New Balance 1080 v10: Too Soft?
- Price: $149 [Sold out; on sale on Amazon]
- Pros: Knit upper offers great balance, Accommodating fit
- Cons: Poor durability, Too soft
|Color||Grey and Black|
|Weight||295 grams / 10.3 oz (each)|
|Materials||Knit upper/Fresh Foam midsole/Rubber pad outsole|
New Balance is a company that is really trying to be all things to all men. Do you want a retro shoe? They got you covered. Basketball? I hear Steph and Kawhi are pretty good. Running shoe? They offer several, including their mainline running shoe: the New Balance 1080.
The New Balance 1080, in its current form, was designed to compete with the new wave of highly plush sneakers. Think the Adidas Boost or Nike React. Ones that Foamer Simpson would call “cozy boy certified.” However, instead of relying on entirely new types of cushioning, New Balance did what New Balance does and leaned heavily on existing products. Taking materials that have years of history, and trying to make them fit in a modern world.
Did it work out for them? We’ve worn this pair more than 100 times on everything from a treadmill, the trail, and city streets to find out.
When designing the New Balance 1080 v10, they definitely leaned heavily into the sporty look. The knit upper runs ¾ the length of the shoe, terminating at a black heel cap. The upper itself is actually fairly structured under that knit, with a larger toe box supporting the front, black threads woven in to support the middle, and thicker weaves in-between.
Near the middle of the shoe, the first thing you notice is the large and highly reflective “N.” It’s a bit thinner in design than classic New Balances, but nobody would confuse this shoe for anything else. Just above the N is a thin overlay with color-matching laces, and a mesh tongue.
At the very back, the black heel cap features a wavey pattern, which doubles as structure. They took a page from Adidas’ book here, with the heel cap tapering up and away from your ankle.
Inside, the shoe has a full-length insole, which has held up well. What has not, at least visually, is the straps holding the bootie-style tongue down. These stretched out almost immediately, and look pretty bad. Think old bacon. Thankfully, nobody will see them as you wear them.
Mid- and Outsole:
While the upper of the shoe held up really well, the midsole is a completely different story. On the recent New Balance 1080s, New Balance has opted to use a very complex pattering of ridges and circles to try and hide the creases. It did not work.
These midsoles started creasing like crazy after just the first few wears. Despite the name, if you’re the type of person who likes a fresh-looking midsole, fresh foam is not the material for you.
The problems with the midsole don’t stop there. This has got to be the least durable material that I’ve ever had in a shoe. They have had fairly large chunks be ripped out of the midsole with normal wear, and all around the edge there has been pretty ugly scraping. I understand that shoes do wear, but comparing these to some other shoes with a similar number of miles, the difference is pretty incredible.
The outsole, or at least the rubber pads on the outsole, have held up a little bit better. They definitely have more wear than any other shoe I’ve worn over a similar time frame, but at least they don’t have chunks missing.
If looks matter to you, the bottom half of this shoe might be a deal breaker.
While the upper of the shoe has held up as well as anything else, it probably leans a bit too much into the “sporty” side for a daily driver. The midsole was extremely disappointing. Even though New Balance clearly put a lot of time into trying to hide the issues with the midsole, visually they are shot after a much shorter period of time than most.
Fit & Comfort:
The New Balance 1080 v10 is extremely accommodating when it comes to fit. I bought these in a 12.5, but probably could have fit into a 13 as well. Further, not only is the upper fairly stretchy, they also come in multiple widths. Just about everyone should be able to find a pair that lines up extremely well with their foot.
As a starting point, I would suggest going a half size down from your normal New Balance 99X size/Nike size. They will stretch out slightly with wear if your foot doesn’t quite fit. For reference, I wear a size 13 in New Balance 992s, 13 in Ultraboosts, and 12.5 in Stan Smiths.
For a full list of sizing for every shoe we’ve reviewed, click here.
If we’re being honest, there are probably more people buying the New Balance 1080 for comfort than looks. It definitely has a lot of comfort out of the box, though it is different than Boost or React.
Before we get to the midsole, I think that New Balance’s knit upper might be my favorite. I’ve found that Flyknit is often not stretchy enough, and Primeknit is too stretchy. It doesn’t hold my foot as much as I would like. New Balance found a great middle ground here.
When it comes to the midsole, the difference is clear. Where most modern foams are focused on “energy return” and are extremely bouncy, the fresh foam in the New Balance 1080 is more like a pillow. You sink in… and stay in. It’s a much more relaxed feeling.
Unfortunately, I found that this is too soft. In fact, I actually injured myself by trying to run in these shoes because they were too soft. At least, according to my doctor.
On the plus side, the foam has held up better than I would have expected. With something so soft, but not springy, I expected these to completely bottom out fairly quickly. Especially with the number creases in the foam. While they have lost some of their ability to spring back to life, they could probably go another 100 wears before they really go flat.
Materials & Construction:
For the New Balance 1080, the brand decided to keep things fairly simple. The upper doesn’t have a special branded name, but is a typical polyester knit. It from a durability standpoint it has held up very well. The back heel counter is another plastic weave, with a plastic cup inside. Inside the shoe, an Ortholite insole runs the full length. No complaints on any of this.
Underneath, a big slab of fresh foam makes up the entire midsole. At its heart, Fresh Foam is essentially just EVA foam, the same stuff you find on every mid-level running shoe. What makes Fresh Foam different is that Fresh Foam is basically “cooked” twice. This helps it expand the cells even further and, combined with strategically cut voids, give a softer feel than typical EVA.
On the bottom, the shoe has a few strategically placed rubber pads, but much if it is just exposed foam.
The shoe is held together using cemented construction. This is by far the most common form of construction for a running shoe, and makes the most sense to use. In short, it just uses glue to connect the upper to the midsole.
There is not particularly groundbreaking about the materials and construction, but when it comes to running shoes that isn’t always a bad thing.
Ease of Care:
Taking care of these shoes is fairly easy. The knit uppers themselves can be spot washed using water, with a hint of soap if needed. The midsole itself hides dirt pretty well with the paint they use on it.
Really, all you’ll need to do is make sure you give time between wears for the midsole to expand as much as possible.
Pricing & Value:
Originally priced at $149, the New Balance 1080 v10 is no longer in production, being replaced by the 1080 v11 at the same price. Of course, because they have been replaced, you’re able to find the v10 version for a good bit less. I picked up this pair from Amazon for around $75 dollars. At time of writing there were still a number of sizes and colors in that same price range.
If you do decide to go for the v11 from New Balance directly, be sure to check Rakuten. It seems like at least 2 or 3 times a month they will have 10 or 15% off the entire site. If you’ve never made an account there before, this link will give you $10 off your first order of $25 or more.
From a value aspect, there are two ways to think about it. If you’re looking for something that provides an amazing wear-per-dollar ratio, these shoes are not just bad, but really bad. For someone who is a bit heavier than I am, or works on a rougher service like concrete, you might end up spending more than a dollar-per-wear. That’s worse than a Yeezy 350 v2.
Another way to look at it, however, is from a fit perspective. New Balance offers these in everything from a size 6 to a size 20, and in 4 different widths. That’s nearly 100 different size combinations! This level of specificity is typically reserved for higher end dress shoes. You’re almost certainly going to be able to find something that fits almost custom.
Value isn’t just done in amount per wear, and this sort of customization costs money. If you’ve always felt like sneaker fit wasn’t right for you, this shoe might be the one.
I am more than a little bit disappointed in the New Balance 1080. I always try to have a pair of shoes that is fairly cheap, comfortable, and easy to wear. For half a decade that has always been something with boost in it.
New Balance is a brand that I really respect, and trying something from them that was so highly regarded seemed like a no brainer.
Unfortunately, the New Balance 1080 v10 just isn’t designed to take any level of abuse. Even just running on the treadmill added noticeable wear to the shoe – and wear on my legs as well. My cozy boy certified spot is once again a boost shoe.