New Balance 880 v8 Shoe Review
What Activity Were These Shoes Used For?
Running 2-3 days a week
Getting back into road running, and hopefully racing!
True To Size?
The New Balance 880 v8
Following in the line of the highly successful series of updates to New Balance’s bread-n-butter neutral cushioning shoe, the 880 is the safe-bet for all runners at all distances. The fifth version of the shoe featured a significantly updated upper and midsole design that was leaps and bounds better than the fourth iteration. The eighth version continues that trend with newer and improved materials only seen previously in premium runners.
As much as looks shouldn’t ultimately play a major part in coming to a footwear decision (let’s face it, it does) the new 880 has very clean smooth mesh upper finish. Gone are the days of ‘laminated’ uppers which, in theory, were meant to add structure to the shoe while decreasing its weight. The unfortunate side effect was blister points and an overall ‘cheap’ appearance of the shoe. With the advent of “engineered mesh” uppers, this problem is solved in a few ways: The mesh itself has a different structure through its thickness (soft and plush on the inside, tougher and stronger on the outside), all in a seamless transition. Not only does the shoe look cleaner, there is a significantly reduced chance of hot spots and blistering. Bunions anyone?
Insole & Outsole
Slipping into the shoe, the softness of the engineered mech is immediately noticeable. These shoes are comfy. Not everyone wears New Balance for one reason or another, but the immediate comfort is undeniable. One innovation that the fifth version introduced was an elastic base to the tongue where it attaches to the shoe. This feature noticeably improves the elastic fit near the ball, allowing the shoe to expand more easily at the bottom.
READ MORE: New Balance 890 v6 Shoe Review
Combined with the overall generous fit of this shoe, the tongue feature makes the 880 and ideal shoe for someone with a wider foot, prominent toe joints like bunions, or using a thicker custom or off-the-shelf insole. Even the semi-elastic ribbon laces improve the comfort by having a bite-free tongue that really feels seamless when lacing it up. The shoe did fit a little short, however, my usual 9.5 felt close to the end. I recommend sizing up half a size if you feel like you are between sizes.
The heel cup feels nice and deep, hugs the back of my foot nicely. Since I have a slimmer foot, I usually have issues with heel slippage. But because the heel of the 880 is so enveloping, I didn’t really notice much heel slip when I first took it for a spin.
New Balance’s TRUFUSE cushioning is resilient without feeling too hard. I prefer firmer shoes, flatter shoes and these feel very cushioned in comparison. As maximally cushioned shoes with oversized midsoles are becoming more common, the current trend across footwear brands seems to be ‘the more the better’. The 880’s midsole feels very protective and thick. But, the inherent resilience of the TRUFUSE prevents it from feeling too gooey like some other heavily cushioned neutral models.
The ride is very smooth from heel to toe. It has a slightly softer feel at the heel relative to the ball of the foot. There is a noticeable rocker effect to the ball as well. This made it easier to relax my toes and let the shoe do the work. The shoe does feel slightly heavy on the foot once you pick up the pace, so one may want to opt for a lighter shoe for faster workouts.
I was able to take the shoe out for a 10k right out of the box with only very minor hotspot issues, mostly due to the nature of my own feet. The more I ran in the shoe, the more I enjoyed the way the rocker effect really propels your forwards near the toe-off, and the whole shoe feels stable despite the significant amount of cushioning it offers. I’ve tried running in the shoe with and without corrective insoles, and the fit stays consistent despite the different support inside it.
The verdict? This would make a great recovery shoe. It would even make a great long-haul trainer for any runner, where protection and comfort are at the top of the priority list. The fit really lends itself more to higher-volume feet, such as wide or high arches, which can hard to accommodate for in most runners! Overall love the comfort of this shoe. The quality of construction of the 880 just seems to keep improving with every successive model.
Great cushioning and comfort right out of the box, but doesn’t feel sloppy or flimsy either.