New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11 review and lab test

The 860 v11 is a strong, supportive stability shoe that offers a lot of underfoot cushioning and plenty of correction for overpronators.

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 tear down

If you’re someone who needs a reliable shoe to help your form, this is an amazing option. 

Who the shoe is for

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11 is for the road runner that needs extra stability to help fix problems of overpronation. Made specifically as a daily trainer the shoe has a plushy midsole to help rack up lots of miles over training weeks comfortably. 

NB Fresh Foam 860 v11 on feet lacing

Who the New Balance Fresh Foam 860 is not for

It’s probably best to avoid the 860 if:

A fresh heel design

If it wasn’t obvious, the 860 v11 is the 11th iteration of the New Balance 860, and aside from the Fresh Foam midsole, the other glaring difference is the flared, sculpted heel counter. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 heel counter

Made to both help with putting on the shoe and create a strong lockdown in the heel, the 860s heel is hit or miss. For many, the significant cup in the heel offers a huge surface area to keep the heel in place. 

For many others, myself included, the shape of that cup doesn’t match up with the shape of my heel, meaning the lockdown is worse than a traditional heel counter.

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 heel cup lockdown

Unless you’ve tried these on, or a similar shoe design like the 1080 v11, it would be impossible to know whether you’re going to struggle or not in these. 

Go half a size up for the New Balance 860 v11

Through experience, I almost always order a half size up in any New Balance running shoe from my regular size US 10. The 860s were no different. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 toe box width

Moreover, they’re a tiny bit narrow, which might be down to the elastic knit upper, which I otherwise quite like. 

A great looking upper

As I said, the upper is a nice, eye-catching design on the New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11. With a sock-like design to the forefoot and a synthetic material covering the molded heel. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 upper detail

I particularly like the continuation of the midsole design up into the heel counter. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 rear view

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11 stay classic in the lacing

One thing I really appreciate about this stability shoe is the fact that New Balance hasn’t changed anything that they didn’t feel they needed to. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 lacing

Although it looks like a new design, and there’s upgraded foam in the midsole, the 860 has kept the same classic lacing system. No speed lacing, just good quality laces long enough to fit through the extra eyelet in the upper. 

Fresh foam isn’t too noticeable

Between the 860 v10 and the 860 v11, New Balance seemed really excited about their new Fresh foam midsole. So excited that they put it in the title. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 stack height heel

There’s a fair amount of foam in the shoe as well, with a stack height of 21.8mm in the forefoot and 34.2mm in the heel, there’s a lot of foam between your foot and the road. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 stack height forefoot

I’m pretty sure some people are not going to like how it feels though. Even though there’s a lot of padding, it feels a bit hard, and not as plush as many would like. 

The midsole has a durometer of 41.8 HA, which is quite hard. For me, this feels a bit more like Nike’s React foam than the Adidas Ultraboost, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. 

New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11 running

While not the plushiest shoe out there, the New Balance Fresh Foam offers an ultra-consistent ride day in day out. What’s more is that the durometer only saw a 12% increase after sitting in the lab freezer, meaning this shoe doesn’t change much in ground feel whatever the condition. 

Noticeable stabilizing in the Fresh Foam 860 v11

As with the lacing, New Balance has taken an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to their stability. There’s a medial post in the midsole, which helps push the inner side of your foot back out when it collapses in. 

There’s also a dual-density foam fused the upper which works a bit like the bumper system in Brooks stability shoes to help guide your foot straight. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 medial postThis is a pretty classic way of fixing overpronation, but it does work. This is probably one of the most controlling shoes that I’ve run in because of that large inner post system. 

The 860 v11 grips anything

There’s a chunky amount of rubber on the outsole of the New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11, which is great for pretty much any surface I ran on. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 outsole grip

Alongside the consistent feel, this outsole really staples the shoe as an all-day any-day trainer.

Definitely not a racing shoe

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V11 weight

Thanks to all that dense foam, the medial post, and the anti-minimalist heel counter, the New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11 doesn’t come in a lightweight package at 11.2oz (317g) there’s no escaping the weight of this shoe. 

New Balance 860 Fresh Foam V111681.jpg

Thankfully this isn’t meant to outpace anyone, the 860 v11 is meant to help build a consistent running routine that protects their joints and keeps you going. I felt that I could run all day in these without having to stick my feet, ankles, and knees in an ice bath for weeks after, and that’s something special. 

Conclusion

The New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v11 tries to break out from the silhouettes of 860s past, and it sure does. While that might not be right for every runner, when the shoe fits it’s a dream to run in. 

With tried and tested pronation correction from a useful medial post and dual-density midsole, the 860 is a brilliant choice to help with your running technique. 

Complete lab-specs overview 

  Ghost 14 Average
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 317 270
Drop (mm)

12.4

8.3
Flexibility of the shoe (N)

27.8

37.1
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 33.8 48
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 21.6 34.1
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 12.3 24
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 3.0 3.2
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 3.0 3.4
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 10.28 6.2
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 98.9 98.7
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 79.8 82.5
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy) 4.0 2.7
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 3.0 3.0
Tongue: gusset type Yes -
Heel: pull tab None -
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 112.3 112.2
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 86.5 89.0
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 21.8 24.2
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 34.2 32.6
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 41.8 26.0
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 4.5 3.7
Lugs Depth (mm) N/A 3.3
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 86.8 81.1
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 5.1 4.3
Insole: removable Yes  

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 275g / Women 243g
Drop: 10mm
Arch support: Stability
Update: New Balance Fresh Foam 860 v12
Collection: New Balance Fresh Foam
Pronation: Overpronation

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Author
Doug Turner
Doug Turner

Doug is a Scottish documentary and fashion photographer and filmmaker. Stumbling into the sneaker game later than usual, he started out behind a camera through long hiking expeditions around the world. Seeking a cleaner aesthetic, Doug now works mostly in fashion and sport, opting for outdoor locations rather than a studio.