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Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Balance FreshFoam Zante: follow-up review

I've put 400 miles on the FreshFoam Zantes that I bought this summer. They have been my secondary shoe, rotated in once or twice a week as a break from my main shoe, the Saucony Kinvara. Well, at 400 miles, it's time to call it quits and do a follow-up review of the shoe.
Zantes with 400 miles

Durability: I have mixed views on the durability of these shoes. On the one hand, the foam broke down on these rather quickly, and my knees started to ache long before I hit 400 miles. In defense of the shoes, I did wash them twice, and they were summer shoes - I don't think shoes last as long in the summer. They get saturated with sweat and stay damp, which degrades the foam, and the soles wear easily on hot asphalt. But anyway, the "fresh foam" just felt flat very early in the life of the shoe - maybe 250 miles.

Slight balding on the forefoot 

Some wear on the insole
No tear over the bunion

On the other hand, the Zante is well-constructed. In fact, in the pictures above, I find it hard to believe they have 400 miles on them! The upper didn't tear along the side where my bunion places pressure, like almost all shoes do, and the sole shows pretty minimal wear. The insole wore away under my bunion, but only a little. So I think the shoe is put together well, but the foam wears quickly.

Fit: I liked the fit immediately and still do: wide toe box (wider in the 2E I bought), more snug at heel and midfoot. In fact, although my pair are retired from running, they'll become gym shoes.

Function: Here's where my affection for the Zante wore thin. They are, as advertised, a cushioned, neutral shoe. But, although I have high arches, I do tend to over-pronate just a tad. The sock-like upper offers no support whatsoever, and I found that for me, that allowed too much movement in the foot and ankle, which led to soreness along my inner calf and the inside of my knee. I would also feel a stretching, burning feeling along my plantar fascia at the end of mid-distance runs. I think they would be excellent shoes for a very efficient runner with a very good gait, but I need just a smidge more shoe.

Since I felt like I was toying with injury wearing these shoes, I won't be buying another pair, which is too bad, since it's so hard for me to find shoes that fit my foot well. I do think they would be excellent race or everyday shoes for a light-weight, efficient neutral runner who likes a flexible shoe - so if that's you, try the Zantes!


  1. I have a few pair of the Zante's and one pair of the Kinvara. I love the Zante's for 5K-half and speed workouts. I feel like for the price, they last a pretty long time and my first pair lasted me 450ish miles before becoming "gym shoes". I also have the Brooks Launch which I love for longer runs and easy days.

    One big plus of the Zante is definitely price. The $100 base price isn't too bad but you can always find previous models on sale, sometimes super cheap. I picked up some for like $50 at Running Warehouse.

  2. I have several pairs of Zantes now, and they're actually my go-to for general running. I've trained for three half marathons in 2 pairs, at this point, and am on my 3rd pair with a 4th under the bed! You can almost always find the previous version on deep sale at Running Warehouse :)

    I agree with you on fit... I think I'm shorter and smaller than you - any more shoe than the Zante is too much shoe for me. I'm currently testing Saucony Breakthroughs as a speedwork shoe, and they feel fast, but I wish they fit like the Zante.

  3. Yes to both of you on the price - I got these for something like $54.