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New Balance 990 vs 991: A Full Comparison

New Balance 990 vs 991

The New Balance 99X: a sneaker line dating back to 1982. The original model, the 990v1, was the first sneaker to retail at $100. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the iconic 990, New Balance recently released the newest version in the line: the 990v6. However, there’s more in the 99X line than just 990s. So while this article is entitled New Balance 990 vs 991, it’s a little more complicated than that.

In this article, I’ll compare four (yes, 4!) different New Balance 99X models. Those four models are the 990v3, 990v5, 990v6, and 991.

For more details, you can check out Mike’s 990v5 review, Chris’ 990v6 review, and my own 991 review. There’s also Chris’ 993 review for some detailed info on a 99X model that I don’t own.

But onto the main event, the full comparison of the New Balance 990 vs 991:

Shop All 990 & 991 at New Balance

New Balance 990 vs 991: Sizing

The 990v3, 990v5, and 990v6 fit a little big. Personally, I like some wiggle room in my footwear, so I go true to size. However, for a one-to-one fit, I would recommend going a half size down. As for the 991, those fit true to size.

New Balance 990 vs 991: 4 Shoes

New Balance 990 vs 991: What’s the Same?

Excellent Materials. All four models feature New Balance’s signature pigskin suedes. The suede cuts are pretty thick and premium. They are very buttery and extremely soft to the touch. (The 990v6 uses noticeably less suede than the other 990s. Luckily the suede itself is still a premium cut, as I have come to expect on my New Balance sneakers. Seeing as all the 990s and the 991 are lifestyle runners, they have mesh underlays. New Balance uses light, breathable mesh on all 990 models. It feels rather premium. (My pair of 991s is a part of the Sneakersnstuff ‘Perforated Pack.’ This pack swaps out the mesh underlays for leather. From what I’ve heard from other reviewers, standard 991 colorways use the same mesh as the 990s.)

First Class Craftsmanship. The 990v3, 990v5, 990v6, and 991 are all a part of New Balance’s MADE line. This means they are constructed in either the United States (MADE in USA) or the United Kingdom (MADE in UK). The MADE line is known for its superb craftsmanship.

I have never had any quality control issues on my MADE sneakers.

Design Language. These sneakers all have a similar style. And that style is “dad shoe.” They have chunky midsoles and a lot of overlay paneling.

To some, this design language is an instant turn-off. And that’s totally understandable, it’s not for everyone. I, however, think the design makes these models look timeless.

High Price Tags. All four models are very expensive. The standard colorways of the 990v3 and 990v5 are the cheapest, both retailing for $185. Next is the 990v6, at $200, with the 991 the most expensive, coming in at $250.

New Balance 990 vs 991: Outsoles

New Balance 990 vs 991: What’s Different?

Made In The…. All 990 models are put together in the United States, with a domestic value of 70% or more. Whereas the 991, as well as all other Made in the UK products, are constructed by hand in the brand’s famous Flimby, England factory.

And something worth noting is the retail prices of all MADE sneakers depend on where you live. I live in North America, so Made In USA sneakers cost less here than the Made In UK line. Over in Europe, Made In UK kicks are less expensive.

Midsoles. All four models have different midsoles. Starting off with the most firm, we have the 991. Its midsole uses New Balance’s Abzorb foam. Next up is the 990v3, with its ENCAP cushioning. The 990v3’s ENCAP is soft and something I can wear daily without any issues. Moving onto the 990v5, the next softest. This midsole uses ENCAP as well. It feels a tiny bit softer than the ENCAP on the 990v3. Lastly, we arrive at the 990v6, and its FuelCell and ENCAP dual foam midsole. Its FuelCell delivers great cushion, and its ENCAP provides solid stability.

As someone who prefers softer foam, I think the 990v6 takes the ‘under-foot comfort’ cake.

Widths. The 990v5 and 990v6 are available in six different widths (X-Narrow, Narrow, Standard, Wide, X-Wide, and XX-Wide). And the 990v3 and 991 only come in Standard width.

As a wide footer, I love that New Balance makes different widths. The colorway of 990v5 I have didn’t come in different widths, only the standard. If I buy another 990v5, I’d hands-down go for the X-Wide. In the 990v6, I went for the X-Wide, and I love it.

You can see all the New Balance shoes available in wide sizes here for men and here for women.

New Balance 990 vs 991: Heels

New Balance 990 vs 991 Summary

In the battle of the New Balance 990 vs 991, I think the 990v3, 990v5, 990v6, and the 991 are all great models. They have some of the best materials and craftsmanship available. None of them are uncomfortable. If you can afford the high retail prices, I recommend any and all of the four models.

As for my personal favorite, in terms of looks, it’s the 991. In terms of comfort, the 990v6 reigns supreme.

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