New Balance 880 Running Shoe Review
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One would think that New Balance would run out of room to upgrade. Eventually, they would just hit a peak and be done with it. Especially on a no frills, entry level neutral cushioned shoe. It seems that an overhaul of the shoe was completely unnecessary for this year’s release. After all, the 759 (it’s direct predecessor, and reviewed by none other than yours truly) was a great all around training shoe. It was great for gym workouts, any distance run you wanted to take it on (and I mean any distance), and even the occasional track workout. Trails weren’t really the 759’s forte, but hey – it’s a road running shoe.
Thankfully the people at New Balance never stop innovating. The 880 was a pleasure to test out, and felt just as great right out of the box as it did on mile 50 (or so). The 759 felt a bit snug in the toe box right away – strangely enough, the 880 didn’t appear to have this issue. It felt very comfortable right away, kind of like slipping into an old friend. An old friend that really, really wants to run long distance, that is.
Having tested quite a few shoes in the New Balance line up, I felt fairly comfortable hitting up a 10 mile run right away in these. I wasn’t disappointed – there was no blistering, no rubbing, and not even a hint of a need to break them in. I’ve always loved this about New Balance, and have heard this same feedback from several runners. The comfort factor largely stems from the thicker tongue (secured in place with a gusseted lace strap) and the sock-liner. It’s really a home run on both fronts, but I enjoy this specific type of snug, mid-foot wrapping fit. New Balance has always stated that the “N” logo adds to this fit – I don’t really think so. It’s pretty much just for looks, but I like the design anyway.
The upper is not really an upgrade from the prior model, but does show the same moisture wicking mesh as the 759. I was actually glad that they chose not to upgrade this, as it was one of my favorite attributes on the 759. It continues to keep your feet cool and dry on all but the steamiest runs. On a recent run inTexas, I had a few swampy issues with foot sweat, but in one hundred percent humidity, I’m not sure that any shoe wouldn’t. The nice thing about the mesh is that it’s backed by a very soft interior which holds it’s shape nicely throughout the life of the shoe. The pictures below were taken after several miles of rough road running inEcuador(pavement was considered a permanent fixture, without the need for any sort of maintenance), and the shoe held it’s shape nicely.
Last but not least, the outsole made of blown rubber provides great traction, and holds grip in most conditions. Slick metals (of the type found in very rickety pre-90’s bridges – don’t ask) give it a bit of a challenge, but once again, this is due more to the running surface than the shoe. The only problem I have (and had with the 759 as well) is the slightly less than graceful feel of the plastic stabilicore insert. It tends to prevent as smooth a roll through as would be possible on this shoe; other models such as the 890 (and the up and coming 1400 – more on that later) have a very smooth roll through from heel to toe. The stabilicore insert also tends to wear through the blown rubber after a few hundred miles – this isn’t a huge deal, but tends to detract from an otherwise well designed shoe.
The bottom line is that the 880 remains a great choice for all runners, entry-level or otherwise. Just because the shoe doesn’t pack a ton of flashy tech doesn’t mean that it doesn’t perform day in and day out. I found myself reaching for them on days when my workout hadn’t yet been decided – whether it was gym, road, or track, I knew I’d grabbed a solid choice. Try them out, you won’t be disappointed.
For more info on the 880 and other New Balance footwear, visit www.newbalance.com or www.amazon.com/newbalance.
The women’s model comes in at 8.6 oz (based on a size 7) and has been my go to trainer for the past few months. Right out of the box, the 880s were comfy and ready to tackle my 40-55 mile weeks. I was so pleased with the 880s that I wore them during my 7th marathon.
Entry-level neutral cushion is how some describe the NB 880s. Don’t be fooled by all of the shoes that cost $130 or more, you don’t always need to pay the high prices to get a great shoe. The 880 proves the point and costs $99/pair and their solid construction leads me to believe they will last the usual 300+ miles that I tend to put into each shoe.
I agree with Zach’s comments on the heel to toe transition, it is not as smooth as some of the other shoes out on the market, yet was not a deal breaker. I may also be getting used to running in my super flexible Minimus or RC 1400s (also by NB). The upper is breathable, yet not seamless like NBs 890 and RC 1400s. I didn’t tend to mind this and found that the seams did not rub or chafe after a few sweaty hours of pounding the pavement. The laces easily stay tied and NB continues to give you plenty of length in the laces to do a double tie. Overall, a great shoe and yet another step forward for NB.
Do you think I will be able to run an ultra of 56miles in them, or is the mileage a bit high?
Martin, since this is not a trail shoe, I assume your Ultra is a road run? While the NB 880 is an excellent training shoe, for that level of running, I would probably recommend the next level or two up to maximize the ride comfort and ease of heel-toe transition (assuming you are a heel-toe runner, as opposed to a ‘natural runner’) – the extra technology can really make a big difference in a concrete Ultra. As I’m sure you know, get a bunch of mileage in your shoes before racing in them, and bring a second pair of shoes (and socks) in your drop bag, just in case.
I recently replaced my New Balance 759s with a new pair of 880s and I couldn’t be happier. The 880s felt great out of the box and extremely comfortable throughout my first 20 miles. They provide a nice, stable platform and have the right balance between cushioning and support. (I tried the NB 890 but the sole isn’t as wide and didn’t seem as stable to me.)
The redesigned upper on the 880 seems to fit my mid-foot better and be more secure than the 759s and it feels like the 880s are a bit lighter as my pace has improved about 10 seconds per mile over the 759s. My only complaint is that it feels like the cushioning in the heel of the 880 is not as soft as the 759s as I’ve had some heel pain during my runs. I’ll see if this diminishes over time or not.
Overall, if you are looking for a comfortable, durable neutral trainer you can’t go wrong with the 880s.
hey thanks for the feedback, Robert. Good stuff for other readers.