The New Balance 1080 v8 promises so much but doesn’t quite deliver. The result is a durable workhorse without the responsiveness and excitement of a thoroughbred racehorse.
It’s a solid, reliable running shoe with an extremely comfortable, roomy upper which holds the foot securely. A versatile outsole lends it to trail running as well as roads, and it’s durable enough to go on mile after mile.
So, if you’re looking for a shoe offering comfort and reliability to slip on for runs of up to about 10 miles a few times a week, then the 1080 v8 may just fit the bill.
- Extremely comfortable upper
- Roomy toe box
- Wide footprint provides stability
- Versatile outsole would suit road and light trail
- Firm ride
- Feels Flat and unresponsive
When I took up regular running a few years ago, I happened upon the New Balance 1080 v3. I loved its comfort and wore it for every run and race until it finally wore out after which I simply bought another pair.
The 1080 continued to be my go-to shoe through its v4 and v5 versions, and on to the v6 which is the first time that New Balance introduced the Fresh Foam sole to the 1080. Unfortunately, when the v7 was introduced, I couldn’t find my size anywhere in the UK (UK 13½, US 14).
At this point, I tried other shoes and manufacturers, and when I returned to the NB line-up, the 1080 wasn’t my initial first choice.
So having completed my latest marathon cycle in the Fresh Foam Zante (“The Road Shoe for Every Occasion”), and with my new go-to comfortable shoe nearing the end of its life after 1100 km (Brooks Ghost 10: “Built for comfort and for speed”), I was really looking forward to my return to New Balance’s premium road shoe which promised “…an extra-snug feel, and… advanced cushioning mile after mile”.
I have to be honest and admit that I’ve put off writing this review for a while in the hope that I’d find something to really like about them. I’ve now run around 200 miles in the 1080 v8, and while there’s a lot going for this shoe, I’ve had to rip off the rose-tinted glasses and admit that whilst the 1080 v8 remains a great quality, comfortable and good looking shoe, perhaps sometimes you shouldn’t go back.
The 1080 v8 is offered in a good range of colors from a “Black with White” and grey with white (named “Galaxy with Petrol”), through a “Pacific with Black and Maldives Blue” (which I chose), to a brighter yellow “Hi-Lite with Black”. Each colorway “bleeds” the color into the top of the midsole which is a nice effect, together with the multicolored outsole.
All colorways offer a good looking shoe, which out of the box looks and feels well built, plush and durable.
The evolution of the shoe is pretty clear from the picture which shows the v8 alongside the v6 which is very similar in appearance, and the v5 (the last of the 1080’s before the introduction of Fresh Foam).
The “N” logos on the side of the shoes are reflective which is welcome for runners running at night or in low light.
The Fresh Foam is listed at 314g (11oz)which is a little heavier than Brooks’ cushioned offering, the Ghost 10 (295g). It’s also an increase in weight from the v7 (309g) which itself was a significant jump from the v6 which came in at 394g.
As expected, my UK 13.5 (US14) shoe weighed in heavier than the standard shoe, at 381g (13.4oz), compared to the Ghost 10 at 361g.
As with all New Balance shoes, I find that I need a ½ size larger than would be my “normal” size in UK sizing, although this may be in part due to the New Balance conversion from US sizing as I remain a US 14 in most shoes.
So in this case, I wear a UK 13.5 (US 14) which is the same size I’ve used in all other New Balance shoes, Hokas, and Salomon trail shoes. For comparison, I generally use a UK 13 (US 14) in Brooks, Inov-8, and ASICS, though the last two can feel a little snug.
Out of the box, I laced up the shoe and it feels just as it should. It holds the foot well in the heel and across the midfoot while providing a good amount of room for movement in the toe box.
Right out of the box, I took the shoes out for a 12-mile run, and the foot felt comfortable, with no hotspots or areas of concern.
In their marketing spiel, New Balance offers “a… breathable engineered mesh upper with a molded foam collar and a no-sew bootie fit offers an extra snug-feel”, and in that sense, the shoe is just as described.
The upper is comfortable, and well-built. Whilst breathable, the double layer of mesh across the front is heavier than on a shoe like the Zante, so it is not quite as breathable as some lighter, less premium shoes.
The shoe sits on a wide base, and so there is a good, wide toe box which should provide ample room for almost all wearers. The front of the shoe incorporates a molded rubber toe bumper offering good protection when venturing off the roads and onto trails.
Moving further back, the midfoot saddle is fairly substantial, providing good support and a feeling of stability to the foot even within this neutral trainer. A sleeve within the midfoot section holds the tongue in place, whilst providing additional cushioning to the midfoot.
The inner part of the heel incorporates a hard heel counter, which combines with a well-cushioned upper heel/ankle section to lock in the heel well so that even in a generously proportioned shoe, the foot feels secure throughout the run.
The midsole of the shoe is constructed from a single piece of New Balance’s Fresh Foam. That is, a single-density EVA foam, with a drop of 8mm.
There has been very little change from the v7, other than the hexagonal patterning along the sides of the sole; the v7 has convex hexagons on both sides of the midsole, while the v8 brings concave patterning to the outside of the shoe. The rationale behind this is that the convex hexagons on the inside provide greater support, while the concave hexagons offer greater cushioning to the outside of the foot.
Unfortunately, the Fresh Foam that performs so well in shoes such as the Zante just doesn’t seem to work in the 1080 v8. New Balance promise that they’ve used “…data-driven input to deliver premium underfoot support…” which “…provides advanced cushioning mile after mile”.
It seems that the data that’s driven the design just hasn’t been realised in the finished product as the midsole fails to deliver on either the cushioning or the responsiveness that should be expected from a premium shoe.
I’ll address this further below within the “performance” section.
The outsole is one of the stand-out features of the 1080 v8, simply in light of the versatility, it provides to the shoe. The outsole is blown rubber throughout, with a harder rubber used in the crash pad at the back of the shoe.
There are several grooves in the outsole to provide flexibility, primarily beneath the front of the foot, but also separating the crash pad from the rest of the sole. This latter groove enables the crash pad to move independently, improving the cushioning of the heel when landing.
Whilst the grooves below the front foot goes some way to improve flexibility, the one-piece Fresh Foam midsole still delivers a fairly stiff ride.
The versatility comes from the hexagonal blown rubber lugs of varying sizes that form the outsole. Combined with the wide footprint of the 1080, these provide good traction across a variety of surfaces, meaning that the 1080 v8 is more than just a road shoe.
Running shoes are highly personal, and so my experience of shoe performance should always be balanced against my own characteristics. I don’t fit the stereotypical image of a lithe, sleek runner: just for the record, I’m 47, about 6’2”, just under 90kg (almost 200lbs), running 50-60 miles pw.
My HM PB is just over 1:25, with a 3:12 marathon, but during the summer I’m just as happy running around the mountains of Snowdonia. In light of this, I can’t really comment on the performance of these shoes for the elite but hopefully, this can be of use to most runners.
The first thing to say is that the 1080 v8 is a solid, reliable running shoe. Its comfortable, roomy and holds the foot securely. The plush design means that you should be able to wear it straight out of the box without worrying about blisters or hotspots, and it’s durable enough to go on mile after mile.
Having said all that, whilst they share the same logo and Fresh Foam midsole, do not expect the 1080 v8 to be a Zante with more cushioning. Furthermore, don’t be misled by the large chunk of foam in the midsole and expect it to provide the cushioning and “bounce” of the Brooks Ghost.
I first wore these shoes as we neared the end of what felt like the longest winter on record here in North Wales, and the shoe felt solid and comfortable. The shoe fitted well, and the foot felt locked in well while enjoying plenty of room for the toes up front.
The 1080 v8, as we’ve identified above is a relatively heavy shoe, but with my size and build that’s never really a problem, and the shoe didn’t feel particularly heavy. The only real issue was that the shoe just didn’t seem to have the cushioning that I’d expected, and what became apparent during subsequent runs was the didn’t deliver the responsiveness or energy return I’d hoped for.
Don’t get me wrong, I can run in this shoe. I’ve used the shoe for long runs, tempo paced runs and long interval sessions. In some ways, it works a little better for slightly faster-paced runs due to the stiffness of the sole, but it’s just too heavy to be a racing shoe or a go-to show for fast intervals.
For any of these sessions, the shoe will do its job, and won’t complain, but it won’t seem to help you either, and it’s not a shoe I’d look forward to running in.
Interestingly, I have found that the shoe has become a little more responsive and cushioned over time. I can’t really determine however whether this is due to using the shoe or the uncharacteristically warm weather that we’ve experienced here over the last 6 weeks or so. It is possible that the Fresh Foam works that bit better at warmer temperatures
In summary, the 1080 v8 is not quite the sum of its parts, and New Balance has delivered a “premium shoe” without the responsiveness, nor the cushioning that it promises.
I mentioned above about the versatility of the outsole, and it’s possible that this is one of the saving features of the 1080 v8. The lugs offer good grip on a variety of off-road surfaces, and whilst I wouldn’t wear it for the most technical of runs, it’ll cope with most trails, grassland and fields, though perhaps not in muddy conditions!
Its wide footprint gives a good feeling of security, and the Fresh Foam effectively absorbs the impact of stones and small rocks to protect the underside of the foot.
New Balance seems to have found an extremely durable compound for their blown rubber outsole. I experienced this recently in the Zante, and my 1080v6 lasted me over 700 miles, which is outstanding for someone of my weight.
The picture shows my 1080 v8 after approximately 200 miles of running, and with very little sign of wear to date. I’d expect that with the v8’s thick outsole, combined with the well-made uppermost runners can expect this to exceed the oft-touted 500-mile life expectancy for a running shoe.
Comfortable and reliable, I’m sure that this shoe will go on and on, and so it may be the ideal shoe for runners who are looking for just that in a shoe. Many regular runners may find it hard to justify the high price tag for the dull, unresponsive ride offered by this shoe.
I’d recommend runners to look at the Fresh Foam Zante for a fantastic all-rounder, or where cushioning is a priority, the Brooks Ghost manages to deliver superb cushioning with responsiveness.
I'll be totally honest here. If someone had given me $150 and said spend it on whichever shoe I fancied, the 1080 v8 would have been pretty low on my list.
Now don't get me wrong. It wouldn't be because this latest iteration of premium cushioned shoe from New Balance is necessarily bad, but simply because I wouldn't have thought it would suit my running style.
According to the official website, 1080 v8 is "soft & smooth," "cushioned" and with "support." As an experienced, fairly efficient runner, I tend to veer towards the firm & responsive, neutral, and with minimal cushioning.
Running shoes that, well, look like running shoes
At 314 grams, the shoes were also on the heavier side of my preference, but that's understandable given the level of cushioning. And I'd be lying if I said aesthetics had nothing to do with it.
While not short of technology and innovation such as engineered mesh, data-driven midsole design and, indeed, Fresh Foam itself, the shoes look like, well, good old-fashioned running shoes. Not necessarily what tickles my fancy these days.
Just about the only redeeming factor is that these carry an 8mm heel-toe drop, which is within the upper limit of my 5-8mm "sweet spot."
Besides, I had always been curious about the much-vaunted Fresh Foam since New Balance introduced the high compression midsole material a few years back, not yet having had a chance to experience it first hand.
Oh – and the blown-rubber outsole is multi-colored, which is a nice touch.
The multicolored sole is a pretty cool touch
Besides, no such thing as a bad shoe
Besides, with the rare exception of when a shoe is poorly conceived and executed, I really believe there is no such thing as a "bad" shoe and that EVERY SHOE HAS A PURPOSE.
And with shoe review lottery Gods having presented me with the opportunity to scrutinize to the best of my ability the new 1080 v8 – courtesy of RunRepeat in partnership with New Balance – it was a chance to put that credo to test.
But first, I would have to put all personal preferences and biases aside.
But every runner is different too
First, a brief few words on the kind of runner I am and why I didn't feel the 1080 v8 were an obvious match for me.
I describe myself as a "front of mid-pack" kind of runner. Having run my first marathon 7 years ago in 4hrs 25mins, I was able to get down to 3hrs 22mins within a few years, good enough to qualify for Boston in my age group.
My half marathon PB is 1hr 34mins and I have also completed a handful of ultramarathons in the 50 and 100-mile distances, finishing in the top 1/3 of field for all of them. I average about 40 miles per week over about 4-5 runs, so probably higher mileage than most.
More relevantly, I believe my running style to be fairly efficient, with a cadence of about 176 steps per minute, with a mid- to fore-foot strike which lands beneath the bulk of my body weight.
It is a self-proclaimed "efficient" running style, but it has allowed me to run injury free for many years so I'm happy with it.
I am 174cms tall and when "race fit" weigh 70kgs, compared to the 83kgs when I ran my first marathon.
The 1080 v8 is ideal for the slower, heavier runner
The reason for that long-winded introduction to my running and running style is because I believe the 1080 v8 is best suited to a runner who is a bit larger, carries more weight, and with heavier foot-fall, and most likely a mid-foot to heel-striker.
With the bulk, heft, and ample cushioning, the shoe certainly is designed more for long slow distance running rather than racing or speed sessions. Form often determines function and the shoe's robust, plush build and thick midsole supports this.
Perhaps surprisingly, the heel stack height of 27mm is the same as Hoka One One Huaka.
This tapers to 19mm in the toe to result in the 8mm drop, compared to 25mm for Huaka, which is 2mm drop. But, first things first; let's get our hands and feet on the 1080 v8 and get testing and reviewing!
The 27mm heel stack is comparable to some Hoka models
Plush build and roomy fit
The shoe fits wide and with plenty of volume in the forefoot.
In fact, my initial thought was there was too much room, despite their D rating and my wider than average feet. The length felt "true to size" for my US10.5 feet.
I struggled for first few runs to dial in the fit, partly due to the plush nature of the shoe, in particular, the generously padded tongue.
With the supplied laces also more elastic than most, it was not until the 5th or 6th outing that I was able to get the right tension. Exacerbating the problem with fit is the fact that the 1080 v8 is a stiff shoe.
Despite the presence of flex grooves in the outsole, the Fresh Foam midsole is a dense material and with so much of it there, out of the box, the shoes are stiff, to the point that I experienced heel slippage.
The shoe's upper is made of no-sew engineered mesh with a "bootie" fit but I found that this did not stop heel slippage.
This was dealt with in the initial runs by using the "heel lock" lace holes. After about a dozen runs the shoes softened up sufficiently to not require the use of heel lock.
The bootie construction did not prevent heel slippage
The fit improves dramatically over time
Actually, after about a dozen runs, I found the shoes to "mold" themselves to my feet, and this is a good thing.
By this I mean not just the alleviation of heel slippage but also the shoes somehow started feeling less roomy and more snug with each outing, which is actually counter to experience with most other shoes as the upper material expands over time.
I believe this is attributable partly to the plush nature of the upper and tongue, which meant that the shoes probably were adapting to my foot shape over time, but also to the use of Ortholite insoles, which are often used by other brands such as Salomon and La Sportiva for their premium shoes and are in my opinion amongst the most comfortable, breathable, and adaptive insoles out there.
The ride is as described on the tin
"Soft and smooth" are the words New Balance chose to describe the Fresh Foam experience, and I have to agree with them wholeheartedly.
The ride is certainly cushioned, and certainly soft, but not in the sloppy sense. The energy return of Fresh Foam can be felt in abundance.
The smoothness of the ride I presume comes from the fact the midsole consists of a single thick (and wide) slab of Fresh Foam, aiding in a smooth heel-toe transition, even on occasions when I intentionally forced myself to heel-strike in an effort to mimic less efficient running gaits.
As those already familiar with Fresh Foam would be aware, the dimple pattern on the midsole (mostly convex on lateral edge and concave on medial) is "data-driven" and integral part of the technology.
I can only speak for the sensation, and to me, the balance between soft and responsive was just right, so a big thumbs-up for Fresh Foam.
Dimple patterns are data-driven (top – medial, bottom – lateral)
Oversized landing area means more stability
When researching the shoes, I was initially confused to see 1080 v8 described as "stable" when they were actually designed for neutral pronation.
It took just one run to realize that the stability referred to here is not so much for pronation but rather the way your feet's contact with the ground is maximized through the wide footprint.
This is however at the expense of nimbleness and while stability may be a good thing at slower speeds and lower turnover, I found it to be a hindrance when picking up speed for a fast 5km race or during interval sessions.
The comparison with New Balance Vazee Pace (which is designed for faster speeds) illustrates the contrast in footprint size and indeed the overall volume of the shoe.
Stability at expense of nimbleness (both are US10.5, Vazee Pace v1 on top)
Too much shoe for me (unless I'm doing a 153-miler)
I personally would have preferred a little less cushioning underfoot but that's just me and the kind of runner that I am and the kind of running that I do.
I think the runner that I was 7 years ago as I was training for my first marathon would have unreservedly loved a shoe like 1080 v8.
One of the shoes that I used back then was the first version of Brooks Transcend and the 1080 v8 very much reminds me of that shoe in terms of the wide footprint, heft, and plush cushioning.
Although the fit did improve over time – whether by the physical change to the shoe or my psychological adaptation, or a bit of both – I think the 1080 v8 can also benefit from a little less "plushness" and a bit more streamlining in general.
Do the stack heights really need to be that high? But for those just venturing out to explore this thing called running or those looking for their first half marathon or marathon shoe, the 1080 v8 is as well-equipped as any.
And paradoxically, the shoe could be ideally suited for those hardcore ultrarunners looking to tackle long-distance road races such as the 56-mile long Comrades or 153mile Spartathlon.
In fact, I am aware of there having been at least one special Comrades edition of the 1080 in past.
Having had to review New Balance 1080 v8 was also an opportunity for me to reflect on the very concept of shoe reviewing. The bulk of shoe reviews tend to be positive.
This may be the result of a combination of factors: for one, with the shoes being reviewed more often than not offered to the reviewer courtesy of the brand, it is difficult to be scathingly negative about the shoe.
No one likes coming across as ungrateful for the opportunity and we're always looking for a positive way to spin the review. Secondly, and perhaps more relevantly, we all prefer to run in shoes that we like.
That sounds like an obvious thing to say but think about it – for most of us, running is an activity we enjoy and something we elect to engage in with our precious free time. It makes sense, therefore, to spend that time running in shoes that we enjoy running in, i.e. ones that suit our style.
This is not the time nor place to get philosophical, but I believe being handed a pair of shoes I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen myself may perhaps lead to a more objective and ultimately more useful review for potential shoppers.
And remember – EVERY SHOE HAS A PURPOSE. This is an important point; not only am I a firm believer in it but also because it's what I tell my wife to justify my growing shoe collection!
The New Balance 1080 v8 is designed for long-distance running.
The Fresh Foam midsole combined with an Ortholite insole provides maximum comfort, and the roomy toe box accommodates foot swelling after a long workout session. This shoe has a noticeably low heel collar height to prevent abrasion to the ankle.
Also, the upper is void of any inner seams to provide the smoothest, softest ride possible.
In my opinion, this shoe is designed to serve its purpose very well but does not go above and beyond its capabilities. Tempo runs and speed work are completely out of the question with this shoe because it feels almost too soft, and one does not feel the ground at all when wearing them.
The toe box is also very wide and can make the runner feel as though their foot is not secure. Again, a very well designed for its purpose but not a versatile shoe in the slightest.
From a looks perspective, I have seen better looking long distance runners. From the side, the 1080 v8 looks decent, but from a birds eye, this shoe looks awkward and bulbous.
The 1080 v8 fits true to size lengthwise and is a roomy shoe even in the standard width.
For me, this worked perfectly as my foot is a bit wider, but I still felt some heel slippage when the shoe wasn’t tied up super tightly.
For someone with a narrow/ regular width foot, this shoe will definitely feel sloppy and not very supportive. However, they worked well for me and I was very pleased with the wide toe box.
The 1080 v8 sits at a hefty price tag of $195.
For a shoe with maximum cushioning, this is a fair price and is cheaper than other brands’ top of the line running shoes. A durable, reliable runner with great cushioning is a good thing to splurge on in my books.
The 1080 v8 is an extremely comfortable shoe, and I take advantage of this comfort by using it as my work shoe. As I stand and walk all day, this shoe feels amazing and I almost never feel any sort of leg or foot pain.
I’ve tried many other models for this same purpose, but my feet began to hurt a few hours into my shift. The comfort starts with the roomy toe box; I have lots of wiggle room even after my foot swells up.
Also, the Ortholite insole feels squishy and super soft. Combine this with the extra comfortable Fresh Foam midsole and you have a winning recipe for the most comfortable New Balance shoe on the market.
Is it too Soft?
The 1080 v8 has a super smooth ride, but it feels too smooth.
It’s nice for a shoe to be soft and comfortable, but these shoes seriously feel like marshmallows on your feet. I have worn them for jogs and my foot feels like it is sinking into the Ortholite insole whenever I take a step.
Upping the pace feels unnatural and the shoe doesn’t feel one bit responsive. Never mind doing any short distance running or tempo in these, this shoe is exclusive to be used for longer runs. I, for one currently use the 1080s for leisurely jogs after I may or may not have eaten too much for dinner.
The Ultimate in Comfort
The 1080 v8 stands out as the only shoe that has not given me any type of leg pain, and only minimal foot pain after a full 8-hour shift.
As for its performance on runs, it is too soft to use as anything less than a pure long distance shoe. They’re comfortable runners but just don’t expect a PR when you take these out for a spin.
The 1080 v8 is one New Balance’s most expensive running shoes. The $195 price tag may be hard to swallow for some, but it is justified by the great cushioning and comfort of the 1080.
This shoe is accommodating for people with wider feet and is excellent for long runs, but don’t try to sprint in them.
Good to know
- The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 series presents a couple of improvements in its eighth iteration. However, the signature Fresh Foam midsole is ever-present, as it provides an advanced cushioning no matter the distance.
- The engineered mesh upper is now more durable compared to the previous version. It now also has a molded foam collar, as well as a no-sew cleatie fit that offers an extra-secure feel. The flex grooves on the outside have also been reconfigured. Meanwhile, the layout on the outside of the midsole has changed from convex to concave geometric patterns.
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v8 has a standard running shoe length and comes in a variety of size options. The full forefoot construction enables a comfortable toe splay, even for runners with a wide foot volume. The shoe comes in width profiles of narrow, medium, wide, and extra wide for both the men’s and women’s versions.
Made of blown rubber compound, the outsole of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 v8 features the hexagon lugs like its predecessor, with sufficient traction on any road surface. It also retains the crash pad located near the edge of the heel.
The flex grooves in the forefoot area are now updated to enhance the flexibility and to provide a smoother ride.
The Fresh Foam midsole now features concave hexagon patterns as it aims to reduce the stiffness in the cushioning, which was observed in the previous version. It follows the notion that hollow patterns deflect energy, resulting in a softer ride without sacrificing support. This midsole foam is also present in the Fresh Foam 1080 v9 and other popular New Balance running shoes.
The front of the upper presents a molded toe-bumper, which is attached to the soft engineered mesh. The shoe also offers a roomy toe box that encourages a natural toe splay.
There are overlays in the midfoot area that provide structural integrity, as well as give the foot a supportive fit. Inside is a fabric sleeve that brings to the skin a smooth feel, while keeping the tongue aligned. Meanwhile, the end of the shoe has a thermoplastic urethane (TPU) counter to hold the heel in place.
The upper also features the brand’s Fantom Fit technology, which is the result of a no-sew combination process that aims for an ultra-lightweight finish.