There are times when a company gets so good at what it does that it just has to branch out to accommodate burgeoning demand.
This definitely applies to New Balance.
The company has strong roots as a favorite among older adults, with its comfortable designs and no-frills sense of style appealing to the fitness walking and casual wear community.
However, with the distinctive “N” adorning countless pairs of feet at the track for early-morning power walks, it was only a matter of time before runners from diverse demographics got their interest piqued.
To meet this demand, New Balance has branched out to produce some high-performance running shoes that rival some of the most innovative names in the running community.
Today, we dig deep into the New Balance 880 vs 1080. Both are noted as being highly cushioned options. However, the 880 appeals to those runners looking for a comfortable, yet high-performance, everyday trainer, while the 1080 is more ideal for runners looking for a little extra shock absorption.
For all of the pros and cons of these two New Balance products, keep reading for a detailed comparison of the 880 vs 1080!
New Balance “80” Line
In many respects, the 880 and 1080 are more similar than different. This is indicated by the “80” at the end of the model number.
New Balance strategically numbers its product models to let runners know what features it can generally expect from the shoe.
According to New Balance customer support, the last two digits in a running shoe’s style number specify the type of shoe. For shoes ending in “80,” runners can expect a lightweight, neutral trainer with ample cushioning to handle high mileage.
So if that general description fits you, it’s hard to go wrong with either the 880 or 1080. However, the two shoes are not exactly the same, so keep reading for a more comprehensive breakdown of how they compare.
New Balance 880: What Are You Getting?
If you seek an everyday trainer, the New Balance 880 is a premier choice.
It has the perfect combination of cushioning and responsiveness to keep you going mile after mile.
In fact, it is often stylized as the “Fresh Foam” 880. Fresh Foam is New Balance’s proprietary cushioning technology. It is designed to provide optimal cushioning without sacrificing energy return. The latest iteration used in the 880 is Fresh Foam X, a dual-density compound that uses a softer landing experience in the heel but a firmer, more responsive experience in the forefoot.
In addition to the Fresh Foam midsole, the 880 features a breathable mesh upper that provides a comfortable, yet secure, fit.
According to New Balance’s Amazon store, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 is built to be your go-to, neutral cushioned running shoe. It is modernization in motion that can be felt by the user and admired by onlookers. It has a soft foam compound and dual-layer midsole setup, as well as a sleek, engineered mesh upper featuring strategic zones of support and breathability.
All in all, the term most commonly used to describe the 880 is “versatile,” as it is a great shoe for daily training, long runs, and even fast-paced workouts.
New Balance 1080: What Are You Getting?
Despite its similarities to the 880, the New Balance 1080 has some key points of distinction.
It is positioned more as the company’s upper echelon neutral running shoe designed for those who prioritize plush comfort on their runs.
While the 1080 also utilizes Fresh Foam X, it has a noticeably more generous portion than the 880, resulting in a thicker midsole stack.
While the upper unit does utilize a breathable mesh upper, it also incorporates Hypoknit technology and synthetic overlays to provide some additional support and security.
As described by New Balance on their Amazon store, the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 running shoe combines plush comfort and modern style. The Hypoknit upper is soft and breathable, yet supportive. The liberal allotment of Fresh Foam X in the midsole provides elite cushioning underfoot to help you log those easy miles without wear and tear on your joints.
At the end of the day, the 1080 does have many of the same versatility features of the 880 but is more ideal for runners seeking a comfortable ride and who want to reduce the risk of impact and overuse injuries.
New Balance 880 vs 1080: Design Comparison
Now that you know some general characteristics of the New Balance 880 and 1080, let’s dig deep into the engineering for each shoe.
The 880 has more of the standard engineer mesh upper common to modern everyday trainers.
It is lightweight with few overlays to yield the ideal amount of breathability and flexibility. With that said, it does employ a double layer knit fabrication to provide a feeling of support.
In addition, the 880 uses a padded tongue and heel collar for a little extra snugness up top.
As a high-comfort shoe, it is unsurprising that the 1080 has an upper designed for premier comfort.
It uses a bootie style design to establish security around the foot, with a molded heel counter for even more stability.
Although the 1080 does have a breathable mesh upper, it also incorporates a Hypoknit fabrication and some synthetic overlays, keeping the foot a bit more locked down than in the 880.
The 880 uses Fresh Foam X, which is the company’s most innovative midsole technology.
While softer than previous versions of Fresh Foam, its dual-density design incorporates firmer allotments of the foam in the forefoot to enhance responsiveness.
The 1080 also features Fresh Foam X, leveraging all of the same benefits of the 880 midsole. However, there is significantly more of it in the 1080. The 1080 features a heel stack of 36mm in the heel versus 27mm in the 880, making those impactful heel landings even more comfortable in the 1080.
Just as the Fresh Foam X provides a dual-density experience for midsole cushioning, the 880 uses a bit of a dual-density concept for outsole rubber as well.
The outsole heel features a carbon rubber compound meant to withstand wear and tear from heavy heel strikes. The outsole of the forefoot, on the other hand, uses a blown rubber compound to increase flexibility and responsiveness for improved speed on takeoffs.
The 1080 outsole is fabricated with optimal traction in mind. Its blown rubber surface area has various patterns and flex grooves that promotes traction on various surfaces and guarantees smooth transitions from heel to toe during strides.
New Balance 880 vs 1080: Feature Comparison
With a firm understanding of the engineering, let’s now take a look and see how the 880 and 1080 stack up along important performance features.
Both of these shoes provide solid durability.
They have sufficient amounts of outsole rubber to help the shoes withstand numerous miles on various types of terrain.
The only criticism is that some runners feel like the Fresh Foam X in the 880 starts to harden a bit after 100 miles. This makes them less cushioned to absorb heavy heel strikes as the shoes age. This breakdown is not as noticeable in the 1080, as the additional Fresh Foam X added throughout the midsole better masks any symptoms of wear.
Most users feel like both of these shoes run true to size.
However, some runners note that later iterations of the 1080 actually run a bit large, so it may not be advisable to size up .5 with the 1080, as is the usual recommendation for running shoes.
Both upper units provide a snug and comfortable fit, although the 1080 upper will be a bit more robust. The booty-style upper enhances feelings of security, and it uses a Hypoknit fabrication and additional synthetic overlays to keep the top of the foot locked down.
The spacing in the toe box of both shoes is sufficient to accommodate runners of all foot widths. This is fairly standard in neutral running shoes, which rely heavily on toe splaying to help keep the foot in the proper position through each stride.
The 1080 will be the more cushioned of the two shoes. It is designed specifically for runners who want maximum shock absorption to reduce injury risk when running on unforgiven surfaces. This results in a stack height 9mm greater than that of the 880.
While not necessarily a max-cushion shoe in the same way as the 1080, the 880 is still regarded as a high-cushion everyday trainer. It also uses Fresh Foam X midsole foam, with a dual-density concept that promotes soft heel landings but more responsive forefoot takeoffs. This helps runners retain comfort at a high pace, mile after mile.
Stability and Support
Although the “80” line by New Balance is specifically allotted to neutral running shoes (those that aren’t engineered with additional overpronation support), many runners actually feel like the 880 is solid in terms of stability. The roomy toe box and responsive forefoot foam help runners feel in control of their strides.
While not as stable as the 880, the 1080 is not as scary in this regard as it may appear on paper. Its ample heel stack and 10mm drop may make it seem like your foot will fall off a cliff as you round a corner, but the wide base and sturdy heel collar keep the foot locked in place rather well.
As a max-cushion shoe, it shouldn’t be surprising that the 1080 is the more expensive option of the two. That is pretty par for the course.
And when you factor in that New Balance claims the 1080 would be the one running shoe they would choose over any other, the price premium becomes even more apparent. It will generally run between $20 and $25 more per pair than the more modestly-stacked 880.
Although price varies across outlets, expect to start out around $130 for the 880 and $150 for the 1080.
What Runners Are Saying About the New Balance 880
It’s widely established that the 880 is New Balance’s premier offering in the realm of everyday trainers.
However, as is the case with every running shoe, not every user has an identical experience with a shoe. A company can engineer a shoe for a particular purpose, but it may not turn out that way in practice. Each person’s foot is different, and what serves as an advantage for one runner will serve as a point of annoyance for another.
Therefore, we took the time to compile some user feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of the 880.
- Great balance between cushioning and versatility
- Despite the comfort, runners don’t feel it is too mushy
- The firmer dual-density foam in the forefoot allows for explosive takeoffs
- Extremely lightweight and flexible
- Some runners feel like the midfoot lockdown is insufficient when upping the intensity
- The outsole is best suited for concrete, tracks, and pavement, making it less-than-ideal for cross country runs
What Runners Are Saying About the New Balance 1080
Similar to the 880, runners have some differing opinions about the 1080. It is widely regarded as the top max-cushion shoe in the New Balance lineup and arguably New Balance’s most innovative shoe to date.
With that said, here is what some specific reviews yield in terms of strengths and weaknesses of the 1080 in action.
- Very comfortable upper for the amount of security it provides
- One of the more aesthetically pleasing shoes in the New Balance lineup
- Better durability than similar max-cushion shoes
- Later iterations of the 1080 feel less responsive than earlier versions
- A little heavier than some runners prefer
FAQs – New Balance 880 vs 1080
A few of the most common questions that arise when comparing New Balance 880 vs 1080.
Who Is the 880 Best Suited For?
The 880 is best suited for runners looking for a well-cushioned, yet versatile, everyday trainer.
Runners have noted it is a great option for high-mileage days, cross-training sessions at the gym, and even high-intensity speed workouts on the track.
Who Is 1080 Best Suited For?
The 1080 is a great shoe for runners looking for optimal comfort.
Its generous midsole stack of Fresh Foam X and high heel-to-toe drop make it a great choice for runners looking to log easy miles and complete low-impact sessions. They are also a solid choice for runners recovering from injury.
Which Shoe Provides Better Arch Support?
The 1080 has better arch support. The 880 will be the better choice for people with normal to low arches.
Final Verdict: New Balance 880 vs 1080
With that said, there are a couple of key points of distinction.
The 880 is better for runners looking for versatility and performance without sacrificing comfort, while the 1080 is more of a max-cushion offering that maximizes shock absorption through its ample midsole Fresh Foam X stack.
If either of these scenarios describes your running needs, definitely consider the 880 or 1080 when searching for your next pair of running shoes!