Our verdict

If you're looking for a great middle between the more traditional, lower-stacked NB 880 v11 and the uber-cushy NB Fresh Foam More v3, we firmly recommend the Fresh Foam X 1080 v12. It's a comfortable cruiser that's perfect for anything easy to moderate. And with the copious amount of foam it possesses, we got to experience a gem in long-distance runs where protection and stability are at the forefront.


  • Protective cushion
  • Lively ride
  • Smooth transitions
  • Stable when cornering
  • Comfy upper
  • Durable outsole
  • Welcomes wide feet
  • For heavy runners
  • Grippy on snow, slush, and slick surfaces
  • No lace bites
  • Great heel hold
  • An eye-catcher


  • Not for narrow feet
  • Bottom-heavy for fast runs
  • Questionable breathability

Audience verdict


Who should buy it

Take the Fresh Foam X 1080 v12 from New Balance if you're looking for a:

  • highly cushioned daily trainer for long miles on the road
  • running shoes for easy to moderate days or progressive runs (where you start easy and finish fast)

Fresh Foam 1080 v12 on asphalt

Who should NOT buy it

Those with narrow feet can have a more locked-in fit with the NB 880 v11 instead of the NB 1080 v12. And if you're looking for a true tempo speedster that won't weigh you down, we suggest getting the NB FuelCell Rebel v2.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v12 vs. v11

  • Gone is the "dreaded" UltraHeel design (less padding) in this iteration. For a comfier, more locked-in heel hold, it has more padding in the rear.
  • To have a stickier grip, the twelfth version has larger lugs. 
  • For a more stable ride, it also has a wider base.

Pieces of NB FF 1080 v12

Surprisingly low drop (not as advertised) 

We have measured the heel drop to be 3.3 mm instead of the advertised 8 mm!

This means that the advertised stack heights (both forefoot and heel) were not confirmed in the lab as well and we covered that just below.

Heel of ff 1080 v12

Mellows out the impact

As a more cushioned sibling to the NB 880, the NB 1080 v12 kills it when it comes to protection. Even when pounding hard and heavy miles on the pavement, our feet never felt strained. 

This is quite surprising given that on paper, this NB shoe's midsole is not the thickest one. Using a caliper, we measured the forefoot stack height at 23.6 mm and the heel stack at 26.9 mm.

If more cushioning is what you need, check out the NB Fresh Foam X More v4 (stack height: 32.5 mm/27.9 mm).

Forefoot stack height of new balance fresh foam 1080 v12

Stays soft in cold weather

On average, shoes get 21% stiffer after being exposed to cold in our lab (20 mins in the freezer). What's surprising about the FF 1080 v12 is that, even after the cold, it is still soft: it goes from 12.5 HA to 16 HA on our durometer.

For reference, the average midsole softness of shoes at room temperature is 29.8 HA. So, even after the freezer, the v12 is almost 2x softer than other shoes at room temp. 

fresh foam 1080 v12 in the freezer

The same applies to flexibility. Even though FF 1080 v12 scored 51.5% when the average difference between the flexibility at room temp and after freezer exposure is 33.3%, the start and end numbers still make this a flexible shoe. Even in cold temperatures!

A little less weight would do

Although it has a bit of responsiveness for a quick change in pace and a fun ride, we still think that it's not the best choice for fast runs. When placed head to head with lighter shoes like the ASICS Novablast 2, NB Fresh Foam X 1080 pales in comparison because of its bottom-heavy design. 

Stretching in FF 1080 v12

New Balance FF 1080 v12 is very soft

We LOVE the overall softness that is noticeable momentarily at the step-in. And the fact that it's not a mushy or unstable kind of soft.

The lab numbers confirm it: this is one of the softest shoes we have ever tested! In the durometer measurements, the midsole at the heel scored 12.5 HA which is a crazy 90% softer than average!

Perfect for night runs

Look at it shine!

Smooth like butter

The heel-to-toe transitions are A-OK! A slight rocker in the midsole allowed for pretty quick turnovers in this NB shoe.

Running in 1080 v12

We believe that transitions felt softer and smoother also because there is no full-length outsole and the rubber is separated into pods.

Outsole on new balance fresh foam 1080 v12

The new upper slays! 

The NB Fresh Foam X 1080 v12's new Hypoknit upper is unlike other knitted uppers. It feels premium and extra soft and doesn't cause any rubbing or abrasion. We think that you can even go sockless quite comfortably in this upper. There is also a bit of stretch to it, which feels very accommodating.

The heel only takes this feeling up a notch as it has more padding now than the v11. If you weren't a fan of the past version's elf collar, it's going to be a welcome update. It eliminates the digging sensation of the last edition.

Experience a slip-free run

Apart from the comfort it delivers, the upper also generates a locked-in foothold that inspires confidence even when cornering. And with the heel's more padded design, the heel clutch has been nothing but awesome. 

Instep on FF 1080 V12

We found that there's no need to lace lock this shoe at all.

Wide feet won't feel constricted in the Fresh Foam X 1080 v12

It's very roomy and accommodating upfront; it doesn't feel tight even when the foot starts to swell.

Looking at the numbers though, the forefoot is 97.0 mm wide. This is just about regular fit.

forefoot width of v12

Hit-or-miss breathability

The 1080 v12 has fairly average breathability. It didn't make our feet awfully sweaty on a summer run but it also wasn't the most well-ventilated.

Upper closeup on new balance fresh foam x 1080 v12

Tongue that protects

Speaking of tongue, the Fresh Foam X 1080 has just the right amount of padding. It is well-padded and holds the foot very securely. It also protects the instep from tight lacing.

Using a caliper, we measured the tongue's thickness at 3.6 mm thick. Much thinner than the average: 6 mm.

Tongue thickness on 1080 v12

Traction is solid on New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12

For a road shoe, the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v12's grip is exceptional. On snow, slush, wet, and dry pavement, the outsole remains tacky. What's more, the lugs don't store rocks and pebbles. 

running in fresh foam 1080 v12

For the long haul

It's not just great for long miles, it also lasts long. After 30 miles of heavy wear testing, we barely saw any wear on the outsole!

New Balance fresh foam 1080 v12 in the lab

Hey there, good lookin'

Last but not least, we think that the 1080 v12 nails it in the style department. The vibrant colorways really make this NB shoe a standout. Get ready for the praises from onlookers!

Sockless in new balance fresh foam 1080 v12