We all have a favorite brand of running shoes. Maybe you’ve been running in the same brand for many years and it’s time for a change.
We’re comparing the New Balance Fresh Foam vs Adidas Boost. These are two of the most popular shoe series because they have impressive foam cushioning in the midsole.
If you’re looking for new, well-cushioned running shoes and you’re stuck between these two brands, keep reading!
What is Cushioning in Running Shoes?
Cushioning is the stuff under your feet that makes your feet feel comfy! It’s the part of the shoe that absorbs the shock of impact every time you land on your feet.
The function of cushioning is, as it suggests, to cushion your feet. But the technical way of looking at it is that cushioning makes the foot-to-ground contact phase as gradual as possible, to reduce the force on your feet.
When you land on the ground, the outsole is the first thing that makes contact. The next layer up is the midsole cushioning. This cushion compresses, from the point of impact, squishing itself down to take the force of the landing.
In this way, your feet are saved from most of the impact. More cushion typically means more protection, but it can also mean less bounce if you’re interested in a responsive running shoe.
Cushioning is also usually either soft or firm. Softer cushion is great for runners who need softness and extra shock-absorption underfoot. Firmer cushion absorbs less shock but it usually offers more bounciness.
What Are the Most Popular Cushioning Technologies?
Each shoe brand has its own particular foam that it cushions its shoes with. They all have the brand’s unique technologies built-in, so each one is slightly different.
Some of the most popular ones include:
- Nike React foam
- Saucony PWRRUN foam
- Asics FlyteFoam
- Brooks BioMoGo & DNA LOFT foam
- Under Armour HOVR foam
- New Balance Fresh Foam
- Adidas Boost foam
Most of these foams are created from EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate). It’s a spongy material that does a good job of absorbing shock and preventing vibrations from getting to your joints.
New Balance Fresh Foam Technology
The first of the foam technologies we’re comparing today is the New Balance Fresh Foam technology.
It was developed in 2014 and has been a tried and true cushioning technology since then. Fresh Foam is made using an injection-molded, 3D-shaping heat process.
This process creates different zones of both resistance and compression. Using runners’ data, specific zones in the sole are identified and alternating areas of strong compression and extra resistance are created.
This provides a tough, single-piece midsole that offers both soft cushioning and impressive stability against lateral movement.
Fresh Foam is EVA-based, but it also features a special chemical compound that improves the sturdiness and stability of the midsole.
Integrated with their 3D computer mapping technology, this midsole foam is super stable and yet still manages to offer a soft underfoot feeling.
Their latest shoes feature Fresh Foam X, which is an updated version of the original foam. It keeps the same softness but adds some extra responsiveness for a bit of bounce.
Adidas Boost Technology
Adidas Boost technology was created in 2013 when Adidas merged TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) with their EVA cushion.
The addition of TPU makes their midsoles resistant to temperature, which is a significant advantage. While some other midsole foams become firmer in the cold and soften in the heat, the Boost remains the same in all temperatures.
TPU material in a granular form is expanded and made into small capsule-like bits. These are integrated into the midsole and cause an impressive energy return when they’re compressed.
Since then, this kind of technology has been replicated by Brooks and Saucony, so it’s a popular type of cushioning.
What Are the Main Differences in Those 2 Foams?
Both of these midsole foams and their respective technologies are excellent choices in terms of cushioning.
But they do have some differences, and depending on what type of runner you are, what your budget is, and what feeling you prefer on your foot, you may prefer one over the other.
New Balance Fresh Foam is a more plush, comfortable experience. Generally, shoes featuring this foam are a good choice for speedy runs and they’re fairly affordable.
Adidas Boost foam usually offers more support in the heel. Heel strikers would benefit from this. These shoes are often also fairly breathable, comfortable, and offer decent support.
Which is better?
That depends on the person wearing the shoe. We’ve compared 6 of the most popular shoes from both of these brands to give you some insight into how they look side by side.
1. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12
The 1080v12 is New Balance’s Fresh Foam favorite. This is the 12th iteration of the 1080 shoe, so you know it’s a popular model.
The 1080v12 is a neutral shoe, so it’s ideal for those who don’t need extra stability. Underpronators would find it to be a good choice too.
They feature an 8mm drop, with 30mm of cushion in the heel for softened landings. A thick slab of Fresh Foam X in the midsole provides compressive cushioning and shock absorption, as well as stability thanks to its resistance zones.
New Balance uses laser engraving on the sole to reduce the weight and to offer even more shock-absorbing compression. It’s more noticeable for heel strikers than it is for forefoot strikers.
Its plushness is increased by the stretchy knit upper, which is both lighter and more breathable than its predecessor.
It’s constructed in a bootie-fit style, hugging the foot without being restrictive. At the back, Ultra Heel technology is immediately noticeable by sight. Made of a rubber material rather than mesh, it contours the back of the foot for a supportive fit, while keeping heel slippage to a minimum.
While this offers advantages, there is the distinct disadvantage of not having much padding around the heel collar.
A durable rubber outsole with extra-soft blown rubber in the forefoot gives you good grip on every surface.
- Fresh Foam midsole cushioning
- Stretchy knit upper
- Heel hugs the back of the foot
- Some may dislike the lack of cushioning in the heel
2. Adidas UltraBoost 21
The UltraBoost is Adidas’ most popular shoe and has similar features to the NB 1080v12. A neutral shoe with a 10mm drop, it’s perfectly suitable for runners who don’t pronate or slightly underpronate.
You can spot the Boost capsules in the sole from a mile away. This shoe has 6% more Boost capsules in the midsole, providing excellent energy return with every step.
The responsiveness of this shoe is partly due to the LEP system, or Linear Energy Push system. This Torsion System makes it 15% stiffer than the previous version, giving you extra bounce but providing stability in the midfoot at the same time.
A lightweight and breathable Primeknit+ upper complements the comfy midsole. It’s made of a blend of material, including around 30% Primeblue, which is a recycled material made partly from ocean plastic.
A heel counter keeps the foot stable within the shoe. This shoe features a similar foot-hugging heel, which is supportive but some may feel that the lack of padding is a problem.
Another potential downside to these shoes is that they’ve gained more than an ounce of weight since the previous version. They’re great for easy runs, but might not be appropriate for speed work.
- Continental rubber outsole
- Primeknit+ upper
- Boost midsole cushioning
- LEP system
- Slightly heavy
3. New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo V4
Overpronators who need a stability shoe will find that the Vongo V4 offers everything they need for a comfortable and supportive ride. It gained some weight from the previous version (at 10.7 ounces), but it’s otherwise an excellent choice.
The midsole Fresh Foam cushion is a one-piece, 3D-printed foam slab that offers comfort as well as a decent energy return.
In the midsole, a varus wedge creates extra height on the medial side of the shoe, effectively preventing overpronation while still keeping the foot comfortable. It feels more natural and less intrusive than a medial post, which most stability shoes use.
To help keep the foot moving through a natural gait, they’ve used Guidance Line technology in the outsole. You’ll see a split in the rubber, running from the heel to the metatarsal area. This is designed to offer extra flexibility on the heel-to-toe transition.
The bootie construction of the upper is comfortable and light on the foot, although there could be some heel slippage due to the low heel collar.
- Bootie construction
- 3D-printed foam
- Varus wedge for stability
- Guidance line in the outsole
- May be some heel slippage
4. Adidas Solar Boost ST 19
The Adidas Solar Boost is their equivalent stability shoe. It’s more than an ounce lighter than the NB stability shoe, so if weight is a factor for you this may be the better choice.
The Boost midsole is made up of dual-density foam, softer on the outside and firmer on the inside of the foot, to prompt a natural gait and prevent the foot-rolling that overpronates suffer from.
As well as the dual-density foam, Adidas’ Torsion system and Solar Propulsion Rail help to make the heel-to-toe transition as smooth as possible.
The Torsion system is a piece of plastic in the middle of the sole, designed to offer extra arch support and allow freedom of movement in the forefoot and rearfoot independently.
The Solar Propulsion Rail is built into the midsole and cups the foot in such a way that it adds extra stability and prevention of overpronation. It guides the foot through its movement from heel strike to toe-off, and doesn’t feel as stiff as a midfoot plate or medial post.
On the outsole, Continental rubber offers an exceptional grip. Yes, this is the same stuff they make car tires from! The Stretchweb outsole has a good bit of flex in it, making it a natural and comfortable ride.
You’ll get a snug fit on the heel too, with the Fitcounter molded heel structure. It has less padding than your average Adidas shoe, but more than the New Balance equivalent. It offers stability in the heel without placing pressure on the Achilles.
There have been mentions of the upper not being the most breathable. But if you aren’t prone to your feet overheating, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Dual-density Boost midsole
- Stabilizing torsion system
- Stretchweb outsole
- Continental rubber grip
- Not very breathable
5. New Balance Fresh Foam Tempo
If you’re looking for a shoe you can race in, the Fresh Foam Tempo is a great footwear option. It has a heel-to-toe drop of just 6mm, which means less weight as there’s less cushion.
Don’t think the reduced cushion means reduced comfort, though! The full-length chunk of Fresh Foam in the midsole still feels plush and the smaller drop provides a natural running feel.
A light and very breathable Hypoknit upper give the wearer the best of all worlds – ventilation and an easy fit, but targeted support areas where they’re needed, most notably in the midfoot.
Of the NB shoes on this list, the Tempo has the best padding around the ankle collar. If your Achilles is prone to irritation, this may be the best shoe for you, especially over long distances.
The blown rubber outsole features a beehive-type pattern of low lugs, offering good grip on just about all surfaces, indoor and outdoor. It also has flex grooves that split the sole into three distinct sections, providing increased flexibility on the heel-to-toe transition.
- Hypoknit engineered upper
- Full-length Fresh Foam midsole
- External heel counter
- Blown rubber in the heel and forefoot
- The sole wears out quickly
6. Adidas Adizero Pro
If you’re going to be racing, the Adizero Pro would be a worthy choice of footwear. Not only is it super light, at just 8 ounces, but it also features a carbon plate for excellent, effortless propulsion.
The dual-density Boost midsole itself provides good responsiveness, especially for heel strikers as there’s a noticeable chunk of it in the heel. It also absorbs shock effectively, saving your joints from jarring.
The Carbitex carbon plate makes the shoe feel a bit stiffer than you may be used to. But it serves its purpose extremely well—to push you forward, shortening the amount of time that your foot is in contact with the ground, and moving you ahead faster than ever before.
The 8.5mm heel drop is also at the ideal height for a slight forward lean, but not too high that it feels uncomfortable and unnatural.
Underneath, the Lightstrike outsole is unusually lightweight. It’s been designed specifically for speed, and features the same Continental rubber on the outsole that Adidas are known for.
As for the Celermesh upper, it’s made to be uniquely light on the foot. There’s an internal fit system that offers a locked-in fit while reducing pressure on the top of the foot at the same time.
There have been reports of the shoe running narrow, so take that into account if you’re buying!
- Carbitex carbon plate
- Dual-foam midsole
- Continental rubber outsole
- Celermesh upper
- Runs narrow