New Balance 990 vs 997 Shoes Compared [What’s the Difference?]


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When I compared the New Balance 990 vs 997, this is what stood out the most to me:

  • These shoes are similar in that they both are casual athletic shoes. Both are comfortable, but they won’t be as “squishy” under the foot as modern athletic shoes. If you prefer that “squishy” comfort, I would recommend the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 (click here to view) or the New Balance FuelCell Rebel (click here to view) which are my two favorite options.
  • The New Balance 990v5 is part of New Balance’s “Made in USA” collection (the 997 is not). The 990 was not my favorite Made in USA option – the 993 was. This is where you can view the New Balance 993 Made in USA shoes (affiliate link takes you to NewBalance.com).
  • I think the 990 provides more cushioning under the foot, but it was reasonably close. Both shoes are what I would describe as comfortable casual athletic shoes. This is where you can see the videos of me wearing both shoes and see the compression under the foot as I move.
  • Overall, I found the flexibility to be pretty similar between the 990 and 997. I’ll let you be the judge: this is where you can see the videos of me testing the flexibility and “twistability” of the New Balance 990 vs 997.
  • Both the 990 and the 997 have a retro design reminiscent of 90’s athletic shoes. However, if you made me choose, I would rather exercise in the 990. It is more supportive, and the 997H feels like a lifestyle casual shoe on the foot.

In this article let’s take a closer look at the New Balance 990v5 and the New Balance 997H by using the videos and pictures I took of the shoes that I own.

Table of Contents

New Balance 990 vs 997 Comfort

New Balance markets both of these shoes as “lifestyle” shoes. That means although they have an athletic design, they’re best thought of as casual athletic shoes.

These types of shoes are popular because you can use them occasionally for exercise, but also easily pair them with jeans. Both the 990 and the 997 have a retro design reminiscent of 90’s athletic shoes.

How They Respond on Foot

To give you an idea how these shoes respond on a foot, here I am wearing mine:

When comparing the under-foot comfort of the New Balance 990 vs 997, I thought the 990v5 offers a bit more cushioning than the 997. But it was very close. Both have comfortable designs in comparison to other types of casual shoes.

They do not, however, have as much cushioning under the foot as modern running shoes. For example, I recently tried over 30 types of New Balance shoes, and the 1080v12 was my favorite regarding comfort under the foot. It provides that “squishy” feeling and even though the 990 and 997 are comfortable, they don’t have a thick, “squishy” midsole like the 1080v12 (990 vs 1080).

Here is how the 1080v12 responds on my foot:

I also compared the flexibility and the “twistability” of the 990v5 and the 997H shoes, and you can view those results here.

Alternative Options

If you like the casual athletic design of the 990 (which is a bit sturdier than modern running shoes), then I would also suggest the Made in USA 993. I actually thought the 993 was the most comfortable shoe in the New Balance “Made in USA” series. Click here to view the New Balance 993 shoes (paid affiliate link takes you to NewBalance.com).

If you like the retro athletic design of the 997H, the New Balance 237 shoes have a more traditional retro running style than the 997H. Just like the 997H, you can pair the 237 with jeans, or also use it for occasional exercise. Click here to view the New Balance 237 shoes (paid affiliate link takes you to Amazon.com).

New Balance 990 vs 997 Flexibility

In the videos below, I tried to capture how flexible these shoes are:


Overall, these shoes are very similar in how flexible they are. There is, however, a difference in weight. Click here to view the difference in these shoes regarding weight.

New Balance 990 vs 997 Padding

Both the 990v5 and the 997H have quality padding around the collar and tongue. Here are mine (990v5 first):

new-balance-990-padded-collar
new-balance-997-collar

Insole Thickness

Yes, both the 990v5 and the 997H have removable insoles, so you can clean or swap them as needed. First, here is the insole of the 990v5:

new-balance-990-insole
new-balance-990-insole-measurement

And below, is the insole for the New Balance 997H:

new-balance-997-insole
new-balance-997-insole-thickness

By my measurements, the insole thickness was basically the exact same. I did find the fit of these shoes to be slightly different. This is where you can view the side-by-side photos I took regarding sizing.

New Balance 990 vs 997 Design

Upper Material

Both the 990 and the 997 are made with breathable mesh/suede uppers. Here’s the material on mine (990 first):

new-balance-990-material
new-balance-997-material

Sole Height

Below is the height measurements I took for the men’s New Balance 990 vs 997 (size12; 990 first):

new-balance-990-sole-height
new-balance-997-sole-height

As you can see, the the 990 (top) finished higher on the foot than the 997 does.

Outsole Width

Below is the width measurements I took for the men’s New Balance 990 vs 997 (990 first):

new-balance-990-width-outsole
new-balance-997-width-outsole

As you can see, the width of these shoes is similar, but in both the men’s and women’s version, the 990v5 measured just a tiny bit wider at the base.

If you are concerned about fit, I would highly suggest you view these side-by-side sizing photos I took of each shoe to get a better idea how both the 990 and the 997 fit.

New Balance 990 vs 997 Weight

The 990v5 weighs 1.01 pounds and the 997H weighs 0.74 pounds per shoe for a size 12 men’s.

new-balance-990-weight
new-balance-997-weight-1

As you can see, the 997H weighs less than the 990v5.

Recently I tried over 30 different types of New Balance shoes and I found the average to be 0.89 pounds per shoe for a size 12 men’s. If you prefer a lightweight shoe, the 997 will be the better option. To view the full list of weights (in a chart) I took for over 30 New Balance shoes, click here.


New Balance 990 vs 997 Sizing

I found the 990v5 and 997H to have a similar fit. Both fit within the realm of what I would describe as “true-to-size”.

Here they are side-by-side (990 on right):

new-balance-990-vs-997-sizing

To give you a better idea how wide these shoes are, here they both are compared (in standard width) to the Nike Air Monarch 4E, which is a popular extra wide shoe (990 first):

new-balance-990-vs-nike-air-monarch-sizing
new-balance-997-vs-nike-air-monarch-sizing

Overall, I found them to have a normal width. To read more about sizing, visit my article that discusses New Balance sizing and fit.

In the sections below, I compare both of these shoes to other popular shoes so you can get a better feel for sizing.


New Balance 990v5 Sizing Photos

These photos below all use a size 12 men’s shoe. If you would like to skip ahead to 997 sizing, click here.

New Balance 990 (right) vs Adidas 2k Boost Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-2k-boost-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Reebok Classics Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-reebok-classics-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Zoom Winflo Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-zoom-winflo-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Go Walk Slip On Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-go-walk-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

brooks-vs-new-balance-990-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Go Walk Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-go-walk-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Saucony Shadow 6000 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-saucony-shadow-6000-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Superstar Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-superstar-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Air Max 90 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-air-max-90-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-crocs-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Under Armour HOVR Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-under-armour-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Hey Dude Wally Sox Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-hey-dude-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Vans Slip On Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Air Force 1 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-af1-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Cloudfoam Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-cloudfoam-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Asics Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-asics-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Hoka One One Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-hoka-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Converse Chucks Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-converse-chucks-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Vans UltraRange Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-ultrarange-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Vans Old Skool Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-old-skool-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Converse Pro Leather Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-converse-pro-leather-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Gazelle Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-gazelle-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Afterburn Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-afterburn-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Cortez Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-cortez-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Blazer Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-blazer-sizing

New Balance 990 (left) vs 880 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-990-sizing

To read more, visit my article about the sizing and fit of New Balance 990v5 Shoes.


New Balance 997 Sizing Photos

These photos below all use a size 12 men’s shoe.

New Balance 997 vs Adidas 2k Boost Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-adidas-2k-boost-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

brooks-vs-new-balance-997-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Reebok Classics Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-reebok-classics-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Skechers Go Walk Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-skechers-go-walk-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Saucony Shadow 6000 Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-saucony-shadow-6000-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Nike Air Max Excee Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-nike-air-max-excee-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Nike Air Max 90 Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-nike-air-max-90-sizing

New Balance 997 (left) vs 880 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-997-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-crocs-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Under Armour HOVR Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-under-armour-hovr-sizing

New Balance 997 (right) vs Hey Dude Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-hey-dude-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Asics Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-asics-sizing

New Balance 997 (left) vs 574 Sizing

new-balance-574-vs-997-sizing

New Balance 997 vs AF1 Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-af1-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Adidas Superstar Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-adidas-superstar-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Converse Chucks Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-converse-chucks

New Balance 997 vs Nike Blazer Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-nike-blazer-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Adidas Gazelle Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-adidas-gazelle-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Converse Pro Leather Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-converse-pro-leather-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Keen Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-keen-sizing

New Balance 997 vs Vans Old Skool Sizing

new-balance-997-vs-vans-old-skool-sizing

New Balance 997 (left) vs 720 Sizing

new-balance-720-vs-997-sizing

To read more, visit my article that discusses the sizing of New Balance 997H.


New Balance 990 vs 997 Conclusion

The New Balance 990v5 and 997H are both listed as “lifestyle” shoes. Think of these shoes as casual athletic shoes that you can use for occasional exercise, but also easily pair with jeans.

Both the 990 and the 997 have a retro design reminiscent of 90’s athletic shoes. However, if you made me choose, I would rather exercise in the 990. It is more supportive, and the 997H feels like a lifestyle casual shoe on the foot.

The 990 is part of New Balance’s Made in USA line, and the 997 is not. I think the 990 provides a little more cushioning under the foot, but it very close. This is where you can see the videos of me wearing both shoes and see the compression under the foot as I move.

The New Balance 990v5 and 997H both fit within the realm of what I consider “true-to-size”. I would suggest you check out these side-by-side comparison photos I took to compare the sizing of these shoes to each other, and to other popular brands.

If you are searching for ultra-lightweight athletic shoes, there are better options. I like that “squishy” comfort under the foot. My favorite lightweight New Balance running shoes are the Fresh Foam 1080 (click here to view) and the New Balance FuelCell Rebel (click here to view).

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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