Most helpful critical review
385 of 421 people found the following review helpful
Updated 5/2013: Structural/Longevity Issues, Cheap Material
on October 11, 2012
Having bought over 20 pairs of New Balance 926/927/928 shoes over the past several years for daily power walking, I have a lot of experience with this particular shoe, which is especially suited for wide feet and motion control to handle walking issues.
The 928 has much more in common with the 926 than the 927, and that is a good thing. The 927 was clearly designed for longer feet and had a more elongated fit than its immediate predecessor. It also required a considerably longer break-in period than the 926. The 928 does a much better job being true to length, although the initial wear is surprisingly tight in the toe box (I wear 6E shoes). You may want to break in the shoes without orthotics before attempting to walk with them in a brand new pair.
The shoe is less stiff than the 927 as well, which means a more comfortable fit, although you will need a break-in period with this shoe just like any other.
Shoe fit and stability are both well-regarded, but there is a manufacturing concern that started about a year ago and carries forward into the 928, and it's unfortunate.
For those using orthotics or have a particularly bulky foot, initial wear with the 928 is going to be exceptionally tight. But as the shoe breaks in, those of us with wide feet will begin to see the shoe walls stretch outwards slightly to better accommodate our feet.
Unfortunately, this spread also causes the top of the shoe to push downwards, applying additional pressure along the top of the foot. Unfortunately, where the tongue of the shoe is attached and sewed into the rest of the shoe, there is a slight internal ridge and pressure point. This contributes to even more constriction along the sew point on the top of the shoe. That can be a point of friction, and it ended up causing a blister and considerable pressure around the base of the big toe about 1/2 inch above the top eyelet. Unfortunately, loosening the laces cannot correct this issue.
This issue may only occur on one foot and/or may not affect everyone, but slight manufacturing inconsistencies like imprecise or sloppy sewing seems to be the problem. These inconsistencies have grown in the past 12 months, leading me to wonder if New Balance has reduced quality control standards in its offshore manufacturing plants.
If you encounter this issue, it is likely to show up only after a week or more of regular wear, by which time most dealers will no longer take returns. But New Balance has replaced defective shoes when returned (ask for a postpaid return label when contacting them) to their customer service department. Considering the cost of these shoes, do not hesitate to return any pair that exhibits manufacturing inconsistencies or defects.
Have been in the 928's for several months now, I have to downgrade them another star at the five month mark. I have to say these shoes are pretty hard on your feet as what little cushioning there is breaks down as they age. I've been starting to experience some knee issues, which is almost always attributable to the shoes I wear. During some periods over the winter, I actually switched back to my old school 926 shoes, which were more comfortable for me after three years than a five-month old pair of 928s.
My theory on this is that the shoe 'last' was changed after they retired the 926 model. Starting with the 927, the shoes grew slightly longer, and the way you roll in and out of each step changed with it. The shoe materials used also appear to have suffered from cost-cutting over the last few years.
For example, the 928 lacks the the rollbar quality of the 926. The sole of the shoe also suffers from design shortcuts, making it very unforgiving as you push off and land. Without appropriate cushioning that lasts, the result is a lot of energy transferred to your knees and lower back and they thank you for it by getting sore.
I also find the tread on the 928 less aggressive than earlier models, so slipping was a real concern over the winter months.
But one improved feature: the metal grommets on the two front holes for the shoelaces are a vast improvement over the cheap plastic ones on past models that often broke.
My solution to the shoe tightness reported above: a shoe extender that comes with adjustable pressure relief points I could use to attack the tight areas.
My podiatrist theorizes that another contributing factor to the pressure point problem is my tendency to supinate. Most people overpronate, so shoe manufacturers often build a lot of support into shoes to correct this issue. But supinators often get the short end, with much less support in the shoe's design. The podiatrist thinks that as I supinate, it is also forcing the shoe walls out, which brings the top of the shoe material right down on my big toe. My orthotics will have to be adjusted to compensate for this flaw, because the shoe was not designed to deal with it.
All in all, I continue to believe there is no way this shoe is worth the $125 New Balance routinely asks for it. Shop around and look for deals that bring the price closer to $90. I am seeing a disturbing trend in New Balance where the prices remain excessively high, but the quality of materials used in the shoe and the design cost cutting simply does not justify the asking price. But for those of us with 6E wide feet, there are VERY few alternatives, so we're at their mercy.
The 928's I bought last fall are now effectively dead and need to be discarded. They did not get worn at all over much of the winter, so I would say I effectively got about three months of use out of these before the cheaper materials and lesser-quality construction made the shoes unwearable, even before the usual visible signs appeared on the sole that tell you a shoe needs to be replaced. The important inner-materials simply broke down rendering the shoe a potential health risk.
There were medical consequences for me as a result of wearing these shoes. The reduction in quality padding and shoe features that promote healthy foot motion were responsible for most of these. The offshore factory that produced these also delivered significant variations and inconsistency with the three pairs I purchased -- unacceptable quality control failures that should not be happening at this price point.
Most of the impact of these issues will be felt while wearing these shoes as part of an exercise walking program. Casual day use may not present as much of a challenge.
It seems New Balance redesigns are now more about cost cutting and reducing the complexity of shoe construction instead of user comfort, reliability, and quality features. That is a major disappointment for those of us with exceptionally wide feet that have very limited choices.
The most important needed improvement: better padding to help redistribute landing force.
It is easy to make a stiff shoe that can a company can sell as "motion controlled," but it is more costly and complicated to build a shoe that limits motion but also encourages and facilitates a healthy and safe walking style. My earlier New Balance shoes included a rolling feature that helped you land safely on your heel and gently promote rolling forward to push off from your toes in one smooth motion. The 928s are far too stiff for this. Instead, you land hard on the heel and have to fight the shoe to roll forward and push off the ground. As you walk, the tight and unforgiving leather tops are brutal on the top of your feet, especially near the big toe.
I'm forced to conclude the 928 just has too many liabilities, and if one has an easy to fit foot, I'd recommend looking elsewhere, especially at New Balance prices. The 811's are certainly more forgiving, but you will lose some of the motion control features. I have been recently experimenting with Propet's Stability Walker as a replacement. It is also a very stiff shoe that wears differently than the 928 and could use some rollbar technology, but it is a much roomier shoe free from foot strangulation and suitable for even professional orthotic inserts.
For a long-time New Balance wearer like me there is one word to describe all this: frustrating.
It is hard enough to have only around a half dozen 6E walking shoe choices to choose from, but it is getting depressing to suspect charging top dollar for lower-grade materials is the new industry paradigm.
Visited my local New Balance PROCARE dealer to discuss my issues with the New Balance 928. The PROCARE program connects medical professionals with dealers who often have certified pedorthists in-store to assist with analyzing walking, shoe fit, and alterations such as orthotic inserts.
While my dealer has nothing bad to say about the 928, we both agreed the updates New Balance made in this model make the shoe no longer suitable for me. We also reviewed some alternatives in the 6E width I am stuck with wearing.
First, we took a look at the Propet Stability Walker mentioned above. After about two weeks with the shoe, it is clear this is not a suitable replacement for me. It lacks a range of supporting features that assure longevity and stability, already becoming clear because it has started to break down on the sole. Propet may make a fine walkabout shoe for errands, but those with weight issues who also need a strong and stable shoe should probably look elsewhere.
We also agreed the New Balance 811 is a good comfortable soft shoe, but also not a great choice for a serious walking program if you pronate or supinate.
The good news is that I found a few more potential alternatives for those who simply find the 928 untenable:
New Balance 856 -- A trainer shoe that seems more than workable for a walking program. The 856 has an enormously wide toe box, so the 6E fit is excellent -- much more comfortable than the 928. It is also less stiff than the 928, which makes it less punishing. I am now walking in this shoe with a custom hard orthotic with padding. The 856 is not instant nirvana for me, however. I am still getting some knee pain, but that may be because the shoe is brand new.
New Balance 1140 -- A running shoe that earns mixed reviews on Amazon. It is very pliable and roomy, but I found myself pronating a bit, and I am a major supinator. Longevity seems to be an issue with many reviewers and I was turned off by the price which can run to $130.