The New Balance Fresh Foam line is long and varied. It’s full of New Balance women’s running shoes, men’s running shoes, walking shoes and general sports footwear.
This technology is the softest, lightest foam yet, and is taking New Balance shoes to a whole new level.
New releases have upgrades to include the fantastic foam technology, making them the best version in the lineup.
We focus on a single release in this article: the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 stability running shoes.
But, we’ll also cover:
- What New Balance Fresh Foam is.
- The best Fresh Foam shoe.
- Review of the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11.
- What to look for in a running shoe.
What Is New Balance Fresh Foam?
New Balance Fresh Foam is the most up-to-date technology from New Balance, with an insane amount of cushioning. It provides the highest comfort level you can expect from New Balance while remaining responsive due to the low offset.
The Fresh Foam is a line where material matters. Back when footwear got caught at a crossroads in the ‘80s, New Balance decided to go off the trail.
On the one hand, some shoe brands focused on rubber to provide their new and improved cushioning methods. On the other, it was all about the midsole structure for added support and stability.
But, New Balance wouldn’t settle for one, and instead started crafting new technology. The first was ENCAP, with ABZORB following soon after.
Fresh Foam Was Late To the Party
It took over a decade for Fresh Foam to appear on the scene. The Fresh Foam achieved everything other manufacturers were trying to create with midsole support and rubbery cushioning.
Rather than choosing one, Fresh Foam is supportive cushioning itself. That was the premise from the start—even when starting with ENCAP and ABZORB.
In the mid-’80s, New Balance’s efforts were revolutionary. Before, all people had to work with was an EVA footbed on a basic sole, which wasn’t great for stability. But the new ENCAP tech in New Balance soles had cushioning and felt even and stable.
Once the ‘90s came around, New Balance’s designers were experts at their new craft, so they started to try something new—ABZORB, a new rubber compound.
It wasn’t for another two decades that New Balance created another new technology. A few years after that, in 2013, Fresh Foam came onto the scene. It was the most structurally sound New Balance invention yet.
The Clue Is in the Name
The Foam in the name hints premium comfort, and you’re not wrong to assume that. It’s just chemically altered EVA foam to produce a springy, cushioned, but stable material for shoes.
Fresh Foam is light and bouncy, making it optimal for shoes. What’s even better is that New Balance alters different foam areas to fit various foot parts. This helps the foam perform differently compression and resistance-wise when impacted.
Over 30 years of new technology and compounds went into forming Fresh Foam. And, with so many Fresh Foam shoes taking the world by storm, it’s clearly doing very well.
What Is the Best Fresh Foam?
- Neutral runners: New Balance Fresh Foam 880v10.
- Pronating runners: New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11.
- Flat feet: New Balance Fresh Foam More.
- High arches: New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11.
Those are suggestions for only those particular categories. Because of Fresh Foam shoes’ variety, it’s difficult to determine a clear best of all. You may be able to break it down into other categories, like:
- New Balance women running shoes.
- Men running shoes.
- Walking shoes.
- Everyday shoes.
But, some Fresh Foam shoes can double as best for each, as you’ve just seen.
To help you with your search, check out our dedicated review on the Fresh Foam 860v11 below. It picks out key areas of the Fresh Foam shoe to see if it works for you.
The Fresh Foam 860v11 isn’t the first iteration of this shoe. It’s a replacement for the 860v10, and there are a few notable improvements and unique features of the v11.
860v10 vs. 860v11
The Fresh Foam v11’s main improvement is in the name: Fresh Foam. The 860v10 had TruFuse technology in the midsole instead of Fresh Foam.
Because of the upgraded tech, the Fresh Foam shoes are 0.1 ounces lighter for women and 0.6 ounces lighter for men.
They remain in the stability category, with the same 10mm drop and mesh upper, but the similarities end there.
There’s an enormous visual difference between the v10 and v11.
Fresh Foam 960v11 shoes are much sleeker than the v10s, with neater mesh, a larger tongue and a more-defined heel counter.
The only visual similarity between the two is the sole. The treat pattern and construction are similar, while all other elements look like they’re from opposing shoe lines.
Mesh is vital in any New Balance women running shoe, men running shoe or breathable shoe.
The Fresh Foam New Balance 860v11 shoes feature an engineered mesh upper. The engineering made the upper sturdy, waterproof and highly breathable without having visible gaps.
You may have gotten used to a thinner, more form-fitting mesh in your running shoes, though. The 860v11’s mesh is stiffer, which makes it seem more durable. If the sole holds up, a New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 pair should last longer than your last pair of running shoes.
Despite the upper’s stiffness, there’s still enough room for your feet to expand when running.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 boasts a supportive fit. In particular, the heel cup grips your heel, locking it in, and the heel counter behind it offers excellent protection.
However, there’s a flared collar above the heel cup. This is a first for this range—the previous year’s model featured a hard, thick heel up to its collar.
Something unique about the v11’s heel collar is that it fits on the heel well and expands as needed due to being fabric with little padding.
Often, the solution to hard heels and chafing is adding padding. But, in this case, New Balance did the opposite, making the flare as minimalist and non-invasive as possible. It steers clear of your Achilles tendon to ensure the tendon stays irritation-free.
But, it’s not only optimized for no chafing in the heel but for the entire shoe. It’s spacious to avoid chafing on the sides of your feet while accommodating wider feet without wide-footed runners needing to size up.
For help with fitting and sizing, why not check out our shoe sizing and fitting guide?
Or, if your shoes are too small, check out our article on how to stretch tennis shoes. Running shoes and tennis shoes are very similar—the main difference is the latter’s lateral support.
For shoes that are too roomy, check out how to wear shoes that are too big.
While the Foam Fresh New Balance shoes have Fresh Foam in the midsole, you may not know that the v11 has less foam than the v10.
Fresh Foam is the lightest, softest foam New Balance has crafted yet. And, with the v10s not being New Balance Fresh Foam shoes, the v11s needed some way to measure up in firmness and stability.
So, as well as the namesake foam, New Balance used firmer foam for stability.
The Fresh Foam is there to cushion the blow and absorb shock, regardless of how your foot lands. The firm foam is there to ensure your shoes don’t wear down, in case of pronation.
Having the shoes stay flat inside keeps injuries at bay. Your shoes force your feet into a healthy gait, rather than enabling pronation problems.
Although, despite the firmer foam, the 860v11s remain flexible. The flex grooves in the otherwise unremarkable, yet durable, sole make sure of it. So, however your foot bends, the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11s handle it gracefully and with cushioning.
Something unusual about these New Balance Fresh Foam shoes is their lack of padding.
Yes, the midsole is full of Fresh Foam, but there’s not much elsewhere.
Many shoes, especially ones with leather or similar uppers, have padding around the tongue, collar and sides. This is to aid comfort and protect the feet from the hard upper material.
The Fresh Foam shoes opt to go without this. Instead, you have a thin fit, which helps to keep your feet unrestricted and natural. As well as this, it ensures the material stays flexible as you move.
There is a downside to this, though. If the shoes are slightly too tight in the collar, you may be in for some chafing. The material is smooth, and the edges are rounded, so chafing it less likely than in harder shoes, but it’s more important to ensure you have the right fit.
There’s nothing overly spectacular about the 860v11’s soles. They’re everything a runner could need, but they don’t stand out from the crowd.
Here are the main features of the shoes’ soles:
- Rocker bottom: Thick in the heel and thin in the toes for motivation and smart design.
- Excellent tread pattern for taking on mixed terrain.
- Flex grooves so you can move freely.
- Stable, firm foam for support that fights pronation.
- Flex grooves for easy flexion.
- A form-fitting feeling.
- Soft, comfy footbed that won’t mold or flatten easily.
- Tough, stiff uppers.
- Highly breathable.
- Heel collar that doesn’t touch the Achilles tendon.
- Lightly padded tongue.
- Roomy fit to accommodate wide feet.
- Great support for high arches.
- Not for those who like lots of padding.
- May chafe if the fit isn’t perfect.
- Unsuitable for narrow feet.
- Not the best for low arches, despite aiding pronation.
What to Look for in a Running Shoe
Running shoes are one of the easier shoes to shop for. And, if you’re looking for a specific shoe recommendation, it’s clear that the New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 has desirable features.
In general, these are the key features of running shoes to look out for:
- Breathability: Sweaty feet are nobody’s friend, so look for mesh. Forgoing that, look for air holes in leather running shoes.
- Rocker bottom: The heel takes a lot of force, and the toes bend, so the rocker bottom holds a tapered shape to suit this.
- Padding: Your feet take a lot when you run, so look for ample padding to accommodate.
- Shock absorption: Without shock absorption, the shock can radiate up your legs and cause discomfort.
- No chafing: Avoid tight shoes, ill-fitting shoes or hard collars with no padding.
- Tread pattern: The ground can get slippery, so make sure your sneakers have adequate grip.
While the 860v11s tick many of the above boxes, they aren’t optimal for fallen arches, so you’d need one of the best running shoes for flat feet.
For older runners wanting variety, we have a dedicated review of the best running shoes for older runners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz Good for Running?
The Fresh Foam Cruz are neutral running shoes and are excellent for runners of all levels. They feature springy, highly-responsive padding. However, if you pronate, look for a stability shoe, like the Fresh Foam 860v11.
Which New Balance Shoe Has the Most Cushioning?
The New Balance Fresh Foam More has the most cushioning. It’s been specifically designed as the coziest, most-cushioned New Balance shoe yet.
Is the New Balance 1080 a Stability Shoe?
No, the New Balance 1080 isn’t a stability shoe. It’s a line of neutral running shoes. Neutral running shoes won’t fix your gait if you pronate. For stability shoes, consider the Foam Fresh 860v11.
What Is the Difference Between New Balance 1080 and 880?
Despite being incredibly similar, there’s one key difference between the 1080 and 880. The 1080 is a more-cushioned shoe, designed to keep you comfortable while running long-distance. Meanwhile, the 880 is optimal for most types of runs, but contain less padding than the 1080.
What Makes New Balance Different?
Several key features make New Balance different. They have a wider toe box, adding stability and a weight balance. They also feature a thick midsole for shock absorbency and comfort. Lastly, New Balance is constantly ahead of the times, with new and improved shoe technology.
The New Balance Fresh Foam shoes have incredible technology, creating a mix of stability and comfort you can’t beat. The 860v11 is notable for this technology, making it the best running shoe New Balance offers.
With a mix of function, fashion and fabulous comfort, you can’t really go wrong here. But, if the 860v11 isn’t for you, there are tons of other shoes in New Balance’s back pocket for you to try.
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