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Shoe Review: New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10

A pair of the women's New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10 in purple

Making big updates to one of the most popular and trusted running shoes on the market can be daunting, but the daring New Balance 880v10 only gets better.

Designers used the blueprints from a decade of 880 to create the latest model, which also harnesses new manufacturing processes developed during the update to the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10.

A new midsole and refreshed upper work together to create the consistent and comfortable ride runners expect from the 880 with a refreshing softness that’s even easier underfoot.

While its dependability has long made the 880 a security blanket for many runners, the introduction of Fresh Foam gives it a more aggressive feel and more potent personality.

We talked to New Balance designers about the update and then put some miles on it ourselves to see how the 10th version compares to generations past. Here’s everything you need to know about the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10.

Tech specs

New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10

Weight

8.9 oz (women’s), 10.7 oz (men’s)

Drop

10 mm

Category

Neutral

Midsole

Fresh Foam

Use

Everyday trainer

Surface

Road, track

Updating the New Balance 880v10

A prototype of the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10

Fresh Foam is New Balance’s premier cushioning, and the 880 is one of its best-selling shoes. Putting them together was an easy decision.

“It seemed odd that we wouldn’t have it in the 880,” says Andrew Nyssen, New Balance senior creative design manager. “It just made sense.”

But the 880 has long been one of the most popular New Balance running shoes, and making big changes to a product so many runners rely on can be intimidating. With the success of the overhauled New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10, though, Nyssen was confident the 880 would make a splash, too.

“A lot of time shoes like this can be seen as sacred and you can’t change too much,” he says in an interview with Fleet Feet. “But with Fresh Foam, we knew it was time to put it in the 880. We knew it was going to make the shoe better.”

Along with the new midsole, New Balance also swapped in a new upper and used precise data to create a shoe that honors the 880’s heritage while pushing its performance into a second decade.

How New Balance Built the Redesigned 880v10

An early prototype of the midsole in the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10

Like other New Balance running shoes, the updated 880 started with data.

Harry Oh, a lead designer for the New Balance 880, says many of the design decisions came from pressure mapping data. Where previous generations of 880 used a uniform layer of two foams—one top, one bottom—the 880v10 changed the formula.

The data showed runners put a lot of pressure on the forefoot, skewing toward the lateral side (outside edge) of the shoe. That’s also where runners generate their power to push off again, so Oh dialed in a zone of higher-rebound foam to mimic the pressure map. In the heel, Oh used more cushioned Fresh Foam to absorb impact when a runner lands.

The same pressure data also informed the size of the rubber lugs on the outsole. Larger hexagons follow the areas of high pressure, smaller lugs fill in lower-pressure zones.

“We mimicked the strike path,” Oh says. “We started using a proprietary software that allows us to manipulate hexagons by moving and scaling them to change the shape of the shoe."

The Hypoknit Upper

A pair of New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10 in a shoe box

Completing the overhaul, New Balance covered the 880v10 in a flashier Hypoknit upper. But this Hypoknit has a new feature making its 880 debut.

The knit upper forms the basic structure of the shoe, from the toe box all the way through the midfoot. Incorporated into the midfoot knit, though, is what New Balance calls “lock-out” support—a less stretchy monofilament woven into the knit that adds structure.

“The floating yarn inside stretches a little bit but adds support in the saddle area,” Oh says. “We want the right amount of stretch there. We don’t want it to stretch too much or too little.”

The monofilament peeks through the knit in the midfoot to give a visual representation of the added structure.

“We wanted to be able to show it,” Nyssen says. “We want people to be able to see what’s happening inside the knit.”

New Balance 880v10 Ride and Performance

The 880v10 comes with big expectations, and it doesn’t disappoint: Fleet Feet testers logged dozens of workouts in the 880 and found it as dependable as it has always been.

The comfort begins with the Fresh Foam midsole. New Balance’s use of its premier cushioning gives the shoe a bouncy feeling without being mushy.

“The shoe has a very happy middle ground feeling,” one tester says. “I don't feel like I’m on a cloud, and I don’t feel like I only have a single piece of rubber between me and the ground.”

Testers also praised the 880’s ground contact and grip. New Balance maintained the shoe’s full-contact outsole, which works with the soft Fresh Foam to deliver a smooth transition.

Design sketches from the development of the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10

The flush outsole also gives the shoe plenty of surface area for a substantial layer of durable rubber. The outsole helps dampen impact, and it also provides excellent traction on roads and sidewalks.

“They have great grip,” a tester says. “Just the right amount of cushion and ground contact feel. This shoe feels like it was made by a runner, for runners.”

Hypoknit creates a pliable and comfortable upper that doesn’t bunch up or pinch anywhere. The shape of the toe box, though, feels slightly more tapered toward the toe than the previous version; two testers say their little toes pressed against the side of the shoe where the taper begins.

Other runners found the fit spot on, so it’s worth trying on the shoe if you’re unsure of how it will fit.

The shoe’s heel counter gives the shoe a no-slip grip where it matters the most—not one tester noticed any movement in the heel—and the monofilament yarn woven into the midfoot locks in the fit.

Conclusion

Several pairs of the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10 arranged in a line

The updated New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10 is a well-built and reliable everyday training shoe that benefits from the addition of the brand’s best midsole foam, while aesthetic upgrades give it a bolder personality than ever before.

Fresh Foam lends the 880 a plush and bouncy ride, and the Hypoknit upper is easy on the feet (and on the eyes). With a locked-in heel and midfoot, the 880v10 shows New Balance’s willingness to push boundaries, even with their most popular shoes.

“This is taking everything we’ve learned from the 880 and continuing to make that even better,” Nyssen says. “It’s a very thoughtful approach. We want to be respectful to those whose trust we’ve gained over the years, and we think they’ll like this even more."

By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.