Updated: November 11th, 2011
New Balance 880 Running Shoes Review
New Balance 880 Lateral View

New Balance 880 Lateral View

Full Name: New Balance 880
Category: Neutral
Weight: 10.9 oz (309 grams) (Men); 8.7 oz (232 grams) (Women)
Suggested Price: $100.00
Recommended For: Neutral runners looking for added support; runners looking for a supportive, basic shoe
  • New Balance 880 General Info:

A follow up to the popular 759, the 880s will feel familiar to any fan of its predecessor. After making extensive changes when developing the 759, New Balance was conservative with this update, making minimal changes to the overall fit and feel of the 759, and shaving a little weight off of the overall design. While the 880 doesn’t have the long list of brand-specific technology that comes along with so many trainers on the market, they are solid, versatile shoes that are comfortable even in rough conditions. For runners looking for a dependable, no-frills trainer for everyday use, the 880 could make for a great match. Ultimately, the 880 makes for a great all-around shoe for runners that prefer a stiffer shoe with a little extra support than a typical neutral trainer.

  • New Balance 880 Impressions:

Not having worn a pair of New Balance running shoes since my high school gym days, I was excited to see what had changed in the past few years with my old favorites. Immediately after lacing them up, I remembered why I loved them so much at sixteen–the snug but unrestrictive fit felt natural from the start. Hitting the road in them for the first time was definitely an adjustment period, however, as the 880s feature a stiffer sole unit than my everyday trainers. Feeling clunky on the roads for the first few miles, I decided to see how they would feel on a softer surface, moving over to the dirt path along my favorite loop. Off of the pavement, the stiffness in the sole turned out to provide much-needed stability to my weak ankles as I passed over gravel and loose dirt meant to smooth the path.

New Balance 880

New Balance 880

After a few jaunts along some of the dirt and gravel paths in my local parks, I decided to give them another go on pavement. With more experience with the ride and feel, I felt more comfortable with the 880s on pavement, but still found the heel to toe transition to be a little to clunky for everyday training on the road. While the 880s probably won’t replace my everyday shoes, they definitely have a place in the rotation for days that I decide to take a break from the streets, or when my legs and feet feel like they could use a little extra cushioning on the pavement.

  • New Balance 880 Sole Unit:

New Balance 880 Outsole

New Balance 880 Outsole

The 880’s sole unit is built upon New Balance’s ACTEVA LITE midsole and the Stability Web core. These elements allow the shoe to be especially light, when considering the amount of support provided. The ACTEVA LITE is a lightweight blown rubber, and holds up well through the miles, providing great shock absorption. The Stability Web core, a plastic insert, provides the bulk of the support in the shoe, and is the most noticeable element of the sole unit.  While it does add to the support of the shoe, it also reduces the shoe’s flexibility, and keeps the 880s from allowing the smoothest ride possible.

The rubber outsole provides much more traction than expected, making it possible to run over all but the slickest conditions without worry of slipping. The 880s were great over slippery sidewalks, including the slippery marble sections of sidewalk in front of office buildings and museums. After putting in roughly thirty miles on streets, sidewalks, and trails, the outside showed no evidence of wear and tear–an excellent sign of their overall durability.

  • New Balance 880 Upper:

The upper unit is comprised of a synthetic mesh, which does an excellent job of managing moisture and dries quickly post-run when the weather takes a turn for the worst. New Balance was generous with adding extra cushioning in the tongue and around the collar, adding to the overall comfort and wearability. The collar contains a blend of a softer, dense foam against the foot for comfort and a firmer foam for added support beneath that layer, to provide the best of both worlds. The upper wraps the foot nicely, and is especially snug around the midfoot, providing an extra bit of support, which doesn’t go unnoticed on longer runs.

  • New Balance 880 Opinion:

Every runner has their own preferences about the stiffness or flexibility of their trainers, and both types of shoe have their advantages and disadvantages. The 880s are a great option for runners that prefer a stiffer shoe that offers a little more protection. They provide a soft landing, protecting the legs from the wear and tear of long runs, keeping legs feeling fresh throughout. For those that tend to opt for more flexibility, they can also be a great choice for days on light trails or dirt paths, especially for runners that find trail-specific shoes to be a little too heavy for non-technical trails.

The strong point of the 880 is definitely the fit and the upper unit. The upper wraps the foot securely, and provides plenty of soft cushioning all around. From the beginning, it is clear that the 880s are shoes that aren’t going to blister, even on hot, humid, or rainy days. The construction of the upper manages moisture well, and keeps everything dry, cool, and comfortable on a hot day. Even after a run in the rain, the 880s dried out quickly, and were ready to go the next morning with no evidence of the soggy run from the day before. Rounding out the overall solid fit is the base, which supports the arch nicely, adding to the overall sense of security and comfort. Overall, the 880s are a great option for beginning to advanced runners that prefer a little more support and protection from the road.

Review by Courtney Roy

We thank the great people at New Balance for sending us the Cortana for review. This didn’t influence the review of the shoe, written after running more than 30 miles in it.

Let us know what you think of this shoe in the comments!

  • New Balance 880 Price Comparison:

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