I have run in several New Balance shoes prior which included the Fresh Foam midsole and I was interested how the debut of the all-terrain Fresh Foam Gobi would perform on the road and trails.
With the prices of shoes continuing to skyrocket, I noticed the low price point of the shoe and was curious on its durability, performance and traction.
How many quality road or trail shoes have a price tag under $100? It seems like not many, however, I am pleased to say that after running in the first edition of the Gobi that the shoe met, if not exceeded, my expectations for what I was expecting from this new all-terrain shoe.
The Gobi provided a comfortable ride on the roads where I could feel the smooth Fresh Foam cushioning and performed at its best on light to moderate trails due to the design of the simple, shallow lug design on the outsole.
New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi General Info
The New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi debuts as an all-terrain shoe capable of running on a variety of terrain – both roads and trails – in comfort.
The shoe delivers a smooth ride as you transition from the road to trail due to the Fresh Foam midsole and smooth outsole which has a unique pattern allowing it to handle the demands of a variety of terrain from hard pavement to light and moderate trails.
The Gobi is lightweight and the minute I put the shoe on I could feel the cushioning via the Fresh Foam midsole similar to that in others models like Fresh Foam Zante and Fresh Foam 1080.
The Fantom Fit mesh upper provided a secure fit around the midfoot and kept my heel in place. The lacing was simple and weaves through the tongue which keeps everything in place and provides added comfort and security for the foot.
The Gobi comes with AT Tread outsole design which includes a smooth and more flat lug pattern compared to true “trail” shoes which often have a deeper, more aggressive lug pattern.
This outsole delivers a smooth transition whether I was running quick, was out for a long training session on the roads, or went off-road on trails where it provided reliable traction.
The Gobi delivers everything you want in an all-terrain shoe – light-weight, secure fit, comfortable ride, durability and dependable grip – while performing well in a variety of conditions and on changing terrain; however this is not a shoe that is meant for hard core, technical trails.
New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Sole Unit
The sole unit of the New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi is designed similar to that of the Fresh Foam Zante 2 which allows for the shoe to be lightweight yet versatile for handling the roads and trails.
The Gobi combines a soft, responsive midsole with that of a durable outsole allowing the shoe to handle both the road and trails in comfort.
The midsole is the same lightweight Fresh Foam midsole found in the Zante, and many other New Balance models, which provided a smooth and cushioned ride.
This thinner, single layer midsole allows the Gobi to offer better feel underfoot while on the trails than some of your more “hard core” trail shoes.
The outsole is constructed of a one-piece AT TREAD rubber compound and is designed with more flattened lugs. This outsole pattern offers adequate grip and a smooth transition. There is enough spacing between lugs where smaller rocks or pebbles did get stuck a few times, but it was not a major issue.
I noticed more lugs placed in the heel which provided for more cushioning, and also more in the forefoot which felt like it added grip during my entire foot strike and toe off.
The Gobi does not include a standard “rock plate” which is one reason this shoe performs at its best on light to moderate trails and one of the reasons the shoe is not intended to be taken on rugged and extreme trails.
For those runners who enjoy New Balance and want more of a pure trail shoe which offers increase rock protection and more traction off-road, the Vazee Summit Trail is the shoe for you.
It provides more rock protection and deeper lugs from heel to toe for the added grip in more rugged terrain. The cushioning and traction was great as I transitioned from road to trail and vice versa.
I put on nearly 100 miles on the shoe during this test and the sole has been durable (very little wear), comfortable and very responsive.
The shoe performed well on wet or dry roads along with light to moderate trails where I need some extra traction.
I expect that if more of my miles are on the road that trails, the more quickly the lugs may wear which is true with any shoe in this category. Time will tell as I log more miles.
New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Upper Info
The upper of the Fresh Foam Gobi offer comfortable yet supportive fit. The Fantom Fit mesh allows the shoe more of a lightweight feel.
The mesh if a more “open” and breathable than some pure trails shoes but adequate for an all-terrain shoe while running on the roads.
The Gobi comes with a no-sew sockliner for added comfort. The heel counter is subtle yet locks the foot in place and I never felt any slipping during ground contact during any of my training runs on roads or trails.
The shoe does provide a Toe Protect™ which is a thicker piece of material that wraps around the forefoot to add more protection when going off road. I didn’t find this to add weight and if anything provided for extra support while also providing extra protection when needed during trails runs.
The mesh Fantom Fit material along with the seamless design to the upper delivered a comfortable and lightweight, snug fit. I was pleased with how responsive and supportive my foot felt throughout the entire ground contract.
New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi Conclusions
The New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi is perfect for those runners looking for an entry level shoe that can handle the demands of road training or heading off for adventures on light and moderate trails.
The bonus of the great price point makes this shoe attractive for those looking to take the “plunge” into trail running while still being a great shoe for training on the roads.
It met all my expectations of providing reliable cushioning and secure fit via the upper along with a responsive feel from during ground contact thanks to a well designed midsole and outsole.
As I noted, I have put on about 100 miles and I hope to get many more. The shoe has delivered plenty of cushioning that I was expecting from the Fresh Foam midsole while still providing adequate support and control.
The combination of the Fantom Fit upper and the AT Tread outsole design allowed the Gobi to perform well on both the roads and trails.
Overall, this is a solid shoe which performs well on the roads but it excels on more light to more moderate “compacted” trails and paths. If you are looking to try out trail running, I would recommend giving the Fresh Foam Gobi a try and put it into your weekly rotation.
If you are a runner who enjoys the New Balance Fresh Foam lineup and are looking for more of a pure running shoe, I would go with the Fresh Foam Zante 2 and for those wanting a pure trail shoe check out the Fresh Foam Summit Trail.
We thank the nice people at New Balance for sending us a pair of Fresh Foam Gobi to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.