New Balance SuperComp Trainer v3 Review: Third Time's the Charm?

The New Balance SC Trainer v3.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

The phrase “third time’s the charm” was first coined in the early 1800s in anticipation of New Balance’s SuperComp Trainer v3, to be released over two centuries later.

Great philosophers and writers were musing over the three SuperComp Trainer models New Balance would release between 2022 and 2024, with the first one being a hair too tall and soft and the second being a touch too firm. The third one? As Goldilocks would say, it’s just right.

I may have been kidding about the roots of the famous idiom, but I’m certainly not joking when I say the New Balance SuperComp Trainer v3, available August 1, may be the best version yet. Here’s why.

Tech Specs

New Balance SuperComp Trainer v3

Weight 7.3 oz (W), 9.2 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 40 mm/34 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 6 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Price $180
Comparable to... Saucony Endorphin Speed 4, HOKA Skyward X

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

FuelCell foam fires up reviewers

The New Balance SC Trainer v3.

The SC Trainer v3 offers a thick stack of FuelCell cushioning, New Balance’s proprietary midsole foam used in their fastest shoes. The FuelCell foam combines with a rigid carbon plate that contracts as you land and flexes as you take off, propelling you forward.

“I enjoy the ride of the SC Trainer v3 for easy miles. Right now, I’m just trying to run a handful of days out of the week with a busy schedule so I am running based on feel,” says Travis, an elite marathoner and member of our Customer Care team. “The FuelCell cushioning is very bouncy and fun to run in, and the rocker geometry keeps my momentum moving forward. The carbon-fiber plate gives the midsole some much-needed rigidity that keeps the bouncy cushioning more responsive.”

Reviewers were mixed on whether or not this shoe can hold a candle up to the carbon-fiber supershoes of the world.

I think that the SC Trainer can compete with some of the supershoes on the market. While it’s technically marketed as a training shoe (the word trainer is literally in the title), it has a full-length carbon-fiber plate and the same FuelCell foam that New Balance used in their previous version of racing shoes, before they updated the SC Elite v4 and added a PEBA blend. It’s about an ounce heavier than most other super trainers out there…but it’s still lighter than HOKA’s Cielo X1.

Travis disagrees, saying “Compared to other carbon-plated shoes, it doesn’t feel like a regular racing shoe. People who are expecting that kind of aggressiveness will be let down by this shoe. But as a training shoe, it may be my favorite so far this year.”

If you want to learn about how the SC Trainer v3 compares to it's racing counterpart, the SC Elite v4, read our comparison review of the New Balance SuperComp Trainer versus New Balance SuperComp Elite.

Reviewers also appreciated the sense of extra stability the SC Trainer v3 offers.

“I’m starting to trend towards grabbing shoes that feel a bit more stable and the SC Trainer v3 scratched that itch,” says Max, who has self-described weak ankles. “The sidewalls of the midsole rise up pretty high, creating some inherent stability. There are geometric patterns that almost jut out on the sides, adding additional width, which I appreciate in this high stack shoe.”

The outsole offers enhanced traction in the forefoot and heel, which will come in handy during rainy summer runs. However, the open outsole channel could present a problem for runners encountering stray rocks or pebbles. This is part of New Balance’s Energy Arc Technology, in which the carbon-fiber plate is flattened into the hollow channel during landings and rebounds during take-offs. In other words, it’s a trade-off between running with extra energy return and needing to clear out the channel out every so often.

Mesh upper locks in fit

The upper of the New Balance SC Trainer v3.

The SC Trainer v3 is topped off with an engineered mesh upper that feels just as smooth as it looks.

The fit and materials of this shoe give off the feeling of a regular daily trainer that’s a bit sleeker than the average. The materials are decently padded, without feeling heavy or cumbersome. The shoe fit me perfectly in terms of width and length, with just enough wiggle room for my toes.

I used my test run as a test for my foot, as I haven’t run in 6 days due to some pain. Because of this, I didn’t tie the shoes as tightly as I normally would, so I was nervous about slippage and just generally not feeling locked in. But it didn’t turn out to be an issue, which tells me that this shoe has got a great heel lockdown. I usually use the marathon loop but, because of my foot mishaps, I didn’t.

Travis and Max agreed, finding the SC Trainer v3 to feel true to size despite us all having different foot shapes.

If you aren’t sure about the size or shape of your foot, your best bet will be to head into your local Fleet Feet to try on the shoe in-person. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height, so you can learn a lot about your feet while you’re there.

New Balance SuperComp Trainer v3 vs SuperComp Trainer v2

Tech Specs

New Balance SC Trainer v3

New Balance SC Trainer v2

Weight

7.3 oz (W), 9.2 oz (M)

8 oz (W), 10.1 oz (M)

Stack height

40 mm/34 mm

40 mm/34 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

6 mm

6 mm

Price

$180

$180

New Balance managed to shave almost a full ounce of weight from the SC Trainer v2 to the SC Trainer v3 while still maintaining a monster stack height and springy feel. The light weight brings it closer to the racing shoes on the market, furthering our debate from earlier.

We also debated whether the latest version was softer or firmer than the v2.

“The step-in feel of the v3 feels softer and more plush than the v2,” says Max. “It’s hard to say which one feels softer when giving both shoes a push test in the midsole, but the v3 feels bouncier, and I can feel it on the ride as well, especially as I toe off from my forefoot.”

My first reaction was that the v3 felt a bit firmer than the v2. However, after supporting me through two marathon training cycles, my v2s are currently sitting somewhere in a donation bin rendering me unable to truly compare the two.

Either way, the v3 offers a similar bouncy ride to the v2 but with less weight—a win-win, if you ask me.

The Energy Arc technology in the SC Trainer v3.

How does the New Balance SuperComp Trainer v3 compare?

We took a look at some similar models to see how they stack up against the SC Trainer v3. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

New Balance SC Trainer v3

Saucony Endorphin Speed 4

HOKA Skyward X

Weight

7.3 oz (W), 9.2 oz (M)

7.2 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)

9.2 oz (W), 11.3 oz (M)

Stack height

40 mm/34 mm

36 mm/28 mm

46 mm/ 41 mm (W),

48 mm/43 mm (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

6 mm

8 mm

5 mm

Price

$180

$170

$225

With its thick stack of cushioning and peppy plate, we found the SC Trainer v3 to feel most similar to the Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 and the HOKA Skyward X.

The Saucony Endorphin Speed 4 is slightly firmer and more responsive than the SC Trainer, while the HOKA Skyward X is much heavier and more cushioned. All three shoes offer plates embedded in the midsole, while the Speed 4’s plate is nylon instead of carbon-fiber.

The New Balance SC Trainer v3.

Who is the New Balance SuperComp Trainer v3 best for?

The SC Trainer v3 is a suitable option for anyone looking to add extra pep to their step. Because it has a max stack height of 40 millimeters, it’s best for those who enjoy lots of cushioning. It feels stable despite the tall stack height, so those with a fear of heights shouldn’t be deterred.

“I’d recommend the SC Trainer v3 for runners who are already in the market for a supertrainer and prefer a softer feel underfoot,” says Max.

This shoe offers a good introduction to carbon-plated shoes for runners who aren’t yet comfortable wearing the ultra-light racing shoes and want a bit more support.

“For competitive and elite runners, I would recommend the SC Trainer v3 as a solid training shoe for daily miles, long runs, and recovery runs. I didn’t attempt to run at race pace in these, I think it would be a little heavy for those efforts. ” says Travis. “For casual runners, I think it's a great training shoe for those same purposes but I also think it can work as a racing shoe, especially for half or full marathons.”

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