This review is in partnership with Running Warehouse, which provided products for testing. Salty Running receives a commission on sales made via our Running Warehouse affiliate link, used throughout this post.
The Vongo is a relatively new shoe in the New Balance lineup; it is a cushioned shoe that provides light stability. It has a 4 mm drop and retails for $134.95.
When I was told I’d be receiving the New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo v2 for review, I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t even believe it was a real shoe. I believe my statement was, “Vongo? That sounds like a made-up word.” I have a long, well-documented history of struggling to find the right shoe and had come to a place of sheer cynicism. By this point I believed there was no right shoe for me, so I went into this process fully expecting to dislike this shoe with a fake-o name.
So how did it come to be that the New Balance Vongo was chosen for my finicky feet? I said that I wanted a shoe that provided some stability, was cushioned but not too soft, and had a lower drop. I also requested it not be too heavy or bulky. Not too much to ask, right?
I have always run in stability shoes, and for many years the Asics Kayano was my go-to every day trainer. Recent updates to that shoe sent me looking for something else, and I have tried a variety of shoes, both stability and more neutral. As a forefoot striker, I am told I don’t necessarily need a lot of support in my arches and could likely run in a neutral shoe without difficulty.
I have been intrigued by shoes with a lower heel-toe drop and curiosity led me to buying a pair of Hoka Cliftons earlier this summer. I really wanted that ultra cushioning to work for me, but it was too soft and led to lots of lower leg and foot pain.
Related: Need help with these running shoe terms? Check out this post!
Out of the Box
Right away I was impressed with the look of the shoe. The upper is made of mesh and the sole is New Balance Fresh Foam. I didn’t know the weight of the shoe before receiving it, but just taking it out of the box it didn’t feel super heavy. I was surprised to later learn that it weighs 9.8 oz, which is lighter than past stability shoes I’ve worn, but still a bit on the hefty side. The Vongos definitely feel lighter than they are!
My feet are standard width, but I do tend to retain water in them at times, which can cause my shoes to feel too snug. I have not experienced any tightness with these shoes. The toe box is roomy and I haven’t had any problems with my toes falling asleep during a long run.
It took me a couple of runs to settle into this shoe. I laced them too loose initially so they felt sloppy in the heel. I made some lacing adjustments and this is no longer a concern. By the third or fourth run, however, all initial worries about this shoe dissipated, and I fell in love! For real love!
The cushion in this shoe is just right for me. Earlier in the summer I put a lot of miles on a pair of Nike Pegasus 34, and while that shoe has a lot of good qualities I struggle at times with feeling the impact of the road on those longer runs. The Vongo is a soft ride, but not overly so, which is what I struggled with when I tried the Hoka Clifton.
The Vongo has a 4 mm drop, which is quite a departure from my typical shoe choices, all of which have a 10-12mm drop. I worried that I would struggle to adjust to a low drop shoe, but I haven’t had any problems.
I have worn these shoes for plenty of 4-5 mile runs and for some longer efforts of 9-13 miles. The thing I love most about them is that I don’t even think about them during a run. This is a very good thing! Past shoes always had something that caught my attention in a negative way, but my Vongos do their job and don’t bother me a bit. I struggled at the beginning of the summer with various lower leg pains and some nagging pain in my right ankle. I have been feeling great in these shoes and my ankle pain is all but gone, with a few exceptions.
The only problem I’ve encountered is that this shoe doesn’t seem to handle uneven terrain well, or even the occasional large rock in the road. Once or twice I accidentally ran over a rock and I definitely felt it, as it caused my ankle to roll slightly. I typically run on pavement and don’t do a lot of trail running, but the other day I did give these a spin on a trail near my house. The trail is not technical at all, but the shoe didn’t handle well on the occasional root or rock. But since this is not meant to be a trail shoe, who cares?
I have not been doing a lot of speed work this summer, so I have not taken these to the track. I have, however, done quite a few strides in them with little complaint. Certainly most people will prefer a faster trainer for speed work, but these work fine for strides or uptempo miles.
Drumroll … I LOVE this shoe! The name still trips me up a little (I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve been calling it the “Zongo” on accident and even labeled it such on my Strava account). But I’m confident we’ll get over it together over lots and lots of miles, because this shoe is just what I’ve been looking for. I have about 80 miles on them so far and they show no signs of wear yet.
I would recommend the Vongo if you are looking for some cushion and some stability, and they’ll leave your feet feeling fresh even after a long run. I love my black ones and can’t wait to snag a pair in the bright magenta color!
5 out of 5 snails for the NB Vongo v2!