When the Fresh Foam debuted several years ago, New Balance had a whole marketing pitch “The Science of Soft”. The Fresh Foam 980 ended up being anything but, to the disappointment of many. Luckily, the next year got it right, if limiting it to lighter shoes. Now NB has brought that softness to its most plush shoe, the 1080.
As opposed to the single-piece outsole of other Fresh Foam models (at least the neutral ones), the 1080 has deep flex grooves in the forefoot to offset the amount of material in the midsole (which would be difficult to bend due to its thickness). This actually works pretty well and the heel-to-toe transition is smooth. I did feel like the actual softness didn’t live up to my expectations, but that could’ve been my personal prejudices.
The upper is fantastic for anyone looking for a high volume shoe. It’s breathable, has a lot of space, but not too too wide. The ankle collar is plush and works for both large and small legs. For me, this wasn’t a great running shoe, but I did feel like I could wear it for hours with no problem (if only I’d had a day in Disney with it, right?). If you like the Brooks Glycerin, but find it a little narrow, this might work for you.
New Balance is currently in the midst of a renaissance. The Vazee and Fresh Foam lines have featured great, competitive shoes at a company once known for “old people stuff”. That said, the 1080 is not the revolution it’s fore bearers were. THAT said, it’s still a quality shoe. A heavier runner will probably get a little more out of it than I did.
Verdict: Pretty Good