ADRIENNE: The New Balance 880v10 was the second of two models dropped off recently by the New Balance fairy (the other being the FuelCell TC). I must have done something good so far in 2020 because I dug both models. It was a near-perfect reviewing situation because I was working through both a fast day and an easy day shoe; it’s also hard for me to decide whether I like FuelCell or Fresh Foam X better as a midsole material. I’ll call it a toss-up for now. Let’s get into the details of yet another solid update from New Balance.
It’s not until you step into the v10 that the difference between the previous and current versions stand out. It’s not that the earlier iterations were bad, they just lacked excitement, and for me, the 12 mm drop was too much to really enjoy them.
What’s changed? The 880 is keeping up with the rest of its NB siblings in materials innovation. It gets the awesome Fresh Foam X midsole like its brother, the 1080v10; however, the ride feels slightly more traditional. This is a shoe that knows what it is: a no-BS, comfortable, seemingly durable shoe made for pounding out mile after mile.
The 880v10 is a long-distance cruiser made for easier paces but doesn’t get in the way much if you pick up the pace or hit up some post-run strides. Engineered mesh, although fine in the earlier versions, has been replaced by Hypoknit and holds the foot incredibly well with thicker stitching lining the sidewalls and an airier toe box. It looks kinda cool too.
Flat laces, 3D printed eyelets and a super-padded tongue finishes the upper out. An external heel counter had me puzzled at first but holds the foot in place without feeling too stiff or obtrusive. The midsole and upper work beautifully together.
The 880v10 features a generous amount of blown rubber coverage on the outsole. I took these on crushed granite, asphalt, and damp concrete and the traction felt spot on. I appreciated the flex grooves in the forefoot paired with the crash pad in the heel, which made for easy transitions. Unlike most current New Balance models, the midsole is not entirely composed of Fresh Foam X, but it contains small deposits of EVA foam in the forefoot and heel; I’d say it like 90% FFX and 10% EVA, give or take. Whatever the ratio, it works well together. You get a controlled, slightly responsive ride ideal for easy days. My women’s 9 weighs about 9 oz./255g and has a traditional 10 mm drop. Okay, that last sentence makes them sound boring-but trust me they’re not!
DAVE: You either loved or hated Fresh Foam it when it hit the market some years ago. Many runners were huge fans of the Zante, aka the first “Kinvara Killer.” However, there were a lot like me who found it very firm and kinda, well, dull. The sidewalls were so harsh that Fresh Foam always flared up my IT bands. It happened a lot in 880, 1080, Zante, etc.
That said, a good running company will listen and New Balance has done that. In a creative, yet oversaturated market of midsoles right now, New Balance has found a way to develop multiple compounds, including Fresh Foam GC (Ground Contact), FuelCell and now Fresh Foam X. They definitely all have a place in today’s run game.
I’ve been looking for a heavier long run shoe/recovery day shoe that still boasts some funkiness underfoot. Hopefully 880 does the trick.
JARRETT: Could I put my own intro into this shoe review? Sure, but Adrienne and Dave combined to write the second coming of the Encyclopedia Britannica, so I won’t waste your time like I’m doing right now in explaining myself. I’ll just leave you with this quote from Demi Lovato, “Baby I’m sorry (I’m not sorry).”
ADRIENNE: “Hot damn, these things feel nice” – me, on an easy seven-mile run.
I did not expect these trainers to feel as smooth as they do. The Fresh Foam X and EVA work well together absorbing shock and propelling you into your next stride. The 880 will likely accommodate a good number of foot types and foot strike patterns. No matter if I landed on my forefoot, heel, or midfoot (where I found it felt best), the shoe felt great.
Every now and then, a shoe fits my high-arched, narrow-ish foot and the 880 nailed it. Arch support is fantastic, and the heel collar holds great, and somehow isn’t too pillowy. There couldn’t be any heel slippage if I tried. As much as I like the 1080’s spirited ride, I appreciated the 880’s more nuanced bounce on days I needed to dial the pace back. Comfortable, smooth, and stable, these kicks glide across the pavement. They reminded me a bit of the Saucony Triumph 17, except a little lighter and more arch support– those who have tried the Triumph 17 know this is a compliment to the 880.
DAVE: Damn, the Fresh Foam X is smooth, at least on this shoe. The stacks are leveled nicely for a “very small” rocker feel that keeps you in check while finding the midfoot/forefoot sweet spot. In testing, I ran medium-long (x2), some easy aerobic cruiser days and some recovery runs. About 53 miles total. The beauty of an effortless, yet giddy midsole is it makes these easier runs flow smoothly; that time in which we focus on form. FFX gives you smooth with a capital ‘S’.
As mentioned earlier, lately I am struggling to find a general running shoe. One for the not-so-pretty stuff in training. The basics. This 880 now takes the cake. Any time a daily trainer has a good midsole, you’re in for a treat. Sounds kinda obvious, right? But how many shoes have we seen over the past few years that lace up like a glove, but have nothing underfoot? The 880 now enters the Triumph category as an altogether reliable, yet peppy workhorse trainer.
That same Fresh Foam X provides some quickness to a shoe that comes in at 10.3 oz./292g in the mileage hog shoe category. Because I primarily train in lightweight performance footwear, anything over 10 oz. gets a bit bulky, none of that bulkiness shows up in the 880. I dig.
Lastly, the Hypoknit upper is soft and allows some flex. It’s nothing fancy, which honestly, makes it work. Too many run companies are getting caught up in uppers.
JARRETT: The new Hypoknit upper is juuuust swell. I know people sometimes prefer the engineered mesh, but this knit is breathable, provides solid structure without needing a ton of overlays, and still has some give. There’s a bit of a bumper around the toe for additional structure that also keeps the spacious toe box from collapsing on itself. Before you ask, yes, this is true to size.
The 880 has a traditional heel collar that is both nicely cushioned and simple. There’s a large plastic external heel counter to control your heel from moving around. It’s everything you’ve missed since as more and more shoes become flimsy in order to cut weight.
The previous version’s midsole was TrueFuse, but that’s old news. Fresh Foam X is here, and it’s where this shoe should be. An amazing amount of cushion without that “sinking in quicksand” feeling. It’s responsive enough for some short runs at a semi-fast pace, but where it really shines is in longer distances. The 880v10 is an absolute pleasure to run in. After my 14-mile long run my legs and feet felt completely fresh.
Even though it’s considered a neutral shoe, I think some people who pronate might still have success because of how wide the outsole is. It may not have medial posts, but there isn’t a wobbly feeling to it. Two large horizontal full-length grooves on the outsole, coupled with a honeycomb pattern, assist with providing a smooth transition no matter if you’re striking at the heel or midfoot.
The outsole has a ton of blown rubber in the forefoot. There’s a bit of exposed midsole right around the center of the heel which probably helps keep the weight down a bit. With a ton of running miles, wearing the shoes to work, or just walking around daily in them, there isn’t much sign of wear on the rubber.
As a wide foot reviewer on the first round of colorways, I almost always get a gray shoe. Same with this one. I uhhhh… think it’s good looking? The stitched in pattern with the black, along with pockets of subtle yellow work well. Could I be losing my hip young factor since I turned 30? Maybe I’ve been beaten into submission with the gray/black wide shoe options? Oy vey.Shop New Balance 880v10
ADRIENNE: Like a few other NB models, this one has a lot of tongue overkill IMO. I appreciate the minimal lace pressure, but that is the first thing I notice when I look down. While not a big deal, I noticed the 880 needs a little break-in period. After a couple runs, they show their reliable, generous personality and you want to hang out with them.
DAVE: Let’s talk about the tongue/lacing. I think Robbe is starting to think I have a secret basement full of scary things with me talking so much about tongues lately [EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m fully convinced this is true], but hell, in typical New Balance fashion the tongue is yet again too thick and rides too far up your foot. Seriously, are they ever going to fix this? Keep it simple and let it form to your foot. This one doesn’t.
Combine that with the notorious NB long lacing and there’s a little extra on the shoe we just don’t need as a runner. I have a narrower foot, so in truth I do need to crank a bit, but it’s still excessive.
JARRETT: Close your eyes and picture this. You’re in high school. It’s Saturday night and you’re in your friend’s basement playing spin the bottle with 10 other cool kids (we’re cool, right?). It’s your turn. You spin and enter the closet with another awkward girl/guy. You start making out and think “wow that’s a lot of tongue.” Aaaaaand scene!
That’s how I felt about the tongue here. It’s just too much. Not awful, I’d still go another round with it, but it could be toned down and be way better.
The 880v10 isn’t your lightweight shoe. My 10.5 2E weighs in at 11.5 oz. Even though it’s obviously not a lightweight trainer, it would be nice to get this lighter. Using Fresh Foam X helps make it not feel anywhere as heavy as it actually is though.Shop New Balance 880v10
ADRIENNE: Great update on a solid shoe grounded in purpose. New Balance released a well-designed, well-built trainer. Runs in these were more enjoyable than anticipated and they straddle the line between bouncy (and a bit unruly) and solid, no-frills discipline. I anticipate putting a lot of comfortable miles on the 880v10. Nicely done, New Balance.
DAVE: Believers, we’ve found another gem in the rubble for the daily workhorse category. The 880 is smooth, a tad softer than old school Fresh Foam, and while it still feels snappy, it just gets the job done with an effortless underfoot feel. It definitely will go into the conversation with the Saucony Triumphs of the world, heck, even the Guide 13. Saucony has really excelled in that department and New Balance can now throw a competitive hat into that ring.
Recommended as a daily trainer for long runs, easy days, or for the runner looking for that do-it-all shoe for training.
Simplicity wins sometimes (i.e. most of the time).
JARRETT: I’d go so far as to stand up on a table in a crowded Red Robin to let my fellow peers know that Fresh Foam X is indeed the real deal. And then yell at the server for being late on my bottomless fries schedule.
New Balance put out just an all-around fantastic shoe with the 880v10. This is a perfect example of a traditional daily trainer workhorse. Enjoy the hell out of it because they don’t come around often.
You can pick up the New Balance 880v10 for $130 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and free returns) by using the shop link below.Shop New Balance 880v10