Before leaving for Australia I got two pairs of shoes to review, the first one was the New Balance Zante v4, and the second was the New Balance 1080 v8.
Last years entry into the 1080 line (v7) was one of the best shoes I tried in 2017. Not only did it give a softer ride than I was used to, but it also still had some responsiveness to it. So how well would the new version do compared to the old one?
This is one of the best fitting shoes I have ever had on my feet! The New Balance 1080 v8 should be considered a wider shoe for those who need a little bit more room in the toe box. The wider front does not feel overly spacious though, because of the lower height of the upper mesh securing a tight fit on top of the toes. This results in a fit where the sole follow your toes as they move both up and down.
The shoe still fits tight around the midfoot, preventing any sideways sliding and pushing the foot back into one of the best heels I have tried on a shoe. The heel has no padding in the bottom and a small foam padding on the top collar, resulting in a very good and secure fit that doesn't feel as soft and unresponsive as the Saucony Triumph ISO 4!
Overall, this shoe just fits very well on the foot and is at the moment my favorite shoe to wear to work. I have also recently noticed, that compared to the very soft Saucony Triumph ISO 4, this shoe doesn't tire out my feet as much during a workday. Which makes switching shoes during the day less necessary.
This shoe falls into the category of a semi-stable neutral running shoe. It has some new stability features carved into the outside Fresh Foam but does not perform as well as the 880 v8 - stability wise - when comparing the two shoes at work. This has mostly to do with the firmness of the 880s sole and upper, while the fresh foam is more flexible. It still handles very well and better than the very soft Saucony Triumph ISO 4, which is the direct competition to this shoe.
Overall, it's a mid tear stable shoe that can compensate when you are tired on the long runs but should not be used too much by people with severe overpronation without a lot of caution. If you are looking for a neutral stability shoe for overpronators, then a New Balance 880 v7-v8 would be a better option and if you are just looking for a stable shoe for overpronators then the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v2 or the New Balance 860 v8 would be better. Where this shoe really excels is in the neutral long distance category, where it offers a little bit of stability and a lot of cushioning.
I'll say it again. This is probably the most comfortable shoe I have had on my foot. The sole is neither too soft or too firm for both walking and running comfortably.
Compared to the Zante v4, this shoe is heavy and unresponsive. This is to be expected since the 1080 v8 is clearly a more cushioned and stable shoe. Switching back and forth between these two shoes in Australia gave a great comparison of which shoe is more fun to run with, and in this case, it is clearly the Zante v4.
For those long and slower runs though, this shoe excels and delivers a soft and cushioned ride that rivals (and maybe surpasses) the best that others have to offer.
One of the main differences between the 1080 v7 and v8 is the laser engraved outer heel. This feature is supposed to make the landing softer, especially for those who mainly land on the outside of the foot. Knowing whether this works as advertised or not is hard, but I am quite sure that the v8 has a softer and less responsive run compared to the v7.
Other reviews I have seen online have categorized this shoe as stiff and firm in the sole, and I completely disagree. These reviews have probably been written after very little actual running, as the shoe gets noticeably softer and more flexible around the 40k mark. Once the sole softens, the shoe fits perfectly into the category of a long distance cruiser.
The grip of the 1080 v8 is very similar to the grip of the Zante v4, which delivers close to no traction on wet and muddy surfaces. Dry surfaces are on the other hand not a problem, but I wouldn't use this shoe too much on trails in the forest if there is a chance of rain.
The overall fit of the shoe is superb, especially for those in a need of a wider forefoot. But don't be scared off if you have a narrower foot, as the shoe fits very well around the midfoot and heel. Regardless of your foot size, I would always suggest that you try the shoe at a store just to be sure that it fits your foot.
This shoe should be used for those slow, long distance runs or for recovery runs. The amount of cushioning makes this a perfect shoe to use when training for a marathon, as well as when you really need to be sure that your joints and back won't get too much of an impact.
Rougher terrain can be a challenge with the 1080 v8, especially if it's wet and muddy, but if it's dry the shoe should perform at an okay level.
This is my go-to shoe, and I will be using it regularly until version 9 gets released.
Do you have any questions about this shoe or any other? Comment on this post or write to me on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram!