New Balance brings their fresh foam trainer back for a 3rd year with the Vongo v3. The first stability shoe to hit the Fresh Foam collection, the Vongo was designed for that runner who wants to experience a soft and smooth underfoot feel in an entirely unique way for the stability category. Designed to provide maximum stability while offering a unique running experience, the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 is smoother, lighter and sleeker than most maximum stability options.
A redesigned upper and added midsole cushion are the biggest updates this time around. They have also made the shoe lighter after a heavier v2 last year. I ran in the debut edition of the Vongo but retired them after they did not do well for me on race day. After reading up on the v2, it did not look good for the Vongo. Thankfully, New Balance has come back with a shoe that looks and performs great.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 General Info
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 – Pair
This is a flagship shoe in New Balance’s robust stability line and it is the sole stability shoe of the Fresh Foam line. In terms of weight, it sits just below the 1260; though the 4mm drop is not something you typically see in a shoe with this amount of cushioning. Even the 1500, a lighter racing flat, has an 6mm drop.
I found it hard to find a good shoe that competes with the Vongo. Many would compare this against something like the Saucony Hurricane, Mizuno’s Wave Inspire, or Brooks’ Adrenaline GTS. These all have standard drops and medial postings. It can be best compared to Hoka One One’s maximum cushioning approach; the Arahi comes to mind.
I fell in love as soon as I opened these up. The first thing I noticed out of the box was the 3D printed overlay across the upper. The black and white colorway made the shoe look very sleek. Even just walking around in them I loved how comfortable they felt.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 Sole Unit
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 – medial closeup
The midsole is a single piece of Fresh Foam material. Instead of a medial post or shank, it utilizes a varus wedge design. The medial side slopes up with added material to combat against overpronation.
The freshfoam material is plush and offered a decent amount of bounce on liftoff. This is what New Balance offers to compete against the other foam compounds out there such as Saucony’s Everrun or Adidas’ Aerobounce.
There is an added 2mm of fresh foam from last year’s v2 which adds to the overall comfort of the shoe. The design of the sole worked great on runs where I would go at a cruising pace. Sadly It didn’t translate too well into speed work and I found it difficult to make sharp turns because of how chunky the sole was.
There were many times I would try and make a turn too narrow and my foot would roll in too much. I limited sudden movement after this became an ongoing issue and took turns at a wider angle. The 4mm offset is another non conventional aspect of this shoe. Paired with the varus wedge, my midfoot was doing a lot of work. I shortened my stride so my calves weren’t completely on fire.
The outsole is blown rubber with a tread pattern that is the most durable material I have run in this year. There is a line of separation down the middle separating the outer and medial side of the sole. It worked great in all conditions but almost felt like too much at first. Because of the amount of tread and how it rode, it sounded like I was on a basketball court for the first 50 miles. This speaks to the shoe’s long life, but it was a pain to break in.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 Upper Info
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 – Heel Closeup
The upper is as much functional as it looks good. The breathable mesh and sock liner adapted to my feet relatively quick. The 3D printed overlays helped give the fit some added structure. They seemed to handle pretty well in bad weather and stayed mostly dry. There is ample toe box room and it fits great. I did not see a need to size up or buy wider; as New Balance is generally sized on the large side. The heel is nothing special, but it cupped the back of my foot nicely.
Whenever I see a shoe with a booty design I get giddy. It means the tongue won’t give me any issues with curling up into itself and the laces wont cut into my feet. I love that is a trend that is picking up steam and is not just limited to racing flats.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 Conclusions
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v3 – Toe
I first discovered the Vongo when I was trying to find a replacement for the defunct Saucony Mirage (I am STILL salty about this!). Running in the debut edition felt good and it performed well in the brutal Maryland heat and humidity.
The shoes felt great to train in, but they just didn’t translate well in races. I just couldn’t move fast enough in them. After my 2nd bad race, I retired them out of racing. When the second edition came out, I wasn’t impressed and passed. After reading reviews of the v2, I’m glad I did.
Fast forward to the v3. The improvements on this shoe are noticeable and they have found a place in my rotation as a dedicated trainer. They won’t be getting laced up on race day, but they will be there for my long run and shakeout days. The chunkiness of the sole is annoying, but is (mostly) forgivable. Now if I could figure out what exactly the Vongo name comes from, I’d be set!