New Balance is a well-known long-standing label of quality running shoes. Although some people suspect that their footwear line is too generic for serious runners, the New Balance 800 series includes some of the best running shoes in the market today.
Two of them, the New Balance 880 and its sibling 860, are often compared to each other by many shoe experts and professional runners.
New Balance 880 Vs 860: First Glance Comparison
First up, both the New Balance 880 and 860 are designed with Fresh Foam X midsole. However, the 860 features a medial post within the midsole that helps control pronation. As such, the New Balance 860 is relatively denser and heavier, whereas the 880 is lightweight and more cushioned.
The New Balance 880 also features the Ultra Heel design that hugs the back of your foot for a snugger, more supportive fit- though some find it to be too tight. Thus far, there’s more to this running shoes comparison than just the heel design. Both models are famous in the New Balance collection.
The 860 is best suited for someone who overpronates or someone who needs medical support or protection while the 880 is more like a neutral companion. The New Balance 880 is suitable for regular training with a bit of protection. It is also consistent in terms of durability and the entire midsole is completely made of fresh foam.
Like most stability shoes, the 860 offers a little bit of posting in the middle. It is an old-school supportive shoe with a medial support structure that is designed only for people that overpronate. That said, the shoe is excellent at what it does and we found many customers with podiatrist’s notes recommending this shoe.
New Balance 880 vs. 860: Shoe Uppers
Starting with the New Balance 880, the shoe comes with double jacquard mesh, which is very breathable. There’s nothing exceptionally special about the uppers as it seems like a complete makeover from its previous design. The 880’s overall design is quite sensible and pretty nice.
The stated jacquard mesh promotes excellent breathability, making it cool enough for most people’s feet. Also, you will feel that your feet are well protected because the mesh uppers are not designed to let everything in.
Going further to the back of the shoe, the material becomes noticeably thicker, especially in the heel area. The New Balance 880 model has an extended heel counter with a light amount of padding to secure your heel with great comfort.
Similar to most running shoes, the 880 models will get better as time goes by. This is particularly the case for the midfoot area. The lacing system is also agreeable and you can set and forget it because of how pleasantly it secures your feet. The whole thing is snug and overly tight.
Overall, we think that the shoe delivers the perfect balance between foot protection and cushioned comfort. It is not overly cushioned and feels just right. It’s designed to accommodate your feet so gently without the feeling that they will pull out.
With the New Balance 860, meanwhile, the Ultra Heel Design incorporates a heel tab to help you slide comfortably into the shoes. Buyers stated that wearing these shoes for the first time felt so easy: thanks to the thin pull tab in the heel area, it helps slide your feet effortlessly into these shoes.
This pull tab is part of the stated Ultra Heel design that hugs the back of your feet for a snug, supportive fit. No doubt the heel tab is a major highlight of the New Balance 860. We also appreciate how the N logo catches the light, so people can run safely at night wearing these shoes.
While some people have it that New Balance running shoes tend to rub a little on the inside of the foot, you’ll hardly have such an experience with the 860. That aspect just demonstrates that the 860 has been designed for stability.
However, contrary to the 880, the New Balance 860 often runs smaller for most people. Even after the break-in period, the shoe feels like it had a narrow midfoot and heel fit.
So if you’re planning for the New Balance 860, and would like a little more space, we recommend checking if the wide version is available. Overall, it’s safe to say that the 860 is very snug, but can be narrow for some.
New Balance 880 vs. 860: Sole Unit
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the New Balance is that it’s a consistent hard worker. We found nothing flashy about this shoe at first glance, but we think you can count on it to show up any day for your runs.
For midsole technology, the 880 employs Fresh Foam X midsole, which is meant to be a lightweight and Ultra-cushioned underfoot ride. It’s easy to tell that there’s a huge amount of rubber utilized in the outsole making it pretty thick. Based on reviews, the Fresh Foam X technology is designed to last for a long time, over hundreds and hundreds of miles.
The sole unit on the New Balance 860 is firmer but provides more stability. Similar to the 860 models the 880 also comes with the Fresh Foam X Midsole and brown rubber outsoles. It is very common for shoppers to find the New Balance 860 through a podiatrist/doctor’s recommendation due to their comfortable stability. The shoe can help runners and walkers with various conditions such as plantar fasciitis and ankle pain.
In comparison, the New Balance 880 offers neutral stability while the 860 features a medial post, which is a feature within the midsole that helps control pronation. The medial post is usually made of EVA and denser and firmer than the rest of the midsole.
The New Balance is a great pair of running shoes though it might require a lot of time to break-in. It is stable for slow running but not lightweight enough for sprints. Indeed, the 860 is designed for ultimate stability.
New Balance 880 vs. 860: The Bottom Line
While both the 860 and 880 have Fresh Foam midsoles, you might want to consider the cushioning of the New Balance 880 because it delivers a plush underfoot ride and is exceptionally lightweight. The 860, meanwhile, is much firmer and may be better suited for runners looking for maximum stability.