NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM 860 v11 REVIEW
Brian Metzler | October 1, 2020
The New Balance Fresh Foam 860v11 is a reliable daily trainer with loads of cushy comfort and stabilizing support.
The 860 v11 is ideal for short runs, long runs and week after week of high-mileage training. It’s also versatile and secure enough to go through the grind at the gym, too.
New Balance updated this reliable training shoe with a softer midsole foam package to improve the comfort and ride. It also features a new upper to improve the fit and performance.
Those changes have given the 860v11 a lively new vibe and the fresh feel of a modern stability shoe.
The geometry of this shoe offers plenty of cushion and support while also playing a role in taking pressure off the Achilles.
The relatively high heel-toe offset (10mm) and heel stack height (31mm) is ideal for new runners. It also serves those interested in long, slow comfortable miles.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
Forget what you know about stability shoes. The New Balance 860 v11 is sporty, plush and smooth. First, it is available in three widths (narrow, medium and wide) so it’s very accommodating to all sizes of feet. Generally speaking it has a medium volume interior from heel to toe.
The step-in feel is soft and luxurious, combining a squishy top layer of its footbed, a padded tongue. It also introduces a flared Ultra Heel collar, which both wraps the foot and reduces tension on the Achilles.
The thin layer of Fresh Foam midsole cushioning sandwiched between the footed and a thicker layer of EVA foam helps soften the ride and add a tinge of springiness in every stride.
New Balance created the concave and convex dimple pattern of the Fresh Foam compound. This alters levels of compression and resistance under impact based on gait data recorded from thousands of runners.
The ride is smooth and consistent, though not overly energetic. The new two-layer midsole foam gives it a mildly springy feel. The energy return is minimal even though the comfort value is high.
WHO IT'S BEST FOR
Runners who appreciate soft cushioning and need a bit of support to offset mild to moderate over-pronation. The 860 v11 is a great workhorse training shoe that can be a great shoe for many types of runners.
It's suitable for new runners who don’t vary their pace much, taller or larger runners who want more cushioning and support.
The 860 also serves those who are known to pronate consistently or tend to endure form fatigue in final miles of a long run.
PROS: New Balance 860 v11
The key component of the 860v11 is the medial post that provides noticeably stability under the arch. You can definitely feel the extra support in every stride — especially if you’re a severe over-pronator — but the shoe provides a smooth transition from the heel to mid-foot to forefoot without the clunkiness of some stability shoes.
The uniquely shaped and styled engineered mesh upper is similar to that of the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10. And let’s be honest, the heel flare feature that keeps pressure off of the Achilles tendon makes it look a bit like an elf slipper. Our wear-testers loved the stretchy and supportive upper because it kept our feet comfortably and securely in place while running.
The 860v11 is a very durable shoe that will likely be able endure at least two seasons of training. Does that mean you’ll get 350 to 400 miles out of them? Yes, it’s quite possible, thanks to the durable nature of the midsole foam and the segments of blown rubber on the outsole.
CONS: New Balance 860 v11
The 860v11 is not a speed merchant by any means, so don’t expect it to be your go-to shoe for interval workouts or your next 5K race. However, it can suffice for moderately fast tempo runs in a pinch and your next half marathon or marathon, especially if you’re seeking extra support late in the race.
SHOP NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM 860 v11
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.
He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.
As an author, he has penned “Kicksology", “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”