new balance 860v12 - upper
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New Balance 860v12 Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 11.4 oz. (323 g) for a US M9 / 9 oz. (255 g) for a US W7.5
  • Fresh Foam X on top and FuelCell underneath is a mad science experiment
  • Get outta here with that Ultra Heel BS
  • Available November 2021 for $130

ALDREN: With college football season back in full swing and UCF already on their winning ways (Go Knights), I need something that can go straight from pounding the pavement to blasting a tailgate. I may not have the cutest kicks on my feet, but my feet will enjoy every minute of the action.

Built for miles of support and everyday comfort, the New Balance 860v12 retains the structural integrity that fans of this workhorse know and love while introducing a flair of FuelCell in the midsole. Rolling with a 10 mm offset (34 mm in the heel and 24 mm in the toe), the 860v12 has already eaten a ton of recovery to steady-state runs.

JEREMY: Summer is wrapping up, and many of us are gearing up for fall marathon season. That means temperatures dropping, mileage increasing, and easy runs getting a whole lot easier on fatigued legs. Years ago, the New Balance 860 was a shoe synonymous with easy running for me. It was one of the two shoes I did the majority of my running in for a long time. While the 860v12 has come a long way from the v7 I had back in the day, a lot of things have remained the same for this tried and true workhorse.

MERCER: Ah, the 860. People always complain about this shoe in running stores, but they always take it home because it’s a tried and true stability shoe.

new balance 860v12 - laces

The Good

ALDREN: It’s tough luck when you have something that works so well in one shoe but is one of the biggest complaints in another. This is what happened to New Balance in the 1080v11 and the 860v11 with the Ultra Heel. New Balance got rid of it in the v12 and brought in an engineered mesh to redo the entire upper. Along with a wavy textured design, the shoe creates a higher volume lockdown to hold your foot in place on all your runs. There’s also a heavier embroidered ‘N’ logo across the saddle to add more security inside the shoe.

Another thing I love about the 860v12 upper (and New Balance in general) is the naturally wide toe box. When I want my feet to be a little more relaxed, especially on longer runs, the toe box keeps my feet from cramping up as they swell in this late-summer heat.

The midsole is made of a top layer of Fresh Foam X for a cushier rebound and a bottom layer of FuelCell to provide a solid foundation underfoot. Under the arch, a denser material helps with any pronation. Posting is slowly becoming a lost art in the world of stability. While I understand the technology needs to evolve in running, some people still rely on traditional guidance to avoid overpronation. Where the New Balance 860v12 shines is having that posting to keep my arches from collapsing without being too obtrusive.

The outsole is similar to last year’s model and still without any complaints. The traction is smooth on these slick Orlando roads and is wearing fine as of now.

JEREMY: There’s been a whole lot of love for the recent New Balance releases, including the cushy More V3 and 1080 V11. Slipping this shoe on, you can immediately feel the comfort of the breathable mesh upper. The 860v12 shoe works well in the summer heat, with good airflow that helps to dissipate sweat. 

Other aspects of the upper are well made, such as the plush tongue that lays nicely against the top of the foot. The sides of the upper and the heel are reinforced to reduce slippage, which was a major complaint in previous iterations of the shoe.

MERCER: The New Balance 860 is the G.O.A.T of stability. The smooth top layer of Fresh Foam X plus an encasement of Fresh Foam provides a stable ride with a little extra cush for those who aren’t ready for the 990. This formula continues into the v12, providing a smooth ride, day in and day out.

I’m so glad that New Balance is getting rid of the Ultra Heel nightmare, as the v11 was so sloppy because of it. They’ve also updated the lacing system which allows for an even better lockdown feel.

Robbe might be rubbing off on me because I love me some plasticky uppers, but I’m head over heels for the 860v12 upper. It’s super breathable with good structure thanks to the woven overlays. The wider toe box was much needed and is much appreciated in the v12. 

I’m a fan of new stability shoes like Brooks GTS line, but who doesn’t love the classic chunk of hard-ass foam to keep ankles from rolling? The harder angled foam is generous to my arches after a long day.

Shop NB Stability – Men Shop NB Stability – Women

new balance 860v12

The Bad

ALDREN: The 860 line from New Balance seems to be a bit dull now. They’re trying to add flair with the Fresh Foam X and FuelCell midsole, but the shoe seems behind in technology and you can feel it on the run. Consistently around miles 4-5, the midsole starts to die out and it feels like you’re running on bricks.

Along the line of bricks, this thing weighs over 11 oz in my size 8.5. I don’t mind extra weight if the cushioning makes up for it, but the midsole doesn’t feel as poppy as other Fresh Foam X models like the 880v11 or Vongo v5. As someone who prefers a plush ride, I can’t see myself taking the 860v12 over 10 miles at a time.

JEREMY: The midsole just doesn’t work for me. Fresh Foam X isn’t particularly forgiving and feels a little clunky. Similar to Aldren, I noticed the shoe gets to be uncomfortable after a few miles and later into runs. Instead of a bouncy ride, it’s a heavy, dull ride. To top it off, the 860v12 is a pretty heavy shoe in general, which is fine for easier runs but makes it hard to compete with other stability shoes weighing multiple ounces less.

MERCER: The 860v12 was and still is a chunky boi weighing in at nearly 11.4 oz. I know you aren’t dropping sub 6 miles in these, but c’mon New Balance, slim it down.

Shop NB Stability – Men Shop NB Stability – Women

new balance 860v12 - side

New Balance 860v12 Conclusion

ALDREN: The New Balance 860v12 still falls into that reliable stability shoe category. I recommend this shoe for anyone in need of a higher amount of stability and isn’t 100% sure about what they need. This one is also good for the runner that needs the extra toe room and whose calves can’t handle the Altra zero-drop offset. 

JEREMY: The New Balance 860v12 is a classic stability model that’s been going strong for many years now. The shoe provides a comfortable fit and stable ride for overpronators, making it a good choice for those looking for a simple stability shoe with a wider fit and plenty of support.

MERCER: If you’re looking for stability, the New Balance 860v12 is your shoe. Those who enjoy a strong medial posting like the Saucony Guide 14 are going to love this one.

You can pick up the New Balance 860v12 in November for $130 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop NB Stability – Men Shop NB Stability – Women

Aldren is currently a student at the University of Central Florida majoring in Kinesiology. He likes devouring burritos after a hearty work-out or honestly, whenever he’s in the mood. He’s always looking for a friendly face to say “Hi!” to on his run (this is what people in the South do).

Jeremy is a Microbiology and Immunology PhD candidate working in a Baltimore-based lab. Winner of the 2019 Baltimore Marathon, he is currently running way too many miles and road racing with a focus on the marathon.

Mercer is a junior at Thomas A. Edison (the one in Virginia), and has been running for six years. He also works at the iconic Potomac River Running in Northern Virginia, so if you live near there, go straight to the source for shoe advice.

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