When opening the box, I was presented with one of the most completely satisfying visuals I’ve had since beginning running.
These shoes were just very eye catching right out of the box. My wife, friends and strangers all remarked on the good looks of the shoe, and the bright blue color.
When I first wore the shoes as an all day shoe, the cushioning was perfect for standing and walking all day without getting tired or sore. These shoes were off to a good start.
From here, however, I began to like the shoe less and less. Not because of the cushioning, or the way my feet felt while wearing them.
Not because of the way my gait worked as I ran in them. But because no matter how I wore them, how I laced them, or what surface I ran them on, they put a strain on my calves to the point of fearing injury.
New Balance 880v5 General Info
The New Balance 880 serves as a go to for thousands of runners looking for a cushioned, neutral, daily trainer.
It is built to handle many miles and take a beating, with New Balance labeling it as the “go to high mileage trainer” in their line.
This trainer takes the place of the 880v4, and shows a redesigned upper and a new foam cushioning system.
It also continues to have the T-BEAM technology — a plastic stability beam on the sole of the shoe. The manufacturing is top notch and all individual components of it are of the highest quality.
New Balance 880v5 Sole Info
The sole of the shoe has a fairly standard 12mm heel-toe drop and uses a two-part cushioning system called “ABZORB” and “ACTEVA” in the midsole.
These two foam systems are used to help absorb the shock of each stride. The blend of the foams does this job quite well.
When we get to the ground contact portion of the sole, New Balance continues to use the blown rubber sole and the T-BEAM technologies used in the v4.
There have been improvements made to the blown rubber — a reviewer pointed draw back to the v4: “Blown rubber is a softer type of rubber that is made by mixing in air with the rubber.
You sacrifice durability, but gain a more cushioned ride.” — as they have regained the durability of regular molded rubber and the cushioned ride of the blown rubber.
The T-BEAM is more solid than before and offers torsional stability to the midsole.
A very stable base, with a large cushioned crash pad leads towards a moderately aggressive toe upturn and transition into the next stride.
Throughout the ground contact time, the cushioning and stability lead towards a comfortable ride for your feet.
New Balance 880v5 Upper Info
The shoe fits slightly short — my size 13 shoe being less roomy than I am used to — and if you are a borderline size, you may want to purchase up a half size.
The upper has been redesigned to include more seamless overlays (FantomFit) so as to lock your midfoot into the shoe. Something that can be appreciated by most runners — although less so by those with wide feet.
The upper is made with a very breathable air mesh that also does a good job of wicking away moisture from the foot as you run.
The inner portion of the upper includes an OrthoLite sock liner that brings an added sense of comfort to your feet.
Maybe my favorite addition to the upper was the neoprene stretch tongue, giving you the ability to set the tongue of the shoe where you feel comfortable. The tongue is incredibly comfortable and never pushes into your foot.
Now, with all of that description said, I have had troubles with this year’s New Balance offering and having my heel slip during runs. This shoe was no different.
My heel slipped during most of my first few runs, and after I fully secured my feet into the upper, I still felt the pinch on my calves as though the heels of my feet were still slipping — although I couldn’t feel them slipping during the runs.
New Balance 880v5 Conclusions
This shoe has a place on the market, and I completely understand why it has a loyal and rabid following. The manufacturing is top notch, and I love that they are made in the USA.
However, after putting in the miles on these shoes that I have, I can’t say they will come anywhere near my regular rotation.
The sole is incredibly comfortable and responsive. The upper is soft, supportive and well made. Each individual piece of the shoe is great, and so put it together and you have a great shoe, right? Yet, for some reason, these shoes caused pain to my calves on every run.
Of those, I have run in the Ghosts and Cumulus and was an avid Pegasus runner for the past two years. Based off my experience with these different shoes, I would put the 880v5 at the bottom of the list of those four that I have worn.
With all this being said, I completely understand why this shoe has a following. It has great components, it is very well manufactured and feels great on your feet.
There will be plenty of people who do not share the issue of calf pain while wearing them, and if this is your go to shoe, then you should still give them a try.
However, if you are just looking for a new cushioned neutral trainer that will last long miles, I’d steer you more towards the new Brooks Ghost 8 before the others I’ve tried.
We thank the nice people at New Balance for sending us a pair of 880v5 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.