New Balance 574 vs. 997H Sneakers Comparison

New Balance created an affordable version of the iconic New Balance 997 named the 997H. Due to its rising popularity, many sneaker fans often compare the 997H with another timeless classic, the New Balance 574. So which one is better?

New Balance 574 vs. 997H comparison:

The biggest difference between the New Balance 574 and 997H is the midsole technology. New Balance 574 uses the ENCAP midsole which is tough and durable, while the 997H uses a soft foam midsole which is more cushioned and lightweight.

With that said, there is more to this comparison than just the midsole alone. The overall design of both sneakers is similar, yet different and unique in their own right. Let’s compare the New Balance 574 vs. 997H to help you decide which pair is the right one for you.

Quick Overview

New Balance 574 (buy on Amazon)

  • Tough and durable midsole
  • ENCAP Technology
  • Shoe size runs small

New Balance 997h (buy on Amazon)

  • Lightweight and flexible midsole
  • GCEVA (Ground Contact) foam
  • Shoes are true to size

New Balance 574 vs. 997H Comparison

It’s never a simple job to compare two popular sneakers from New Balance. However, to help you make the best buying decision, we will compare both shoes using three categories: comfort, design, and cushioning. Here is the New Balance 574 vs. 997H comparison:

1. Comfort and Fit

New Balance 574

Our first impression of the New Balance 574’s comfort is that our feet feel cramped. In fact, while comparing the 574 with the 515, we noticed that the 574 is shorter even though both shoes are the same size. This means that the 574 runs smaller than most sneakers.

Additionally, the New Balance 574 is not as breathable as we would like. This is because the uppers are made of suede, a material that does not provide good ventilation. 

That being said, you will find better comfort in the 574 once you break into the shoes and after wearing them a couple of times.

So if you’re considering the 574, it’s best to buy one size up because they are not true to size. This will avoid your feet from becoming cramped and sweaty inside.

New Balance 997H

While the New Balance 997H has suede materials just like the 574, it is much more comfortable and more “roomy” for your feet. We think that this has something to do with the shape of the shoes, which are more streamlined and longer than the 574.

Many 997H wearers commented that they are true to size. We have to agree.

However, don’t expect enough arch support from the 997H because they are somewhat flat. The midsole is made of GCEVA (Ground Contact EVA), which is soft and cushioned but is not arched in any way. They are still very comfortable and fit nicely though.

Verdict on Comfort

The New Balance 997H is more comfortable than the 574. Combining the perfect blend of a bulky look with a streamlined shape, the New Balance 997H fits your feet nicely and is perfect for walking. The 574 is alright, but it’s quite narrow so you may feel cramped inside.

2. Sneaker Design

New Balance 574

The New Balance 574 was first released in 1988. Originally designed as a comfortable pair of running shoes, the 574 has since remained popular, being re-released several times and transforming into the iconic casual design that we all love today.

The New Balance 574 is iconic and comes in many colorways.

With so many colorways to choose from, the New Balance 574 is the ideal pair of runners for any occasion. It goes well with just about anything (especially if you buy the popular gray colorway) and will complement your outfit effortlessly.

Overall, it’s hard to undermine the design, history, and significance of the 574.

New Balance 997H

The New Balance 997H is designed to be the affordable version of the expensive all-time classic: New Balance 997. It features a similar shape and silhouette to the original 997 but is noticeably lighter thanks to the GCEVA (Ground Contact EVA) construction.  

The New Balance 997H adopts a similar look to the popular 997.

In terms of design, the New Balance 997H has collected wonderful praise from many sneakerheads. In fact, many of them love its stylishly streamlined silhouette, making it perfect to go along a pair of jeans, joggers, or just about any occasion.

With so many colorways to choose from, it’s easy to find the match for 997H with any outfit.

Verdict on Design

The New Balance 574 has a better design than the 997H. This is a close contest, but we have to give the win to the 574 simply because it’s a New Balance icon. However, the 997H is a stylish runner that’s easy on your wallet but still embodies the classic NB style.

Design is a subjective topic, so it’s best to go with the shoe design you like best.

3. Cushioning

New Balance 574

The New Balance 574 uses the ENCAP midsole known for its toughness and durability.

ENCAP is a core of soft cushioning of EVA in the midsole with a tough polyurethane rim for more support and durability. This is one of the advantages of wearing the 574 because the ENCAP midsoles make them tough as nails, so they can last a long time. 

But while they last long, they can also be hard on your feet, especially when they are brand new out of the box, so expect some time to break into the 574 after buying them.

After breaking into the 574, however, you will find more comfort even for long hours. 

While we don’t recommend the 574 for running, they are the perfect casual sneakers for commuting and day-to-day activities. The ENCAP midsole also has an excellent grip.

New Balance 997H

The 997H replaces the popular New Balance ENCAP midsole with GCEVA construction and lightweight outsoles. It is noticeably softer than the traditional ENCAP midsoles (which is very tough), making the 997H much more cushioned than the New Balance 574.

The 997H is also much more lightweight than the New Balance 574, something that we enjoy because it makes wearing them for long hours more comfortable.

Our sneaker testers spent no time breaking into the 997H because of its superior cushioning. The sneakers molded and formed into our feet seamlessly, all the while providing heel support thanks to its firm suede/mesh upper. Overall, it’s very comfortable.

Verdict on Cushioning

The New Balance 997H has better cushioning than the 574. Because of the ENCAP midsoles, the New Balance 574 are heavier and harder on your feet than your average runners. The 997H, on the other hand, is lighter and more cushioned straight out of the box.

Final Verdict

WINNER: New Balance 997H

New Balance 997h (buy on Amazon)

  • Lightweight and flexible midsole
  • GCEVA (Ground Contact) foam
  • Shoes are true to size

While the New Balance 574 is a timeless classic, the 997H is an affordable option to the expensive and iconic New Balance 997. The 997H is widely praised for its comfortable cushioning and lightweight feel, but the best part of the shoes is its budget-friendly price.

And there you go, the New Balance 574 vs. 997H comparison. Both sneakers are well-made by New Balance and both deserve your consideration. However, if we have to choose one, we would go with the 997H because of its streamlined silhouette and soft cushioning.

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