Thomas: I was not a fan of the first Fresh Foam. The marketing of the shoe did not match the reality of running in it. The shoe is a firm shoe without flexibility, and has a constricting upper. When designing the next round of Fresh Foam running shoes it seems New Balance listened the feedback from the runners and came back with a new line that looks badass and dials in the performance. During The Running Event in Austin Texas, I got the chance to try on the Zante, but didn’t get to run in it. It was one of the most anticipated shoes for me to get my hands on this year. New Balance kindly sent us the Zante to review, so let’s get to it.
Thomas: The shoe is undeniably beautiful, you can try to deny it but in this case you would be wrong. The upper is made of stretchy material that gives that custom fit right out of the box. There are minimal overlays, so I didn’t get any weird rubbing. This is a seriously good fitting upper; my heal stayed put, my arch locked in, and my toes had room to wiggle. The cushioning on the shoes is impressive, solid and forgiving at the same time. I have noticed the Fresh Foam is susceptible to temperature change. They were much firmer on my <30º runs and noticeably softened up >40º F. To give the shoe a speedier feel and added flexibility the toe of the Zante rises up. In talking with some fellow shoe enthusiasts, I learned that this is called “toe spring.” The whole outsole is covered in rubber and has a good sticky/grippy feel. The following seems like a small detail, however worth mentioning, the laces have an elastic stretch to them and create a snug fit with give. The laces also stayed tied without double knots. Bonus!
Meaghan: This is my first experience with the ever-popular Fresh Foam from New Balance. I’ve been itching to run in the Zante ever since our guest reviewer, Peter Stuart, raved about it. My initial reaction to this shoe was yikes that looks narrow. I was pretty surprised by the stretch and comfort the upper provided, despite the generally narrow build. It has a sock-like fit that wraps around the foot nicely. The mesh is especially soft and stretchy, without any interior seams. New Balance kept things pretty minimal with just a few overlays and a lightly padded tongue and collar. The tongue is secured on both sides so there’s no chance of slippage and the flat lacing system stayed tied. There is some structure through the heel. So, onto the Fresh Foam – I dig it. New Balance created a really nice cushy, yet responsive ride. I’m surprised at how durable they seem given the soft outsole. I found these shoes optimal up to the half-marathon distance and for basic everyday training. Did I mention they’re only 6.2 oz? Incredible.
Thomas: After a few 8 milers in the Zante, I opted to use it on a 21.5 mile long training run. Most of the run everything was dandy. I can’t recall exactly when it started, but I felt fatigue where the toe spring starts, right behind the toes. It was worse on my left foot than my right. It is more than a week since that run and my toes feel bruised in that spot. This may be an individual issue. I contacted friends that are also running in the Zante and they have not experienced this.
Meaghan: If anyone has read a review of mine, you know I have wide, flat feet. While the Zante’s upper stretches around my feet nicely, I want more room for my toes to splay. Note: New Balance has several width sizes; I wasn’t smart enough to ask for a wide option. I appreciate the extra arch support these shoes come with, but that may be a negative for those that don’t need or like it. The marketing of this shoe had me believe I’d be running fast but the outsole was just too soft for me. I prefer something with a little more structure for fast miles.
Thomas: Beautiful shoe, super upper, plush cushioning, light weight, and a bitchin’ price of $99.99. I had high hopes for this shoe and the Zante met most of them. Competitor may have jumped the gun on naming the top shoe for 2015. Sheeesh, it is only March! I do think some runners will agree with Competitor. While the shoe is very good, it won’t be my top pick. It will be in the top ten. This is a 2015 must try shoe. Get a pair on your feet and let us know what you think in the comments.
“Probably, one of the most versatile running shoes for those who look for a training + fast training shoe. Difficult to classify it in just one category, it’s a swiss knife.” – Morath (www.agendarunning.es)
Meaghan: The Zante is a good looking, super light trainer. It’s been called “2015 Road Shoe of the Year” by Competitor Magazine and I’ve heard tons of people rave about it. I think a lot of people will dig this shoe. Is it my favorite? No… but I also didn’t go with the best sizing option for my foot. If you’re working with normal/narrow feet, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy lots of miles in this shoe.