The V3 vs V2: New Balance's Umpire Base Shoes Improvements SummarizedSep 23rd, 2019
New Balance upgrades their field shoes every 3 years. The latest edition is the V3, the 2020 version launched this September.
The biggest change in the V3 is enhanced comfort. The memory foam midsole makes a dramatic difference. Here is a quick rundown of all the upgrades from the V3 in a side-by-side comparison to the V2.
Fresh Foam Midsole & Insole
You'll notice this in the honeycomb pattern of the V3 midsoles and in the thicker insoles. This is an upgrade from the V2 RevLite foam. Both foams are light, but the Fresh Foam memory foam is much softer, which will translate into more comfort for multiple hours of wear.
This was the first and most significant issue many of you raised with the V2 model. "There is too much mesh...It won't be easy to clean" we heard. The V3 subtracts more than 60% of the mesh from the sides of both the V2 low and mid-cuts. The mesh is now (mostly) concealed by your pant line. No doubt, the V3 will be easier to clean than the V2.
Easier to see than explain, the V3 traction pattern is a hybrid between the V1 (all "nubby" style not loved by many) and the V2. The V2 had traction more conducive to forward motion. The V3 is a hybrid of both. This should prove more versatile for the multiple directions you must move and on the many surfaces where you must officiate. So for dirt, grass and turf and for baseball, softball, football or lacrosse, the new V3 traction provides the best of all worlds.
LogoS and Logo Placement
Most noticeable, the V3 has the "N" logo placed more aggressively on the front/side toe, rather than in the traditional middle-of-the-shoe location on previous New Balance models. The side logo has a smaller footprint, is no longer raised and has a silver outline on both the all-black and the black/white. The V2 model had a grey outline on the all-black version only.
The back logo on both the V2 and V3 is the "NB" logo. There the V3's logo is larger, but it is no longer raised as it was on the V2. Also, the V3 logo is the silver color that matches the logo outline color on the side. Before, the logo color matched the sole color.
WEIGHT = SAMe
The reason the V2 added so much mesh in the first place was to reduce weight from the V1 model. For the V3, the shoe has the same weight as the V2 due to the addition of lighter materials elsewhere in the shoe.
Sizing = same
All V2 styles come in multiple widths and same sizes: standard D (sizes 7-15), wide 2Es (8-15) and extra-wide 4Es (9-15). If you found the perfect fit in your V2, the V3 sizes will continue to fit you the same way.
PRICE = SAME
Price is still MAP (minimum allowed pricing) by New Balance of $85.
Note: Originally, we may have mentioned the V3 were going to have a "lace cage". This was discussed in a prototype, but it was not added.
While New Balance kept the same 2 x 2 models - 2 all-black shoes and 2 black and white shoes; 2 low-cuts and 2 mid-cuts, the model numbers are different.
Style: V2 Model# / V3 Model# (V3 without MLB Logo)
Low White: MU950LW2 / MU950BW3 (or MU950XT3)
Low Black: MU950LK2 / MU950BK3 (or MU950AK3)
Mid White: MU950MW2 / MUM950W3 (or MUM950T3)
Mid Black: MU950MK2 / MUM950K3 (or MUM950B3)
Tell us what you think in the comments below. Do you like the V3 or V2 better? What was your experience with the V2? What questions do you have about either one?
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About the Author
President Jim Kirk
Jim is a leading expert, educator and author on umpire gear, safety & appearance. After playing baseball at Centre College, he worked as a high school umpire. He became involved in E-Commerce while working on an MBA in the early 2000s and bought Ump-Attire.com in 2006, He eventually led it to the leading umpire gear & attire retailer worldwide and a “Best Places to Work in Louisville” honor in 2020 & 2021. He maintains long-standing relationships with Minor League Baseball Umpire Development & Training Academy and the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO). He serves as an adviser to UMPS CARE Charities, the charity of MLB umpires, served as a 2-term board of director from 2012-2018, and was named their 2015 Ambassador Award recipient. A supporter since the inception of the Wounded Warrior Umpire Academy, he was named to their Board of Directors in 2020.