zappos and after wearing them in the lab today, I am impressed! Hopefully they will work well on the trail!

Kevin Yang
(kjyang) - F
broken sole lug on 07/27/2009 12:32:50 MDT Print View

I got a pair of these 3 weeks ago. I took them out for the 1st time in a 9-mile hike to Mount Baldy in SoCal. The traction and stability were excellent, ventilation was very nice and the they fit my feet well.

Last Friday I did the same hike but once I got to the summit and took the right shoe off to let me feet breathe, I noticed that one of the lugs on the sole was missing.

shoe sole

shoe sole

I'm starting the JMT in 3 weeks and these were the shoes I was planning to use. I contacted the vendor ( and they said that I could return them for them to "review" and decide whether the problem is "due to a defective item or an error on our part.", in which case they will send a new pair to me. And all of this is through standard shipping. I'm not sure this can be taken care of in 3 weeks.

Anybody here has anything experience dealing directly with New Balance for exchanges? What are my options given the fact that I only have 3 weeks left? I can't really feel the missing lug while hiking but it does suck to spend about $100 on a pair of shoes and have them break within 15 miles.

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Updated on 09/22/2009 14:23:22 MDT Print View

Roger added further commentary to this review in this week's publishing.

Thomas Jamrog
(balrog) - F

Locale: New England
What was the terrain like? on 09/23/2009 03:21:23 MDT Print View

New Balance supplied me with a pair of 908's for part of my AT Thru hike. While they are not 875's, I'm making a point here. The actual foot path is a huge factor on how certain shoes hold up. The 875's are still marketed as tools for serious trail running. Conditions in New England ( rocks) had the shoes unwearable after just two weeks on a 200 mile section. Lugs were falling off and the two different colored materials were delaminating. Even though NB were willing to let me try another pair, I declined and went back to Inov-8 TerRoc 330's which were consistently decent for 500-600 miles. 99 % of the people who buy these types of shoes never put them into conditions like backpackers do, and the rocks and roots up in this corner of the country can shred 'em, where they might do just fine in a more forgiving foot path.

Jaime Bohm
(jaime) - F
Dunlop Volley on 09/24/2009 07:30:09 MDT Print View

Hello Mr Caffin

"OSHA gets shirty about the lack of steel toe caps ... but don't have a chance of persuading the tilers to not wear them. "
Just to mention, Dunlop have been making a steel toe cap volley for this very reason for about twoish years now (maybe longer) due to demand from industry.

About KT-26's, I LOVE THEM
But that being said they come with some niggles (you get what you pay for). The odd seam comes apart some times, the laces are worthless, the tongue always falls to the side and I've had trouble with the cardboard staying wet. Kanangra to Katoomba,4 days of rain, trench foot, pain pills

So when I buy a new pair I go through a little ritual...

I take out the foam sole, remove the "arch support"(thank you for the recommendation Roger) and cover the cardboard with a product similar to Selly's Kwik grip to water proof it, I brush the goo up the inside wall a little to reinforce the join to the sole. I then proceed to cut the tongue out and replace the laces with small, 1-2mm bungee cord and run a line of Mc nett seam grip around the outside join of the wall to the sole.
And that just about does it.
Now if only I could get that yummy rubbery sole just to last a few more Km's........

Is there anyone else out there modifying there KT's? Any more suggestions tips or secrets are most welcome.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Roger: What about the insoles? on 09/24/2009 11:11:12 MDT Print View

great review. I just went out and purchased a pair and I really like the way the interior fabric "hammock" snugs and cinches up around my instep and most of the forefoot. But I have a question for you, and it is one I have been wondering about with every shoe review on the site. Do you use the OEM insole provided with each pair of shoes or do you replace them with your own insoles? In particular this would seem to be important with this shoe. I have noticed a distinct difference in the fit of the shoe when I replace the OEM insole with my VIESTURS SOLES insoles. Specifically, the hammock can't cinch tight around my foot as well because of the stiff nature of the Viesturs Soles. With the OEM insoles this is obviously not the case. I know many backpackers replace the OEM insoles with Superfeet or Soles or some other orthotic. I'd be interested in your take on the issue and what you do with your lightweight shoes.

Edited by mitchellkeil on 09/24/2009 11:12:32 MDT.