Best in Class Luxury Ride: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12, $160
The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12 is one of those shoes that just makes running feel good. It’s cushy, comfortable, consistent and it has a cool, clean look. It’s an opulent shoe that you’ll be inspired to lace up because you know it has a plush, cozy interior and serves up a buttery-smooth, resilient ride. As I wear-tested it this spring, I was left wondering why all of the shoes in my quiver weren’t this good. There’s a $10 price bump over the previous version — as is the case with almost every shoe in 2022 — but you definitely get what you pay for.
Why It’s Great: The 1080 has always been a superlative maximally cushioned trainer, but, generally speaking, New Balance keeps finding a way to make it marginally better every spring. The premium Fresh Foam X midsole compound has been a key part of its makeup for years, but now there’s a little bit more of it. And more is definitely better! The small refinements, creature comforts and long-haul durability also play a big role in making this shoe so exceptional.
What’s New: The latest edition of the Fresh Foam X 1080 has an updated heel, structural support from no-sew overlays and a form-fitting Hypoknit mesh upper that is especially stretchy in the forefoot for an improved fit and added comfort for a wider range of foot shapes. The upper is also made mostly from recycled materials, so that’s a plus, too. The elf-like heel of the previous version has been replaced with a more traditional heel collar that’s smooth and supportive around the ankle and Achilles. The thicker Fresh Foam X midsole is soft and responsive and adds a noticeable amount of springiness in each stride.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re a committed age-group runner training for your next half marathon or marathon, you’ll appreciate the comfort, pillowy soft landings and mild energy return on your long runs and recovery runs. Just as important, your feet and legs won’t feel beat-up the day after you log 15 to 20 miles. If you’re a novice runner or weekend warrior who only runs a few times a week, you’ll appreciate the smooth, easy heel-to-toe transitions that create a feeling of effortless flow — even if you’re not yet optimally fit. The segmented durable rubber outsole provides reliable traction on wet and dry pavement, adds some stability and doesn’t inhibit the shoe’s flex or liveliness.
Heel-Toe Drop: 8mm (37mm in the heel, 29mm in the forefoot)
Weights: 8.6oz. (women’s 8), 10.3 oz. (men’s 9)
Pro: Speed is definitely not the forte of Fresh Foam X 1080 v12, but it does offer some versatility for running faster paces. It can handle long runs, tempo runs, recovery runs and even spontaneous fartlek sessions and marathon-paced longer intervals.
Pro: Given the durability of the foam and the outsole, you should be able to log 500+ miles in this shoe.
Con: It’s not the lightest shoe available, but it’s not heavy either. The resiliency and mild bounce effect of the Fresh Foam X midsole helps your stride keep moving forward without feeling clunky or obtuse.
Get all the details on the 1080 here on the New Balance site.