Shoe Review: New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
The New Balance 880 has long been one of the best running shoes around, and the latest version is no exception. The New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 retains the same dependability fans have come to expect but with a refreshed look and thoughtful changes.
A mesh makeover gives the shoe a sleek look that maintains the 880’s recognizable silhouette atop the same midsole that delivers the familiar neutral ride you love. The fit accommodates a wide range of foot shapes, and the shoe can grow with you as you ramp up your training.
Fleet Feet runners tested the latest model to see how it lives up to its legacy. Here’s everything you need to know about the updated New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11.
New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11
8.7 oz (W), 10.5 oz (M)
Premium Materials Create Secure, Accommodating Fit
The Fresh Foam 880v11 looks and feels like a premium running shoe because New Balance engineered it with high-quality materials from top to bottom.
A new, single-piece jacquard mesh upper covers the shoe, and creates a clean look from heel to toe. By using a single piece of mesh, New Balance eliminated seams around the forefoot that could rub against your skin as you run.
One reviewer says the upper is the best part of the 880.
“The upper is the highlight of this shoe for me personally,” he says. “The materials used and overall shape hugs my foot in all the right places. It makes the shoe fit like a natural extension of my body when running. It’s also breathable and allows plenty of toe splay.”
The free-floating tongue adds to the shoe’s premium step-in feel. New Balance padded the tongue for a soft touch that molds to the unique shape of your foot.
A removable insole pumps up the 880’s underfoot cushioning, and it’s also easy to swap out for an aftermarket insole if you want more cushioning or need additional structure. Designers used a little bit of extra padding around the heel collar, too, which boosts the soft feel but still provides a low-profile fit.
The classic fit and top-notch materials make the 880v11 an approachable running shoe for beginners, but its versatility offers something for everyone. Whether you’re starting to add more miles to your training or you’re a seasoned marathoner, the 880v11 is a durable, no-fuss training partner.
Fresh Foam Foundation Promotes Straightforward Ride
One of the best things about the 880 is the familiar, predictable ride that works for a variety of workouts.
New Balance powered the 880v11 with two layers of foam: Fresh Foam and a more responsive EVA foam.
Fresh Foam is a crowd pleaser. From the max cushioned Fresh Foam 1080v11 to the stable Fresh Foam 860v11, New Balance’s premier cushioning shines thanks to its soft landings and bouncy response.
It’s no different in the 880v11. The pad of Fresh Foam beneath the heel and midfoot softens each step and leads into a smooth transition.
One Fleet Feet reviewer says it feels stable and dependable, which is ideal for a shoe that’s meant to soak up the majority of your miles.
“The Fresh Foam cushion has a comfy, medium softness that feels responsive underfoot,” she says. “But when I describe the shoe, I keep coming back to the landing. It feels so clean, smooth and stable, like I can keep rolling through each stride.”
Layered beneath the foam is a substantial amount of blown rubber. The outsole provides excellent traction on pavement, and it holds up to hundreds of miles of wear.
But it’s not just one sheet of rubber. New Balance used the rubber strategically to balance coverage with weight; the foam midsole is exposed in the middle of the heel where it won’t make contact with the ground.
“One of the best things about this shoe is the traction,” says one reviewer. “It has excellent grip in slick conditions. I’ve run through muddy and borderline icy paved paths in the 880 with ease.”
Flex grooves carved into the forefoot also create more flexibility through your transition. Another reviewer says the 880 strikes the right balance of stiffness and flexibility.
“The transition feels crisp to me,” he says. “It rolls quickly from midfoot to forefoot, and I don’t feel like I have to think about my form at all to get comfortable. I can just run.”
Small Tweaks Refresh Look but Retain Familiar Experience
The New Balance 880v10 was a big update from the 880v9, but the latest version isn’t as drastic a change.
Designers built the New Balance 880v11 to be very similar to the outgoing 880v10, which is good news for anyone who loved last year’s model. But there are a couple small differences between the New Balance 880v10 and 880v11.
The biggest change is the upper. New Balance swapped the Hypoknit upper on the v10 for a jacquard mesh upper on the new model. The new mesh gives the 880 a smoother overall look and feel while remaining lightweight and breathable.
The other difference is the size of the heel clip at the back of the shoe. Designers reduced the size of the plastic clip at the back to make room for reflective detailing that makes you more visible to drivers or other people when you run at night.
Underneath, the 880v11 is identical to its predecessor.
The two-layer midsole—Fresh Foam and a proprietary EVA—remains the same, and the blown rubber outsole didn’t change. That means you can count on the same reliable, neutral ride in the new model as the previous one.
Bottom line: If you loved the 880v10, you’ll find a very similar experience in the 880v11.
No Surprises, No Problems
In the era of shoes with carbon-fiber plates and super foams, running shoes can be complex. But the New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 is simple: durability, dependability and an easy ride combine to form a versatile everyday workhorse.
A smooth, lightweight mesh upper offers a clean look and feel, and the shape fits a wide range of feet. A padded tongue creates a plush step-in feel, and the heel provides a secure fit.
Fleet Feet reviewers praised the 880’s ride and outstanding traction, saying it feels like an extension of your body—it stands out for not standing out.
“The 880v11 is perfect for long runs, every day training and it can handle speed workouts, too,” one reviewer says. “It’s not the fastest shoe out there, but it’s a super versatile shoe that I will keep in my regular rotation.”
Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.
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