I own 100 pairs of sneakers, but this $85 pair from New Balance is the reason I stopped wearing most of my collection

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It’s safe to say that knit sneakers are in. They’re lighter in weight, more breathable, and overall more comfortable than the leather, suede, and mesh materials that almost exclusively made up performance sneakers in years past. Literally every sportswear brand — and plenty of other companies that sell sneakers — have created their own iterations, but few have been able to make knit shoes as affordable as New Balance has.

If you take a look across the market, whether you’re looking for a laid-back design strictly for casual style or a top-of-the-line performance runner, most brands’ knit sneaker are priced well over $100. Some pairs even break the $200 mark. If spending that kind of money on a pair of sneakers isn’t in your budget or is something you’re simply not willing to do, there’s still a very solid knit option available: the New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit.

Inspired by New Balance‘s running heritage, the Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit is the brand’s latest crack at achieving comfort, sport, and style all in one design — and it was a total success. The low-cut silhouette features a one-piece knit bootie construction (which means they fit like socks), suede side panels for a luxe touch, and a deconstructed heel to make slipping them on and off easy. On top of that, the sneakers are completely collapsible, so you can pack them in your gym bag or luggage without ruining them.

The women’s Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit in Rain Cloud/White Munsell.

New Balance

To complement the comfort of the knit upper, the sneakers use New Balance‘s proprietary cushioning system called Fresh Foam. The soft foam material is designed to adequately absorb and return energy, so running or spending extended periods on your feet can be done in comfort. Additionally, the midsole is laser-engraved with octagonal flex grooves to improve energy absorption and flexible motion. I first tried this technology earlier this year in the New Balance Fresh Foam Lazr Hyposkin— a sneaker that I still consistently wear to the gym — and it feels just as responsive in the Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit.

Design and technology aside, the New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit really stands out because of its $85 price point. As sneaker collector, I own plenty of knit sneakers from all the major footwear brands and I’ve admittingly paid a lot more than $85 for many of them, so whenever there’s a new product this affordable, I have to check it out.

New Balance invited me to a Fresh Foam Cruz launch event, and that’s where I first got to give the shoes a try. To tie in with the light and airy nature of the shoes, I had the opportunity to go indoor skydiving in a pair of Fresh Foam Cruz v2s.

My flight instructor and I are both wearing the New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2.

iFly

While the sneakers served me just fine as I spent the longest 90 seconds of my life in a high-speed wind tunnel, the real test came under real-world conditions. When I’m not flying in the air, my sneakers get the most use during everyday, normal wear and gym sessions.

The New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knits were comfortable right out of the box, so I didn’t need to break them in at all. I was able to walk around in them all day long without any discomfort or foot fatigue. The Fresh Foam cushioning works really well to prevent that harsh impact. I’ve worn them several times in the gym and they held up very well there, too. I wouldn’t consider them a high-intensity cross-training sneaker, but they were durable and balanced enough to handle my average workout consisting of cardio and lifting exercises.

Lastly, the shoes just look really good. If you’re not looking for anything other than an affordable and stylish sneaker, the New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2 fits the bill for you, too. I’ve worn them with shorts, joggers, and jeans — plus a flight suit — and I haven’t had a bad outfit yet (except maybe the flight suit). After my tests, I concluded that they definitely achieved the three areas New Balance looked to cover — comfort, sport, and style. For $85, there isn’t another knit sneaker I could recommend more.

New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit for men, available in seven colors, $84.99

New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz v2 Knit for women, available in six colors, $84.99