The RW to go: A reliable daily workhorse that offers moderate to high support, fairly firm and very durable cushioning, and an accommodating fit that always feels secure. It’s classic vanilla stability, in the best possible way.
- Full coverage rubber outsole shows minimal wear after 100 miles
- New double-knit engineered mesh upper is softer and stretchier
- V12 reverts to a more traditional heel cup shape
Type: Road of stability
Lester: 11.0 ounces (M), 8.8 ounces (W)
Drop: 10 millimeters
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While other brands adapt their stability technology to guide rails, New Balance sticks with the traditional mid-post of the 860, calling it a proven support method. (Actually the Vongo v5 actually moved to a mid-post instead of the “varus wedge” construction formerly used in the Vongo v4.) And that’s not a bad thing – the displayed midsoles might look a bit dated to some, but still work well for moderate overpronators. In fact, the v12 is one of the stability models we’d recommend first for runners looking for a simple, well-made shoe with more support and less bells and whistles.
Always a fresh foam midsole
As an editor who reads shoe reviews on a daily basis, I realized there was a bit of misinformation online about the 860’s midsole foam. So I’ll set the record straight after my conversations with the New Balance team. Like its v11 predecessor, the 860v12 has two layers of Fresh Foam in its midsole: the top is soft, the bottom is fast. Many runners think the top layer is Fresh Foam while the bottom layer is FuelCell; there’s no FuelCell foam in the 860. However, New Balance has changed the formula for the bottom layer (an EVA-based material), lowering the durometer, a measure of hardness, slightly. So in this version of the shoe, it seems a bit more forgiving.
It’s all good. But on the run, the new-school foams ran into the old-school stability tech, a dense mid-post. It slows down pronation forces, but the added weight also slows the ride of the shoe.
“I know this shoe is designed to be firm and has a loyal fanbase that praises its cushioning, but for me it felt a little too firm after about five or six miles,” said one tester, who usually runs about 40 miles per week. in Nike. “Comparatively, the 860 has a firmer feel and roomier fit than the Structure or Pegasus.” If you like the amount of support in the 860 but want more cushioning with a plusher feel, like this tester did, check out the aforementioned Vongo v5.
The new double-knit mesh is softer
You’ll find the biggest changes from 860v11 to v12 on the top. For some runners, the technical mesh of the 11 lacked elasticity and comfort. It also felt a bit cramped, as many people opted to size up in the older version. The 12 fits true to size with a soft gusseted tongue and comfortable, breathable mesh that stretches just enough to fit both wide and narrow feet.
“Stability and support were great. Even though the shoe feels roomier inside, I didn’t feel like I was swimming at all. My foot felt secure at all times, running straight or cornering,” said one tester. “Interestingly, there must be a bigger gap around the ankles, because I would always have more small gravel inside my shoe than I ever do with other sneakers. Luckily , this still hasn’t translated into heel slippage.
For those looking for stability shoes and trying to separate the masses, choose the 860 if getting a near-perfect fit is your top priority. This is where this coach takes the cake. The forefoot and toe are wide and a little stretchy, roomy but not sloppy. It’s rare for any tester to mention a narrow toe or hot spot in their sample pairs, but our testers were pleased that the 860’s fit was roomy yet locked in from heel to toe.
Wear tester feedback
A. J. Sanford | Tester since: 2021
Arch: Flat | Gait: neutral | Kick: Heel
“For a college middle-distance runner who likes to be on their toes, this shoe is a bit too heavy to feel fast. It doesn’t necessarily work against speed, but it doesn’t really aid progress. So if I’m doing a seven-mile run where I don’t have to go faster than the speed threshold, I think these shoes shine. But if it was my main shoe, I’d probably pick up another pair for faster efforts on the trail. The shoe took about 20 miles to break in, which wasn’t too bad. (In the FuelPrisms I’ve tested previously, comfort was instantaneous.) As someone with flat arches, I think the 860 provides great arch support, but this shoe never made me feel fast at any distance. Overall, this is a very durable shoe that I think will easily get me through an indoor season – and probably most of the outdoor season – of mileage.
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