New Balance 442
Today we review one of NB’s lesser-known boots, the 442 Pro in the FG stud configuration. The first impressions from right out of the box were actually fairly positive. It seemed like a decent leather upper, a comfortable fit, and a classic look. But sometimes first impressions can be deceiving. After getting the 442 on field, the impressions proved to be deceiving. Find out what makes this boot disappointing as you carry on reading the review. This is a New Balance Soccer Shoe that doesn’t impress.
As far as looks go, if you want to look like a referee or a coach, then these are the boots for you. The classic all black look with some white accents on the “N” logo and white soleplate. The fold over tongue has the 442 logo and the NB logo on it. It even features your standard 4-4-2 formation on it incase you did not know what that was a reference to. If NB were going for what a boring and standard boot might look like, then they hot the nail on the head with this design and name. Overall, it is your typical black and white classically designed boot. This is 2018 and modern soccer shoes do not look like this.
As far as technology and performance go with the 442 Pro, prepare to be surprised, as I actually did not enjoy my time in this boot at all. Apart from being comfortable, which I would hope it would be as a leather boot, the boot really falls short of what we have seen from similar options from other brands. The “kangaroo leather” upper feels more like synthetic leather or a calf leather rather than kangaroo leather. It quite simply isn’t as soft and when comparing it to kangaroo leather boots, it feels completely different. The interesting part is that it almost looks like a failed design of the Visaro Pro. The heel area and soleplate are almost identical but are nowhere near as nice or up to the same standards. One of the selling points that NB mentions in product details on their site is that there is a “Perforated synthetic PU collar”. That translates to, “This part of the boot makes no real difference in performance whatsoever”. The inside of the boot has a removable Ortholite insole to help increase comfort. The one thing on the boot that is actually as advertised is the comfort.
While it may not be the most comfortable boot on the market, it is up there in terms of comfortable boots for the price range and this seems to be about the only part of the boot that was truly given much attention. The foldover tongue is held down by a square piece of Velcro on both the tongue and the laces. As someone who has grown up around the revolution of soccer cleats that saw the steps forward of removing the foldover tongues from most boots, I cannot say I am a big fan of them. They simply get in the way of the laces and just add an extra layer between your foot and the ball. It is not the biggest tongue in the world, but it seems more useless to me and something that takes away from the fact that if it didn’t have the tongue, it would simply be a takedown leather Visaro.
On pitch, the boot feels somewhat clunky and I personally felt like I was getting to referee a match with these on. The leather is not kangaroo at all which is something you can tell right away when playing with the boots. The comfort is the only thing that saves the boot even in the slightest. The thick leather takes away from what you would want when striking the ball with venom as you feel far away from the ball. Controlling the ball and passing feels okay. The leather in the toebox was clearly designed with defenders or midfielders in mind.
My experience in the 442 on pitch left me disappointed with the 442 Pro. It simply feels like a referee’s boot or a coaches boot of choice. In fact, I was asked where I got these boots from two different officials so that’s probably the target audience for New Balance to face. For me, it was time to hang up the 442 and write this review. After testing the boots for nearly 3 weeks, I can officially say, I wouldn’t recommend these to players playing at a high level. The thin soleplate feels flimsy and I am going to see how long it lasts until it cracks or breaks. The leather simply isn’t as advertised and the entire boot just felt cheap to me.
The 442 Pro comes in both standard and wide width options. I used the standard width version and it fit me quite well considering it is a leather boot. So if there are coaches, referee, or even players that enjoy that classic look on a boot and need a wider option. New Balance has you covered here. The fit is comfortable and accommodating, but the one issue I have is that the soleplate is extremely weak and flimsy. Simply applying pressure on it with two fingers can cause it to push inward from the outside. It will be interesting to see how it holds up over time. For the most part however, the boot is comfortable and can be a nice option for most foot types.
The NB 442 Pro is not something I would recommend to players that are playing at a high level. The simple fact being that there are a lot of other options either from years past or even take down options that can out perform the 442 on every level. Unless you are looking for this specific design in a boot, I just do not see the appeal in trying to select this option over others. However, if you are someone who is a boot lover and looking to find a high quality boot to last you all season, then I don’t think the 442 is for you.