Shoe Review: New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12

A side view of the New Balance 880v12.

The New Balance 880 has been a fan favorite amongst runners over the past decade. Offering a blend of modest cushioning and optimum flexibility, it works well for a variety of runs including longer efforts and recovery days.

This year, New Balance’s go-to neutral trainer is back with a few key updates. The latest version of the New Balance 880 is the softest yet, with a redesigned midsole made with a new foam compound. A flexible, lightweight upper with popping colorways tops off the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12.

Fleet Feet reviewers tested the Fresh Foam X 880v12 to see how it fits, feels and performs. Here’s what you can expect.

Tech Specs

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12

Weight

8.3 oz (W), 10.5 oz (M)

Drop

10 mm

Category

Neutral

Use

Daily training

Surface

Road, track

Fresh Foam X Adds Softness to New Balance 880v12

The sole of the New Balance 880v12.

The New Balance 880v12 utilizes a Fresh Foam compound in the midsole, similar to what was used in the 880v11. But this latest version is softer than before, resulting in a plush, pillowy step-in feel. Reviewers noticed the difference right away.

“The shoe felt really nice as soon as I tried them on, and I could feel the extra soft, bouncy pod of foam right beneath my heel as I was walking around,” Caroline says.

The dual layer midsole is packed with Fresh Foam X, which adds soft cushioning while reducing weight. You may have experienced Fresh Foam X in the 860v12.

Not only is the midsole cushioning softer in the latest version of the 880, but there's more of it. Increased cushioning helps to reduce impact on your joints while providing an overall comfier feel.

“The shoe had two modes for me. For a more relaxed run and a little more heel contact, I could just roll along feeling good cushiony vibes. Shifting to faster workouts and intervals, the shoe feels a touch peppier under the mid foot,” Nate says.

The New Balance 880v12 felt more responsive and flexible than its predecessor, thanks to increased cushioning and flex grooves in the forefoot.

“My first run in the 880 was an eight miler on a day when I was feeling a bit tired. The 880 felt nicely cushioned and pretty flexible. I threw in some strides and noticed a really smooth transition when I picked up the pace,” Kate says.

A blown rubber outsole provides reliable traction as well as protection from the pavement, making the shoe just as durable as it is comfortable.

What's a midsole? Learn about the parts that make up a running shoe here.

New Balance 880v12 Offers Plush, Padded Upper

The upper on a pair of New Balance 880v12s.

The soft, cushioned New Balance 880v12 is topped off with a double jacquard mesh upper to lock down the fit. The mesh upper features strategically placed perforations to increase breathability around the toe box.

A plush tongue and extra padding around the ankle and heel collar add extra comfort, making for a cozy step-in feel. Reviewers also appreciated the flared out heel collar and spacious toe box.

“The shape of the shoe fits well for my foot – just snug enough in the midfoot and heel, but plenty of room in the toe box. I like that the heel flares away from the achilles just a bit,” Kate says.

“I didn’t feel any pinching or rubbing against my pinky toe, as I sometimes do with other shoes since my left foot is slightly wide,” Caroline says.

Overall, reviewers appreciated the accommodating fit and premium materials in the 880v12, noting that it wasn’t much of a departure from the previous version.

“The knit upper just feels good. It’s roomy yet it hugs my wider feet,” Nate says.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 vs 880v11

Tech Specs

880v12

880v11

Weight

8.3 oz (W), 10.5 oz (M)

8.7 oz (W), 10.5 oz (M)

Drop

10 mm

10 mm

Category

Neutral

Neutral

Use

Daily training

Daily training

Surface

Road, track

Road, track

The New Balance 880v12 offers the same reliable comfort as its predecessors, but with an extra touch of cushion and softness thanks to a dual layer midsole.

“The 880 has been an old faithful friend to me over the past six years or so. It’s a classic, dependable do-it-all trainer,” Kate says. “It will serve you well for long miles and easy recovery days. If you liked the 880 in the past, I think you’ll like the update, too.”

Reviewers appreciated the extra cushion that transforms the shoe from a moderately comfortable trainer to a luxuriously soft and smooth shoe capable of handling a variety of paces and distances.

“The shoe is just what my feet have been waiting for. Soft and cushioned yet still flexible enough to move comfortably with my foot. The shoe felt so comfortable on my run that it almost felt like I wasn’t wearing anything, in a good way,” Caroline says.

While the 880v12 is not (and has never been) designed to elicit faster speeds and PR attempts, it’s responsive enough to pick up the pace if needed.

“They wouldn’t be my top choice for a super fast speed workout since there are so many speed choices out there, but they can definitely handle faster paces and feel good doing it,” Kate says.

A side view of the New Balance 880v12.

Final Thoughts

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 works well for a variety of runs, including recovery days, long runs and workouts at a moderate pace. Fleet Feet reviewers enjoyed the shoe’s soft cushioning, plush materials and overall accommodating fit.

“I will definitely be adding this shoe to my regular line up for easy runs and recovery runs. The soft cushioning and flexible feel are just what my feet and legs crave when they’re sore after a tough workout,” Caroline says.

If you’re looking for a high-quality, dependable training shoe that can handle the bulk of your weekly mileage, the Fresh Foam X 880v12 is a perfect fit.

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