New Balance Fresh Foam X1080v12 review

The New Balance 1080v12 is a great all-rounder and perfect for beginners

a photo of the New Balance 1080v12
(Image: © Future/Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The New Balance 1080v12 is a comfortable, everyday running shoe, that has an improved fit around the heel, although it does run big


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    Well-cushioned underfoot

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    Improved heel design

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    Stretchy upper improved from previous versions

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    Runs large

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The New Balance 1080 has been the brand’s most popular running shoe for the past few years, and the v12 lives up to the hype. What was once a shoe that was only suited for slow, easy miles, has evolved into a versatile all-rounder suited to a speedy 5K or a steady marathon. 

New Balance 1080v12

Price: $159/£145
Drop: 8mm
Weight: 10.3 oz (M), 8.3 oz (W)
Type: Road
Colors: 5 men, 4 women
Widths: Standard, wide, extra-wide  

But how does the 1080v12 compare to some of the other best running shoes on the market, and the likes of other new everyday shoes such as the Nike Pegasus 39, or the On Cloudmonster? To find out more, I laced up in the New Balance 1080v12 and wore it for a number of different sessions — from steady, easy miles, to faster tempo runs. Read on for my full New Balance 1080v12 review below to find out more. 

New Balance 1080v12 review: Price and availability

The New Balance 1080v12 was released in April 2022 and costs $159/£145. It’s available in women’s sizes U.S. 5-13 (U.K. 3-9) and comes in three different shoe widths — standard, wide, and extra-wide. The women’s shoe is available in four different colors — white, purple, black, and apricot. 

In the men’s, the 1080v12 is available in sizes U.S. 7-16 (U.K. 6.5-14) and comes in the same standard, wide, and extra-wide widths. At launch, the shoe is available in five colors — black, grey, navy, orange, and blue. 

New Balance 1080v12 review: Design and fit 

Design-wise, the 1080v12 is a huge improvement from previous versions of this shoe. New Balance has abandoned the molded heel counter of the v11, which widely divided runners, and has added a Hypoknit upper. On a run in the Peak District with one of the shoe’s designers, New Balance explained how it's listened to runner’s feedback, and switched back to a more traditional heel counter for the v12, and it works. 

Fit-wise, the v12 comes up big, almost half a size too big, in fact. I typically run in a U.K. 5, and tested the 1080v12 in a U.K. 4.5 and they still feel roomy. They definitely come up wide and long in the foot, and I’d be tempted to buy half a size down if you’re shopping online and can’t try these on beforehand. 

a photo of the New Balance 1080v12

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)


The upper on the New Balance 1080v12 is made from the brand’s “Hypoknit” material and it’s stretchy and comfortable across the top of the foot. There are reinforced areas to offer extra support in areas you’d need it most. But overall, the bootie construction is lightweight and hugs the foot nicely. During testing, I found the upper to be a good mix of breathable and supportive.

As mentioned, the heel counter has also been completely redesigned in the v12, removing the hard plastic and replacing it with a more traditional heel, complete with a padded collar. This is a huge improvement and prevents the tightness and blisters around the heel many runners experienced with the v11. 

The tongue is also nicely padded, and I was able to wear these straight out of the box without any rubbing, hotspots, or blisters. 

a photo of the midsole of the New Balance 1080v12

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)


The midsole contains New Balance’s Fresh Foam X, which has a good amount of cushioning to feel plush underfoot, yet still enough responsiveness to allow you to pick up the pace should you need it. During testing, I found the shoe had a good amount of versatility — while it’s definitely best suited for longer, easy miles, there’s enough snap to wear this shoe while picking up the pace. There’s a good amount of bounce underfoot when wearing this shoe, and I enjoyed running in it. 

If you’re a seriously speedy runner or a runner who prefers to run in a lighter shoe, you might find the heft of the 1080v12 off-putting. But if you’re not, this is a good do-everything shoe. 

a photo of the outsole of the New Balance 1080v12

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)


Similar to the previous iterations of this shoe, the outsole confirms the 1080v12 is still best-suited to the roads. The lugs aren’t deep or grippy enough to cope with technical trails, but on wet sidewalks and light tracks, there’s definitely enough traction to keep you safe. 

New Balance 1080v12 review: Performance 

I’ve tested these running shoes on a number of different runs and have been impressed with the versatility of the shoe. While it’s not the kind of shoe I’d normally wear for a faster tempo run, it coped well. And on slower, easy miles, the shoe was plush, bouncy, and exciting. It’s a fantastic all-rounder, and a perfect shoe for beginners looking for something soft and supportive.

a photo of the midsole on the New Balance 1080v12

(Image credit: Future/Tom's Guide)

Until now, I’ve never really understood the hype with the New Balance 1080, but with the v12, I finally get why this shoe has such a dedicated following. It’s a good, durable running shoe, that could easily be worn for anything from a 5K to a marathon. It’s a brilliant example of what you’d expect from an everyday running shoe and a reminder that you don’t need multiple running shoes in your closet to train well for a race.

The downside is that the 1080v12 is a little heavier than previous iterations of the shoe, although this could be down to the sizing issues. 

New Balance 1080v12 review: Verdict 

If you don’t fancy forking out hundreds of dollars on two pairs of running shoes, the 1080v12 will meet most of your training needs. The shoes are comfortable enough to wear on long runs, responsive enough to wear on race day, and the Fresh Foam has enough snap to cope with speedier training sessions. 

The 1080v12 is a huge improvement on the v11, and hopefully the molded heel is gone for good. That said, the sizing is a little wild, and I’d definitely recommend going down half a size to avoid being in a too-big, clunky running shoe. 

If you’re looking to spend less, I’d opt for the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39, which has also received some big improvements and is $40 cheaper than the New Balance 1080v12. If you’re looking for something more exciting for race day, I’d check out the New Balance RC Elite v2, which is on our list of best carbon fiber running shoes.  

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.