What’s in a Name? We Search for an Answer While Testing Fresh Foam Vongo Shoes!
Can firmness and comfort find happiness in one shoe style? We test the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo to find the answer.
Friends say I'm a linguistic geek who can't resist investigating words, so when I encountered the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo shoe collection, I wanted to know what the word meant. I found definitions for Bongo and Congo, but Vongo? Nope.
Therefore, I'm making an educated guess: New Balance wants runners to know that they will be "Very much On the Go" if they buy these true blue running shoes!
Lexicon puzzle solved, I went for a run. Yup. The name is perfect; I was very much on the go and continue to be!
Introducing An Award-Winning Shoe
When the folks at New Balance decided to focus on making a shoe that delivers a supportive experience while not compromising on comfort, they consulted women during the engineering process. This collaboration process proved enlightening. NB crafted a lightweight (8.8 ounce) shoe built from the bottom up using a one-piece midsole to avoid seams that tend to cut short the life of running footwear. They named it Vongo.
We were curious about this wearer-centric approach to engineering Vongos, so we took it upon ourselves to give a pair a run for their money, subjecting the shoes to daunting challenges. Vongos held up so well, this Fresh Foam style earned our "Best Debut" honours.
I Test These for Myself
I have my own standards that must be met when it comes to running shoes and I certainly don't want to advocate on behalf of a shoe that doesn't meet them when others rely upon me to apply due diligence. I tend to choose a lightweight shoe for my distance runs and I understood what the manufacturer meant when conceiving its advertising copy: the Vongo truly does deliver stability and comfort in a single pair of running shoes.
Eager to find out how New Balance made this pairing possible, I learned that Vongo's most radical change was the removal of the pesky medial post multiple makers use to reinforce shoe stability. When the Vongo was designed, that post was eliminated, yet the structural feel and cozy security I experienced wearing shoes in the past with this reinforcing feature isn't the same - it's better!
We called the Vongo "a new generation of shoes designed to reduce excessive inward rolling in a less-complex, smoother-running shoe." That's a great way to describe one of the biggest advantages these shoes offer, but it's not the only feature that impressed me. The midsole sports a strangely-named feature called a "varus wedge" that's higher on the arch than it is on the outside of the shoe, and it’s a noticeable change that seems to help guide my feet forward.
As someone with a rather wide forefoot, I appreciate the flared spacing in this area and I have a hunch that runners like me - who require extra interior room — will love this.
Don't laugh, but when I considered the amount of foam added to the arch area, I likened this shoe to a freshly-stuffed sausage! I'd like to suggest that instead of calling this shoe the Fresh Foam Vongo, it should be called the Lots of Foam Vongo as an homage to the superior support my arches enjoy every time I slide them on.
Have you sought in vain for a stable running shoe that offers a more comfortable run, even during the break-in period? Me, too. I always carry a few plasters when I run in shoes for the first time since I've a history of rubbing blisters. Quelle surprise! Even after my challenging Vongo maiden run, my feet were blister free.
Perhaps this is due to my foot being re-positioned as I run. The Vongo affects my heel-to-forefront turnover and I assume the 4mm drop is responsible for this little benefit. Further, this running shoe breathes, courtesy of the perforated mid-foot saddle and panels of airy mesh. Additionally, I've a soft spot in my heart for the colour blue, so these Vongos coordinate with my existing wardrobe nicely.
- Apologies for being repetitious, but stability and comfort are quite exceptional.
- The medial side of the shoe is higher than the lateral, a gift for us over-pronators.
- Breathability, prioritised by engineers creating and crafting Vongos, is exceptional.
- The overabundance of foam used to stabilise and cradle the foot is reason enough to consider buying Vongos.
- Fans of lightweight trainers may have problems adjusting to the wider, straighter footprint they encounter.
- The Vongo is not an inexpensive shoe. I couldn't stop wondering whether all that foam drove up the price!
- Firmness can be a deal breaker for those who don’t understand what New Balance means when they refer to the Vongo's "mild stability."
- This is not a shoe designed to help you get through ultras and extreme competitions.
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo Shoes Conclusion
Did this running shoe give me my best-ever shoe fit? Mostly. There's plenty of toe room and if my toes could write this review, they would be most complimentary. I am impressed by the generous amount of blown rubber that contributes to the fit and is the Fresh Foam hallmark. I love the way the sole grips the trail thanks, in part, to the signature cut running from heel to midfoot. But why must I pay for more rubber?
I found my gait to be perkier and I ran with more agility than it did wearing my recently-retired shoes. I must give props to the bootie-style interior design that has an awesome molded sock liner, so you might say that while the shoe stands on its merits, I wish New Balance had priced the Fresh Foam Vongo a bit more conservatively, because I wouldn't want to see someone miss out on this much toe room, comfort, flexibility and proper fit because their budget rules. My advice? Stay alert for sales!
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo is available at all New Balance experience stores in new colorways at a suggested retail price of S$189.
When you're eager to stay on budget, how do you get what you want? Do you save up? Work more hours? Or do you wait for a holiday so your wish list is honoured?