New Balance Fresh Foam x 1080 v13: Tried and tested

Softer, bouncier and lighter than ever, the latest version of this much-loved classic lives up to expectation

new balance fresh foam 1080 v13

Weight: 262g (M)

Heel-to-toe drop: 6mm

Price: $260

The shoe

Let me start by saying that I’m a Fresh Foam 1080 superfan. I ran my first ever marathon in an earlier iteration (and my second and third for that matter) and have gone through more pairs than I care to admit. Comfortable and cushioned, I think it’s one of the best training shoes you can buy – so naturally I was curious (and a little nervous) to see what New Balance had done to the latest iteration. After all, let us not forget that heel collar on the v11, which was thankfully rectified in the v12.

But, I’m pleased to report, the 1080 v13 is a shoe that’s softer, bouncier and lighter than ever before, retaining the versatility that makes it a great all-round training shoe for so many.

How is the 1080 v13 different from the 1080 v12?

It’s always a risk when you update a popular shoe. Some brands opt for a ‘why change what ain’t broke?’ formula, only making a few minor tweaks; others go for a full-scale reinvention. The 1080 v13 sits somewhere in the middle – it’s certainly the biggest update we’ve seen for a number of years, but the shoe retains the qualities that make it so popular.

First up, the midsole sees an additional 4mm stack height in the heel and 6mm at the forefoot, bringing the total stack to 38mm/36mm and reducing the heel-to-toe drop from 8mm to 6mm. In an age where max-cushioned shoes appear to be king, this is a somewhat unsurprising move from New Balance. However, it means that the 1080 v13 is now the most cushioned shoe in the NB line-up, surpassing the Fresh Foam More v4 (which has a 34mm/30mm stack height).

new balance fresh foam 1080 v13

The midsole also contains the brand’s latest Fresh Foam X foam, which shaves 28g off the total weight. More foam has been applied to wider areas of the midsole, too.

Updates to the upper seem to be all about elevating comfort. There’s additional padding around the heel collar and on the gusseted tongue – adding to the v13’s all-round plusher feel – with the tongue wrapping nicely around the midfoot. The knitted mesh upper, which felt a little too stretchy on the v12, has been replaced with a more structured upper that holds the midfoot more securely in place.

How does the 1080 v13 fit?

I often find New Balance shoes run on the smaller size, so I usually go up a full size up from my standard shoe size. However, I opted for a size 8.5 in the 1080 v13 (I’m an 8 normally) and found they ran true to size, with plenty of room in the toe box. In fact, I braved a 32-kilometre long run for their first outing and returned with all toenails intact and no hot spots or blisters. The beauty of the 1080, though, is that it’s also available in narrow and wide fits if you need them.

The lockdown around the heel is good – not amazing, but, as we’ll come on to, this isn’t a shoe that you’re going to be hitting super fast paces in or taking out on the trails, so it doesn’t really need to be.

What’s it like to run in the 1080 v13?

Straight away, the 1080 v13 is noticeably softer, bouncier and lighter than the v12, thanks to the new Fresh Foam X midsole. Underfoot, it feels incredibly cushioned and protective, lending itself well to those longer, easy kilometres.

Despite the 1080 v13 being even more cushioned than the Fresh Foam More v4, it oddly feels more versatile. This comes from the updated rocker profile that New Balance has designed for the shoe, creating a smoother ride. The brand has also increased stiffness in the forefoot to help with toe off (rumour has it, it’ll be rolling this out on all future updates). The result is that easy runs feel even easier and more effortless.

Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I can’t help feeling that the days of its Fresh X More shoe are numbered, simply because it’s role as a daily trainer feels redundant up against something equally as cushioned yet more responsive.

Let’s be clear, though: the 1080 is by no means a performance shoe. There’s no real ‘pop’ or liveliness to it like you get with the On Cloudstratus 3, for example, despite the updated rocker profile. I’d compare it more to the likes of the plushy Asics Gel Nimbus 25 or Nike Invincible 3 – it’s a shoe that feels cushioned underfoot and doesn’t make you do a lot of work, but it’s not something you’d run your intervals in.

RW Verdict

Now on its 13th iteration, the Fresh Foam x 1080 remains a shoe that caters for most runners’ training needs, with some key updates (namely the rocker profile, forefoot stiffness and new midsole foam) turning what was already a great shoe into something even better. So, whether you’re looking for a recovery day shoe you can sink your feet into, a long run shoe that can eat up every kilometre, or even a shoe to run your first marathon in, this is a safe bet.

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