After what feels like an eternity (only 2 years) in running shoes, New Balance has released the Fresh Foam Vongo 5. It was the first stability offering to feature Fresh Foam. While revolutionary at the time it has become a mainstay in many of the New Balance offerings.
There have been many shoe offerings in the New Balance stability line Some have come and gone while others remain as permanent fixtures. The Fresh Foam Vongo is the max cushioned top tier offering of the line. The other cornerstone of the line is the 860, a mid tier offering.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo 5 retails for 150 dollars. It competes in terms of price and cushioning with the Hoka Gaviotta, ASICS Kayano, Mizuno Wave Horizon and Brooks Glycerin GTS. In terms of cushioning the closest relative would be the Gaviotta. In terms of stability Saucony Hurricane shares stability features.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 First Impressions
Upon opening the box I was pleasantly surprised with the blue colorway. Most blue running shoes are more navy than royal so I was pleased to see royal blue. If blue isn’t your color they offer a black option with small hints of purple
The slope of the shoe along with the rocker immediately grabbed my attention as well. These are two aspects of the Vongo that set it apart from a crowded max cushioned stability field. I was excited by these and ready to run in them. When I slipped them on for the first time there was a glove like fit from the upper, but it was stretchy so it had some give to the snug fit. They were bouncy with a faint hint of firmness underneath from the start.
The maiden voyage of the Fresh Foam Vongo was a 4 ½ mile midday run. I usually run at 5:30 a.m., but I really wanted to take these out so I went in the early afternoon in the middle of summer. This affected my first impression. They felt constricting from heel to toe and lacked breathability as well. I was hoping this was a one time experience due to the thick shoes I wore and the fact I ran in the warmest part of the day.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 Sole Unit
Let’s start from the ground up, on the outsole you will find a blown rubber outsole with flex grooves in the forefoot. The blown rubber is a thin layer covering the high impact areas. The black areas of blown rubber are areas of high impact and wear, while the blue areas have less wear and impact. The outsole did show slight wear after a hundred miles of running in these. Traction was a slight issue when running in wet conditions.
Fresh Foam X makes its first appearance in the Vongo 5. This is an improvement to the Vongo because it is lighter without sacrificing any performance aspects. It is bouncier in the forefoot and firmer in the heel. This results in effective shock absorption, a smooth transition and a pop to your toe offs. Something that aids in this is the rocker geometry. The forefoot curves up forming a rocking chair like midsole, causing a more natural stride. I found myself wanting to push the pace in these and they were able to handle it.
For stability, the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo 5 utilizes gradient stability technology. The midsole foam is made from pellets that are put together and they gradually grow denser on the medial side of the trainer. It is the same idea as a medial post without the bulky hardware that comes with it. Since they are constructed the same way it provides similar stability to the Kayano Lite series. Since it is composed of pellets I found it to be adaptable to the amount of stability needed on any given run.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 Upper Unit
The upper of the Fresh Foam Vongo has been dismantled and rebuilt. Many of the aspects of the upper of the 4th edition were replaced, giving it a brand new look and feel. Hypoknit makes its debut in the Vongo 5. It is a snug but stretchy material that is highly flexible and adaptable. It gives the trainer a glove-like fit that molds to your feet as you move. It works in tandem with the overall tailored fit of the shoe to provide a secure fit.
The Hypoknit is reinforced in the midfoot with overlays that look like elevation on a topographic map along with a giant ‘N” logo. This added some needed structure because the forefoot doesn’t provide much. The midfoot continues the adaptable fit by providing the ideal amount of structure along with a no frills but effective lacing system. With minimal overlays in the upper means there were no points of irritation. My suggestion is to wear thinner socks since it is a snug fit.
New Balance 1080v11 and the Fresh Foam Vongo 5 are similar shoes in many aspects. The heel portion is one of the few areas of the shoes where you will notice differences. In the 1080 they use a Ultraheel while in the Vongo 5 you will find a simple padded collar with slight flair out. This cushioned collar hugs your heel and locks them in place adding to the support of the trainer. The upper is a strength of the Fresh Foam Vongo 5.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 Conclusion
Like a Phoenix, the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo 5 has risen from the ashes to emerge as one of the best max cushioned stability trainers out there. You can tell New Balance took their time in developing a trainer that improves all of the previous edition’s shortcomings. For the most part they have succeeded.
Fresh Foam X makes an impressive debut in these. Since the Fresh Foam isn’t new they have been tinkering with the material making it lighter, bouncier, and more resilient.
It is still overall a soft midsole but has a base level of firmness especially in the areas where you need it. It provides a comfortable ride filled with shock absorption and energy return. Combine that with an 8 mm drop and rocker geometry and you have one of the smoothest rides out there.
The comfort continues in the upper of the Fresh Foam Vongo 5. The Hypoknit upper is stretchy, adaptable, and secure. It is a different type of fit than other trainers which may cause a brief adjustment period like it did for me.
Once the short adjustment period was over the upper became one of my favorites. It locked my foot in without being restricting and added to the stability of the trainer.
It was a tailored fit from heel to toe but still allowed some room for my foot to stretch. The fit of the upper worked so well I felt like the shoes became an extension of me.
There were small drawbacks to the Fresh Foam Vongo 5. The Hypoknit provides a fantastic fit but struggles with breathability slightly, I just wanted a little more. The other is the outsole already showed some wear after about 70 miles. This didn’t take away from the performance of the outsole.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo 5 is the best trainer I have reviewed this year. It provided the most comfortable rides I have experienced in quite some time. The midsole and upper complemented each other in every way.
It handled everything I threw at it from tempo runs to a gravel half marathon, it was a reliable ride. A sign of a solid stability trainer is when I don’t want to stop running in them after my review miles are logged. This was most certainly the case with the Vongo 5s.
The stability field gets more crowded every year with new trainers being released. New Balance knew this, they took their time, and just released one of the best stability trainers out there with Fresh Foam Vongo 5.
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 at Running Warehouse with our own money.