New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 review TL;DR: New Balance reimagines its workhorse running trainer with an updated dual-layer midsole and more comfortable upper than ever before – if only it were a bit more affordable...
I tested a good many daily trainers in recent times, and I love them all. Everyday trainers are the best running shoes for people who don't chase PBs at every run and just want to head out to get some fresh air and pound the streets for half an hour before or after work.
The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 is for them: joggers, casual runners, ploggers, and trotters. The shoes feel comfortable – spacious, even – and will carry you mile after mile, enabling you to go as far as you want, whether it's a 3k or a half marathon distance.
Should you buy a pair, or would you be better off getting one of the alternatives? Read on to find out.
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 review: Price and availability
The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 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 $135/£130/AU$220.
The previous iteration of the shoes is also available and slightly cheaper, although I expect the price of the Fresh Foam 880v11 (opens in new tab) (link to NB UK) to drop significantly in the coming months.
The Fresh Foam 680v7 (opens in new tab) (link to NB UK) might be a good option for runners on a tight budget. This neutral running shoe features a dual-density foam similar to the 880v11 and is priced well, too.
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 880v12 review: What's new?
The main difference between the Fresh Foam X 880v12 and the Fresh Foam 880v11 can be found in the name: notice the addition of the letter 'X' in between Fresh Foam and 880v12.
The Fresh Foam X cushioning system is softer and more responsive than Fresh Foam; you can certainly feel the difference. The top-of-the-line 1080 line has been using the Fresh Foam X system for the last three iterations – these shoes have been immensely popular, not least because of the new foam.
But while the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 uses only Fresh Foam X cushioning, the 880v12 has a dual-layer midsole construction featuring top-bed foam cushioning and underfoot Fresh Foam X. The heel is softer, while the forefoot is slightly firmer for more energetic toe-offs.
The upper has also been reworked: it's now made of an engineered mesh with no-sew overlays to increase airflow and reduce chafing.
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 review: Fit
It would be pretty terrible if shoes such as the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 wouldn't be comfortable. After all, these are the type of shoes you put on if you want to get away from the firmness of the ASICS METASPEED EDGE+ and the likes.
[Unless you're like me and prefer carbon racers for recovery.]
Thankfully, the Fresh Foam X 880v12 is as comfy as it needs to be. The plush, engineered mesh upper is infused with strategic zones of breathability and support and feels spacious – but definitely not in the wrong way.
Step-in comfort is also excellent; the collar opens up nicely, making it easy to slip into the shoes. The padding around said collar holds the shoes in place – however, don't expect excellent heel lockdown from the Fresh Foam X 880v12.
As for weight, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 weighs 329 grams (men's UK size 10), slightly heavier than the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 24 but lighter than the Under Armour HOVR Machina 3, the latter which also has a dual-density foam.
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 review: Running performance
The cushioning system of the Fresh Foam X 880v12 works well, and I enjoyed the flexibility it had to offer: I could go at whatever speed I wanted, and the shoes were there to support me.
That said, I found the dual-density foam less smooth than the Fresh Foam X 1080v12, which uses only the Fresh Foam X underfoot. It's not bothersome to have two different densities, but in all honesty, I don't see the point in having a dual-density foam when the singular version works perfectly fine.
I guess the 880 Series has always used dual-density foam, which makes the shoes different from the 1080s, but given how close they are in price, I'd probably opt-in for the latter if I were given a choice.
It might sound like I didn't enjoy running in the Fresh Foam X 880v12, but that couldn't be further from the truth. When I headed out for a run without any purpose in the last few weeks, I often found myself reaching for the 880v12. I enjoyed the spacious toebox, the comfortable running experience, and the aforementioned versatility.
The fact that you can run in any way and at any speed in the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 is a liberating thought and one I'll always appreciate.
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 review: Verdict
The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 introduces the Fresh Foam X technology to the 880 Series, making the shoes bouncier and ever so comfortable to wear to everyday runs.
The dual-density foam has been re-jigged, and the upper has also been updated to create an even more enjoyable overall running experience. The Fresh Foam X 880v12 might be a workhorse running shoe but what this means is that they will carry you mile after mile, not that you'll need to work hard to get to your destination.
The only real downside of the shoes is the price: the Fresh Foam X 880v12 could be slightly cheaper – around the $110/£100 mark – to make it more competitive among its main competitors, such as Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39.
Those happy to shell out the asking price of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 will be rewarded with running shoes that can go as long as they wish in maximum comfort. And, admittedly, that's worth every penny.
New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 review: Also consider
Looking for something more stylish (and more expensive)? Check out the On Cloudmonster! These shoes have the best rebound of all the On running shoes thanks to the added CloudTec midsole and the springy Speedboard. The upper is tighter than the New Balance but as long os you haven't got a wide feet, it shouldn't be bothersome.
Or you can get the the Adidas Solarglide 5 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.