New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V12 Review: Goldilocks? Is that you?

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 11.29 oz. (320 g.) for a US M10.5 / 8.45 oz. (239 g.) for a US W7.5 / 10.9 oz. (309 g.) for a US M10 2E
  • The dreaded UltraHeel is no more
  • Fresh Foam X is as X-ellent as ever
  • Where did this wonky sizing come from?
  • Coming in May 2022 for $159

THOMAS: I can’t move forward in this New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 review without covering my personal history with the series. The last three versions of the 1080 have been my preferred New Balance daily trainer and have been honorable mentions in our Best in Gear awards (BIG Awards). The 1080 delivers a well-cushioned ride that rivaled the best max cushioned daily trainers before New Balance pushed its Fresh Foam More envelope. Of course, some details could be tweaked, but overall, New Balance produced a plush trainer that satisfied the average runner year in and year out. So naturally, the team was chomping at the bit to get our hands on the dirty dozen.

MEAGHAN: I’ve been on a roller coaster ride with the New Balance 1080. My first experience with V8 back in 2018 was a fun surprise, and by the time we got to V10, it had made it onto my all-time favorites list. Then V11 arrived, and the seemingly minor change to the heel counter completely ruined it for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect with V12, but here we are, and it’s somewhat better than I expected.

REnaldo: Ah yes, another addition to the Fresh Foam family, the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 is something else. I’ve tried a few different pairs of Fresh Foams before and came away generally dissatisfied. From rough rides to foot feel, I kept giving the Fresh Foam family a bit of a side-eye. But this version of the 1080 is turning me around.

I hope that’s not too much gushing before the review starts, but this shoe rocks.

JARRETT (WIDE): Right now, I’m imagining being at my Aunt’s for Passover (wait, is he throwing in a Jewish history lesson?), and we’re getting to the four sons and their questions. Usually, I’d be the one who doesn’t know how to ask because, let’s be honest, learning is for fools.

However, I sit here with my New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 asking Thomas what this shoe means to him? Does this make me the wicked son, and are we so distant in our conclusion that you’re moving on to the next shoe while I’m sitting here adoring this one? Can we agree to disagree? Does anyone actually enjoy the bitter herbs?

Sorry, let’s get to the review.

The Good

THOMAS: The formula stays intact with a healthy dose of Fresh Foam X in the midsole, durable rubber on the outsole, and a comfort-focused upper. Using a Hypoknit upper, the 1080 stretches through the toe box and has a more rigid weave where the upper needs support. The gusseted tongue is medium weight and adds comfort over the foot’s arch. The most noticeable update to the 1080 v12 is the more traditional heel counter — in the previous two editions of the shoe, the molded heel counter was a point of contention for many runners. Finally, a reflective New Balance “N” finishes off the upper on both sides. The story of the 1080 is comfort, and the upper reinforcements the narrative well.

If the upper helps tell the story of comfort, the Fresh Foam X midsole is the main character. The formula on the 1080 is dense and spongy. Critical updates to this version aren’t visible, but new flex grooves under the footbed help to give flexibility a nice kick. There’s ample rubber on the outsole. Durability isn’t an issue with the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12.

The ride of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 is what you’d expect from this shoe: Cushion and comfort. This shoe is a cruiser. The bright and bold color choices add to the fun and take this shoe out of the dull muted blacks and blues from previous years.

MEAGHAN: The Fresh Foam 1080 is the classic daily trainer from New Balance. It’s got a little more stack than the 880, but not as much as the More. It’s basically the goldilocks of the Fresh Foam X line with a 37mm heel and 29mm forefoot for an 8mm drop. The cushioning feels soft but bouncy and provides a really smooth, responsive ride.

The step-in feel of this shoe is great. The Hypoknit upper is super stretchy and will accommodate just about any foot shape and size. There’s some support in the saddle that provides a nice lockdown and extra flex in the forefoot. But, most importantly, there’s a completely redesigned heel counter with softer padding and a more traditional style — no more hard plastic, no more heel rubbing, just a nicely padded collar and heel.

Beneath the big stack of Fresh Foam X is some decent rubber coverage in the heel and forefoot. It gives you some durability but doesn’t take away from the Fresh Foam X bounce, which I appreciate. The weight of my W7.5 increased half an ounce over its predecessor (now coming in at 8.45oz), but I can’t help but wonder if this is simply from the sizing difference — more on that below.

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 top

REnaldo: Jumping right in, this thing is incredibly comfy. I was actually shocked at how great it felt on step-in. The Hypoknit upper is light, breathable, and satisfyingly stretchy in all the right places while still feeling strong and supportive. The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 also has increased cushioning based on data that New Balance has been collecting for a more natural feel.

After taking these out on a few 6, 8, and even 10 millers, New Balance seems to have hit it out of the park. The feel of the shoe underfoot is wild. Natural flex zones built into the shoe offer a glove-like feel on the road — a blessing when you’ve got a few rolling hills to run.

I really enjoy running in this shoe. There’s a great amount of bounce with each stride that makes running feel effortless and enjoyable, as it should be.

JARRETT (WIDE): It’s not often I receive a pair of wide shoes in bright orange. By “not often,” I mean literally never. I love the wide, fun colorway, even though it’s throwing me for a loop. I don’t usually look down while running and see such bright shoes.

The Hypoknit upper is comfortable and form-fitting. It has a ton of stretch, which allows it to conform to more foot shapes. I think the 2E width is excellent for the wide footers out there. My midfoot doesn’t feel cramped, and the toebox has plenty of space. The issues I had with the v11 causing pain on the top of my foot from either the medial “N” overlay or lacing are gone. New Balance also went with a more traditional padded heel collar seen on the Vongo v5 instead of the previous iteration’s dreaded UltraHeel.

I’ve been told the Fresh Foam X is slightly softer, but otherwise, it’s just about the same aesthetically. To me, the 1080 v12’s cushioning is excellent. It’s softer than the 880 but not to the level found in the More V3. As expected, I enjoyed my daily easy miles in the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12.

I was also pretty surprised that the shoe started to feel even smoother when I picked up the pace. If you don’t care about weight, this is a do-it-all shoe.

Shop New Balance 1080

Outsole rubber

The Bad

THOMAS: The US M10.5 I received for this review is too big. It’s too wide and too long. I don’t know if the factory mislabeled the shoes or if they really do run a size too large. Another reason I think they have their sizing mixed up because the weight went up by an ounce to 11.29 oz./320 grams.

Between the extra room and weight, the update seemed clunky to me. I believe a simple fix to my woes with this v12 would be sizing down. The 1080 has always been on the wider side of my preference, but this one had my foot swimming.

MEAGHAN: This shoe runs a half size too large, maybe even a full size too large. I don’t know why shoe companies can’t figure out sizing, but this one is definitely off. I’d have enjoyed the miles more if I had a properly fitting shoe.

REnaldo: I’m loving this shoe, but there are some hard pills to swallow. It does weigh 9.9oz. — it’s a little bit chunky, if I’m honest. However, this is a minor grievance for such an enjoyable shoe. If weight is a concern, you’re probably already looking elsewhere.

JARRETT (WIDE): We can all agree that the sizing is off on this shoe. I got lucky and was sent a pair half size down, and it fits me perfectly. For reference, my US M10 2E 1080 v12 is the same length as my 10.5 2E 1080v11 and 10.5 2E Vongo v5.

My other small gripe is that the shoe clocks in at 10.9 oz. when my pair from last year weighed 10.2 oz. I’ll gladly take the added weight in exchange for New Balance sending the UltraHeel to a farm up north.

Shop New Balance 1080

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 laces

New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V12 Conclusion

THOMAS: The question is, how does the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12 stack up against its predecessors? The improved upper features a new heel counter design, and the Fresh Foam X delivers a smooth and cushioned ride, so, overall, this is the best 1080 yet. I could put this shoe on blindfolded and know it’s the 1080. In the past, the shoe has been able to land lots of praise from me, but shoes have continued to evolve, and now I find my attention drifting towards the New Balance More for a well-cushioned daily trainer. I covered the sizing issue, but I’ll repeat it, go a half size down.

MEAGHAN: The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V12 is a phenomenal update with a sizing issue. The heel counter has been fixed, the comfort level is top-notch, and the Fresh Foam X gives you a smooth, bouncy ride. The only real downfall was the length of this shoe. If you enjoyed previous versions of this shoe, you’ll be happy with the update. Just make sure you size down.

REnaldo: This is, without a doubt, my favorite of the Fresh Foam family. It feels great underfoot and on the run. Who can forget that colorway? It instantly makes any run a fun run.

JARRETT (WIDE): I may not have been a big fan of last year’s 1080 v11, but I’m certainly sold on the updated 1080 v12. The wide fit is excellent once you have the right size, and it’s extremely comfortable on the run. I’m ecstatic New Balance scrapped the UltraHeel and went with a more traditional heel collar as it works so much better. By now, it should be pretty obvious that I think the 1080 v12 is a daily trainer star.

You can pick up the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V12 in May 2022 by using the shop link below.

Shop New Balance 1080

side angle

Meaghan is the co-founder of Big Run Media and Believe in the Run. She’s often found tearing up the promenade on Baltimore’s waterfront early in the morning.

As the wide-shoe reviewer for BITR, Jarrett is on a never-ending search for the Cinderella shoe to fit his Yeti feet. He currently lives in Baltimore where he enjoys running roads and trails with November Project and Faster Bastards. He also loves craft beer, donuts, and pretending to be elite in his NormaTec boots.

Renaldo is an enthusiastic city runner from Baltimore, MD and current captain of local Baltimore running group “A Tribe Called Run”. Discovering running after a major surgery, he fell in love with the sport and has since dedicated himself to spreading the joy’s of running through social media. Loves the marathon distance, gin & tonics, and raw avocados.

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