First impressions: New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 4

Just before I traveled to Australia I received two pairs of shoes that I would test while I was in Australia. One of them was the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 4.

Last year was my first introduction to the Fresh Foam sole in the 1080 v7. I loved the shoe and actually ended up using it too much. As I have said previously, changing shoes is no joke, and I decided to be more cautious when trying out a shoe from the Zante line for the first time.
I used this shoe on and off during the entire time I was in Australia, and also in the time after to be sure that I knew exactly what I felt about it. These shoes have not only been used for running, but also hiking and walking in the cities.

The fit

This is a very comfortable shoe to wear. It has become my go-to shoe not only for running but also when I just want something comfortable to walk around in. 
The upper is very different from what I have tried earlier, especially compared to stability shoes I have tested. The new Hyposkin fit snugly around the midfoot and makes for a secure and good fit, while the mesh material around the forefoot feels lightweight and nonintrusive. The added support in the mesh is not very noticeable. 
The padding around the heel is minimal compared to other shoes I have tested, but because the heel cap is noticeably thinner it doesn't take away any comfort when running.

Overall, this shoe fit very nicely on the foot and the sensation of free-moving feet combined with a secure fit feels very good!

Hiking to the Pinnacle Point in The Grumpians National Park

The stability

First of all, I would start off by saying that this is not a stable shoe. It is not meant to be either, but the lack of support in the upper mesh, the thinner heal cap and the softness of the Hyposkin makes this a shoe mostly for neutral runners. I am close to not being able to use it myself but have spent the last twelve months actively training stability in order to start using this category of shoes in the future.
As a fast interval shoe or maybe a race shoe this instability doesn't matter that much, the most important thing if you need stability, is to use this shoe for the really fast runs and let other more stable shoes handle the heavy workload. That way you'll have benefit from the lightness and responsiveness of the shoe, with a smaller chance of injury.

Overall, the stability isn't really there, so if you are looking for a stable and lightweight shoe there are better options out there. The new New Balance 890v5 has both a firmer sole and more stability features. If you are looking for a soft and less intrusive shoe, this is surely a good shoe to try out.

The feel

The Zante is a very comfortable to wear. The soft and unsupportive upper mesh combined with the Hyposkin makes for a shoe that feels like the cozy slippers you wear when you're home. It's also very light, and it is very easy to notice how lovely it is to run fast in.
Most of my runs with this shoe has been the faster and shorter runs, and I believe that this is the best use for this shoe as well. You shouldn't be put off by that though, as the feeling of this shoe has given me a new perspective of what a fast shoe should feel like. I would much rather have a shoe like this in my arsenal for intervals and races, than too many of the long distance trainers. 
Despite having used the same type of foam as the 1080 v8, the shoe feels a lot more responsive and a lot faster. The Fresh Foam in a thinner sole is also a little bit reminiscent of the Altra Escalante EGO sole, which is very flexible. This results in a good freedom of movement for every stride and it makes me feel like I'm flying.

6mm heel drop is the standard for many of the faster shoes from New Balance, but compared to the 1080, which is 8mm, I can't say that I notice the difference too much.

The grip of the shoe suits for running on dry gravel and asphalt. It doesn't have a deep pattern on the bottom sole, and looks to be more designed to get the most amount of surface contact for every stride. Running on wet or slippery surfaces could be a challenge.

mzantbk4_nb_06_i.jpeg

Overall

Overall this shoe should be used for faster, shorter runs as well as races. I will not use this as a long distance trainer, and would encourage people to add a bit more cushioning and stability if a longer run is planned.
The lack of stability features also excludes this shoe from being used when I run or walk in rougher terrain. My ankle will not be able to control the amount of looseness in the shoe in those circumstances, and I will thus not try to play with fate.

If you are looking for a nice and comfortable shoe for walking in cities these should do the trick superbly, as it would handle the abnormal amount of walking done during these types of vacation perfectly.

I am very happy that I tested this shoe, and I will be using it regularly in the months to come!

Do you have any questions to me about this shoe or any other? Comment on this post or write to me on Instagram