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The Fresh Foam Zante V3 Review – Will You Love It?

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While cushioned offerings and maximalist shoes continue to dominate the market for marathons and everyday comfort, more and more runners are looking for quick, responsive offerings that allow them to break personal records and the occasional 5K. More importantly, runners are looking for durable high-mileage offerings as the 200-mile marker is no longer an exception, but the minimum standard. In the past few years, New Balance has offered a no-fuss neutral runner through their Fresh Foam products in the Zante. Today, we review the third version of the Zante V3, which is a light weight, fast shoe that will continue to perform well past mile 300.

PROS

  • Sleek profile with understated branding and great color options.
  • Extremely lightweight and breathable.
  • Encourages faster transitions.
  • Great lockdown achieved through midfoot saddle.
  • Highly durable rubber sole unit and responsive cushioning.
  • Low heel-to-toe offset giving the wearer a decent amount of ground feel.

CONS

  • Could be a little small in the toe box area.
  • Single piece sole unit along with firm cushioning makes it slightly inflexible.
  • Fresh Foam cushioning is not entirely descriptive of the shoe.
  • Could benefit from using knit technology offered in other offerings from New Balance.

Aesthetics

The New Balance Zante V3 is a sleek neutral running shoe with minimal overlays and a low profile. Unlike offerings from Saucony or Asics, New Balance masters the no-frills design approach to running shoes with the Zante V3.

The Zante V3 offers New Balance’s signature “N” on the saddle of the shoe, which also serves as reflector for night time runs. New Balance also offers branding on the tongue, but the Zante V3 avoids putting filler words or “whooshes” signifying running on the shoe. The Zante V3 does have some writing on the heel counter to highlight the “Fresh Foam.” We found that this detail to be a bit more than was needed.

We found that we preferred this understated design and look on the Zante V3 compared to other runners that employ complex patterns and overlays. On certain versions of the Zante V3, New Balance employs a diamond pattern on the mesh upper, but not distractingly so. For those with the need for “make-a-statement” running shoes, the Zante V3 comes in a variety of great colors including a bright orange or a two-tone highlighter colorway. The Zante V3 is also offered in a unique Boston edition, which features a unique purple colorway along with unique details throughout the shoe including a translucent sole.

Score: 7/10 – Great low profile with optional colors for those looking to make a statement. Does not annoyingly scream that it is a runner shoe and can be worn casually as well.

Upper

The Zante V3 features a seamless engineered mesh upper which gives it a flexible and breathable fit. New Balance employed strategic reinforcements in key areas by manipulating the mesh’s density in certain places. This allows for a secure fit without the need for additional construction.

The upper has no overlays to irritate the runner, which allows runners to go sockless should they desire. We found that runners enjoyed the breathability of the Zante V3, yet was still able to enjoy it during runs in colder climates making it an appropriate four-season shoe.

The Zante V3 also features a midfoot saddle lockdown structure that is reinforced to keep the runner in the shoe. We found that the midfoot saddle was successful in providing adequate lockdown while allowing the runner to take advantage of the shoe’s intended speed purpose. The midfoot saddle also features New Balance’s reflective logo intended for running at night. However, the reflective properties are minimal and we recommend runners do not rely solely on it for safety purposes.

The engineered mesh upper also allows the Zante V3 to be an extremely lightweight shoe. 8.80 oz in Men’s and 7.5 oz in Women’s. This was consistently one of the most highlighted parts of the shoe. Many commented on how the Zante V3 felt weightless during runs and allowed runners to conserve leg strength. We also found that the light weight of the Zante V3 encouraged runners to run at a faster pace. While not related to actual running, we also found that the light weight made the Zante V3 a popular choice for packing in gym bags as well.

The Zante V3 also features a bootie construction which securely locks in the runner into the shoe. It also features an extremely comfortable padded ankle collar something New Balance has been employing for decades most notably in their iconic 990 series. As a result, runners commented on how the Zante V3 was an extremely comfortable daily runner with enough ankle protection to inspire confidence.

However, some users commented on the narrow toe box of the Zante V3 requiring some users to size up for proper running. Also, the engineered mesh upper can be subject to holes after prolonged use, something that is to be expected of breathable uppers. Lastly, while we love the engineered mesh upper, we felt that New Balance could have offered the Zante V3 using their engineered knit utilized for their lifestyle line. We felt that this, along with the dedicated fan base of the Zante line would be a game changer for New Balance and make the Zante V3 a more comfortable shoe.

Score: 6/10 – Seamless upper with engineered mesh and amazing lockdown and comfort. Narrow toe box and dated use of mesh limits an otherwise amazing upper.

Cushioning

The Zante V3 utilizes New Balance’s Fresh Foam cushioning system. Fresh Foam is an EVA foam compound injection molded to form the shoe’s midsole. The unique properties of the Fresh Foam are in its development and the concaves in the shoe. New Balance developed Fresh Foam by reviewing the strike, toe off, and gait tendencies of runners. As a result, New Balance adjusted the density of the foam and employed a unique concave pattern across the midsole. This is intended to capture and disperse impact allowing the runner to maintain efficiency throughout the stride.

However, like other Fresh Foam offerings from New Balance, the Zante V3 suffers from the misleading name of the cushioning system. When first trying on the Zante V3, runners reported being shocked that the cushioning is far from plush. Instead, the Zante V3 is firmer than the “foam” name would suggest.

Once runners were able to move past the initial shock of the firmer cushioning, we found that runners enjoyed the responsive ride of the Zante V3. The firmness of the cushioning combined with the 6mm offset allows for an extremely responsive ride and low-to-the ground feel. We found that runners enjoyed being closer to the ground which allowed them to run at faster paces. The responsiveness allowed runners to directly interact with the ground aiding in quicker transitions. In fact, the most consistent note we found on the Zante V3 was that it was a “fast shoe.”

The firmness and offset also makes the Zante V3 a versatile gym shoe as well. For those looking for a shoe to serve multiple purposes from cross-training to short distance running to daily gym wear, we found that users commented that the stability, ground feel, and comfort of the Zante V3 made it a go-to option for a variety of activities.

We also found that many runners commented on the durability of the Fresh Foam. Despite being a basic EVA based foam, many runners commented that compression due to high mileage use was minimal even after the 300-mile threshold. Some attribute this to the Zante V3’s use of a firmer EVA compound, while others attribute this to the strategic concaves on the midsole’s surface. We believe it could be a mixture of both that contribute to its overall durability.

We also love the relatively low offset of the Zante V3 at 6mm. New Balance was purposeful in their choices for the Zante V3 to ensure it encouraged low to the ground feel in addition to responsiveness. Many users preferred the 6mm offset versus other brand’s offerings as it offered a minimal experience.

While the firm responsiveness of the Zante V3 enables it to be a faster shoe with great ground feel, we found that some runners found the cushioning too firm limiting its utility as an “everyday” comfort shoe for walking or for use casually. The versatility between performance and casual comfort is something other brands such as Adidas, Brooks, and Asics have been able to successfully navigate, but New Balance still focuses on one or the other. Additionally, we found some runners could not move past the misleading label of “fresh foam” only to find a firm, responsive ride instead.

We also found that some runners commented that this version of the Zante V3 was slightly less flexible than previous iterations. However, some of this could be alleviated by the Zante V3’s removable insole. We found that users enjoyed being to use custom orthotics should they require them. Lastly, the Zante V3 is a neutral runner with little correction. This is exaggerated by the firm cushioning system on the Zante V3. Therefore, while custom orthotics may alleviate some over pronation in the Zante V3, for severe overpronators, we recommend other offerings such as the Asics Kayano.

Score: 7/10…If you’re expecting a firm, responsive ride. If you believed the Fresh Foam moniker and thought this would be more “Adidas Boost,” then you’ll be disappointed.

Traction

The sole of the Zante V3 is single piece of blown rubber with a dual design consistent traction pattern throughout the shoe. Toward the toe, the Zante V3 uses larger hexagonal pods throughout the forefoot. This is meant not only for landing purposes, but for encouraging the runner a quick toe-off during runs. Many users echoed this sentiment noting that the Zante V3 encourages a faster turnover pace.

Toward the heel of the Zante V3, New Balance uses a similar pattern of the forefoot, but in a more bunched formation. This would still allow heel strikers a quicker turnover while providing some protection during impact.

Overall the traction is considerably thinner than in comparable running shoes. This provided amazing ground feel during runs and allowed runners to feel more connected. Combined with the firmer midsole, runners commented that they never felt unstable or sinking during runs. Additionally, users commented that the density of the traction unit did not impact durability. In fact, some users mentioned noticing that the traction was still highly serviceable after 300 miles.

However, while the one-piece sole unit encourages speedy transition, it also contributes to limited flexibility. Many users noted that even after multiple runs, the sole unit in combination with the firm Fresh Foam midsole made the Zante V3 slightly less flexible. While this was not an issue for road runs, for those looking for a responsive shoe to navigate uneven terrain may be disappointed by the Zante V3. Additionally, the chosen traction pattern for the Zante V3 may inhibit its use in damp or wet conditions. We also feel that the lightweight, smooth sole ideal for speed in dry conditions may suffer significantly in wetter surfaces.

The rigid single piece sole unit also may suffer from separation from the midsole. Some users commented noticing some separation towards the toe after high usage. As a result, many runners commented that they preferred a segmented sole unit used in the New Balance 1080 or comparable models by Brooks. While this may sacrifice speed, it may have made the Zante V3 a more versatile running shoe.

Lastly, the sole unit along with the firmness and relatively low offset makes the Zante V3 an ideal training shoe for some weight lifters and gym goers. The light weight along with the stable foundation makes the Zante V3 a popular option for daily gym wear as well for use on ellipticals and some weight training.

Score: 6/10 – Single piece sole encourages speed and is highly durable. However, some may find inflexibility an issue.

Price

The Zante V3 retailed for 99.99 for both men and women, but at the time of this writing, we were able to find prices as low as 47.00. Even at 99.99, for those looking for a responsive, fast running shoe, we felt that it was a tremendous deal. Many users also commented on the high durability of the Zante V3 with uses up to 300 miles. However, at 47.00, we feel that the Zante V3 is quite frankly a steal. Comparable models by Nike or Asics rarely dip to this price point. Factoring in that the Zante V3 could be a multi-year running shoe, we feel that this price is extremely attractive.

Score: 9/10 –The amazing durability and high praise for its speed-inducing qualities, at 47 dollars, we could not recommend the Zante V3 enough for those looking for a responsive, fast ride.

Target Audience

The Zante V3 is ideal for those looking for a quick, low distance trainer for speed runs and 10k. At higher mileages such as half-marathons, the Zante V3 may lack the cushioning for longer runs. However, with the light weight of the Zante V3, technically sound runners could push those distances.

The Zante V3 is perfect for those looking for a neutral running shoe with a low offset focused on quickness. The comfortable, breathable mesh upper combined with the padded ankle collar makes this shoe ideal for runners in the neutral category.

We also anticipate the New Balance Zante V3 to be popular with those looking for a daily runner and occasional gym shoe. The stable, responsive base makes it ideal for certain forms of weight lifting and makes it perfect for short quick runs as well.

However, for those looking for a maximum cushioned shoe that is more foam than board, then we recommend other offerings like the Adidas Energy Boost or the Saucony Hurricane. There is relatively no plush cushioning in the Zante V3 and those looking for a shoe to wear in comfort all day may be disappointed.

Score: 7/10 – Great speed trainer and responsive shoe. Will be popular among advanced runners. Those looking for all day comfort may need to look elsewhere.

Should you Buy It

Yes – The New Balance Zante V3 is a neutral shoe focused on speed and performance. It is light weight, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. We love that runners continuously note that they have run the fastest in the Zante V3. We also love that New Balance paid extreme attention to the outsole making it both consistent with the purpose of the shoe along with extremely durable.

Total score: 42/60

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