My feet are hard to fit, and fussy, but these have been my shoe of choice for a number of years. They wear well for the money, and are comfortable.
New Balance 608's are a cross-trainer shoe, which means basically that they are multi-purpose. I pretty much live in them. The pictures are of a pair that is one year old. They really need to be replaced, but you can see that they have held up well. I take daily walks in them unless the grass is wet (when I wear boots), do yard work, wear them everywhere except when I am forced to dress up.
They have a leather upper, and claim special patented cushioning in the heel for exceptional shock absorption. I can say that my feet are prone to bone bruising in shoes with not enough padding, but I’ve never had a bruise while wearing the 608s. They come in women’s sizes 5-13, narrow through X-Wide, but if you want any width except M or W, you’ll probably have to order them. Ditto for the very small or very large sizes. I wear a 6, and can usually find one pair at my large box store in this size. They are also made for men, and children.
The place they usually fail first for me is that the sole pulls away from the upper on the sides of the toe. That said, I usually get a year of wear out of each pair, which is very good for a shoe in this price range.
Things I like about New Balance 608s:
- they have a more rounded toe box instead of that awful pointed shape. My feet aren’t pointed!
- they have a good padded collar at the top of the heel
- the insole is removable so I can insert my custom orthotics
- the tongue has a slot that the laces go through to keep it from sliding sideways
- they fit me (this really depends on your own feet, but of course I like it!)
- the price is reasonable, and they go on sale about twice a year
Things I don’t like about New Balance 608s:
- I once paid full price and ordered a pair in narrow width so that they would fit me even better. They did fit better, but... The way that the shoe is made narrower is by increasing the amount of padding (similar to how bicycle helmets are sized by using thicker or thinner padding). This made the shoes so hot that I spent a lot of time taking them off to let my feet cool down until that pair wore out. Now I just buy the easy to find medium and live with it.
- when they get really old the soles get slippery. I like to keep the worn out pair for really messy jobs or times when I need to leave a pair of shoes with my bicycle, and the really old pairs have pretty slick soles, even though it looks like there is plenty of tread.
Update On Nov 02, 2009: Sadly, these are no longer available, and although I've continued to by New Balance sneakers none of the newer ones have fit as well as these did.