I recently put my hands on over 30 different types of New Balance shoes, including both the New Balance 840v5 and the New Balance 990v5. When I compared the New Balance 840 vs 990, I found significant differences. This is where you can read a quick summary about the most important differences between these two shoes.
New Balance 840 vs 990 Explained
The New Balance 840v5 is a running shoe. The New Balance 990v5 is a casual athletic shoe that even though it can be used for occasional exercise, it’s primary purpose is that of a “lifestyle” shoe you can easily pair with jeans and t-shirt.
Even though the 840v5 is a running shoe, it isn’t like many types of ultra-lightweight running shoes. The 840 has a wider design and is built for support and stability.
The New Balance 990v5 is made in the USA, and the 840v5 is not.
The comfort of these two shoes is similar. They’re not as soft and “squishy” under the foot as certain types of neutral New Balance running shoes (880, 1080), but both of these shoes do provide a comfortable fit.
I think the 990v5 provide a softer compression under the toe pad and I think the 840 provides a softer compression under the heel. Overall, the comfort of the New Balance 840 vs 990 is very similar.
In the videos below, I tried to capture how much compression these shoes have under my feet.
Even though the 840 is the running shoe and the 990 is more of a casual athletic shoe, it is important to remember that the 840 is a running shoe built for support and stability. Because of that, I actually found the 990v5 to be more flexible and “twistable” than the 840.
I’ll let you be the judge. Here I am testing the flexibility of these shoes:
One thing I really like about the 840v5 is it uses a thicker, dual-layer insole that has a top layer of foam, and a bottom layer of gel-like material.
When comparing the insoles of the New Balance 990 vs 840, the 840 is the clear winner for me. The 990v5 has a more traditional type of insole that isn’t as thick as the 840 insole.
The insoles are removable for both shoes. Here is the insole of my 990v5:
And here is the insole of my New Balance 840v5:
As you can see, the 840 insole measures thicker than the 990 insole. It has a dual-layer design that adds comfort:
When comparing the breathability of the New Balance 840 vs 990, although both shoes are breathable, the 840 has the more lightweight, breathable upper. Here is the material on mine (840 first):
New Balance 840 vs 990 Details
My size 12 men’s 840v5 weighs 0.89 pounds per shoe and my size 12 990v5 weighs 1.01 pounds per shoe. Here is a look at mine:
The New Balance 840v5 shoes have a 12mm drop and the New Balance 990v5 shoes have a 10mm drop.
New Balance 840 vs 990 Sizing
The New Balance 840 is a casual/running shoe that has more support under the foot than modern “squishy” running shoes. This shoe is built using the SL-2 last, which is designed to create a wider forefoot and deeper toe box area.
It’s important to understand that although the SL-2 last creates a wider fit compared to normal lasts, it won’t be enough to overcome the need for wide sizing. You will likely still need to order wide sizing if you normally order wide sizing in shoes. The SL-2 will feel just a tiny bit wider than standard shoes.
Here’s a look at my 840v5:
The New Balance 990 is built using the SL-1 last, which is designed to create more of a standard width and fit.
In my experience, New Balance 990v5 shoes do not fit too wide or too narrow. Overall, the toe box area has average width. If you need a wider fit, these shoes are available in wide sizes. Here’s a look at my 990v5:
In my opinion, the sizing length of the New Balance 990 and New Balance 840 is very similar. I think both shoes fit true to size. Here are mine compared side-by-side:
As you can see above, the New Balance 840 has a wider, rounder toe box than the New Balance 990. To read more about sizing, visit my sizing guides linked below:
The main takeaway is the New Balance 840 will be the better option if you are looking for a lighter-weight athletic shoe. The 990 is more of a casual athletic shoe. It has a more durable build that is made in the USA and incorporates more suede on the shoe.