5 Feb 2019

Gear: New Balance Fresh Foam Zante v3

A few months ago, I purchased a pair of New Balance Zante v3's.

Wait... let me back up.

For the past few years, I have purchased all of my running gear at the Running Room. However, the store in Richmond (where I live) closed. So earlier in 2018, I bought a pair of shoes from Sport Chek. Now, the biggest difference between Running Room and Sport Chek is the service that you get. I find that at the Running Room, they look at your feet, how you plant your foot, inquire about the type of running and distance. Then, they recommend a shoe based on your responses. At Sport Chek, you're basically on your own. They will help you fit into a running shoe, but whether they know what neutral and stability means is really up to the individual.

Well, recently a New Balance store opened in Richmond, so I thought I would try it out. And I was pleasantly surprised. The staff was knowledgeable and very helpful. Much more like the Running Room experience I was used to.

However, since I was last properly fitted for running shoes, I have dramatically increased my mileage as well. So I was looking for a different type of shoe than I had been buying in the past. And that is perhaps where I went wrong.

After trying a few different shoes, I settled on a pair of Zante v3's. I was aware that the v4's were already out but the v3's fit, were very comfortable, reasonably priced, and my son liked the all black colour. I had read several reviews on Zantes and so had a good impression of them before I even tried them on.

At the insistence from my son, I got the all-black (with some white) version. I knew the v4's came in much brighter colours, so I was a bit disappointed with the black - for me, it felt a bit bland for my liking. But my last pair was far too flashy so I was due for a relapse of some sort.

My review of the shoes themselves is great. I was initially very impressed with how smooth and quiet the shoes felt. Evening when tired, there was almost no sound foot slapping on the pavement. With the smooth, less-groovy-style sole pattern, it gave a really smooth, interesting feeling. I loved running in this.

The Zante v3's are very comfortable. Perhaps slightly narrower in the toe area than I normally like and the toe drop feels a bit more dramatic than I am used to, but otherwise very comfortable.

In six months with them, I have logged almost 300 km (note they are not my principal running shoe). I use them mostly for travel (i.e. pack in my suitcase for runs when I'm out of town), treadmills, and shorter runs on dry days. And when I am travelling (for work), I often wear these to and from the airport and as my after-work shoes when I'm out of town - saves me having to bring a pair of shoes for in the office, one for after work, and yet another for running. So I wear these for more than just running. And after all this time, they are still in flawless condition with barely a scuff on them. The knitting is holding up really well and they are as comfortable today as the day I bought them.

My only issue is that with the longer runs and increased mileage I was logging, these shoes just weren't enough cushion for my ankles (mainly my Achilles) and calves. Now I definitely appreciate that this is my own short-coming and nothing to do with the shoes themselves. But this is part of the reason I shifted away from these as my principal running shoe. I have since bought a pair of New Balance 880 v.8's - review on those coming soon - that I use as my main runner, simply for the extra cushioning.

So would I recommend the Zante's - either the v3's or a new version? Absolutely. But if you're logging longer distances (i.e. regularly over 12 km, building to half marathons or more), you may want to consider something with a bit more cushioning.

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