JARRETT: It has been a long and uncomfortable two years since we have last seen the Vongo, one year if you delete the clusterf*** of last year. While the name sounds like the newest model of a Nerf gun, the actual shoe is quite the opposite of a kid’s toy – the Vongo is New Balance’s highest-end stability shoe.
The Vongo v3 stole my heart, and then came the v4 in 2019 which is what you could call one of those frustrating updates. And then – nothing. Like Willy Wonka disappearing into the depths of his chocolate empire. New Balance locked the shoe up behind the gates of its Boston compound and made it sing songs with little orange men until it learned its lesson.
Anyway, nobody really knows what we’re talking about at this point, but I guess the Vongo decided to eat some everlasting gobstoppers, and it has finally emerged from the lab looking like a brand new beast.
Just about everything has been updated with the Vongo. We’re talking about a brand new Hypoknit upper, an upgrade from the firmer Fresh Foam to Fresh Foam X, a nice 8 mm drop, and even a redesigned outsole.
If you’ve been on the hunt for a stability daily trainer, stop reading, go get some popcorn, and sit your ass down, because you’re in for a treat.
ALDREN: I always want to be invited to a party even though 90% of the time, I’ll decline the offer. It’s something us shoe reviewers have to deal with on an almost-daily basis, if we can even make it through the paparazzi crowded outside our door. However, the more often I would say ‘no’, the more often I wouldn’t be invited to some gatherings. Turns out if you don’t want to hang out with models, they don’t want to hang out with you, and man, that stinks sometimes. No shoe can relate to this more than the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo. While the 1080 v10 emerged as a top daily trainer in 2019, the Vongo v4 stuck around as an over-correcting block with a sock-fitted liner. To be honest, I was not the biggest fan. Really, none of us were.
But my, how a pandemic changes things (though I know this was already in its design phases pre-pandemic). Introducing the new and improved Fresh Foam Vongo v5 – a damn near perfect example that any shoe can go full phoenix and rise from the dead after a former life as a hunk of stability garbage.
JARRETT: I’m sure you’re thinking about how the Vongo V5 looks like the 1080v11, and you’re right. Good thing the 1080v11 looks great! The Hypoknit upper works fine here. It’s stretchy to allow the foot some room, while also hugging it nicely. The ‘N’ overlays provide additional structure in the midfoot, while the forefoot has plenty of stretch to let the toes do their thing. My wide pair had just enough room in the midfoot for me, but the forefoot was a little iffy. I could feel the upper pushing on the side of my big toe joint, but the upper’s stretch prevented any serious pressure.
I’d like to think that New Balance heard the complaints regarding the 1080v11 Ultraheel and decided to go with a more traditional heel collar. Although, I would have taken the Ultraheel over the Vongo v4 heel collar which was an abomination. The V4 internal padding caused heel slip and irritation, the counter was way too stiff, and the knit ankle collar was pointless.
Let’s pause for a second to thank New Balance for scrapping the v4 and starting over. The heel in V5 is comfortable, doesn’t slip, and causes no irritation. This simple padded collar with a slight flare out provides the secure feeling we all crave. DON’T CHANGE IT.
The midsole features the much-loved Fresh Foam X and sports a medial post made from a denser gradient dual compound. This medial post is where the stability comes from, and for me provides an excellent amount of support. The forefoot has good cushioning, while the midfoot to heel is firmer. With every company coming out with a super soft midsole, it’s actually quite refreshing to have a shoe where I don’t have to stress about form and I can just run.
You also don’t have to worry about annoying your fellow runners, as the shoe doesn’t slap the ground. It’s rare for a stability shoe to provide a smooth ride, but that’s exactly what you get with the Vongo V5. The outsole is just about identical to the 1080v11 and the blown rubber does the job. At 50 miles, my Vongo v5 shows little wear.
I wasn’t using the Vongo for fast days. Although I did throw in some last half-mile pickups, I primarily used it for easy and/or long runs where the shoe excels. Anywhere from 3 miles all the way up to 14 was easy on my knees and enjoyable.
ALDREN: This is the glow up the Fresh Foam Vongo v5 needed. Rolling in with an entirely new design, the Vongo is structured with a Hypoknit upper. Similar to the feel on the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11, the Vongo is stylized with a scrotal design around the midfoot to lock down the saddle and widen out towards the toes for a foot relaxing fit. The Hypoknit does a supreme job of securing your foot without restricting it at the same time.
With an 8 mm offset, the Vongo is built off a slightly rockered geometry. This allows for an easy heel-to-toe transition from stride to stride. Another update to the Vongo series is the introduction of Fresh Foam X. This provides a more shock-absorbing feel upon ground impact and a ton of energy return into each step. Looking at the medial side, the Vongo v5 comes with a denser EVA component that acts as the shoe’s stability function. The posting sits right below the arch to help stop the act of overpronation when us stability hounds end up collapsing that area of our foot upon landing.
Moving onto the outsole, it certainly doesn’t lack rubber coverage. Of course, the Vongo has never faced inadequacy in this area but I’m glad to see that hasn’t changed. Do your thang New Balance!Shop New Balance Vongo v5 – Men Shop New Balance Vongo v5 – Women
JARRETT: While I added the Hypoknit upper to the ‘Good’ section, I also have some qualms as I’m partial to the material. It’s able to hold the foot nicely, but there were times where the stretch was a bit too much. Some people are going to love the upper. Hypoknit just isn’t my jam. I also wish the forefoot was a smidge wider. People with serious bunions might find the forefoot a little too narrow.
My 10.5 2E weighs 11 oz per shoe, and although they are .5 oz. less than the V4, I want that sub 11 oz. shoe weight. I know you can do it, New Balance. I believe in you!
ALDREN: I’m definitely a fan of the Hypoknit upper; however, around the toe box, it stretches a little too much for my liking. I found that every time I lifted my toes, the Hypoknit didn’t resist against my foot so it kept stretching to the point where it felt a little too sloppy.
The weight wasn’t noticeable in hand, but in the middle of longer runs in this scorching hot summer, my tiny runner legs could barely lift my feet up. Weight usually doesn’t bother me, but here it does. If it means losing some of this precious rubber, then so be it. The Vongo needs to shed a couple ounces.Shop New Balance Vongo v5 – Men Shop New Balance Vongo v5 – Women
JARRETT: My faith has been restored in the Vongo. I like having a good stability shoe in my rotation for easy days to help my form when I’m tired, and so far this year, the Vongo V5 has been the best stability shoe I’ve put on. If you’re a big New Balance fan, the Vongo V5 is a stable Frankenstein consisting of the 1080v11 upper (with a better heel collar), and a midsole that feels like the 1080v11 cushion in the forefoot and Beacon firmness in the midfoot/heel. If the Vongo V5 is Frankenstein, I guess that makes me the bride, because we’re quite the match. I’m also really into necks with lag bolts protruding out the sides. ‘Cause, you know – more stability. Or something.
ALDREN: I can see myself grabbing the Vongo on my easier days on the road. It does a solid job of stabilizing my foot while providing the same amount of comfort and cushion everyone in the neutral department has been raving about with the Fresh Foam 1080 for the past two years. I’m glad to see it catch up and meet the New Balance standards.
You can pick up the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 right now for $150 along with your other running needs at Running Warehouse using the link below.Shop New Balance Vongo v5 – Men Shop New Balance Vongo v5 – Women