New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay 980v2 Review Facts
For those who are looking for a pair of fairly responsive and well cushioned daily trainers, the 980v2 Boracay from New Balance is worth considering. This neutral trainer is an update to the v1 and New Balance created several improvements with this newer version, such as a lower heel drop. The original 980 was a solid product that got many important design aspects right. However, some runners felt disappointed with some of its limitations. Fortunately, New Balance has addressed these concerns for the most part and delivered a new product that can be called both an update and an upgrade.
The lug design for these shoes’ outsole has been revamped, changing the shape by slightly elongating the hexagons from the v1 model. The most significant difference can be felt in the forefoot
with increased toe-box coverage. Unfortunately, the expanded toe-box only affects the outsole and the upper still features a narrower fit in this area. Also worth noting is the slight reduction in toe protection, a design change most likely intended to increase responsiveness and reduce weight. The end result is a few minor tweaks that may not look like much at first glance but manage to completely change the feel when worn.
While the midsole material for the Boracay 908v2 can’t be described as mushy, it is definitely far from firm. Although this does cause the overall support to take a hit, this design decision results in a lighter and more responsive stride. This enables the V2 to fill multiple roles as both a training shoe and a running shoe. In addition to the midsole, the Ortholite insole has also been softened significantly. As a result, runners who are more accustomed to firmness in their footwear will likely feel uncomfortable
in these running shoes.
The Boracay 908v2’s newly designed upper does away with non-stitched synthetic overlays, replacing them with a high-density print construction instead. This results in a sleek and seamless design over two separate layers of material, providing structural support and an appealing style. This is a style of footwear manufacturing that seems to be growing in popularity recently, at least in regards to the upper portion, so it makes sense that New Balance would switch to this style. While this doesn’t present any immediately apparent problems with breathability
or durability, the position of the shoe on your foot tends to change from the beginning of a running session to the end. A loop on the tongue mitigates this to a degree, but the problem remains.
With such a reasonable total weight, there is little to no room for complaints regarding this aspect of the shoe’s design. Similar to other shoes in the New Balance line, the Fresh Foam Boracay
v2 uses lightweight and comfortable materials. This results in a shoe with a bulky shape, due to many layers of protective cushion, but a surprisingly low weight of just under 10 ounces. Some of the materials
used to accomplish this impressive feat of engineering may not be of the highest quality, but the accomplishment is impressive regardless.
With a lack of interior lining, the mesh upper is more breathable than the previous version. This small difference in construction allows a great deal more air to travel throughout the inside of this shoe. When implemented in conjunction with this lighter weight shoe, runners won’t have to worry about excessive foot sweat or moisture getting trapped in the shoes. Not only will less stress be placed on the feet and legs while running, but any sweat or moisture
that appears can be mitigated easily. The Premium OrthoLite Sock liner placed inside these shoes also provide excellent ventilation, making this an exceptionally breathable article of footwear.
When compared to the previous model, the general fit of these shoes hasn’t really changed. However, more perceptive runners with a discerning eye might be able to recognize a few subtle changes that help to reinvigorate this New Balance footwear line. The Boracay 980v2 manages to remain comfortable consistently while providing excellent responsiveness through an entire running session. The feeling experienced from the midsole is definitively soft but doesn’t cross the line into mushy territory. The OrthoLite Sock liner added to the upper portion adds yet another layer of protective cushion to these New Balance trainers, making them perfect for casual walking or extended bouts of standing without running the risk of ankle pain. Finally, the additional width sizes are a staple of New Balance products, with this shoe being no exception.
The overall style of these shoes resembles the vast majority of New Balance products, which is to say that they look bulky and generally unappealing. This may be a matter of personal preference, but it is a sentiment shared by the vast majority of runners and footwear enthusiasts. Aesthetics aside, no real reflective material has been added for low light environments which can be considered a drawback due to safety concerns. While this was still the case for the previous Fresh Foam Boracay model, its continued absence from the design is certainly troubling for individuals who like to run at night or in the early morning. One more stylistic aspect to note is that the lacing system runs a bit more narrow than the previous version and has flatter laces as a result.
After a test involving 25 miles of rough running, no significant wear can be detected. New Balance shoes are known generally for their excellent durability, so this should come as no surprise. Additionally, while they are far from the lightest running shoes on the market, the Boracay 908v2 is certainly lighter than its terrain resistance would imply. This is an excellent combination to have in a pair of reliable trainers, but some customers have concerns about the longevity of the outsoles. Runners concerned with this particular aspect are advised to stick to less intense terrain, such as a road or running track. For the most part, however, customers should be pleased with the durability of these New Balance running shoes
Appearances can be deceiving when it comes to these New Balance running shoes. For example, the design of this shoe is very bulky, which would suggest that the amount of foot protection rivals that of a heavy-duty trail shoe. However, most of this bulky material is lightweight cushion meant more to cradle the foot rather than shield it from debris. Additionally, the material used is primarily mesh fabric intended to allow for air to flow throughout the shoe while it is worn. These two factors, combined with the lighter weight of the material, resulting in an upper that gives the appearance of an armored truck but functions closer to a VW beetle. You will be protected from low-intensity terrain hazards, but trail runners
will want to find a different set of shoes.
The Fresh Foam Boracay 908v2 isn’t necessarily trying to outdo any other brands. Rather than go toe to toe with a competitor, it seems that this particular line of New Balance footwear puts more emphasis on striking a balance between cushioning and energy efficiency. While the first version of the Boracay was quite firm, this updated version dials it back considerably. The result is a shoe that manages to cradle the foot effectively while also providing excellent energy return with each stride, although support takes a hit as a consequence. Some less experienced runners may not appreciate this delicate balance, but more seasoned running enthusiasts will be able to recognize the talent on display here.
In their design, the Premium OrthoLite Sock liner offers adequate arch support. For midfoot strikers and underpronators, these shoes are also decently supportive. However, it’s difficult to ignore that these shoes have suffered from a minor downgrade as a result of the use of softer materials in their midsole design. Some measure of support is present in the midsoles of these New Balance trainers, and there are certainly far less supportive shoes on the market, but runners who have particular support needs will want to look elsewhere for their footwear. This includes individuals with chronic conditions such as Achilles tendonitis, turf toe, or plantar fasciitis.
The outsole of these New Balance running shoes follows in the design trend of the upper and midsole, meaning it is made of a softer material. With the exception of a harder heel crash pad, the majority of the Fresh Foam
Boracay’s outsole is made from soft blown rubber. This means that it won’t have the kind of durability to handle rougher running surfaces such as a rocky trail. However, on less intense terrain such as a grassy field, artificial turf, sidewalks, or standard running track, these shoes will function admirably with an excellent combination of responsiveness and flexibility.
At its suggested retail price, the Boracay 908v2 is priced at the average cost for a pair of similar running shoes. However, it is fairly easy to find discounts for these shoes through online retailers such as Amazon and eBay. As a result, these New Balance trainers can be purchased for a sweet deal if you’re resourceful enough to find it. Even at the original retail price, these shoes are worth the investment due to the excellent features on display for casual use and athletic training. However, when listed at a discount, these shoes go from a decent deal to a must-buy steal.
The traction you experience wearing these shoes will ultimately depend on the environment you are running on. For example, these shoes offer the best grip on low to mid-intensity surfaces such as a road or track, with trails inclining to be troublesome. An outsole that emulates the trail shoe design and a tight-fitting upper contribute greatly to the Fresh Foam
Boracay’s traction, but the softer material and diminishing durability inhibit these benefits. The result is a middling amount of traction; not the worst, but far from the best.
The outsole pattern for these New Balance trainers was changed in this newer version, resulting in a linear path from heel to toe. This leads to a more consistent level of flexibility along the sole of the shoe, especially around the forefoot. In addition to this design feature, the softer material used for the construction of the midsole and outsole allow for a considerably greater measure of leeway than other running shoes on the market.
Users of the earlier Boracay 908 will not notice a huge difference in the stability of these newer shoes over the older. However, some subtle changes have been implemented, such as a lower stack height that offers more midsole stability. Aside from this, you should expect a decent amount of stability attributed mostly to the softer material used in its construction. These New Balance shoes have much more bounce than you might expect given its bulky frame which works in its favor when running longer distances. It’s a smooth ride with easy transitions from heel to midfoot to forefoot.
The 4 mm heel drop trainer works nicely as a nearly neutral running shoe
. This type of heel elevation is rare for most running shoes of this kind and is mostly seen on trail shoes and minimalist barefoot-style shoes. However, this small feature work to the Boracay’s favor, providing excellent responsiveness on roads and helping to correct stride anomalies such as heel striking.
- Padded collar and tongue
- Ortholite sockliner
- Single piece no-sew mesh upper
- Single density compression molded EVA foam blend
- Soft blown rubber outsole with harder heel crash plate
- FreshFoam midsole
- Full-Length fresh foam cushioning
- Seamless printed construction
- Neoprene stretch tongue
New Balance has done a terrific job improving this version of their Boracay model. With some clever tweaks, they’ve managed to reduce the weight while improving its features. It’s most closely comparable to New Balance's Zante line but manages to offer a few key differences that set it apart. There are certainly areas of the Fresh Foam Boracay 908v2’s design to improve on; however, based on the improvements made to this version, we should expect these areas to be improved with later versions.