The superstitious amongst you might want to skip a 13th edition of a shoe, would you be missing out?
New Balance 1080 v13 – How did we get here?
Alex: I‘ve never had any great experience with the 1080 in the past. That being said, I was looking forward to the 1080 v13 because of everything New Balance claimed they had done to make the shoe a truly competitive daily trainer. The first sensations when stepping into the shoes confirmed that this was something different compared to v11 and v1. This was good news as they definitely didn’t work for me.
In terms of specs New Balance has this shoe at 262 grams or 9.2 ounces for Men’s US9. In my size US 11 this shoe comes at 292 grams or 10.3 ounces. In terms of stack height in the heel this shoe comes at 38 millimetres with a six millimetres drop, making it 32 millimetres in the forefoot. I can already tell you in the introduction that this shoe is a real winner. The question is how does it compare to the likes of the Nimbus 25, Invincible 3 and others. We shall answer that in this review.
Weight in New Balance’s sample size: 262g (9.2oz)
Stack height: 38mm heel and 32mm forefoot for a 6mm drop
Plenty of upper which brings the heat
The upper of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 screams plushness. Everything about it is soft, well padded, and in certain areas even too padded. Looking at the upper material, it is an engineered mesh that is actually quite thick and not super breathable. For instance I ran with this shoe in Hawaii and I could definitely feel that my feet weren’t breathing as much as they should or as much as they could in other shoes. So definitely a shoe that will serve better purposes in winter and that may overheat the feet in summer.
The tongue is semi gusseted and again it is well padded, it removes any lace pressure. The laces are an average length. You have enough length to do a runners knot but this is definitely not needed given the lockdown that this shoe is providing.
The heel, again, is super well padded around the collar. The heel counter is very stout and rigid. I would call it an average width heel cup. Same for the midfoot and forefoot I would call them average width. Do note however that this shoe will come in wide and extra wide fittings, meaning E and EE. So if you have wide feet, this is an option that you can consider. The insole is nothing special. It’s foamy, quite flimsy and doesn’t provide any extra support. It does add a bit of comfort to the Fresh Foam X midsole but that’s pretty much it.
How does it fit?
In terms of fit, this shoe is true to size. There’s nothing to complain about the length of the shoe nor about the width of the shoe. I would however say that for being true to size, it is rather on the snug side of things. You may want to go half a size up if you’d like to have a bit more length in your shoe and maybe a bit more volume too.The plushness and amount of padding in the shoe leads to a feeling of compression on top of your feet. Not unpleasant. But if you want to benefit from a bit more volume, then I would recommend that extra half size.
I’ve worn quite a few NB models in the past few years and this is the most padded and comfy NB I’ve tried. As Alex mentioned, there is a lot of padding everywhere, from the heel to the tongue to the forefoot. You just need to put on the NB Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 to instantly understand that the main goal here was not to save weight but more to build a comfortable shoe. For the purpose of the shoe, and we will come to this later, I found the upper fits perfectly.
Laces work well for me and like Alex I didn’t need to tie a runner’s knot to ensure a good lockdown. Talking about the fit, for me it’s an honest TTS! I would not recommend going ½ down and increasing the width if you have very wide feet (going for the E or EE version). The standard width should nevertheless fit most people’s feet.
Finally, I 100% agree with Alex about the breathability of the upper. This would be perfect for autumn and winter but as soon as the temperature rises, I expect to experience some overheating as the upper material is really thick.
1080 v13 – The best midsole a 1080 has ever had!
In the midsole, you have a new foam compound called Fresh Foam X. This compound is much softer than Fresh Foam in the past. You can feel it when walking into the shoes and definitely also feel it when running in them. You have much more compression although this is still an EVA based compound meaning that the compression does not translate into direct decompression of the foam. You don’t have a ton of energy return. However, you do have some and more than in the past with traditional old fashioned Fresh Foam. That being said, this remains a limited amount of energy return.
The geometry of the midsole offers a heel bevel that is noticeable if you are heel striking and only a very limited rocker in the forefoot, which I would almost call non-existent. You have a bit of toe spring (meaning that your toes are a bit higher above the ground than the ball of your foot). But that’s about it. If you do a very simple rocker test with the shoe on the ground, you realise that it is actually quite flat and it doesn’t roll naturally from the forefoot back to the heel.
When it comes to the ride of the shoe, you have a very plush, very comfortable experience. Lots of cushion, lots of foot protection and leg protection. It reminds me of the Nike Invincible, the Nimbus or the Puma Magnify. You can feel that you are running on 38 millimetres of foam in the heel and that huge slab of Fresh Foam X is a great improvement compared to the previous iterations of the 1080. The shoe doesn’t have any limitations per se. It is a very pleasant ride at easy and recovery paces but you can take this shoe to endurance and tempo paces. You can definitely feel the lack of energy return and responsiveness at those faster paces but the shoe behaves quite well.
A stable ride?
When it comes to the stability of the shoe, I would call it a bit less than average in terms of stability. The softness of the Fresh Foam X is great for leg saving and cushioning purposes. However, it definitely is noticeable when it comes to medial compression. My pronation level isn’t very high but I can feel that my ankle is falling slightly inwards. Furthermore, I also have a lack of stability at toe-off on the lateral side around the ball of my foot. I tend to roll a bit outwards with the shoe. Nothing dramatic but I think it’s the first and only shoe I have experienced this with.
It’s interesting also to note that within the heel cup, which is very rigid and very stout, you have some sort of heel clip. While this isn’t visible, you can definitely feel it when touching the shoe. It plays the role of sidewalls and definitely helps to keep your ankle a bit straighter through the foot strike.
The midsole of the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 reflects the upper. To be honest, if I hadn’t known it was EVA, I wouldn’t have guessed because the midsole is so cushioned. You can feel it as soon as you put the shoe on and walk a few steps. It’s really plush and you can feel that this midsole saves your legs.
Does it also bring energy return?
The answer isn’t black or white. If you compare to supershoes, the SC Elite v3 in the case of NB, the answer will be no. But if you compare it to other soft shoes made for easy or recovery runs, like Hoka Bondi 8 or Nike Invincible 3, I would rather answer yes. For me at least it works from recovery pace to tempo pace really well. I will not use them for higher paces you could reach at uptempo or intervals but below that it’s perfect. I would even say that it’s the perfect blend of cushioning and energy return. The only small drawback, already mentioned by Alex, is the stability where some improvements can be made. But don’t get me wrong, I would not call this shoe unstable. It could just be more stable.
Coming to the outsole, I never experienced situations where I was wanting for grip. To be honest, I also mainly run on concrete and some pavement so I haven’t tested the grip really hard. Nevertheless, I can assure you that the grip is way better than the last version of the NB Fuelcell Rebel v3.
Talking about durability, as this is in my opinion the biggest issue with the FuelCell line up of NB, with a bit more than 40km I didn’t notice premature wear as Alex saw. Do note however that I’m a lighter runner and ran half the distance Alex put in his 1080 v13. The good point is that I will use them a lot in the coming months (sorry I spoiled the conclusion) and will be able to update you on this point.
Conclusion – Have New Balance cracked the daily trainer?
How does it compare to other shoes? I would pick this over the New Balance Fresh Foam More v4 simply because of the softness of the new Fresh Foam X compound. I would take this over the Nike Invincible 3 because of the much better fit. I would probably also pick this above the Nimbus 25 because of how versatile the New Balance is in comparison. The comfort is better on the Nimbus 25, however the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 feels better at a wider range of paces.
The only drawback that I can see is the durability of the shoe. When writing this review, I have a bit more than 80 kilometres on my pair. I must admit that the durability issue I have with the upper is mostly due to me playing a game of tennis with the shoe and it probably rubbed against the ground which caused a bit of wear on the upper. But the midsole also shows some signs of compression and especially the exposed parts of the midsole on the outside of the shoe show some significant wear. That’s also the case for the outsole in the heel.
Priced out of the market?
How about the price point and value for money? If you live in the US at $165, this shoe is a fantastic price for everything that it will give you. If you’re in the EU for 190 euros, then I would question the price point a bit more and I would wait for this to be discounted before purchasing it.
The 13th edition of the 1080 is a big hit for me. It has the amount of softness I’m looking for while allowing me to run even with some speed (around 3’45-4’00min/km) without having the feeling of wasting energy unnecessarily. I would pick it over all the easy/daily trainers I’ve tested the last 12 months. This includes the Nike Invincible 3, Pegasus 40, the Hoka Bondi 8 and the Salomon Aero Glide.
But is the shoe the best value for money in this range of shoes? It depends where you live. If you are in the US, where the shoe costs $165, I would probably answer 100% (I use the word probably as I need to load more km to be sure the durability is worth the money). If you live in the EU, where the shoe costs €190, I would probably answer no…
And this is probably the saddest news about this shoe.