The premium neutral shoe category is one of the most popular. They have a little bit of support, so even over-pronators can find them comfortable. Heavier runners find the cushion doesn’t wear down as fast, and those with wider feet enjoy the extra room they often come with. And of course, they feel great from all the plushness they have. Let’s look at three just-released models from major brands.
The best of the bunch is the New Balance 1080v7. NB scored a big win by integrating their popular FreshFoam into the model last year, and they’ve refined the problems that shoe had. The biggest fix is increased flexibility. The midsole also feels a little softer (without being mushy) and the upper is less sloppy. Now, while the shoe may look wide, that’s just because the midsole flares out a lot, like a bell. Pronators may find this to help with stability. That said, the toebox is rather deep and did seem like it had a lot of give. The heel felt great, as well. This shoe should fit a wide variety of people, but those with a wider foot may find it a tad snug.
Next up is the Nike Vomero 12. This was a ground-up redesign, but it stays very true to the Vomero brand. Forefoot and heel Zoom Air units are encased in Lunar foam, which is encased in a firmer foam carrier. The shoe is basically in line with the past few years’ models, feeling only a tad firmer. The Vomero is a well-made shoe, but doesn’t particularly stand out. If you’re looking for a “starting point”, this is a solid option.
The Nimbus 19 feels like a shoe by committee. The knit upper is stylish, so that was included. Flytefoam is their hot, new technology, so that was included. Someone maybe likes super plush tongues, so that was included. Whereas the other shoes in this review (and even Asics’ other models) feel like cohesive systems, the latest iteration of the Japanese company’s premium neutral shoe feels cobbled together. This is a rare miss from Asics.
Although I am an ardent fan of Nike, I really think New Balance showed them up in this category, this year. Meanwhile, Asics becomes an also-ran.