The Fresh Foam Gobi v3 is a $99.99 lightweight, flexible, crossover trail running shoe that features a HydroHension rubber outersole that gives you a sense of traction on road and trails.
It also has the bootie (socklike) upper that doesn’t allow debris from getting into the shoe and you can go sans socks with this shoe.
It also provides moderate cushioning with the one-piece Fresh Foam midsole. An added bonus was the Toe Protect, a rubber compound which protected your toes and forefoot from the rocks and roots. This neutral shoe weighs in at 7.7 oz with a 6mm drop.
I like the causal look, and how lightweight the shoe feels. I was excited to try these shoes out on the trail because they do not look like a traditional trail shoe. They are pretty sleek and flexible.
I slid them on like a compression sock the first time I put them on, but it does get better after the initial lace up. The right shoe did feel a little tighter and I could feel as if my outersole was not sitting right in the shoe. Made some adjustments and was on my way.
Unfortunately, I only made it out a couple of miles because of the discomfort I was feeling along the outer part of my right foot. I wasn’t going to give up just yet. The way the shoe is made I could tell that they would stretch out a bit.
So I decided that I would run 2 miles on various terrain to see how the shoe handled technical, rocky, dirt, paved, and concrete trails. I would not take these shoes on technical terrain, especially if you are injury prone.
By the 4th and 5th run, the shoes did stretch out but of course the midsole and outersole does not, so I would still feel the discomfort under the right side of my foot. I also felt my foot sliding a bit the more when I ran trail vs road. I ran a few more short runs which happened to be in rain with lots of puddles and this shoe does not take water well. My socks were drenched and my feet looked like prunes after.
My final run in the FF Gobi v3 was a long run on non-technical dirt trail. I was surprised that I didn’t feel any of the pain and/or discomforts I felt on the shorter run but it also was very cold and I really couldn’t feel anything. It was a different story after the run, the pain was definitely worse once I warmed up. So as soon as I got home I submerged my lower leg into an ice bucket for 15 minutes, so painful. I did it 2 more times that day and continued for the next few days. Thankfully that did the trick along with other things to help reduce chance of injury.
One thing that this shoe did provide was the Toe Protect which acted as a barrier to the terrain for your toes and forefoot. It is a rubber compound that is tough and when you kicked a rock or root you wouldn’t feel it on your toes.
From my experience I am not too sure that these shoes would handle going long on technical terrain. The mesh upper and the bootie (sockline) did lose the fit from the first run to the last run. I believe that after taking them through water made the shoe even less durable.
Responsiveness & Speed
The responsiveness of the shoe on technical terrain was not up to par as other trail shoes I’ve run in. I never felt quite comfortable running over rocky and rooty terrain in these shoes.
My feet and ankles did not feel stable going over such terrain, so I was a little on edge during those runs. Once I got them on a non-technical dirt trail I could go without thinking of losing balance or twisting an ankle because there was no lateral movement.
The bootie that was supposed to keep debris out did not live up to their standards. I would need to pull off to the side to get a rock out and when taking the shoes off after the run I would pour dirt out of my shoes.
They were a different ride on asphalt and concrete. I could run with ease and speed. I still would experience the pain on the right side of my foot after about 2 miles.
Comfort and Fit
The first time wearing the shoes they felt tight and my foot was snug and secure. I did feel as if my right foot was not quite sitting on the midsole well, like if my 5th metatarsal was hanging off.
After several wears they did get looser which then caused my feet to slide from side to side when running on technical trail where there was more lateral movement vs straight on running ahead. I know that this shoe has a wider option but I have never had to wear a wider shoe and I was only experiencing the issue with my right foot.
I was initially excited to try out these new trail shoes from New Balance. They felt lightweight, flexible, and I like they way they looked. I went out for a shorter technical trail run and I had to stop at mile 2 because it felt like something was pushing up on my 5th metatarsal. I stopped and tried to adjust the booty or see if something was in my shoe and didn’t find anything. The next several runs were a very similar experience on various terrain but I didn’t experience pain or discomfort after the runs only during.
I broke them in over a months time and was finally able to knock out some big miles but this time no pain or discomfort during but after there was some major discomfort. I did notice on the last long run on trail that my right foot was sliding more than normal and when I would ride over the rocks my ankle would get a little beating and more debris got into that side.
We purchased a pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Gobi v3 from running warehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.