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New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v5 Review
By Contributor David Salas and Guest Reviewer Ryan Flugaur


The New Balance Vongo is back with their 5th version of their stability shoe with a big overhaul from previous models. The Vongo exists as the stability version of the beloved New Balance 1080. It is designed to offer support to runners seeking stability from moderate to severe overpronation. It offers a soft landing thanks to the soft Fresh Foam X cushioning and a new gradient post which I will cover later. The New Balance Vongo v5 is a shoe I'll continue to run in for my longer, slower paced runs where I could use the guidance t throughout the midfoot but still give my toes the space they need to be free.

Vongo v5 sitting on a pier, lateral side. N logo across midfoot with Fresh Foam written under. A white shoe with blue streaking upper part of the foam throughout.
Vongo v5 sitting on a pier, lateral side. N logo across midfoot with Fresh Foam written under on sidewall. A white shoe with blue streaking upper part of the foam throughout.
Specifications for the Fresh Foam X Vongo v5 (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.7 oz, 275g Men/ 8.7 oz, 246g Women
Stack: 34 mm heel, 26 mm forefoot
Heel-Toe Offset: 8 mm
Classification: Maximal stability trainer

Vongo v5 sitting on a pier, now slightly turned to show heel. Upperward heel tab see closer, peaking yellow outsole underneath.

RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

David: The New Balance Vongo v5 is a max cushion stability training shoe meant to log in your daily miles. The shoe utilizes a very comfortable sock like knit upper as well as a very well integrated post. This keep the shoe plush and comfortable without sacrificing stability. This very much is a "premium" category stability shoe and I think one that should be on a lot of people's radars. 

Ryan: The New Balance Vongo v5 is an everyday stability trainer with a soft landing and flexible midfoot. The upper was updated this year to the new hyperknit material allowing it to have a bit more stretch in the forefoot. This is an elastic feeling material that rebounds with compression or tension. There is also a new graded posting that gets progressively more firm as the material moves into the midfoot. The Vongo v5 is best suited for the runner looking for a daily stability trainer with a softer landing and a moderate amount of stability in the forefoot. Runners that prefer a wider toe box will enjoy the breathable hyperknit material. This is a shoe with a comfortable step in feel that feels great even after the first run.


Direct heel view of the Vongo V5. A dense blue section digs into center of heel with NB vertically written.
Direct heel view of the Vongo V5. A dense blue section digs into center of heel with NB vertically written.

FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

David: The New Balance Vongo v5 fits true to size for me in my normal Men's 9.5. The heel and midfoot have normal width with the toe box being a tad wide. Overall the upper fits like a glove. The knit material they use in this model is incredibly comfortable and almost feels like nothing is there at times. The midfoot region of the shoe is reinforced and thickened up a little bit to act alongside the lacing system to help with lockdown through the midfoot. Overall I think they did a great job with the fit. The shoe locks down well without being overly abrasive in any regions. The tongue is not gusseted but still holds the dorsum of the foot well without slippage and gives normal padding from the laces. There is a toe guard present but it is integrated well and helps hold structure with no issue. I normally don't like knit uppers like this because of security reasons but they did great with this one. 

Ryan: The New Balance Vongo fit is normal for me in my men’s size 9. Coming in at 9.7 oz for my size 9,it allowed me to add up miles without thinking about the weight of the shoe. This was a shoe that felt just as good at mile 12 as it did at mile 1 during my runs. The length fits perfect and the toe box allows for adequate room for toe splaying. The hyperknit upper is very stretchy which allows for a good amount of space in the midfoot yet I didn't feel it was too sloppy when picking up the pace. The heel is extremely comfortable with a slight padding that provides an adequate heel lock without slipping or feeling unstable. The tongue is free to move around the shoe, however I did not have any issues as the laces locked it in place during all my runs.

Vongo held over rocks to show upper. Well padded heel cup seen with Fresh Foam written on insole.
Vongo held over rocks to show upper. Well padded heel cup seen with Fresh Foam written on insole.

PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

David: The Vongo v5 is definitely a smooth rider training shoe for the premium stability category. The Fresh Foam X midsole is very soft throughout the forefoot and lateral aspect of the midfoot and heel with the posting firming up the medial aspect in that respective region. The posting is very well integrated and does feel separate from the midsole in any way. More on this in the stability section. The ride is soft at initial contact, stable and firm through the midfoot, with a plush and semi flexible forefoot. The ride feels very balanced throughout, especially for a high stability shoe. Fresh out of the box the shoe never felt clunky and I got into a rhythm pretty quickly. The midsole definitely feels like a workhorse type foam. The shoe feels great mile after mile and seems to respond best to daily paces and recovery paces. I was still able to do a little bit of uptempo efforts in them but the shoe certainly shines best at daily efforts. There is a posterior lateral bevel to the heel, though it isn't large. This is okay though due to how soft Fresh Foam X is. The compression of the foam at that region transitions really nicely into the firm medial aspect of the posting through the distal rearfoot and midfoot. Don't get me wrong, the shoe is not marshmallow soft at all. I would call it more protective. The foam itself is pretty soft, but the posting does firm the ride up a little bit through the midfoot. 

Ryan: The New Balance Vongo v5 is one of my favorite stability shoes I have tested this year. The midsole is constructed using full length Fresh Foam X which cushions the ride without becoming too soft. Fresh Foam does a good job of supplying just the right amount of flexibility to transition from the foot to ankle rocker with relative ease making the shoe feel smooth and controlled. The heel feels firm with good cushioning allowing it to be stable without feeling clunky. I typically chose to run in the Vongo v5 during my recovery pace days as well as my longer runs and the Vongo performed very well. I did take the Vongo out for a Tempo run and it began to feel a bit clunky at those faster paces. This is the shoe I will be wearing for most of my foundational run training where I will be adding up the miles at a slower pace. Having around 50 miles on the Vongo v5 there is barely any wear on the outsole and the foam continues to hold up nicely. I expect this shoe to easily last 300+ miles.

Vongo up close on a chair. Fresh Foam clearly seen on sidewall. You can see little divets in the fresh foam throughout.

STABILITY

David: The Vongo V5 certainly falls in that max stability category. First off the posting is done very well in this shoe. As stated earlier it feels like it is all one continuous piece of foam that is designed to move alongside the firmer medial portion fluidly. The shoe also uses sidewalls both medially and laterally giving the foot a sense of security in either direction like they are being guided forward. The shoe also uses a relatively full contact outsole that keeps traction on the shoe great and also seems to help with some ground feel as well. The shoe also has a pretty wide platform throughout increasing the cross sectional area for the landing, making for a very stable landing for transitions. The upper is a knit upper that has a good amount of stretch to it which normally would take some stability away, but they integrated it very well with the sidewalls and midsole throughout. I had hardly any instability unless I was taking a real sharp turn or taking it into some trails it wasn't designed for. 

Ryan: New Balance has an interesting approach to creating stability throughout the midfoot for the Vongo v5. It does this through what New Balance calls innovative gradient stability technology. Basically, this means the posting is accomplished using pellets injected in the midsole that become more dense over the medial side of the midfoot. This hopefully helps to integrate the post better into the shoe with the goal of making it less noticeable. The post tended to disappear when walking or running and I found that it offered the guidance needed to support the medial side of the forefoot without becoming irritating.

The Vongo v5 was also updated to include a 5mm wider midfoot than the previous models. This extra width helps to provide a more stable platform for the foot and may assist to help decelerate foot pronation. Despite the upper being very stretchy, New Balance added some extra support over both the medial and lateral quarter of the shoe. This is the area where the New Balance “N” is located. It is accomplished using a thicker stitch weave pattern that attaches to the lace holes. This stitching pattern runs posterior into the internal heel counter to help lock down the heel. For the runner that needs a little extra guidance in the forefoot and toe box this may not be the shoe for you as the upper may feel a bit too sloppy for you.

Outsole of Vongo V5 seen. Yellow tip of forefoot rubber along with heel wrapping around. Black outsole covers the mid to forefoot, with two flex lines seen.

THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Ryan: Running shoes are tools used to help the individual accomplish the tasks of running comfortably and at the same time working on avoiding injury. Stability shoes were developed with the goal of restricting overpronation and thus hopefully preventing injury. Whether stability shoes actually attain this goal is still up for debate.

A study in 2013 showed that moderate foot pronation does not increase injury risk in novice runners and the entire biomechanical assessment of the runner needs to be taken into account when determining injury risk (Nielsen, 2013). On the other side of the debate, a recent study from March 2021 showed that motion-control shoes helped to reduce the risk of pronation related injuries in recreational runners (Williems et al., 2021) . In this study, pronation related injuries were classified as achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciopathy/heel pain, exercise induced lower leg pain, and anterior knee pain.

Despite the shoes helping pronation-related injuries, other non-pronation injuries were not decreased with the use of the motion control shoes. The motion controlled shoes used a thermoplastic structure that helped to support the midfoot as well as a dual density sole in the forefoot. These two components are commonly found in many of the stability shoes on the market today. So after examining both sides how do we know if a shoe is good for an individual? Comfort may continue to be the answer (Nigg et al., 2015) . For some, midfoot posting feels very comfortable and while for others, the shoe may feel too restrictive and may actually limit some of their natural pronation. The natural pronation of a runner is actually part of the natural shock absorption for the body. By limiting those individuals' natural pronation, we may be doing more harm than good and actually be setting them up for injury.

When first putting on the New Balance Vongo v5, the fit was great and throughout my training in the Vongo, I never noticed any arch or medial foot pain, which could bother me in other shoes. Despite the Vongo v5 fitting me well, it may not be perfect for you. This is due to the fact that the amount of posting varies between companies and thus each shoe is going to feel different for everyone. This fact highlights the importance of trying different stability shoes and finding one you feel comfortable in. Reading reviews and getting to “know” the shoe before you step into a shoe store is a great place to start and that's where we can help you out.

A great resource for this is the Stability Shoe Resource Guide at Doctors of Running. This guide can be used to help answer further questions you have regarding stability shoes as well as offer insight on stability shoes we have tested.

Sources:

Nielsen, RO. (2013). Foot Pronation is not associated with increased injury risk in novice runners wearing a neutral shoe: a 1-year prospective cohort study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 61(4).

​​Nigg, B., Baltich, J., Hoerzer, S., Enders, H. (2015). Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: 'preferred movement path' and 'comfort filter'. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(20).

Willems TM, Ley C, Goetghebeur E, Theisen D, Malisoux L. Motion-Control Shoes Reduce the Risk of Pronation-Related Pathologies in Recreational Runners: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2021 Mar;51(3):135-143. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2021.9710. Epub 2020 Dec 11. PMID: 33306927.

Medial view of Vongo V5 seen held out to rocks. Midsole seen heavily in the heel and slightly lowering steadily into the forefoot.
Medial view of Vongo V5 seen held out to rocks. Midsole seen heavily in the heel and slightly lowering steadily into the forefoot.

RECOMMENDATIONS

David: I really enjoyed the Vongo V5 for logging my daily miles. If I had something to add to the shoe it would most likely be a small recommendation to the upper to just make it a tad more versatile with sharper turns or trail conditions. I don't think I would change the knit upper per se, but perhaps extending out that firmer reinforced region in the midfoot anteriorly a few centimeters so that the distal midfoot and forefoot don't have a sense of translation when running through unstable conditions. 

Ryan: The only small recommendation I have is to decrease the stretchiness of the upper. For me, this extra room felt nice but I can see how a runner with narrow feet may find the upper to be a bit more sloppy, especially when picking up the pace.

Up close on the Vongo on a bench in the park, lateral side.
Up close on the Vongo on a bench in the park, lateral side.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

David: The New Balance Vongo v5 is a max cushion stability trainer for those looking to have a well integrated post that does not feel like a piece of plastic under you. The Fresh Foam X midsole is very soft throughout, but the ride of the shoe does end up being a little more in that "firm protective" category due to the posting. I felt the transitions throughout were very fluid and the shoe operated best at daily training paces. The upper is of knit construction and is very expansive as well for those with swelling or slightly wider feet. 

Ryan: The Vongo v5 is a stability daily trainer that offers a moderate to high amount of guidance paired with the New Balance Fresh foam. The post is integrated seamlessly into the midfoot and works well to assist with support of the arch. This shoe will work best for a runner that doesn't need a lot of guidance in the forefoot and prefers a slightly wider toe box due to the stretchiness of the hyperknit upper material. The Vongo v5 relies on its stability through the medial gradient post. This type of stability helps most for runners that may need some assistance with their tibialis posterior and other foot musculature. For this reason, it could also benefit a neutral runner that just wants to give their foot and ankle musculature a recovery session which I have used the shoe for on occasion.


Vongo on bottom of some wood steps, medial side. Large Fresh Foam X seen again. Second shoe is flipped upside down over the heel cup, displaying heel of second pair.
Vongo on bottom of some wood steps, medial side. Large Fresh Foam X seen again. Second shoe is flipped upside down over the heel cup, displaying heel of second pair.

GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

David
Fit: A- (VERY comfortable knit upper throughout. Feels premium and dimensions are very sound. Perhaps a tiny bit security further anterior from the midfoot)
Performance: A-
(The shoe has done all of the daily mileage I have needed it to very well. Post is well integrated and plenty of cushion for long miles. Responsiveness could be a tad better but that isn't what this shoe is for.)
Stability: A- (Great stability. Solid platform, good lockdown, full contact outsole, great post integration. The security could just be a tad better in the distal midfoot and early forefoot with sharper turns or trails)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+/A- (I am really happy with the post integration in this shoe. The simplicity of the posting and how well it integrates with the rest of the midsole actually makes me excited to put it on when I run)
Personal: A- (I use the Vongo for a lot of my daily miles when I am not testing other shoes. It can do pretty much everything I need it to, though I still can be a tad apprehensive in some trail conditions or routes with a lot of turns)
Overall: A- (This is definitely one of the top shelf stability options on the market and one I keep reaching for, especially for the max cushion category)

Ryan
Fit: A (This shoe fits me great. From the first time putting on the shoes, to my last run, the Vongo v5 has been extremely comfortable without any hot sports or heel slippage.)
Performance: B+ (Provided the support needed with a smooth ride.)
Stability: A- (The seamless integration of the medial post and wider midfoot offer the guidance needed for most runners. Some runners may find the upper too sloppy.)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Nothing crazy unique with the Vongo v5 but it does what it is supposed to do very well.)
Personal: A- (One of my favorite daily stability shoes I have worn this year. Comfortable from the first time I put them on.)
Overall: A-/B+ (Great stability trainer. The most comfortable, stable, daily trainer I have run in this year. It has also become my daily work shoe as I find it very comfortable for long hours at the clinic.)

     

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Find the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v5 at Running Warehouse here. Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Shop Gear We Love
Mizuno Wave Rider 25:
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Rabbit Running Clothes:
Incredibly soft, high quality clothing for your next run
Feetures Socks:
Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
UltraAspire Fitted Race Belt:
Fantastic fitting belt that's durable, quick-drying, and comfortable
Trigger Point Foam Roller:
Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Coros Pace 2 Watch:
Excellent watch for various running goals and a massive battery life
Theragun Massager:
This small version is great on the go for working tired legs

FURTHER READING

Visit our Stability Running Shoe Resource Center for more on stability shoes and shoes in the same category as the Vongo v5.

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Carbon Plated Resource Page - Find all our plated reviews here, updated for 2021!
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Thanks for reading!

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TESTER PROFILES:


Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything.

Ryan Flugaur, PT, DPT, TPI Certified
Doctor of Physical Therapy

Dr. Flugaur began running four years ago when he was looking for a change to his current exercise program of body building. He continues to do some light strength training but running has become his true form of exercise to stay healthy. He has met some great friends through running and loves the camaraderie that the running community brings. He typically runs 20-40 miles a week depending on his training schedule. Dr. Flugaur lives in Wisconsin with his wife Olivia and 2 kids, Lucy and Jack. When not running he enjoys mountain biking, fat biking in the snow, camping, and cheering on the badgers, brewers, and bucks. PRs Include: 5K:20:05 (2021), 10 K: 43:36 (2021), Half-Marathon 1:42:22 (2021)

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at New Balance and Running Warehouse for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

NEXT: MIZUNO WAVE REBELLION

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