2015 has been a good year for New Balance shoes, and especially so for the Fresh Foam Zante. Winning the ‘Road Shoe of the Year’ title as well as ‘Best in Class’ and ‘Best Performance Shoe’ the Zante had a lot of people talking. I bought my pair about 4-5 months ago at the start of the summer and I think now would be an adequate time to give my review.
For the review, instead of just dropping all the facts and figures (which you can find on the NB website) I’m going to talk about how the shoes performed in the different situations that I have used them.
Running on the road in the Zante is really, really comfortable. My previous shoe was the Nike Free 4.0, and I did quite like them for their light weight but the sole could have been more cushioning on the roads. The Zante has a sole that absorbs the shocks of road running really well, making for a very comfortable ride. The grip on the bottom of the shoe copes quite well with wet tarmac and concrete, keeping you sure footed in every stride. The sole also gives quite a bit of bounce, making you feel a little lighter on your feet.
My local parkrun is hosted at Chances Park in Carlisle and the course comprises of footpaths as well as grass sections. I was initially a little worried that the Zante would not perform well on wet grass, as many running shoes don’t (e.g. my old Nike Free) but I was nicely surprised! It was absolutely fine in the wet, including running up and down slight inclines/declines. I haven’t slipped on grass in them yet. Also, despite the grass absorbing the impact of the shoe, you still get a little bit of bounce from them.
Living in Cumbria, I like to run trails from time to time and have used the Zante once or twice. Obviously it isn’t a trail shoe but I gave it a chance in the unfamiliar terrain. In all honesty, the Zante is perfectly fine on loose surfaces like gravel or stone covered routes, however it falls down greatly on mud. Even the slightest bit of mud provides for a tricky and slippy situation. If you get a lot of mud, good luck – you’ll need it.
Once again I know the shoes aren’t dedicated track shoes but I have used them a few times at the track and I am very happy with their performance. You get the same bounce and grip as if you were on the road and they are great for steady paces. However, if you’re running a bit faster, closer to sprint speed, the shoes do feel somewhat heavy. This is expected really, as they aren’t sprint shoes.
I’ve put gym into the review mix because I’ve worn the shoes for treadmill work as well as some light weightlifting. They are quite comfortable for casual use so I can’t really fault them here. I wouldn’t pick them as a primary gym shoe but they will make do if needed.
The shoe performs quite well as an all rounder and excels in road running. Compared to my old shoes, the Nike Free 4.0, they offer more comfort, more bounce and also more grip. I like the styling, and they offer various colours, not just the green ones seen here!
The only downside I can see is the price. Currently at £95.00 on the New Balance website, they aren’t affordable to everybody. However, Amazon are offering a slightly cheaper price (here). If that is still a bit too expensive, I recommend checking out the New Balance outlet shop, next to the factory in Flimby. I picked mine up there for £65 with an extra half price offer on any other shoes.
Whats your favourite training shoe? Let me know in the comments below!