The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v5 running shoes are a cautious New Balance venture in running shoes with a slightly softer sole. They have not gone as far as another well-known shoe company went some time ago with gel soles and air cushioning, which is just as well. That crazy marketing idea resulted in too many sprained and torn ankles (and probably worse), due to a complete lack of proprioceptive feedback (i.e., you could not feel the ground). The New Balance 1080v5 shoes with their, “Fresh Foam” technology have just enough cushioning at the heel to remove that pounding heel strike shock you get when running on hard surfaces while leaving your feet fully aware of the surface you are running on.
What is this “Fresh Foam” anyhow? New Balance claims it’s “designed for serious lasting power, it’s our most substantial Fresh Foam cushioning execution yet.” Perhaps, they heard that customers were complaining that the typical foam sole tends to break down far too quickly leaving an intact upper and a compressed and uncomfortable footbed.
- Obviously, the thicker foam at the heel
- Wide sole at the front, to give good stability
- Mesh upper for good breathing (and the usual “engineering” claims)
- Sizes apparently go from a small 7 to a huge 16
- Wide fittings: they seem to come in B, D, 2E and 4E, although what are actually in stock may be different (4E was greyed out, but they sent us 4E)
- Weight 295 g or 10.4 oz
- Long shoe laces
- Version 5, so a fairly popular and evolved design
- Price from New Balance: US $150
(Direct quote from New Balance website, using their terminology. Some of this may not mean much to you or me).
- 8 mm [.31 in.] drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 8 mm drop are approximate
- Blown rubber outsole
- Bootie construction
- Engineered mesh
- Ortholite® foam insert delivers long term comfort, breathability, and anti-microbial function to fight odor.
- Synthetic/mesh upper
New Balance 1080v5 Review Performance
We received two pairs of the New Balance 1080v5 running shoe in Men’s size 10 width 4E, for Sue and myself. (Sue gave up on those weird “Womens sizes” decades ago to avoid suffering). We have been wearing the NB Leadville V2 shoes for our morning runs, so we switched to these for comparison. Our run is about 8 km (5 mi.) long; it starts on asphalt but soon turns into a mixture of ironstone rock, pebbles, and sand. The edge of the (country) road is a bit rough; the surface of the dirt track has plenty of sticks and stones to keep our attention. We also traversed some pebble-covered hills which require care in both directions.
- The first thing we checked was the width: we will not bother testing shoes which are not wide enough. Yep, the 4E label was fine.
- The next thing we checked was the insole: it was fairly flat. Fortunately, New Balance never really went in for the mad “arch support” craze promoted by another well-known shoe company, and we are all very grateful for that. And the shoe does not do “pronation control” either: same comments.
- Then we looked at the sole. It has lots of small lugs, more shallow and more closely spaced than the Vibram soles on the Leadvilles, and this sole lacks the significant edge of hard lugs the Leadvilles have. New Balance designed the Leadvilles for high mountain racing, while New Balance designed these more for road running.
- We noted that this sole accommodates considerable flex under the ball of the foot, which suits running. You can see the gap between the lugs in the second photo.
- Then we tried walking around in them. Oh yes, indeed: we could feel the softer heel strike immediately. Frankly, both of us thought that was rather nice. But it was also quickly obvious that the flared sole at the front of the foot was giving very good stability, despite the softish heel. In this area, we were both happy with the trade-off.
- It’s a small point, but I noticed that (at long last!) the laces are long enough even when you use all the holes in the lacing.
- So then we took them running. It did seem at first that the size 10 was running a shade large, as I had some heel lift at the start. Sue was aware of this as well but was not concerned. I used the final lacing hole and tightened up the top end of the lacing ever so slightly over the next few days, and any heel lift is now “not noticed.”
- Both of us pushed the shoes around a bit while running for the first few days, especially on the rougher parts of the track. They handled the lumps, bumps, and rocks very well.
- The mesh top breathes, flexes, and lets in water from wet grass. But that is much better than any so-called waterproof/breathable membrane lining and “prune feet.”
New Balance 1080v5 Review Summary
The softer heel strike is nice, while the front of the sole is thinner for good proprioception and plenty wide enough for stability. Feedback from ground to brain is good. The road traction is fine in both wet and dry conditions, and the fit (for us) was good. The shoes are quite light too. We don’t really have any criticisms at this stage.
The New Balance 1080v5 running shoes are good for running on moderately uniform surfaces, and reasonable trails. I would not use them for mountain running on really harsh terrain, but they are not meant for that. Just make sure the shoes you buy are wide enough for your feet (and wear some nice thick wool socks).
Disclosure: some of the links below may be affiliate links, which means if you place an order at one of these retailers, we receive a small commission on this sale. This helps support Backpacking Light, thank you!
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