The New Balance 896v3 Tennis Shoe takes design inspiration directly from track spikes, and is, likewise, built for speed. It cuts out excess weight from prior models for an ultra-lightweight, aggressive feel. NB Ice and FantomFit technologies in the upper return for breathability and lightweight support, while REVlite in the midsole delivers lightweight cushioning. See why this shoe ranks among our favorite lightweight, yet affordable options on the market.
The sizing of the 896v3 is pretty similar, if not identical, to its predecessor. This means a pretty average width and mid-to-low arch. The main difference I noticed was in the construction of the upper. The older model seemed to be a little less forgiving than the current update. The more streamlined construction not only felt lighter (a notable 32 grams lighter for size 9s), but shaped to my foot better. This confirms that New Balance put in quite a bit of effort to make the shoe more efficient.
Cushioning & Breathability
I didn’t notice much of a difference in terms of cushioning between the 896v2 and 896v3. Both shoes use New Balance’s REVlite midsole technology, and the sides of the uppers felt pretty similarly padded. The main difference is in the reduced tongue. With the v3, you get a thinner and lighter perforated, synthetic tongue as opposed to a more standard mesh tongue. Because of this and the updated upper construction, I thought the 896v3 was more breathable. In all, for a lightweight shoe, I would rate cushioning as average, and breathability as above average.
Durability & Support
Considering the 896 tennis shoe family is traditionally very lightweight, I wasn’t expecting anything groundbreaking in terms of durability or support. Whereas overall support for the 896v3 was on par with most lightweight shoes, I thought it could use a little bit more protection around the toe and medial forefoot. Given these traits, I would consider the 896v3 a quick and dynamic matchday shoe rather than an everyday practice shoe. If you’re looking for the latter, I would recommend looking at New Balance’s 996v3, 1006, or Fresh Foam Lav.
The New Balance 896v3 is currently the brand’s premier lightweight shoe. It is extremely minimalistic, breathable, and great for a tennis player seeking one of the faster tennis shoes on the market. What they lack in durability and support is more than made up for in quickness and agility.