Who should buy the NB Fresh Foam X 880 v12

Cop the Fresh Foam X 880 v12 if you're looking to buy a:

Who should NOT buy it

If you're looking for a more lively ride for faster runs, the NB Fresh Foam More v3 comes in highly recommended by experts. Searching for something fast, breathable, and grippy? Take the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2

New Balance 880 v12 vs. v11

As testers put it, this is the "best 880 ride yet," thanks to these changes: 

  • more protection and comfort because of the added stack height (from 32-mm heel; 22-mm forefoot to 37-27 mm, respectively)
  • a snappier toe-off because of the two-part midsole—the softer Fresh Foam sits on top while the bottom layer consists of FuelCell midsole
  • deeper flex grooves for a more natural ride
  • a wider rear platform for added stability
  • more pliable upper to accommodate more foot shapes and sizes

As soft as promised 

New Balance’s softest version of the foam yet

New Balance has billed the Fresh Foam X 880 v12 the softest 880 yet. And true to its promise, reviewers can't help but praise this shoe. According to them, "the step-in is sublime;" it feels like the Brooks Glycerin, which says a lot about the comfort it offers. 

For context, it's not the sink-in type of soft like the Hoka Clifton, but it's "forgiving enough", as an expert has described it, for recovery days when your feet and legs "completely feel trashed." 

Even more comfort

Midsole aside, the upper also speaks volumes about the New Balance 880's comfort. It's soft, and despite its tongue "being on the thick side," it doesn't rub the skin. Plus, the ankle collar is decently padded. 

Not for summer but is warm for winter

"A sweater for the feet." This is how experts describe the NB Fresh Foam X 880 v12. It's warm; those who have tested it under hot conditions find their feet sweaty after several miles. Those who live in colder places, however, all agree that the upper makes them feel cozy. 

The NB 880 v12's ride is the perfect mix of everything

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 v12's ride is THE main event. The heel is wide, stable, soft, and bouncy. It's then perfectly complemented by the "touch firmer" forefoot that allows a snappy toe-off, making it fun and enjoyable. 

Beat-up feet no more

With the added stack, multiple reviewers say there's a "good amount of protection from the pavement." There are NO reports of strained feet and legs. 

Just the right fit

The toe box is quite roomy and unstructured; foot swelling is welcome and the natural splay of the toes is encouraged. 

The upper update is a bummer for quick-paced runs

"Relaxed fit," "poor upper," and "more comfort-oriented"—this is how hordes of experts find the New Balance Fresh Foam 880 v12. According to them, it feels good at easy paces, but when the pace starts to pick up, they find their feet "swimming around." 

On the upside, broad-footed runners are happy with the more pliable wrap.  

Provides visibility for night runs

The 880 v12 has a reflective New Balance logo that runners find "handy" for low-light runs. 

A solid tank

The outsole has a "monstrous amount of rubber;" critics guarantee that it's going to outlive any other part of the shoe. Heck, they even say "you'll quit the outsole rubber before it quits you." After 50 miles of heavy wear testing, it still hasn't shown excessive signs of wear. 

Traction-wise, it translates to a very tacky grip on dry pavement. But when faced with snow and wet surfaces, it slips.

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 298g / Women 237g
Drop: 10mm
Arch support: Neutral
Forefoot height: 27mm
Heel height: 37mm
Collection: New Balance Fresh Foam, New Balance 880, New Balance Fuelcell

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Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.