New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review – The plushest running shoes money can buy

Thanks to the Fresh Foam X foam, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is softer and bouncier than ever before

T3 Platinum Award
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review
(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)
T3 Verdict

New Balance's Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is an excellent entry to its long-running 1080 franchise and turns these plush trainers into a must-have training partner for long runs.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Fresh Foam X is super-plush

  • +

    Hypoknit upper is comfortable

  • +

    Aesthetically pleasing design

  • +

    Great traction

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Sizing seems to be different from other NB shoes

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New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review TL;DR: New Balance's plushest running shoes just got softer. The Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is comfortable, has a good energy return and also looks cool. WInner winner, chicken dinner. 

I ended up testing the New Balance Fresh Foam x 880v12 before the 1080v12, despite receiving the latter first. after spending some time with the 880v12s, I wondered why would I bother with the 1080v12? The 880v12 is an amazing daily trainer and I couldn't see a way the 1080v12 can top that experience.

I was wrong. I was so wrong. The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 are the best running shoes New Balance has to offer right now – they are truly amazing. There is so much like about these shoes that go beyond simply listing the specs and expanding on them; you have to try them to believe it.

Nevertheless, I'll give it a try. After all, writing about running shoes is my job so I might as well have a crack at it, right? Let's see if I can bottle the lightning the same way New Balance bottled it with the Fresh Foam X 1080v12.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review: Price and availability

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 is available to buy now directly from New Balance US (opens in new tab), New Balance UK (opens in new tab) and New Balance AU (opens in new tab) for a recommended retail price of $160/£145/AU$260.

The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11s are also available and slightly cheaper at RRP. you can already find decent deals on the 1080v11 but I expect prices to drop even more very soon.

If you must buy the 1080v11, I'd recommend buying a special edition version of the shoes such as the London Edition (opens in new tab) (retailer link) as they look so much cooler than the standard colourways.

The shoes can also be bought via third-party retailers such as SportsShoes.com (opens in new tab) and Pro:Direct Running (opens in new tab)

Make sure you check our New Balance discount codes page to see if you can lower the cost of your order. 

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review: What's new?

The biggest and most significant difference between the 1080v11 and the 1080v12 is the foam. The latest iteration of the shoes uses the Fresh Foam X foam which is even plusher than the Fresh Foam (without the X).

The Fresh Foam X foam is made with approximately 3% bio-based content: it's made from renewable resources to help reduce our carbon footprint. It's not amazingly environmentally friendly but a (small) step in the right direction.

Speaking of eco-consciousness: the Fresh Foam X 1080v12 meets New Balance’s Green Leaf Standard, meaning that 50% or more materials are sourced as "environmentally preferred."

The upper is also new: the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 uses the Hypoknit upper that feels more resilient and supportive than the engineered mesh used before.

The shape of the upper has been redesigned, especially in the heel area – it's now less protruding and follows the contour of the heels better. There is more padding around the collar, too.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review: Fit

I wasn't the biggest fan of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11: the toebox was too baggy, the heel collar protruded too much and the shoe in general wasn't the best iteration of the franchise.

I was super impressed with the Fresh Foam x 1080v12 as it improved every last bit I wasn't happy with in its predecessor. Some people criticised the 1080v12 for being too roomy in the toebox and that it's not idea for people with narrow feet; what I've got to say to these people is to leave the 1080v12 alone, people will narrow feet have plenty of other options.

The shoes are super comfortable. The Hypoknit upper provides just the right amount of lockdown and the heel counter keeps the rear of the foot perfectly in line. The padding around the ankles counterbalances the firmess of the heel counter; match made in heaven,

One interesting thing to mention is that the sizing of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v14 is slightly off. Well, I found the half size smaller version a better fit than my usual New Balance size which is half size up. Let me explain: I have a UK size 10 feet and my usual New Balance size is 10.5 (the size 10.5 880v12 fit perfectly).

However, the size 10 Fresh Foam X 1080v12 fit me better than the 10.5 and I tried them both so I should know. Another lesson never to trust online sizing.

A men's UK size 10 New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 weighs 319 grams and have an 8 mm drop (heel: 36 mm / forefoot: 26 mm), for reference.

(More on this here: 3 running shoe mistakes everyone makes)

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review: Running performance

I used the New Balance Fresh Foam X for anything from jogging to tempo runs and they performed beautifully on all occasions. I have to refer back to the 880v12 again: – that has a dual-density midsole with is part Fresh Foam X and part a denser, harder foam.

The 1080v12 is all Fresh Foam X and I'm so glad it is as all that foam feels wonderful underfoot. Yes, it's soft and bouncy but not uncontrollably so; it's possible to channel the energy into forward momentum if you're at least somewhat experienced as a runner.

If anything, I feel some people might find the Fresh Foam X medium-firm, weirdly enough. It's soft but because of this controllability, the foam feels less soft than in the case of the ASICS Novablast 2, for example, which I think is actually a better choice for people with narrow feet.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

(Image credit: Matt Kollat/T3)

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review: Verdict

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 surpasses its predecessor in every way – the shoes are more comfortable, responsive and supportive than ever before.

The Fresh Foam X makes all the difference underfoot. This new foam is softer yet offers more control over your stride than Fresh Foam; it's basically the best of both worlds.

The Hypoknit upper allows plenty of room in the toebox if that's what you need but also offers support. Airflow in the shoes is also sublime – the Fresh Foam X 1080v12 not once felt stuffy or too warm, even when they were used for tempo runs on hot days.

As an icing on the cake, the New Balance Fresh Foam X looks sexy enough and feels comfortable enough, so you can wear them for other things than just running. These are some versatile running shoes indeed.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 review: Also consider

The Adidas Solarglide 5 is an obvious Fresh Foam X alternative for less – it's an excellent max cushioned daily trainer for style-conscious runners. The Bubble Boost midsole provides a good bounce while the L.E.P. system ensures beginner runners won't stray too far off the optimal course. The Solarglide 5 is the new unisex Ultraboost without the premium price tag.

If you don't care much about looks and just want a pair of super-comfortable running shoes, check out the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24. They are soft, comfortable and just a joy to run in. 

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).