New Balance 880 vs 860 – 2 Amazing Shoes For Different Runners

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In today’s comparison, I’m going to compare the New Balance 880 vs 860.

People are overwhelmed by New Balance’s numeric system and often confuse shoes that have quite similar numbers.

So, what do the 880 and 860 feel like, and which runner is going to benefit from which shoe?

Let’s find out …

New Balance 880 vs 860

Related:

Make sure you check out New Balance 880 vs 1080.

Neutral vs Stable

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If you’re in a hurry, these are the most important differences and similarities between the 880 and the 860.

The 880 is one of New Balance’s staple medium cushion neutral workhorse shoes. However, I do think that it’s a pretty stable neutral shoe.

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The 860 is the very beefed-up stability version of the New Balance 880.

The 860…

  • has a medial posting which is very hard and very firm.
  • is not going to let your foot roll inward at all.
  • is going to make sure you’re going to be upright.
  • offers everyday support to help with Plantar Fasciitis or bad ankles, for example.

So, if you’re somebody who’s much more neutral across the board and doesn’t need any guidance, then the 880 is your shoe.

And if you’re somebody who overpronates or somebody that needs that medial support protection, go with the 860.

Related: New Balance 1080 vs Brooks Glycerin

Specs

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New-Balance-860v11-vs-860v10-specs

Heel-to-toe Drop, Weight, Price

Both the 880 and the 860 run a 10mm heel-to-toe drop.

The 10mm drop is a little bit lower than some shoes in that category. So, if you’re someone who’s concerned about 12mm-drop shoes, for example, the 880 and 860 might work well for you.

The 860v11 is heavier than the 880v11, but it’s about an ounce lighter than its predecessor, the 880v10.

For a being a shoe that is so stable and still has a great cushion to it, the weight isn’t bad. It’s right in line with shoes in the same stability category.

The 880 and the 860 are the same price and you can check today’s prices here:

New Balance 880
New Balance 860

For its price, the 860 does a tremendous amount of stability and cushion at a great price point.

Related: Running Shoe Heel Drop Chart

Firm vs Kind of Soft

The 860 has a Fresh Foam midsole which is pretty firm. So, you’re not going to have an opportunity for your foot to sink down and kind of wobble every each way.

Compared to the 880 or the 1080v10 and v11 which also have Fresh Foam X, the 860 also has the Fresh Foam X, but it doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t feel like a super cushy comfortable trainer, it’s more solid and firmer than the 880.

Upper

880

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New Balance integrated their new Hypoknit material which basically New Balance’s way of saying knit.

The upper has no overlays, it really hugs nicely to the foot, and it is simple and breathable.

The 880 is still pretty traditional in a lot of ways because it has a really padded heel collar and tongue.

So, people who like a more traditional shoe like some Brooks or Saucony models, you’re going to like this because it feels traditional in that way even though it’s a more modern updated knit upper.

860

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The New Balance 860v11 has a nice roomy toe box which is not as roomy as the 860v10.

A lot of people go from the New Balance 1260 which was a little bit wider to the 860v10 because it actually worked better. Then, the 860v11 has become even tighter.

The upper is nice and soft but not super breathable, which is great for wintertime running but not so great for hot days.

One issue I had with the upper of the 860 is in the front.

New Balance put the toe reinforcement inside the shoe and it kind of goes down and pushes on the toes.

So, if your foot is normally really wide, you can go for a wider version as that might help you get more room in the toe area.

Fit

880

The New Balance 880 is a tried-and-true shoe and tends to work for a lot of runners with different shapes and sizes of feet.

The 880 is pretty wide in the last and it accommodates pretty much all shapes and sizes of feet.

You do get a good amount of midfoot lockdown, but the shoe tapers in a little bit in the midfoot giving it kind of an hourglass shape.

So, if you’re someone who has a wide foot or a narrow foot, you’re going to be comfortable in the 880.

Additionally, if you’re someone who likes to feel that your arch and midfoot area is secure, this is really going to give you that locked-down feel that you’re looking for.

860

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The 860v11 is a little bit different. It has this new heel design that it’s either going to fit you perfectly or it won’t.

New Balance has designed this heel to take pressure off of the Achilles tendon.

The heel in the previous versions was more adjustable, but this heel design fits me pretty well. I get a really good heel lockdown.

The midfoot area has a lot of hold through it and you’re going to feel the medial post underneath the arch because this is a stable shoe. You can feel it almost lifting the arch a little bit.

The 860v11 runs true to size but maybe a little bit more narrow than the 860v10.

The lacing system on both shoes is super nice and you’re not going to have any problems adjusting anything trying to make the shoe fit perfectly.

I haven’t even used the extra holes because the heel really locks down and feels comfortable.

So, when it comes to fit, New Balance nailed it, but on the 860, you have to like the support element underneath your arch because you will notice it.

Widths

New Balance shoes just naturally are a little bit wider.

What’s interesting about the 880 and the 860 is they come in a bunch of different widths.

So, you can get down from a narrow in the female all the way to 2E and you can get down from a narrow in the men’s all the way to a 4E.

Midsole

Both the 880 and the 860 have a really nice Fresh Foam X midsole.

880

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New Balance have integrated their new Fresh Foam X technology into the midsole.

Fresh Foam X cushioning is quite spongy, soft, and plush feeling.

If you remember from the 1080, this is that cushioning that really feels like a cloud or a Tempurpedic mattress.

But the cool thing is because runners who wear the 880 may prefer a little bit of firmness, New Balance have actually layered in some more traditional EVA cushioning on top of that Fresh Foam X.

This actually blends really nicely and gives the shoe kind of a perfect balance of soft cushion and firmer more responsive material for a more efficient push-off.

This works really well because, in a softer shoe, you can tend to maybe slightly overpronate or just not feel as stable.

So, if you’re someone who’s prone to roll your ankle in in a really soft shoe, the 880 is going to give you that firmness that you need for more security.

Outsole

880

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On the outsole, you have this really nice grippy ground-contact rubber.

I used the 880 on the pavement and asphalt and then I also took it on some softer surfaces like bark trail and dirt trail and it transitioned really nicely across all of those surfaces.

I think it also works on grass and I think it might even work on rockier trails just because of this really sticky firm rubber on the outsole.

New Balance also updated the flex grooves.

So, whether you’re a heel striker or a forefoot striker, you’re going to get a really nice transition just because of the way the outsole is designed with these flex grooves.

860

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The outsole on the 860 has a lot of rubber and grips nicely to whatever you run on. It shouldn’t be a problem if it’s wet or dry as long as you steer away from mud.

Stability

860

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Of course, the biggest and best-selling feature of the 860 is stability.

It’s doing a really good job in terms of providing the support for overpronators or people with flat feet.

The medial post gives nice comfortable support underneath the arch. It’s one of the most sold stability shoes and that’s because of the really great fit it has.

It also has a very beefed-up heel counter to just lock your foot in place and provide even more stability through the heel.

New Balance 860 vs Asics Kayano

There’s not as many stability elements to the 860 shoe as the Asics Gel Kayano, but it just feels like an even more stable shoe.

The one thing that the 860 that the Kayano does not have is it has a sort of a rocker design.

The shoe curves up at the forefoot, which helps to roll you forward into your stride.

We see this rocker design a lot in neutral shoes like the Asics Evoride or the Glideride, and it’s nice New Balance has incorporated it into a stability shoe.

The rocker technology definitely helps, but it’s a little too firm.

Compared to the New Balance 860, the Kayano feels like a more natural shoe and a little less intense of a stability feel than the 860.

But if you’re looking for a real stability shoe and if that’s what you really need, then the 860 is your best option.

880

Again, the 880 is a neutral shoe, but I do think that it’s a pretty stable neutral shoe.

There’s three features that make it a more stable ride…

  • Firm EVA top sole

That firmer EVA top sole just kind of eliminates that wobble feeling and gives the shoe a more stable ride.

  • Sturdy heel counter 

The heel counter is quite rigid and nice and firm compared to the really compressible heel counter on the 1080.

So, with the 880, your heel is going to be locked and you’re going to feel more secure.

And if you have just a little bit of movement in your gait, this is going to keep you locked in and keep you feeling secure.

So, I think that that adds an element of stability to this otherwise neutral shoe.

  • Nice wide last

This wide base to the shoe means that it’s not only going to accommodate a wider foot if you need but it’s also just going to give a more stable platform for you to land on.

So, you’re not going to rocking over the sides like you would in a shoe that has a more narrow base.

Stable vs Neutral – How To Spot The Difference 

So, the 880 and 860 are the two everyday trainers in a neutral and a stability category.

When you’re looking at a neutral shoe like the 880, the Fresh Foam that wraps all the way around the shoe, it’s consistent all the way around.

If you’re looking at a shoe like the 860, you’re going to see a little bit of posting through the inside of the shoe.

So, if you’re trying to figure out the difference between a neutral and a stability shoe, just look at the medial side. If you see a harder medial posting, then that’s a stability shoe.

However, some newer models do not use a plastic medial posting. Instead, brands make the midsole foam a little bit stiffer through the medial side to provide the stability overpronators need.

Then, some other brands like Altra and Brooks use a technology called GuideRails.

GuideRilas give support on the medial side and the lateral side to help both overpronators (whose feet roll inward) and underpronators/supinators (whose feet roll outward).

The 860 is still one of the old-school traditional medial support only and thus it’s designed for somebody who just overpronates.

Final Thoughts

880

If you’re not familiar where it sits in the lineup, the 880 is a medium cushion shoe that sits right underneath the 1080. The 1080 is kind of your max cushion shoe.

I think there’s a place for the 880 in pretty much every runner’s rotation. No matter if you’re a hobby jogger or if you’re training for long-distance races or faster paces, this is a really great workhorse shoe.

It’s not too much shoe and there’s not a lot of clunk to it, but there’s enough cushion to get you to through lots of miles.

Also, with that little touch of firmness, there’s even enough responsiveness to get through a tempo or a faster-pace run if that is your typical bag.

The 880 is going to work for you if you like the Brooks Ghost or maybe the Mizuno Wave Rider because it fits really nicely into that category.

I think New Balance played it safe and they didn’t overhaul the 880 in the same way that they overhauled their most recent version of the 1080.

860

Stability shoes are not supposed to be springy kind of shoes. They’re supposed to be more stable, a little bit stiff, and controlling.

The 860 is super supportive and super controlling but not in a brutal kind of way.

If you’re used to the mild type of stability shoes like the Saucony Guide or Hurricane, the 860 is a little bit more stable.

Unlike some other big beefy stability shoes from different brands, the 860 is a great everyday function shoe for run and walk.

This shoe is going to give that awesome stability but now with Fresh Foam, it’s got that nice blend of soft and protective.

For me, this is a shoe for the easy days, for the daily miles, and for those longer runs when you just want to hold your ankle a little bit more.

The New Balance 860 has…

  • a little bit of a different upper.
  • a heel flare.
  • less holes.
  • a great fit
  • a little bit of a clunky feel when you run in it.

New Balance 880 vs 860

That’s it for this New Balance 880 vs 860 comparison. I hope you’ve learned something new today.

If you’ve ever run in the 880 or the 860, please tell us your experience in the comments section below.

4 thoughts on “New Balance 880 vs 860 – 2 Amazing Shoes For Different Runners”

  1. Once NB changed the 860 & removed part of the medial post (3 yrs) ago, I couldn’t run in them. My knees would hurt. I use them to run around in, do errands. Switched to 880’s. Liked them alot. 6 months later, they changed them, no more wide toe box (necessary as I’m a former ballerina with bunions). I run in last years version even though I have to removed corns on my toes….so tight toe box. I just ordered a new pair but don’t know if these will work either…..Any advice

    Reply
    • Hi Kendall.
      So sorry to hear about your struggle. If the only problem you have with the 880s is the narrow toe box, why don’t you get them in wide?

      Reply
  2. I have 3 pair of the 860v11 and love them, especially the way the back lays around the heel/ankle. I’m wide footed but do NOT have any complaints about how they fit in the toe box. I’m training for a Jan. 2022 marathon and I change off between 2 of them as I run 4 days per week. As a female, I’d like more fun colors – especially Red. I do have the citrus which gets lots of compliments (I also have black on black and black with white).

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Michele. The 860v11 is a really fun shoe to run in. Glad you found a reliable shoe and good luck with your marathon training.

      Reply

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