New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 Introduction
Vongo has been a bit of an experiment for New Balance in their Fresh Foam line-up: find the best way to create stability without the older-style medial post that you’ll find in the brand’s popular 860 — which is now also outfitted with a Fresh Foam midsole in the last three models.
These two stability offerings also differ in drop, with the Vongo balancing on a 6 mm. difference from heel down to toe and the 860 sporting a more traditional 10 mm. drop.
The Vongo v6 received the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), an accolade given to shoes that promote good foot health.
New Balance also offers the 1540 as a stability option for men; it is available outside of the United States, only, as of 2021. Their more robust stability shoe, the 1260, was discontinued in 2019.
As mentioned, Vongo has changed quite a bit with each model; I had the pleasure of running in four of the six.
The first Vongo was 10/10 stars with a comfortably-snug fit, light weight, and pleasant bounce into toe-off.
In contrast, the Vongo v2 was heavier with a much less stable ride: 6/10 stars. Jon liked the v3 more than I enjoyed the v2, giving 8/10 stars; this third Vongo was sleek and comfortable, but the midsole was chunky.
New Balance brought in a flexible knit internal bootie for the v4 that also functioned as the tongue. It was still a but clunky for fast movements, but overall I really enjoyed the fit, cushion, and moderate stability: 9/10 stars.
The v5 changed again, from a drop of 4-6 mm. in previous models up to 8 mm.—which is now 6 mm. in the v6—and maintained the glove-like flexible fit while upgrading to Fresh Foam X foam. TJ really enjoyed the v5, granting 10 stars, and I again grant 10 for the v6 with its similar fit and addition of a full-length plastic plate.
I was surprised to find that the v6 weighs the same as the (heavy) v2. The midsole grants such a quick turnover that the 6 does not feel heavy. This shoe weighs 8.9 oz. W sz 8 and 10.7 oz. M sz 9 (which is 10.5 oz. in my woman’s size 9.5). It weighs the same as a 1/2 size bigger HOKA Cloudflyer and just .1 oz. more than Gaviota.
New Balance, you have landed upon a healthy balance of stability, cushion, and comfort (that does not feel as heavy as it is)!
Similar shoes include the PUMA ForeverRun Nitro, HOKA Gaviota, Brooks Glycerin GTS, ASICS Kayano, and Mizuno Wave Horizon.
New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 First Impressions
Vongo has changed quite a bit over its previous five versions, so I was intrigued to try out its current presentation when pulling the 6 out of the box. Since I tested the 1st, 2nd, and 4th versions of Vongo I was also very interested to experience how the engineers modified this shoe yet again.
The bright flash across the midsole was not my favorite, but long ago I learned that function matters so much more than appearance when finding the right running shoe. Have no fear, the white (W), gray (M) and black colorways do not add a bright splash to the midsole, if you wish to avoid it.
First steps hinted to the efficient, supported roll through transition that I would come to find in the run. The toe-off delighted me so much on my first trek around the kitchen that I called my 16 year old daughter, also an avid runner, over to try it!
On my first run the feel underfoot with pop into toe-off reminded me a lot of the PUMA ForeverRun Nitro, a shoe my daughter ran cross country in this past season after I was done testing it for RunningShoesGuru.
I loved it so much I wanted her to be able to use it!
New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 Upper
A synthetic engineered mesh upper molds to the foot and holds it in place. Like the very first Vongo, the fit is comfortably snug and true-to-size to a little small. The flexibility allows for a snug fit that adapts to various foot shapes, but many will want to size up a half size if in between sizes.
The upper was flexible enough to adapt around my odd foot shape; I enjoyed running in the shoe, but it hurt my foot if worn long term. In contrast, my daughter, who typically wears a half size smaller, loves both running in Vongo and wearing it all day.
There are more holes cut into the design this year. We have had no issues with breathability in fall and winter running outdoors or climate controlled spaces inside, but the layers and moderately thick tongue hint at it being a warm shoe in hot conditions.
The tongue is supported by wide, stretchy strips attached to the base of the upper on both sides in a partial gusset, with holes through its length for added breathability.
The sock liner adds a cushy base above the foam.
The fit is comfortable and supported, with an excellent internal heel counter rounding out the heel and encouraging forward foot momentum.
New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 Sole Unit
This review of the sole will begin with the best part of this shoe (the midsole) and conclude with the least helpful aspect (the outsole).
As found in the Vongo v5, Fresh Foam X in a rocker formation provides a smooth transition. This year the smooth roll with pop into toe-off is enhanced by the addition of a plate, called a “stability plane,” that runs the length of the shoe and shows midway through the side of the midsole.
Fresh Foam X is bouncier and cushier than the original Fresh Foam.
The plastic plate provides stability, a smooth roll, and a springboard for the foam. Vongo’s combination of rocker geometry, plate, and foam provide a perfectly supported yet slightly cushy ride; this will be tough to improve upon!
What can be better next round is the outsole. The slightly raised pods under the v5 did not provide great traction. This outsole is even more smooth in the 6.
Blown rubber covers the high wear areas in a thin coat, with less coverage than in the 5. With about 80 miles on my shoes the slightly raised pods are getting smoothed over. This makes it work for running in ideal conditions but not a great choice in rain or snow or over terrain where grip is key. This thin outsole will be the part of the shoe that wears out the fastest for runners with heavy wear patterns.
The drop is now 6 mm. after going from 4 mm. in earlier versions up to 8 mm. in the 5.
New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v6 Conclusions
This is the best Vongo to date in both fit and function; I thoroughly enjoy running in it. Like the PUMA ForeverRun Nitro, which I encouraged my 16 year old to run in for cross country season, I am passing the Vongo v6 on to her for 800-3000 meter race training during track season.
I highly recommend this shoe for medium to long runs and longer interval workouts where support and cushion are helpful alongside the “pop” of an efficient transition into toe-off.
The places to improve for future models of Vongo include outsole grip and upper breathability.