The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v12 has been a mainstay in the New Balance line-up for years. The 12th iteration has received considerable upgrades for the past two years. Its smoother and more comfortable than ever while still being supremely stable and secure.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v12 remains a workhorse of an everyday trainer for runners who need some additional support for pronation control with some modern, livelier features.
The 860v12 features a two-layer FuelCell/Fresh Foam X midsole package for the first time. This is a significant update that’s made it softer and slightly bouncier. It also has an improved engineered mesh upper and new lacing system that has enhanced the fit, feel and breathability.
Stability is derived from the firm and fairly traditional medial post — a large, wedge of higher-density foam under the arch along the inside edge of the foot — as well as the slightly wider footprint from the midfoot through the toe box.
While it remains a very stable shoe, the key aspect of the 860v12 is that it’s a smoother type of stable and not rigid and clunky like some of the previous editions.
New Balance replaced the elf-like Ultra Heel feature of the previous edition of the 860 with a more tradition padded heel collar with a slight flare to reduce Achilles tension.
The new upper, an updated lacing system, a firm heel counter and a heavier embroidered “N” logo combine for a secure all-around fit.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v12 fits true to size with a medium fit from heel through the midfoot and a noticeably wider toe box than it previous had. (It’s available in two widths for men and women.)
There’s a sense of cushy softness as you as you step into these shoes and lace ‘em up. This is because of the soft Fresh Foam X midsole top layer and also from the premium sockliner, padded tongue, lightly padded heal collar and the locked-down hold of the upper.
While the FuelCell foam provides a solid foundation that makes it extremely stable on the run, the layer of squishy Fresh Foam X cushioning helps create a softer, smoother and springier ride. It’s a good mix that feels great while still providing the stability that runners expect.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who need or appreciate a super-stable training shoe for high-mileage training will like the 860v12 a lot. But it’s been improved so much, those who ran in the previous two editions probably won’t believe it’s the same model.
While it was a bit one-dimensional previously, the new model is more dynamic and versatile. It’s best for weekend long runs and mid-week maintenance runs, but it can definitely hold its own on moderately fast tempo runs, spontaneous fartlek runs and some longer intervals.
FRESH FOAM 860v12 PROS
The Fresh Foam X midsole compound is the softest and most compliant foam New Balance has in its lineup. The thin, full-length slice of that foam on the top of the midsole provides a hint of bouncy responsiveness in every stride. The ride is secured by the thick layer of FuelCell foam on the bottom.
The outsole is made entirely of blown rubber. This gives it sufficient grip on wet and dry pavement and plenty of durability. It’s very similar to the previous two editions of the shoe, with a slightly different pattern and marginally wider flex grooves.
Overall this shoe shines as a tried-and-true stability model with some modern flair. It’s not going to blow your hair back or inspire speed, but it’s reliable and slightly cushier and more comfortable than its predecessors.
FRESH FOAM 860v12 CONS
The biggest downside to this shoe is that it’s heavier some of its contemporaries in the moderate stability category. If you’re running mostly slower to moderate paces, that’s fine. But if you running longer or faster, you’ll definitely notice the weight.
“One of the classic legacy shoes in the ASICS line, the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 23 is a neutral everyday trainer with sufficient cushioning, a comfortable ride and a versatile, do-everything vibe.” Read more…
“The HOKA Mach 4 is lightweight, smooth-riding, neutral-oriented everyday training shoe that gives off a soft, lively vibe. It has enough comfort, versatility and giddy-up to handle the rigors of all types of workouts.” Read more…
“The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 is a lightweight and responsive, neutral-oriented everyday training shoe. It’s a versatile shoe with an elite midsole foam and enough cushioning and bounciness to make it amenable to both running longer or faster.” Read more…
REEBOK NANO X1
“In its 11th version of the training shoe, the Reebok Nano X1 is back and better than ever! This year Reebok took a step away from its cross-training roots to create the new – Shoe of Fitness. We tested the Nano X1 during strength and cardio workouts to see how it measured up.” Read more…
A premium maximally cushioned trainer, the neutral-oriented New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 is one of the softest and most comfortable running shoes available this season.
The Fresh Foam midsole serves up a marshmallowly soft, moderately energetic ride that absorbs shock, reduces impact and allows your feet to smoothly roll through the gait cycle from heel-strike to toe-off.
New Balance retooled this shoe to improve the fit, flexibility, feel and ride. Among the key upgrades are a new soft and supportive engineered mesh upper, a more curvy rocker profile, a firm interior heel counter and a wider overall platform for added stability.
New Balance really improved the fit of this shoe, and it all starts with the smooth, soft and slightly stretchy upper. The molded tongue, padded heel collar, improved heel counter and upgraded lacing eyelets all contribute to an accommodating and secure fit for a wide range of foot shapes and gait patterns.
There’s a unique outsole rubber pattern on the bottom of the shoe, but it’s a huge improvement from the previous edition of the Fresh Foam More. It has firm, stabilizing rubber around the perimeter of the outsole, with slightly more structure on the medial (interior) side to help offset over-pronation.
Small segments of strategically placed grippy rubber on the interior provide good traction on wet and dry surfaces, while a large section of exposed foam and lateral and horizonal flex grooves work in concern to smooth out the ride.
The updated rocker profile and added flexibility of the Fresh Foam More v3 have really improved the ride. The midsole/outsole chassis has a pronounced convex shape that creates a rolling sensation that helps guide your feet from touchdown to toe-off.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The New Balance Fresh Foam More v3 fits true to size with a medium interior and a slightly spacious forefoot. The step-in feeling is luxurious, akin to the comfiest bedroom slippers you’ve ever worn.
Once you lace these shoes up, you’ll feel a nice wrap-like sensation from the much-improved soft, stretchy engineered mesh upper.
Combined with the secure and well-padded heel support, you will feel in control of what will feel like oversized marshmallows strapped to your feet.
There’s very little “feel” for the ground, but that’s not what this shoe is about. This shoe is about maximum cush! The ride feels squishy soft, slightly bouncy, moderately flexible and yet surprisingly stable and consistent.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
The Fresh Foam More v3 is for runners who appreciate and enjoy running in soft, well-cushioned shoes that offer some inherent stability. (For runners who like the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 shoes, you’ll find some fit and feel similarities and a lot more cush under your feet.)
It could be an everyday training shoe, but that depends on the runner. It’s great for consistent slow and moderate paces, but it lacks the giddy-up for up-tempo running (not nearly as much as the 1080s) and trying to run faster in it for long distances can feel fatiguing.
It’s not a race-day shoe unless your goal is aimed at finishing and not reaching a performance-oriented training goal.
PROS: NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM MORE V3
The key element of this shoe is the Fresh Foam midsole compound. It’s the softest and most compliant foam New Balance has developed, but it also provides enhanced cushioning and a little stability via the large laser-engraved concave shapes and the convex cutaways in the medial and lateral sidewalls of the midsole.
The overall footprint of this shoe is impressively wide — one of the widest available in 2021. That generally creates a feeling of inherent stability for most runners, but it does limit the shoe’s agility a bit.
Overall the Fresh Foam More v3 feels more soft and stable than it does lively and bouncy. In other words, it’s more like a luxury SUV than a rev-ed up sports car. It has loads of plush comfort and a smooth, consistent ride, but lacks agility and energetic pop.
For comparison’s sake, the Fresh Foam More v3 might be what you would get if you mixed the HOKA One One Bondi 7 and the New Balance 1080v11 into cake batter and put it in the oven. The result is a sweet, tasty and soft shoe and the frosting on top is its long-haul comfort.
CONS: NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM MORE V3
There’s not much to dislike if you like cushy shoes, but there is no way around that the Fresh Foam More v3 is a big, wide shoe with a lot of girth. If you prefer lighter, more agile shoes with more “feel” for the ground, this is not a shoe for you.
The New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2 is a lightweight and responsive, neutral-oriented everyday training shoe. It’s a versatile shoe with an elite midsole foam and enough cushioning and bounciness to make it amenable to both running longer or faster.
But it’s important to note that this is not really an update of the original FuelCell Rebel VI. It is more of an entirely new shoe that just happens to have a similar name.
The FuelCell Rebel has been completely overhauled from the first edition. It’s built around the high-end, energetic foam that’s found in some of fastest New Balance racing shoes.
The upper has been changed from a knit design with a bootie constriction to an airy, engineered mesh with a unique padded, 3D structured heel cup. There’s a little bit more foam (2mm) in the midsole than the Rebel v1, while the flared lateral edge of the original has been toned down considerably.
The super-critical nitrogen-infused FuelCell midsole foam is made from a blend of TPU and EVA that’s similar to what’s found in the carbon-plated RC Elite racing shoe. But because there is no plate in the FuelCell Rebel v2, the foam performs much different and feels much more airy and much less dense. Compared to competitor’s foams, it falls in the middle of the bounciness/responsiveness realm.
The barely-there upper is sleek, supportive and comfortable, not to mention translucent and very breathable. The engineered mesh is soft and flexible without much in the way of support or structure. However, the silhouetted New Balance “N” logo, provides a bit of reinforcement in the toe cap, around the lacing eyelets and in the heel collar.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The FuelCell Rebel v2 fits true to size with a comfortable, low-to-medium volume interior. It has an athletic fit and feet that honor the shoe’s versatile, go-fast demeanor.
The asymmetrical lacing design provide good lock-down feeling. It compensates for the flat, thin, non-gusseted tongue that tends to migrate a bit. The interior is sparsely cushioned. It has modest padding around the heel collar and ankle — but overall it’s a comfortable even if minimally appointed shoe.
The ride is soft, flexible, smooth and mildly propulsive but not overly energetic. Although it is moderately bouncy, it doesn’t produce the extreme lively sensation that most performance trainers have.
Ultimately it’s a great everyday trainer capable of running faster. However, its comfort zone is between recovery pace and tempo pace.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who appreciate lightweight, nimble everyday training shoes will love the FuelCell Rebel v2. It’s best for runners who are light on their feel and run with an efficient gait (as opposed to a heavy heel-striking gait).
It’s great for moderate-paced runs up to 10K race pace, offering quick-cadence turnover with a smooth, flowy ride.
PROS: NEW BALANCE FUELCELL REBEL V2
If you’re looking for a versatile shoe, the FuelCell Rebel v2 is a good one to consider. While it’s not an all-out speed burner, it has enough energy to run fast but is also soft enough to run slow.
The outsole has a blend of firmer carbon rubber for durability, softer blown runner for traction and a larger section of exposed foam that keeps the weight down without leading to excessively detrimental wear and tear.
With its combination of a good fit, a comfortable feel and a dynamic, smooth, propulsive ride, our wear-testers believe the FuelCell Rebel v2 is one of the best shoes of the spring. It’s one of the best non-plated training shoes based on its fun, springy ride and flexible construction.
CONS: NEW BALANCE FUELCELL REBEL V2
The extremely pliable demeanor and soft midsole doesn’t produce an entirely stable ride. In fact, it can feel downright unstable while cornering or running at faster , interval workout speeds.
In observance of International Women’s Day 2021 the United Nations is celebrating with the theme ‘Women In Leadership’.
With that in mind, we’re honored to showcase some of the bold female founders and leaders in the running industry and the thriving companies they lead.
WOMEN-LED BRANDS AT JACKRABBIT
The companies these amazing women have founded, the organizations created and the activism they champion, all contribute to adding gender equity to an industry where everyone has the right to lace up, show up and run equally.
RABBIT RUNNING APPAREL
With a name like Rabbit, we knew we had to be BFFs with a brand that shares our name and our philosophy of serving up runners the best.
Let’s meet Monica Devreese and Jill Deering, the founders of Rabbit running apparel. Monica has been in the running business for 20 years and as experienced and, let’s admit it, badass runners, they had some experience to bring to the table. As lifelong competitive runners they came to the apparel business like others before them; they never found anything they really loved.
Monica and Jill considered their own needs as well as those of other runners when it came down to the most complex of running garments, the running short. Having added up the pros and cons of every short they could get their hands on, they believed they could create something better. And so they did.
Founder and CEO of MOBOT Nation, Lani Cooper patented the first combined foam roller and environmentally sustainable water bottle. With a call for society to be more conscious and sustainable, MOBOT has delivered an innovative product that teaches us to constantly reimagine our perspectives.
Each foam roller water bottle is made from 100% recycled stainless steel and non-toxic, high density EVA foam. Since their inception in 2013, they have already saved over 180MM+ single use plastic water bottles from landfills and waterways.
Two of the most necessary practices for health and wellbeing, hydration and massage, are actually sometimes the most neglected (by everybody). So check out MOBOT at JackRabbit to get your body back on track.
BALEGA RUNNING SOCKS
Tanya Pictor is co-founder of Balega Running Socks. In a recent interview, she championed the power that running has to bring us together. ‘Running is a sport that does not see gender, color, it is all inclusive, forgiving and keeps us grounded.’
Balega stands out in the sock world for its commitment to giving back. Since the beginning, Balega has sought meaningful ways to pay tribute to organizations via their company culture and commitment to quality in everything that they do.
Tanya’s advice for women considering following a career path similar to that of hers? “Be yourself, be authentic, and respectfully unapologetic about who you are and what you bring. Follow your passion and remain true to your calling.”
President of Performance Lifestyle at HOKA ONE ONE, Wendy Yang has set the running world on fire with supporting innovative performance lifestyle campaigns that have helped to shape the running world as we know it – beyond the shoes.
“I’m most proud of the teams I’ve built and the work those teams have done, which have made a lasting impact across the multiple companies and brands I’ve had the good fortune to steward over the course of my career.” – Wendy Yang, Footwearnews 2019
From working with Reebok, New Balance, Timberland and more, Wendy has found her place to grow with HOKA. Beyond the sale numbers, Wendy has placed a special focus on equality in the workplace. Starting the first Deckers Women’s Leadership Summit in 2018, to having hired 75% of current employees, Wendy keeps equality and equity at the forefront.
HOKA continues to be a brand that empowers movement for everyone, everywhere, any kind.
Britt Olsen is the GMM at On Running North America. A brand that has shaken up the industry, On is leading the way with innovative cushioning and a sleek look that has been a hit with runners and street walkers alike. Britt joined On in the US as employee number six and now she is leading a team approaching 200.
Of the experience of leading the North American team of this entrepreneurial company she comments, “I know that we can help influence and shape sport culture in a very positive and impactful way. That feels really good.”
A brand that is smart and dialed in having recently founded the On Running Group hoping to launch and support the Olympic careers for their members as well as a new technical tennis-inspired sneaker with Roger Federer.
On Running continues to challenge the norm, supporting professional runners and inspiring the rest of us to be a little bit better every day.
Senior Vice President of New Balance Athletics for North America, Melissa Worth is a savvy and respected leader. During 2020 New Balance navigated the unknown by calling up on their commitment to civic duty and serving others. They seamlessly pivoted production to create personal protective equipment for front line workers via the New Balance Foundation.
Talking about the challenges of 2020, Melissa told Footwear News “We have been able to rethink the way we use our inventory, how we drive our digital business internally as well as with key partners and how we communicate and connect with each other.”
Melissa has committed to a culture of empathetic leadership amid the pandemic and supporting diverse leadership.
“As leaders we need to commit to diversity and inclusion goals to change the face of the industry and hold ourselves, and each other accountable to achieve positive systematic change. We need to get comfortable talking about the problem, and we need to give a platform to associates of color, listen to what they have to say and act on it.”
Anne Cavassa is the President of Saucony. A brand with an unapologetic focus on empowering Her and inviting slogan of “Run for Good,” Anne has worked alongside many others in the company to have these words and meaning brought to life.
Most recently, through the Saucony x Prinkshop collaboration this past Fall. With the goal of helping to encourage women to run – however that may be – Anne, prinkshop founder and creative director Pamela Bell, along with Saucony marketing director Jessica Newton and director of apparel Sarah Clark created a line dedicated to the cause.
“With this collaboration, we are taking a stand to further support gender parity and encourage women everywhere to find their personal pathway to leadership. We invite everyone to join us as we rally behind the women who are committed to the race with their eye on the finish line. When women run, we all win.” – Anne, Running Insight
Along with of-the-time campaigns and company follow-through, Saucony continues to be a great leader in the running space through continued footwear innovation across road running, carbon fiber plates and trail running shoes as well as inclusive marketing and partnerships.
In the world of running how we act, support, challenge and how we speak are powerful tools. We are privileged to have bold women creating organizations and support systems as well as media committed to reporting on women’s running news.
A grassroots, Indigenous-led foundation by Altra runner Jordan Marie Brings Three Horses Daniel that works to “dismantle white supremacy and racism, rebuild a better future and elevating Indigenous, Black, Brown, Asian, Immigrant, Muslim, Jewish, Two Spirits, LGBTQ+, & Non-binary voices and relatives with disabilities.”
The Rising Hearts Foundation has also worked hard to provide resources for the community regarding wellness, COVID-19 relief, running with purpose and has been a leader in providing education for external communities about what it means to run on Native Lands.
Jordan is an Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier, Project Manager and TIN Liaison, outdoor enthusiast. Jordan is also well-known for her Prayer Runs and bringing light to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Find ways to support and participate with the Rising Hearts Foundation here.
Based in New York City, Latinos Run is a running group focused around serving the Latino population through fitness and providing access to running information, education and community. Founder, Maria Solís, has created this in-person and online community to meet needs and create space that was not initially there. Taking it one step further – she expanded Latinos run to create a more specific group for women called Latinas Run.
“Latinos Run and Latinas Run are two running platforms that promote running as a way to improve physical and mental health within Latino community. I created these groups as a safe space for runners to feel welcome in the running community.” – Maria Solís, Your Sole
Now in 2021, Maria has developed an audience of 25,000 people – newbies to running all the way to elites. She provides for an online community and uses her visibility to partner with others to provide things like her all women’s trail running summit.
Women’s Running Magazine has come into its own in the media space covering women’s running. They have matured into a leading voice focused on reporting on the talent and breadth of women’s running.
They cover everything from the latest news from pro athletes to training techniques, advice from female athletes who have navigated path particular to female athletes. The publication is an advocate for a healthy approach to running. They tap into professional athletes, science and experiences of others to further a positive future for the next generation.
Alysia Montaño is an Olympian, national champion, activist, author, and mother of three. In 2014 she famously ran an 800m race while 8 months pregnant
Alysia is the founder of the non-profit &Mother.org the organization dedicated to breaking the barriers that limit a woman’s choice to pursue and thrive in both career and motherhood. She also hosts the podcast ‘Keeping Track’ alongside Molly Huddle and Roisin McGettigan with the mission of giving more media coverage of women’s sport.
Not only an activist, Alysia brings her A-game to social media and well worth the follow.
Mechelle Freeman is 2007 World Track and Field champion, and a 2008 Olympian in the 4×200-meter relay. She founded the organization TrackGirlzin 2015 as a way to provide exposure and access for girls to the track and field world that so often gets left behind after college.
JackRabbit is so proud to be working directly with TrackGirlz in 2021 offering financial support for their grant program to grow the sport of track and field for female athletes.
“I want to get more Black, Indigenous and people of color involved to expand the conversation,” she says about the future of the organization. “I want to bridge the gap between track and the rest of the running community. I want to bring out all different body types to show just how inclusive this sport is.”
Follow TrackGirlz and help spread the word about their mission. Learn more about Mechelle and their grant programs here.
With a vibe that’s equal parts cushioning and performance, the neutral-inclined New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 is a versatile training shoe proficient at running any pace and any distance.
It’s a relatively light, multipurpose daily trainer that deserves high marks for a reliable fit, premium Fresh Foam X midsole cushioning and a lively demeanor.
There have been a few minor tweaks to the 880v11 since last year that help boost its overall vibe. The biggest updates are a new, double jacquard engineered mesh upper, a moderately softer heel counter and a slightly softer and bouncier sensation from the updated midsole.
The new upper that helps lock down the foot to the chassis while maintaining pliability to accommodate a wide variety of foot shapes. The overlays are thinner and more subtle, but the breathability is decidedly better. When you lace it up, you sense its athletic vibe. The secure connection to the midsole/outsole chassis and the mildly soft, seamless interior.
The segmented outsole is unchanged from the previous edition of the 880. It has three sections of durable carbon rubber for durability. The 880v11 has high-impact areas and two pieces of blown rubber for enhanced traction and energy return. It doesn’t have a rocker geometry like some modern trainers. Instead has plenty of flex from a series of multidirectional grooves in the forefoot.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The Fresh Foam 880v11 fits true to size with a medium-volume, seamless interior and a secure, locked-down feeling. It has a modestly soft interior, but it’s not overly cushy or plush.
You can sense the traditional heel-toe offset (10mm) the moment you step into the shoe, with the soft cushy heel and a lower, more proprioceptive vibes in the forefoot.
Those sensations come to life on the run with protection and softness on heel-striking impacts, a smooth transition and springy and lively toe-offs. It’s produces a consistent, energetic ride and the faster you run, the less you notice the higher heel-toe offset.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who appreciate the versatility of a shoe that can handle long runs and also tackle speedier workouts will love the 880v11.
Newer runners will appreciate its comfort and fit, while more experienced runners will love that it does everything very well. It could be a race-day shoe for 5K to half marathon distances.
PROS: NEW BALANCE 880v11
This is the second edition of the 880v11 with a Fresh Foam midsole and our wear-testers greater appreciated it. The top-tier Fresh Foam X midsole compound provides amazing shock absorption in the heel and a noticeable pop of energy in the forefoot.
It’s not a performance trainer or a super cushy cruiser, but it’s somewhere in between. It has thick, shock-absorbing cushioning in the heel with a responsive, low-to-the-ground feel in the forefoot. That allows it to be a great shoe for long runs, but it’s also capable of running short and fast repeats on the track or longer, fartlek-style intervals.
The 880v11 is a no-frills trainer like its predecessors. It’s not overly comfy inside, not exceptionally fast and probably not even the shoe you’ll call your absolute favorite. But it’s the best version of this shoe that’s ever been produced, and it’s infinitely versatile and reliable — especially if you prefer only one shoe in your quiver.
CONS: NEW BALANCE 880v11
The only reason not to like the 880v11 is because it doesn’t shine brighter in one particular area. It could have a more plush, comfortable interior and it could have more energetic bounce in every stride.
The New Balance 1080 v11 is a thickly cushioned, neutral trainer. It’s one of the marquee shoes in the New Balance line and one of the best-selling models in recent years.
The 1080 is an everyday workhorse that can handle most paces and distances well. It has premium midsole cushioning, a premium engineered knit upper and it serves up a soft, smooth, stable ride.
The latest edition of the Fresh Foam 1080 has been given minor updates that improve the fit and make it one of the top-tier high-mileage trainers available for spring 2021.
The stretchy material of the upper has been loosened a bit to provide more comfortable and dynamic movement of the forefoot. All the while, the rear heel tab is more distinctly flared to reduce tension off the Achilles tendon.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The 1080v11 fits true to size with a medium volume interior from heel to toe. (Our review is based on a medium-width sample, but the men’s and women’s models are available in four different widths.)
The step-in feel is soft, cozy and plush. The shoe has a locked-down feel, thanks to the gusseted tongue and snug forefoot mesh. The ride is soft and sublime and a little bit resilient at slower speeds, but increasingly bouncy the faster you run.
The wide overall footprint of the 1080 v11 contributes an unexpected feeling of stability. This does limit the shoe’s agility if you try to run faster than tempo pace.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who appreciate thickly cushioned neutral shoes for high-mileage training will embrace the Fresh Foam 1080v11.
New runners will love it for its secure fit and comfortable ride. Advanced runners will appreciate the 1080 v11 for its mildly energetic cushioning, plush step-in feel and hint of stability.
If you’re looking for a reliable, well-cushioned everyday trainer, the 1080 v11 is a good shoe to consider.
PROS: New Balance 1080 v11
Last year’s Fresh Foam 1080v10 was an amazing shoe. Fortunately, New Balance didn’t drastically change it too much with the minor updates to the 1080v11.
In fact, the well-liked midsole and outsole of the v11 have returned unchanged from the previous edition.
The resilient Fresh Foam X midsole foam that debuted in the previous edition of this shoe serves up a consistently soft, moderately bouncy and reliably stable foot strikes and toe-offs.
It seems to be slightly more responsive at faster speeds, but never excessively bouncy.
With a lightweight feeling and modestly energetic demeanor, the Fresh Foam 1080v11 is ideal for long weekend runs. It doesn’t give off the sensation of being race-day fast, but it’s proficient for consistent running slow to moderately quick paces.
The Hypoknit engineered mesh upper accommodates a wide range of foot shapes. It’s slightly more relaxed and less stringent than the upper of the 1080v10. (The laces also seem a little bit less stretchy than the laces on last year’s model.)
This Hypoknit gives a good amount of locked-down hold. It also gives the sensation of having more wiggle room in the forefoot. This allows your toes to flex and splay just before the toe-off phase.
A series of seven blown rubber outsole lug segments contribute to the premium ride sensation. This provides ample traction and allowing for compliant flexibility. This also helps keep the overall weight as low as possible.
If you liked the Fresh Foam 1080v10, you’re probably going to like the 1080v11. The minor updates have improved the fit but haven’t negatively impacted the ride.
The forefoot and heel will feel slightly different, but neither is something to get hung up about. This feeling tends to disappear as soon as you start running in it.
CONS: New Balance 1080 v11
The Fresh Foam 1080 has never been a speed burner and the v11 is no different.
It’s capable of faster long runs and tempo runs, but it’s not really built for the fast turnover you’ll want for long intervals, track workouts or short-distance racing.
Why not get the scoop straight from the source?! Let’s talk about New Balance’s proprietary Fresh Foam X technology and the running shoe range that features this midsole.
Journalist Brian Metzler sat down with New Balance Product Manager Paul Zielinski to get the insider talk on the what, why, and excitement around the continuing refinement of the Fresh Foam X experience.
AN EXCITING ADVENTURE IN SHOES
New Balance Product Manager Paul Zielinski and Brian Metzler share the Zoom limelight talking about the Fresh Foam X. Spoiler alert, it’s a game changer with many more exciting things to come in 2021!
The 860 v11 is ideal for short runs, long runs and week after week of high-mileage training. It’s also versatile and secure enough to go through the grind at the gym, too.
New Balance updated this reliable training shoe with a softer midsole foam package to improve the comfort and ride. It also features a new upper to improve the fit and performance.
Those changes have given the 860v11 a lively new vibe and the fresh feel of a modern stability shoe.
The geometry of this shoe offers plenty of cushion and support while also playing a role in taking pressure off the Achilles.
The relatively high heel-toe offset (10mm) and heel stack height (31mm) is ideal for new runners. It also serves those interested in long, slow comfortable miles.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
Forget what you know about stability shoes. The New Balance 860 v11 is sporty, plush and smooth. First, it is available in three widths (narrow, medium and wide) so it’s very accommodating to all sizes of feet. Generally speaking it has a medium volume interior from heel to toe.
The step-in feel is soft and luxurious, combining a squishy top layer of its footbed, a padded tongue. It also introduces a flared Ultra Heel collar, which both wraps the foot and reduces tension on the Achilles.
The thin layer of Fresh Foam midsole cushioning sandwiched between the footed and a thicker layer of EVA foam helps soften the ride and add a tinge of springiness in every stride.
New Balance created the concave and convex dimple pattern of the Fresh Foam compound. This alters levels of compression and resistance under impact based on gait data recorded from thousands of runners.
The ride is smooth and consistent, though not overly energetic. The new two-layer midsole foam gives it a mildly springy feel. The energy return is minimal even though the comfort value is high.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Runners who appreciate soft cushioning and need a bit of support to offset mild to moderate over-pronation. The 860 v11 is a great workhorse training shoe that can be a great shoe for many types of runners.
It’s suitable for new runners who don’t vary their pace much, taller or larger runners who want more cushioning and support.
The 860 also serves those who are known to pronate consistently or tend to endure form fatigue in final miles of a long run.
PROS: New Balance 860 v11
The key component of the 860v11 is the medial post that provides noticeably stability under the arch. You can definitely feel the extra support in every stride — especially if you’re a severe over-pronator — but the shoe provides a smooth transition from the heel to mid-foot to forefoot without the clunkiness of some stability shoes.
The uniquely shaped and styled engineered mesh upper is similar to that of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10. And let’s be honest, the heel flare feature that keeps pressure off of the Achilles tendon makes it look a bit like an elf slipper. Our wear-testers loved the stretchy and supportive upper because it kept our feet comfortably and securely in place while running.
The 860v11 is a very durable shoe that will likely be able endure at least two seasons of training. Does that mean you’ll get 350 to 400 miles out of them? Yes, it’s quite possible, thanks to the durable nature of the midsole foam and the segments of blown rubber on the outsole.
CONS: New Balance 860 v11
The 860v11 is not a speed merchant by any means, so don’t expect it to be your go-to shoe for interval workouts or your next 5K race. However, it can suffice for moderately fast tempo runs in a pinch and your next half marathon or marathon, especially if you’re seeking extra support late in the race.
Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.
He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.
As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”