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Shoe Review: New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3

A pair of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3

The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 is a lightweight everyday trainer that's built for quick miles.

The Beacon v3 offers a barely-there feel while still packing plenty of cushioning to protect your joints from the pavement. The cushion comes from a generous Fresh Foam midsole that’s dotted with strategically placed rubber for just-right traction.

It’s a simple shoe that can do almost everything you can throw its way, which earned high praise from testers.

“This is one of my favorite shoes I have tested in a long time,” one reviewer says. “It achieves the unlikely and oh-so-special combo of soft and bouncy, which makes it ideal for pretty much every kind of run I could possibly do.”

Fleet Feet reviewers laced up the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 for three weeks of summer training to see how it fits and how it performs. Here’s what they think.

Tech specs

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3

Weight

6.8 oz (W), 8.2 oz (M)

Drop

6 mm

Category

Neutral

Midsole

Fresh Foam

Use

Everyday training

Surface

Road, track

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 Fit and Materials

The heel of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3

Keeping weight to a minimum is key for a fast-day shoe, but good cushioning is important on long runs. The Fresh Foam Beacon v3 has both.

New Balance maintained a feathery weight for both the men’s and women’s models: The men’s Beacon v3 runs 8.2 oz, and the women’s version weighs just 6.8 oz, thanks to lightweight materials.

Designers streamlined every component of the shoe for a low-profile feel. A single-layer mesh upper wraps the shoe in seamless support, and it keeps air flowing for a more comfortable run.

“There’s no bulk anywhere,” one Fleet Feet reviewer says. “The mesh is thin, the tongue is thin and the heel cup is soft. Nothing feels bloated or unnecessary.”

Another reviewer says the Beacon v3 is a great option for those stifling summer runs.

“They’re really breathable. Even in really hot, humid weather, I feel like my feet stay really comfortable,” she says.

Another reason the Fresh Foam Beacon v3 is so light is because it doesn't have a rigid heel counter or a thick layer of outsole rubber. Thanks to New Balance’s Ultra Heel design that molds to the shape of your heel, though, the Beacon’s softer heel cup doesn’t lack security.

Fleet Feet testers didn’t have any problems with their heels slipping in the shoe, though one tester did comment that it “feels roomy in the heel.” Still, she didn’t experience blisters, rubbing or discomfort. And, New Balance also included an extra eyelet at the top of the shoe for marathon lacing if you have a narrower heel.

The fit is generous throughout. From the heel through the midfoot and into the toe box, the Beacon v3 feels accommodating and comfortable, which reinforces its versatility.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 Ride and Performance

The men's New Balance Beacon v3

With lightweight materials that don’t weigh it down, the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3’s performance shines.

New Balance’s premium midsole cushioning feels soft enough to soak up impact but firm enough to create a responsive kick. Like the rest of the shoe, the midsole doesn’t add unnecessary weight, and it delivers a slightly stiff ride for that extra snap on toe off.

“The midsole is lightweight and snappy,” one tester says. “It is a unique balance of flexibility, cushion and response.”

Another Fleet Feet reviewer says part of what makes the Fresh Foam Beacon v3 such a stellar shoe is how it manages high performance on a variety of different runs.

“I have worn this shoe for 13-plus mile runs, track workouts, tempo runs, medium-paced runs and easy trots. I love it for all of it, which is rare for me,” she says.

Another way New Balance achieved the Beacon’s weight was by minimizing the outsole. Beneath the shoe, designers used five independent pods of rubber where the shoe gets the most wear and tear: the outside of the heel and beneath the big toe.

The rubber pods add durability to high-wear areas, while the rest of the sole is bare foam. The design is nearly identical to the previous version of the shoe, which didn’t have any problems with high mileage. One tester laced up the outgoing Beacon for a marathon without an issue.

“I ran a marathon in the Beacon v2, and this version will stand up to that distance as well,” he says.

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 vs. Fresh Foam Beacon v3

A comparison of the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 and Beacon v3

The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v2 and Fresh Foam Beacon v3 share some visual similarities when you compare them side by side, but there are a few noticeable differences.

New Balance refreshed the look with a new mesh upper and sidewall design. The heel collar flares out a bit more in the new version, but it maintains the Ultra Heel construction used in the previous. Designers also built the v3 on the same last as the v2.

The outsole rubber placement is identical, and the shapes are nearly the same, too. There is no performance difference between the two outsoles.

Even with the few aesthetic changes, though, the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 delivers a similar look, fit and performance as the Beacon v2.

The Bottom Line

A pair of the women's New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3

The New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 is a lightweight everyday trainer that gives you the versatility to run fast or slow, long or short—or anything in between.

New Balance made slight updates to the previous version to give the Beacon v3 a clean look and streamlined silhouette, but they kept the Fresh Foam midsole to give it a soft and responsive ride.

Engineered with lightweight materials and built for an accommodating fit, the New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon v3 is as comfortable at top speed as it is on your long run.

Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.

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