Our verdict

In our lab tests, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 emerged as the top contender for those who prioritise supreme softness in a daily trainer. It's not only the most cushioned 1080 yet, but also one of the plushiest running shoes we've ever experienced. The top-notch upper and impressive durability also set a high bar that rivals will struggle to reach. However, we found the Fresh Foam X midsole falls short in energy return, a letdown for those seeking more bounce. Yet, at £170, we believe it's reasonably priced given its blend of distinctive attributes and performance.

Pros

  • Exceptional comfort
  • Outstanding breathability
  • Incredibly soft ride
  • Long-lasting outsole
  • Lightweight for its size
  • High-quality materials throughout the shoe
  • Ideal for medium or long runs at a relaxed pace
  • Suitable for a wide range of foot shapes

Cons

  • The EVA-based midsole falls short in energy return
  • Lacks stability
  • Not suitable for quick-paced running

Audience verdict

86
Good!

Who should buy

We determined that the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 is an excellent choice for:

  • Neutral runners who crave the ultimate softness in their shoes, as this model tops the charts as the plushest daily trainer available.
  • Those looking for a long-lasting and trustworthy trainer crafted with top-notch, comfortable materials.
  • Beginners seeking a single, ultra-comfortable shoe to kickstart their running journey.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13

Who should NOT buy

The 1080 v13 showcases some impressive strengths, yet it falls short in energy return due to its EVA midsole. For runners seeking a more dynamic bounce with each step, we suggest exploring options like the ASICS Superblast or the Nike Invincible 3.

Moreover, the 1080 v13 doesn't offer much in terms of stability, making it a fit primarily for neutral runners who possess solid, straight running technique. For those facing even mild stability issues, we recommend a more supportive experience in stable daily trainers such as the ASICS GT 2000 12 or the ASICS Gel Kayano 30.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13

Breathability

We must admit that we had our doubts about the 1080 v13 at first. Knit uppers usually don't breathe well, and it seemed like this one might lack airflow.

But we're here to test shoes, not make assumptions—and our smoke test revealed the 1080 v13 has exceptional airflow, a 5/5 in our opinion. Thumbs up to New Balance for creating a knit upper with such outstanding ventilation.

Next, we conducted the light test to discover how New Balance achieved this. The secret? Hundreds of microperforations throughout the upper.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 microscope

Under our microscope, these tiny holes were visible everywhere. The upper isn't just comfortable; it excels in performance too.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 microscope

In fact, the upper is packed with pillow-like padding, making the back half of the shoe one of the most comfortable we've ever tested in the lab.

Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 189 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

One major concern with highly breathable uppers is often reduced durability. So, did the 1080 v13 fall into this trap?

Luckily, the 1080 v13 impressed us with a solid 3/5 score. It's not the top of the charts, but considering the odds, we're quite pleased with this outcome.

The key lies in its double-layered knit. If it were a single layer, we might be looking at a mere 1/5 score.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Toebox durability
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 3
Average 2.2
Compared to 123 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Let's dive into our second Dremel test. In this one, we focus on the heel area's resistance, a spot that often shows early wear and tear in many shoes.

After putting it through the Dremel test, we were thrilled to find barely any damage, earning a fantastic 4/5 score. Up to this point, the 1080 v13 is doing an outstanding job here in the lab.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Heel padding durability
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 4
Average 3
Compared to 119 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Now, let's focus on another crucial aspect of a road running shoe—the outsole. No matter how exceptional the upper is, if the outsole wears down too soon, it can ruin the whole value of the shoe.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 outsole

The outsole is strategically covered in key areas with blown rubber, significantly reducing the shoe's weight in comparison with standard rubber. 

First off, we assessed the outsole's hardness. The Shore C durometer test gave us an average reading of 80.1 HC. This suggests the outsole should have pretty decent durability. However, keep in mind that there's a lot of exposed foam and we don't recommend using this one on trails.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Outsole hardness
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 81.5 HC
Average 80.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 241 running shoes
Number of shoes
55.5 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

We then tested how the blown rubber held up under our Dremel, applying more duration and force than we do with the upper, for obvious reasons.

And the results were truly incredible. With just 0.2-mm of wear, you can be confident that this outsole won't wear down prematurely. And the traction, while not the best in the market by any means, it's good enough for road running.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Outsole durability
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 0.2 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 101 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The impressive durability of the rubber likely inspired the team at New Balance HQ to design a thinner outsole than usual.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13

We measured it at 2.5-mm thick, which is below average but more than sufficient for this shoe. This design choice also helps keep the weight as low as possible.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Outsole thickness
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 2.5 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

New Balance, once a bit behind in the lightness trend, is now catching up impressively.

The 1080 v13 weighs just 9.3 oz (264g), which is quite reasonable for its size. This shows their solid progress in combining lightweight design with comfort.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Weight
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 9.31 oz (264g)
Average 9.42 oz (267g)
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Now let's talk about the stack height. In the heel, it measures 34.1 mm, which is very reasonable for a cushioned daily trainer.

For easy or aerobic runs over short to medium distances, this is all you need, despite the current trend of packing in as much foam as possible. And yes, you can definitely handle a long run with this heel stack.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 stack

The shoe appears taller than it actually is due to the sidewalls on the heel and midfoot.

It's important to remember that a daily trainer should be versatile enough for a variety of runs. It should be agile and nimble, serving as a do-it-all shoe for those who prefer a single pair in their rotation. That's why we believe this approach is spot-on for this type of shoe.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Heel stack
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 34.1 mm
Average 33.5 mm
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot features a moderately-high design, offering ample cushioning at 28.5 mm, ideal for both midfoot and forefoot strikers.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Forefoot stack
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 28.5 mm
Average 24.7 mm
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
34.8 mm

Drop

New Balance claims a 6-mm drop, and we measured it at 5.6 mm following the official World Athletics guidelines. Kudos to New Balance for providing measurements close to reality, a rarity among brands.

This means the shoe is more suited for forefoot and midfoot strikers. However, heel strikers can still use it, but they should be comfortable with a shoe that has a lower drop than what's typical for daily trainers. If that's not your preference, we suggest checking out the Nike Pegasus 40.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Drop
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 5.6 mm
Average 8.8 mm
Compared to 260 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The Ortholite insole, at 5 mm, is incredibly soft. It gave us a preview of the comfort we can expect from the midsole...

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Insole thickness
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 5.0 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 256 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Let's dive into the most game-changing update in the 1080 v13. While it's still labeled as "Fresh Foam X", New Balance has revamped the formula, creating an out-of-this-world softness.

After testing over 300 shoes in the lab, we found very few that could rival this one's marshmallow-like feel.

Driven to quantify our experience, we used the Shore A durometer and recorded a 10.0 HA measurement, solidifying our initial thoughts. It's like running on a feather pillow.

The standout feature is the mind-blowingly-incredible comfort in every step. There's no arguing about it. However, this new Fresh Foam X is still an EVA midsole, which means the energy return is somewhat limited—you sink into the foam, but it doesn’t spring you back much.

This characteristic makes the shoe ideal for easy runs or days when your feet crave the ultimate comfort. But for faster paces, we think the shoe is too mushy.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Midsole softness
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 10.0 HA
Average 23.6 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 242 running shoes
Number of shoes
6.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
52.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Even under cold temperatures, the foam remains ultra-soft at 12.9 HA, though it becomes 28.8% firmer.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 28.8%
Average 26.3%
Compared to 241 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
125%

Stability

Lateral stability test

Regarding stability, it's clear that the 1080 v13 is not the most stable daily trainer out there.

Even though it has sidewalls, as we mentioned in a previous test, the foam is just too soft to offer any real stability boost. Therefore, we recommend the 1080 v13 only for neutral runners.

Torsional rigidity

Brands are increasingly creating more rigid shoes in their latest daily trainers, but New Balance is taking a different approach. This makes sense for us—why compromise on comfort when the focus is solely on neutral runners with the 1080?

This is why we recorded a 2/5 in our torsional rigidity test. Yep, it's a step back in terms of stability, but it significantly enhances comfort for everyday runs.

Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 2
Average 3.2
Compared to 238 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter is on the stiffer side, a necessary choice when paired with such cloud-like foam. We rated it a 4/5.

It might slightly bother those with Haglund's deformity or other Achilles area issues, but in our view, most runners should find it comfortable.

Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 4
Average 2.7
Compared to 222 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Now, let's look at the midsole dimensions. From the moment we first held the shoe in the lab, it felt really large, clearly one of the widest daily trainers we've tested.

Measuring the forefoot at its widest point, we got a measurement of 119.5 mm, confirming our initial impressions. Basically, it's a result of the pillow-like midsole, they had no choice!

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 119.5 mm
Average 113.4 mm
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The same design concept is seen in the heel, which is slightly wider compared to most running shoes. Our caliper measured it at 95.9 mm.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 95.9 mm
Average 90.3 mm
Compared to 261 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Earlier in our lab review, we found that this shoe offers impressive flexibility in terms of torsion. But how does it perform longitudinally?

Remarkably, it remains highly flexible! We needed just 20.5N of force to bend it to a 90-degree angle. This level of flexibility makes the shoe not just ideal for running, but also perfect for comfortable all-day wear.

Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 20.5N
Average 29.0N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 244 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

After spending another 20 boring minutes in the freezer, we repeated the stiffness test. The results showed a mere 15.1% change in stiffness, which is barely noticeable.

Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 15.1%
Average 38.8%
Compared to 244 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

One of the advantages of knit uppers is their ability to stretch after a few runs. Yet, the 1080 v13 likely won't need to rely on this feature because it provides a regular fit that's slightly on the roomier side.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 upper fit

When we measured the widest part of the upper, it came in at 99.7 mm.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 99.7 mm
Average 98.2 mm
Compared to 262 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

Our second measurement focused on the big toe area, coming in at 77.9 mm. This is pretty much average, indicating that New Balance chose a safe taper, which is sensible for a daily running shoe.

By the way, those with wide should now that the brand offers the 1080 in three widths: regular, wide, and extra-wide (in some markets).

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 77.9 mm
Average 77.8 mm
Compared to 134 running shoes
Number of shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
90.4 mm

Tongue: gusset type

We found the tongue of the 1080 v13 is semi-gusseted, offering an excellent lockdown. It's impressively comfortable without being too tight or intrusive. We believe this choice is perfect for this shoe.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue of the shoe, at 7.3 mm, is padded and very comfortable. Yet, we think New Balance could trim it down a bit, maybe to around 4-6 mm. This would save some weight while still maintaining plenty of comfort for a daily workhorse.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Tongue padding
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 7.3 mm
Average 5.7 mm
Compared to 258 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

The v13 doesn't have a heel tab, but it does have a more padded area around the heel. This makes it easier to grab the heel when we need to.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Heel tab
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 None

Removable insole

The 1080 v13 features a standard insole that's easy to remove and replace if necessary. And thanks to the shoe's average dimensions, slipping in third-party insoles is not a problem at all.

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Removable insole
Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

We initially worried that the 1080 v13 might join other brands in cutting costs on often-overlooked features. However, New Balance pleasantly surprised us by maintaining its reflective elements, and we absolutely love it.

Test results
Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 Yes