New Balance 860v12 Review

Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken the New Balance 860v12 out for review, along with Northern Runner Newcastle staff that require some support. The New Balance 860v12 is the latest everyday training shoe for those who require a bit of overpronation support. When your foot hits the floor, your arch compresses to absorb the shock. It should then reshape, and you push off from the end of your big toe. In some cases, the arch doesn’t reshape fast enough. In this instance the runner pushes off from the inside of the foot aka pronates. This overstretches the muscles and connective tissues in the ankle, up the shin, knee, thigh and hip. As running on a hard and flat surface is quite repetitive, your feet will do the same movement with each foot strike and this can lead to some aches and pains. Symptoms associated with over pronation issues are blisters on the inside of your feet, aches in the ankles, shins, patella tendon (which attaches your kneecap to the front of your shin) or the outside of the thigh. As the problems are caused by repetition, some runners have no issues until they go over a certain distance or increase the frequency of their runs.

Over time you can increase the strength of your feet and legs so that the arch does reshape quick enough and your knee doesn’t roll inwards. However, this can take time and not every runner is dedicated enough to do the exercises and/or they have running goals that they strive for now. There are running shoes on the market that reduce how much your foot rolls inwards, so you push off from the end of your big toe and avoid these issues. The New Balance 860v12 is one of those supportive road running shoes.

Now in its 12th version, the 860v12 offers mild support and a good level of cushioning. It is designed for everyday training runs. The midsole is made of New Balance’s FreshFoam X. The bubbles in the foam are larger at the heel to give a soft landing. They get smaller as you move up the midsole. This means that they compress less and give more propulsion. The medial side of the 860 midsole is made a little firmer. This is to reduce how much the arch compresses and your foot rolls inwards guiding you to push off from under your big toe. The stability has quite a subtle feel, so you don’t feel like the shoe is controlling your gait and you aren’t aware of the firmer midsole on the medial side. The cushioning feels firmer compared to a lot of everyday trainers currently on the market, as the trend is towards very soft midsoles. The firmness adds to the stability of the shoes and gives a nice smooth ride from landing to toe off and the 860v12 is certainly not a firm, responsive racer.

A shoe designed for everyday training is constructed with durability in mind, so it’s no surprise that the New Balance 860 v12 isn’t as light as some of their racing shoes. A men’s UK8 weights 324g. The outsole rubber is quite a thick blown rubber. This offers a nice soft feel, good grip in the wet and is durable. The heel to forefoot drop is 10mm.

The upper is designed to hold the foot onto the midsole of the shoe, which is where most of the support comes from and is made from a soft engineered mesh. The heel has an external heel cup so the heel is held firmly by the shoe. The upper then pulls in over the midfoot before widening into the forefoot so there is room for your feet to spread out. With half sizes and a standard, wide and extra wide New Balance 860v12 available in both men’s and women’s you can get a great fit. The advised fit for running shoes is to have a thumb width of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoes. This is when you are standing up in the shoes with them laced. Width wise there should be no bulging at the sides and your toes should be free to spread. A shoe that offers some stability needs to have a good fitting heel and midfoot, so the foot doesn’t turn inside the shoe. This is exactly what the New Balance 860 offers.

In Summary

Whilst I am a fan of the lower drop brands like Altra and Topo Athletic, I found the New Balance 860v12 a comfortable shoe to run in. The ride is smooth and very importantly for me, not too ‘squishy’. Very soft cushioning can feel energy-sapping. The slight firmness of the cushioning adds to the stability for overpronation and makes the shoes feel very stable to run in. The 860v12 is a comfortable, supportive road running shoe that would be great for newer runners who don’t want to fall prey to the trend of pillow-like running shoes and over the years more experienced runners have relied on the 860v12 for many training miles! The New Balance 860 remains an incredibly popular shoe and I can understand why.

Other Considerations

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22: The 22 version of the GTS has a softer midsole than the previous incarnation. Which makes them a bit softer than the 860. For that reason, the ride doesn’t feel quite a stable. The toe box is more pointed and therefore not as roomy. The GTS comes in 3 width Men’s and 2 widths Ladies:

Hoka Arahi 6: Hoka’s have a much softer feel to the cushioning. So, you don’t sink into the cushioning and make no forward progress the rocker in the shoe rolls your foot back. This helps maintain a quick cadence and good up right posture:

Karhu Ortix: These have a fulcrum in the mid sole that reduces bounce and increases forward momentum. The midsole is durable, and they have a very comfortable feel. They are available in 2 widths:

Saucony Guide: These have a more responsive feel to the cushioning and are more of an all rounder than the shoes above. In that they will feel fine while running quickly. They aren’t a racer but, the shoes feel light on your feet and the midsole is quite responsive. Here is our review:

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