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Road Running Shoes • October 27, 2023

New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v6 Review: A Vongo for the Modern Age

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What You Need To Know

Weight

10.7 oz. (303 g) for a US M9,

8.6 oz. (243 g) for a US W7.5

Stack Height / Drop

Stack height unavailable (6 mm drop)

Best For

Daily miles with a touch of stability

Key Features

Fresh Foam X midsole, engineered mesh upper, additional medial support

On The Run
Pillowy soft Fresh Foam X Hey, look, there's a plate The upper is a bit too warm and uncomfy
Price

$165

Introduction to the New Balance Vongo v6

CHAD: Time for some real talk. The days of yore, when stability wasn’t sexy, are long gone. With brands like Saucony coming out with the Tempus and Puma dropping the ForeverRun Nitro, there now exists a world where stability can mean more than just thick, heavy, and blocky. The New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v6 is just another example of how the stability shoe game has changed. It’s a solid, New Balance-flavored reminder that stability shoes can be fun to run in and aren’t simply utilitarian bricks of foam. Everyone else covered the specs of the new iteration of the Vongo, so let’s move on to the performance.

MERCER: In recent memory, New Balance’s Vongo hasn’t really been a shoe with much effort put into it — unlike the Vongo’s neutral counterpart, the 1080, which gets updated every year. Sure, some of those updates weren’t the greatest, but it’s updates that the Vongo wasn’t seeing, period. So when the Vongo did finally update last year, I thought maybe we would get something good from New Balance like that updated 1080 last. Well, have you ever tried putting lipstick on a pig? The Vongo suffered just like every other high-cushioned stability shoe does, no matter how much “innovation” went into it, it was always just some foam with a harder piece of foam on the inside and last year was no different.

But stability suddenly became a little bit sexy in 2022 and 2023, and shit starts hitting the fan with everyone and everything getting updates (eg. Tempus, Kayano, Guide). Well, unless you’re the Glycerin GTS — sorry, Brooks. And opening the box to see this new Vongo (after it sat in my college mailbox for 3 months), I can say that New Balance has joined the club in trying to make stability fun.

ALDREN: Step aside, Hoka, New Balance has taken over the world when it comes to high cushion trainers in the last few years. Its Fresh Foam X formula stepped into the limelight, and I don’t see New Balance giving it up any time soon. The Vongo line in the past has fallen more on the experimental side of high cushion and stability, but there was always a glowing (and posting) issue with every model.

The Vongo matches against other max cushion, max support shoes like the Mizuno Wave Horizon and Saucony Hurricane. The past versions (and the last versions — RIP the Hurricane) of those shoes had too high of a post underneath the arch area to the point where my feet were almost at a 35-degree angle slanting out.

Now, the newest Vongo v6 looks to patch some problems from the past while coming into its own. Is it still the 1080’s ugly stability sister? Is New Balance still saying that it’s going to test new technology in a shoe and just give it 3D Space Construction (I’m looking at you, Asics)? Am I writing this at 1:38 AM?

Well — yes, yes, and yes, but she’s not ugly.

What we like about the New Balance Vongo v6

CHAD: New Balance absolutely knocked it out of the park with the Vongo v6 in nearly every regard. The fit is perfect, the upper is comfortable and holds onto the foot nicely, and the step-in feel is great. Even the aesthetics of the Vongo v6 are nice, ranging from the nice blue colorway I received to the dichotomy of the huge N on the lateral side of the shoe and the tiny N on the medial side. Some might find it underwhelming, but I enjoy it.

Aesthetics and comfort aside, the performance of the Vongo v6 on the run sets a whole new bar for stability shoe running. This newest formulation of Fresh Foam X has bounce and responsiveness that wasn’t historically found in the stability category. Despite this plush cushioning underfoot, I could take each step of my run confidently, knowing that the stability elements in the shoe would keep me going forward without any medial or lateral wobble. I think this shoe is definitely a competitor with the Tempus and ForeverRun Nitro as the top stability shoes on the market.

I love running in this shoe so much that it was one of the three pairs I brought with me to the Ragnar Reach the Beach relay in September (along with the Asics Novablast 3 and the Brooks Ghost Max). I knew going in that my overall mileage total was going to be just over 21 miles in that 30-hour timespan, so I chose the Vongo v6 to run my first of three legs to keep my legs fresh and protected for my second and third legs. No regrets.

MERCER: There’s some smoke and mirrors at play when it comes to stability shoes, companies can claim that they’ve made a shoe softer, and when you try it on in-store, it feels softer. But you would never find something like the Nike Invincible level of cush, because if you went that far, it gets unstable (Kayano 29, I’m looking at you). But the Fresh Foam X in this bad boy, is butter — and I’m not talking East Coast butter, I’m talking that think chunky block of West Coast butter. This shoe actually gives you that sink-in feeling with every step, not just shock absorption. But don’t be worried about it being too much cushion. You aren’t being smothered by fresh foam like the More v4.

Oh, and apparently New Balance decided that stability shoes could use plates. While you do see some midsole tooling like the Vongo 4 and 5, this plate thing is really what provides most of the support. And it feels really good. I don’t feel it fixing my pronation at all, and just like a normal plated shoe, it makes you go a little faster and gives you a little zing in your step. New Balance made a stability element work really well and made it different than the 1080, which I love. Is this plate just more complicated stability? Yes. Did I say in my Gaviota review that I liked simple stability? Yes, but this plate has made this shoe a lot of fun and really different from everything else on my shelf.

If New Balance is smart, they patented this (Robbe got me addicted to patent hunting), but I kinda hope they didn’t. A couple of brands could make great use of this, something like the Vomero 17 or the Endorphin Shift with this design would be amazing.

ALDREN: Getting right into the meat, I remember how my foot straight up melted in the heel of this Fresh Foam X midsole. Very often, stability models advertised as high cushion, such as the Gel-Kayano 30, Glycerin GTS 20, and Wave Horizon 7, don’t provide that sink-your-foot-into-the-shoe type of feel. More often than not, I get more along the lines of a shock-absorbing, energy-dispersing type of landing when running in these shoes. It doesn’t sound great cause it doesn’t feel great.

The Vongo v6, along with the other thick slabbed Fresh Foam X models like the 1080v13 and More v5, drown your foot when running with the most pillowy soft cushion. Another great part about it is that it doesn’t take away from the ride. The geometry of the midsole provides a pretty smooth roll. All I could think of on my runs was this marshmallow between my feet and the ground.

The midsole is a dual-layered Fresh Foam X. It has a layer on the top and bottom, with a sheet of plastic slipped between the two slabs. This changes the geometry of the shoe by lowering the plastic closer to the ground on the lateral side of the shoe and raising it higher and closer to the arch on the medial side. This stops the foam from compressing so much to provide the actual stability component (I swear this is just posting with extra steps).

New Balance’s upper is designed with much more ventilation than the previous iteration. The Hypoknit is replaced by a synthetic engineered mesh that molded around my foot, almost as if it was a knit. New Balance uppers have been fairly tapered recently with wider, shallow toe boxes and choked-up midfoot sections. The Vongo follows that trend effortlessly with no issues in the upper department.

Shop New Balance Vongo v6 - Men Shop New Balance Vongo v6 - Women

What we don’t like about the New Balance Vongo v6

CHAD: Only two relatively minor things to note in this section: The first is that the upper runs a little warm, but as we move into the colder months, I think that will be less of a concern. The other is a new thing for me with New Balance which is that I found the shoe to have somewhat of a low volume for my foot. Normally in New Balance shoes, I have to cinch the laces tighter than most other brands to get the ideal fit; but with the Vongo v6, I ended up putting my feet to sleep on a run by tying them too tight on the first few runs.

MERCER: Not a new complaint for New Balance right here, but the Vongo’s upper is not great. This shoe is thick where it should be thin and thin where it should be thick, it was makin’ my foot toasty, and I just wasn’t agreeing with it. The collar felt really shallow, and I got some crazy puckering in the toe box, too.

I bet if they dialed this upper down, it would save some weight. If the midsole wasn’t so good on this shoe, I don’t think I would run as much as I have in it.

ALDREN: This is a minor issue, but the heel counter area felt off. It’s hard to put my finger on it exactly, but the entire collar of the shoe feels too low. I never dealt with any heel slip issues, though my Achilles felt too exposed. I like a more secure feel all around the midfoot and heel, but the Vongo v6 felt like I wasn’t getting as much lockdown as I wanted.

Shop New Balance Vongo v6 - Men Shop New Balance Vongo v6 - Women

Final Thoughts on the New Balance Vongo v6

CHAD: It’s time to put to bed the idea that stability shoes are boring. The New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 is a breath of fresh air, in that it provides a bouncy and responsive ride while also providing unobtrusive stability along the way. I also had the pleasure of reviewing the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13, another shoe that I think New Balance has an instant hit with. However, if you asked me which I would prefer to run in, it’s actually the Vongo v6 because I couldn’t see myself taking the 1080 v13 beyond certain distances, due to the instability. So, if you want the bounce of the newest Fresh Foam X but need a little stability in your running life, the Vongo v6 will do the trick.

MERCER: This shoe is kinda like that, I would love it so much more if the upper wasn’t awful, but hey, that’s just the way things roll. I can’t wait for other companies to follow behind and make soft stability shoes. If you aren’t a fan of knit uppers, you can take a look at the new Puma ForeverRun Nitro or the Kayano 30, if you do like knit uppers, go take a look at the Nike Infinity React 4 as well.

ALDREN: In a perfect world, the Vongo v6 is the new standard of cushioning for high cushion stability shoes. Everything about this is so thoughtless to the point where I kept forgetting I needed to write about this shoe to get the review out.

It’s such a beautiful shoe to have on your foot, especially if your feet have been longing for a pillow to land on.

You can pick up the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v6 for $165 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe

 

Shop New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v6 Men
Shop New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v6 Women
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Authors

Chad Zimmermann
Clydesdale Reviewer
  • Instagram
  • Strava

An attorney by day, Chad lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife and three kids. Never much for running growing up, Chad began running as a way to improve his physical health. He went from his first 5k in 2015 to running the Paris Marathon in 2016.  Given his larger physical build, Chad is the resident Clydesdale runner, providing shoe and gear insights for those with a bigger build and taller stature.

More from Chad
Shoe Size

11.5

Fav. Distance

10K

PRs
  • 5:42

    Marathon
  • 56:33

    10K
  • 26:34

    5K
  • 2:11:05

    Half Marathon
Aldren Biala
Stability Lead Reviewer
  • Strava
  • Instagram

Aldren is a tree loving, uncompetitive running, post-workout burrito-munching stability shoe reviewer native to the Sunshine State. He can be found skipping through the streets of Orlando or lost in a trail that he studied two hours prior to the run. If he ever sees you on a run and waves “Hi!”, make sure you say “Hi!” back or he’ll diss you in his Strava caption.

All-time favorite shoes: Nike React Infinity FK 1, Adidas Energy Boost 2, ASICS Metaspeed Edge+.

More from Aldren
Shoe Size

8.5

Fav. Distance

15K

PRs
  • 3:57

    Marathon
  • 1:14

    Half Marathon
  • 34:03

    10K
  • 15:50

    5K
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