New Balance 860 vs 1540 Shoes Compared [What’s the Difference?]


I recently put my hands on over 30 different types of New Balance shoes, including both the New Balance 860v12 and the New Balance 1540v3. When I compared the New Balance 860 vs 1540, I found significant differences. This is where you can read a quick summary about the most important differences between these two shoes.

New Balance 860 vs 1540 Explained

Both the New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v12 and the New Balance 1540v3 are running shoes built for stability and support. Neither of these shoes will feel “squishy” under the foot like many types of neutral running shoes that are built more for comfort.

Yes, these shoes are comfortable to wear, but they prioritize stability and support. The 860 has a medial post to help prevent improper foot movement.

However, between the two shoes, the 1540 is the bulkier, more supportive shoe. The 1540 has New Balance’s ROLLBAR technology to help prevent improper rearfoot movement. The 1540 is also made using New Balance’s ENCAP midsole, which is a soft EVA midsole that has a tougher polyurethane bordering rim, which adds stability and extra support.

But because the 1540 is bulkier and has extra support, it does weigh a lot more than the 860.

If you want a lightweight running shoe that also offers some stability and support, the 860 will be the right choice. If you need maximum support and stability, the 1540 will be the better option.


Both shoes provide nice cushioning under the foot. The 860 is a bit more flexible since it isn’t as bulky, but the 1540 also has the soft ENCAP midsole that helps absorb impact shock.

In my opinion, because the 860 has New Balance’s Fresh Foam midsole, I think it offers more cushioning under the foot. In the videos below, I tried to capture how much compression these shoes have under my feet.


Even though both of these running shoes are built for support, the 1540 has more support, and because of that, the 860 is the more flexible option.

In the videos below, I test the flexibility of these shoes. As you can see, the ENCAP midsole of the 1540, which has a tougher polyurethane bordering rim, prevents me from twisting the shoe. It will be a great option for max stability.


When I compared the insoles of the New Balance 860 vs 1540, I found the material to be different, but the thickness to be similar. In my opinion, they provide similar levels of comfort.

If you are looking for a stability runner with thicker insoles, I found the New Balance 840 shoes to use a thicker, dual-layer insole.

Both the 860 and 1540 have removable insoles, so you can swap them if needed. Here is the insole of my 860:


And here is the insole of my New Balance 1540:



When comparing the breathability of the New Balance 860 vs 1540, although both shoes are breathable, the 860 has the more lightweight, breathable upper. Here is the material on mine (860 first):


New Balance 860 vs 1540 Details


I found the 860 to weigh much less than the 1540. My size 12 men’s 860v12 weighs 0.83 pounds per shoe and my size 12 1540v3 weighs 1.07 pounds per shoe. Here is a look at mine:


Heel Drop

Both the New Balance 860v12 and the New Balance 1540v3 have a 10mm heel-to-toe drop.

New Balance 860 vs 1540 Sizing

The New Balance 1540 is the wider, bulkier shoe. It 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 1540v3:


The New Balance 860 is built using a performance last that creates a more regular width. If you prefer a roomier fit, with a deeper toe box, the 1540 will provide that more than the 860.

Here’s a look at my 860v12:


As you can see below, the 1540 has a slightly wider forefoot area:


I found both of these shoes to fit true to size regarding length. However, I would suggest you visit my sizing guides linked below, where I use side-by-side comparison photos to compare the sizing of these shoes to other popular brands:

New Balance 860 sizing

New Balance 1540 sizing

The main takeaway is both of these shoes are built for support and stability, however, the 860 will be the much more lightweight and breathable option. The 1540 is bulkier, but built for maximum support and stability.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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