New Balance 990 vs 880 Fresh Foam Compared [What’s the Difference?]


new-balance-990-vs-880

When I compared the New Balance 990 vs 880, this is what stood out the most to me:

  • Both shoes are listed as running shoes, but that’s about where the similarities end. The 880 is a modern, lightweight running shoe that provides that “squishy” feeling under the foot. The 990 offers more support and is more of a casual athletic shoe, that you can pair with jeans or use at the gym. For “squishy” comfort, the 880 will be better. For support, the 990 will be better. This is where you can see the videos of me wearing both shoes and see the compression and support under the foot as I step.
  • Because the 880 is a modern running shoe, it is more flexible. But overall, the flexibility is reasonably close and surprised me a little bit. I’ll let you be the judge: this is where you can watch as I test the flexibility and “twistability” of both shoes.
  • The New Balance 990 is part of New Balance’s “Made in USA” collection (the 880 is not).
  • The 880 weighs less than the 990. The 990 weighs 1.01 pounds and the 880 weighs 0.78 pounds per shoe for a size 12 men’s. Click here to read more about how these weights compare to other New Balance shoes.

In this article let’s take a closer look at the New Balance 990v5 and the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 by using the videos and pictures I took of the shoes that I own.

Table of Contents

New Balance 990 vs 880 Comfort

New Balance markets both of these shoes as running shoes, but as I mentioned above, that’s about where the similarities end. The New Balance Fresh Foam 880 is a lightweight, modern running shoe that feels “squishy” under the foot. The 990 is more like a casual athletic shoe, that has a sturdier design that can pair easily with jeans, or be used at the gym.

Can you run in the New Balance 990? Sure. But if you are a serious runner, there will be better options.

How They Respond on Foot

To give you an idea how these shoes respond on a foot, here I am wearing mine:

As you can see above, the 880 offers more compression under the foot (especially under the heel). But, to be fair, the 990 is also very comfortable, and feels on the foot more like a casual shoe. If you prefer a sturdier shoe, the 990 will be the better option.

I also compared the flexibility and the “twistability” of these shoes, and you can view those results here.

New Balance 990 vs 880 Flexibility

In the videos below, I tried to capture how flexible these shoes are:


Overall, I thought the 880 provided more flexibility, which isn’t shocking since it is the more modern, lightweight running shoe. The 880 feels more like a running shoe and the 990 feels like a casual athletic shoe.

I also found a difference regarding the weight of these shoes. Click here to view the difference in these shoes regarding weight.

New Balance 990 vs 880 Padding

Both the 990 and the 880 have quality padding around the collar and tongue. Here are mine (990 first):

new-balance-990-padded-collar
new-balance-880-padded-collar

Insole Thickness

Yes, both the 990v5 and the 880v12 have removable insoles, so you can clean or swap them as needed. First, here is the insole of the 990v5:

new-balance-990-insole
new-balance-990-insole-measurement

And below, is the insole for the New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12:

new-balance-880-insole-1
new-balance-880-insole-measurement

By my measurements, the insole thickness was basically the exact same. I did find the fit of these shoes to be slightly different. This is where you can view the side-by-side photos I took regarding sizing.

New Balance 990 vs 880 Design

Sole Height

Below is the height measurements I took for the men’s New Balance 990 vs 880 (size12; 990 first):

new-balance-990-sole-height
new-balance-880-sole-height

As you can see, the midsole is thicker on the 880 (bottom). The overall height of the shoes is similar, although the laces of the 990 do finish just a little bit higher on the foot than the 880.

Here is how the women’s 990 vs 880 shoes compared (both size 7):

new-balance-990-women-sole-height
new-balance-880-women-sole-height

Just like the men’s, the women’s 880 has a thicker midsole than the women’s 990. However, in the women’s version, the 990 laces finish a bit higher on the foot than the 880.

I also found a difference in the heel-to-toe drop for the New Balance 990 vs 880. This is where you can read more about those differences.

Outsole Width

Below is the width measurements I took for the men’s New Balance 990 vs 880 (990 first):

new-balance-990-width-outsole
new-balance-880-outsole

And below is the width measurements I took for the women’s New Balance 990 vs 880 (990 first):

new-balance-990-women-width-measurement-outsole
new-balance-880-women-width-measurement-outsole

If you are concerned about fit, I would highly suggest you view these side-by-side sizing photos I took of each shoe (for both men and women) to get a better idea how both the 990 and the 880 fit.

New Balance 990 vs 880 Weight

For men, the 990 weighs 1.01 pounds and the 880 weighs 0.78 pounds per shoe for a size 12 men’s.

new-balance-990-weight
new-balance-880-weight

For women, the 990 weighs 0.72 pounds and the 880 weighs 0.58 pounds per shoe for a size 7 women’s.

new-balance-990-women-weight
new-balance-880-women-weight

Again, the 880 is a modern, lightweight running shoe while the 990 is more of a casual athletic shoe.

Recently I tried over 30 different types of New Balance shoes and I found the average to be 0.89 pounds per shoe for a size 12 men’s. If you prefer a lightweight shoe, the 880 will be the better option. To view the full list of weights I took for over 30 New Balance shoes, click here.

New Balance 990 vs 880 Heel Drop

When I measured my New Balance 990 shoes using an 8-inch Digital Outside Caliper, I found the heel drop to be approximately 12mm. When I measured my New Balance 880 shoes using an 8-inch Digital Outside Caliper, I found its heel drop to be approximately 10mm.

It is important to understand that although I tried my best to get accurate measurements, the best way to measure heel drop is to cut the shoes in half and use an industrial caliper. Obviously, I didn’t want to destroy my shoes, but this is a convenient alternative way to measure heel drop.

The point is, think of these heel drop numbers as an approximation. For all official measurements, it would be best to reach out to New Balance directly.

Here I am measuring the heel drop of the New Balance 990 shoes:

new-balance-990-heel-drop
new-balance-990-heel-drop-measurements

Here I am measuring the heel drop of the New Balance 880 shoes:

new-balance-880-heel-drop-1
new-balance-880-heel-drop-measurement-1

New Balance 990 vs 880 Sizing

Both the New Balance 990 and 880 fit within the realm of what I would describe as “true-to-size” regarding length and width.

The 990v5 shoe is built using the SL-1 last, which is designed to create a standard fit. The 880 is built using a performance last that also delivers a standard width that isn’t too wide or too narrow.

Here they are side-by-side for men (990 on left):

new-balance-880-vs-990-sizing

Here they are side-by-side for women (990 on right):

new-balance-990-womens-vs-880-sizing

When I wear mine, I feel like the width of these two shoes is very standard, and very similar. Here are mine:

new-balance-990-vs-880

To give you a better idea how wide these shoes are, here they both are (in standard width) compared to the Nike Air Monarch 4E, which is a popular extra wide shoe (990 first):

new-balance-990-vs-nike-air-monarch-sizing
new-balance-880-vs-nike-air-monarch-sizing

To read more about sizing, visit my article that talks about how New Balance shoes fit.

In the sections below, I compare both of these shoes to other popular shoes so you can get a better feel for sizing.


New Balance 990v5 Sizing Photos for Men

These photos below all use a size 12 men’s shoe. To see women’s 990 sizing photos, click here. To skip ahead to the 880 sizing, click here.

New Balance 990 (right) vs Adidas 2k Boost Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-2k-boost-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Reebok Classics Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-reebok-classics-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Zoom Winflo Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-zoom-winflo-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Go Walk Slip On Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-go-walk-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

brooks-vs-new-balance-990-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Go Walk Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-go-walk-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Saucony Shadow 6000 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-saucony-shadow-6000-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Superstar Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-superstar-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Air Max 90 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-air-max-90-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-crocs-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Under Armour HOVR Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-under-armour-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Hey Dude Wally Sox Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-hey-dude-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Vans Slip On Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Air Force 1 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-af1-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Cloudfoam Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-cloudfoam-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Asics Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-asics-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Hoka One One Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-hoka-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Converse Chucks Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-converse-chucks-sizing-1

New Balance 990 vs Vans UltraRange Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-ultrarange-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Vans Old Skool Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-vans-old-skool-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Converse Pro Leather Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-converse-pro-leather-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Adidas Gazelle Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-adidas-gazelle-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Skechers Afterburn Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-skechers-afterburn-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Cortez Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-cortez-sizing

New Balance 990 vs Nike Blazer Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-nike-blazer-sizing

New Balance 990 (right) vs 574 Sizing

new-balance-990-vs-574-sizing

To read more, visit my article about the sizing and fit of New Balance 990v5 Shoes.

New Balance 990v5 Sizing Photos for Women

New Balance Women’s 990 (right) vs Under Armour Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-under-armour-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 (right) vs 860 Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-860-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 (right) vs 327 Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-327-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Vans Slip On Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-vans-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Hey Dude Wendy Sox Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-hey-dude-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Skechers D’Lites Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-skechers-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Adidas Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-adidas-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Nike Air Max 90 Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-nike-air-max-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Converse Chucks Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-converse-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Keen Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-keen-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-990v5-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Nike Air Max 1 Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-nike-air-max-one-sizing-1

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Nike Blazer Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-nike-blazer-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Air Force 1 Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-nike-air-force-1-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Hoka Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-hoka-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-brooks-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Asics Gel Kayano Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-asics-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Nike Internationalist Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-nike-internationalist-sizing

New Balance Women’s 990 vs Columbia Sizing

new-balance-990-womens-vs-columbia-shoe-sizing

New Balance 880 Sizing Photos for Men

These photos below all use a size 12 men’s shoe. To see women’s 880 sizing photos, click here.

New Balance 880 (right) vs Adidas Cloudfoam Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-adidas-cloudfoam-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Asics Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-asics-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Reebok Classics Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-reebok-classics-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Adidas 2k Boost Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-adidas-2k-boost-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Nike Zoom Winflo Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-nike-zoom-winflo-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Nike Air Max Excee Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-nike-air-max-excee-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Nike Air Max 90 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-nike-air-max-90-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-crocs-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

brooks-vs-new-balance-880-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Skechers Go Walk Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-skechers-go-walk-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Saucony Shadow 6000 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-saucony-shadow-6000-sizing

New Balance 880 (left) vs Propel Sizing

new-balance-propel-vs-880-sizing

New Balance 880 (left) vs Roav Sizing

new-balance-roav-vs-880-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Under Armour HOVR Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-under-armour-sizing

New Balance 880 (left) vs 860 Sizing

new-balance-860-vs-880-sizing

New Balance 880 (right) vs 1080 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-1080-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Hey Dude Wally Sox Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-hey-dude-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Keen Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-keen-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Vans Slip On Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-vans-slip-on-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Nike Air Force 1 Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-nike-af1-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Hoka One One Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-hoka-sizing

New Balance 880 vs Converse Chucks Sizing

new-balance-880-vs-converse-chucks-sizing

New Balance 880 (left) vs Rebel Sizing

new-balance-rebel-vs-880-sizing

New Balance 880 (left) vs FF More Sizing

new-balance-fresh-foam-more-vs-880-sizing

New Balance 880 (left) vs 840 Sizing

new-balance-shoe-840-vs-880-sizing

New Balance 880 Sizing Photos for Women

New Balance Women’s 880 (right) vs Brooks Adrenaline Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-brooks-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Asics Gel Kayano Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-asics-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Crocs Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-crocs-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Under Armour Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-under-armour-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 (right) vs 860 Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-860-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Vans Slip On Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-vans-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Hey Dude Wendy Sox Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-hey-dude-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Skechers D’Lites Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-skechers-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Adidas Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-adidas-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Nike Air Max 90 Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-nike-air-max-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Converse Chucks Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-converse-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 (right) vs Nergize Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-nergize-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Keen Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-keen-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 (left) vs 574 Sizing

new-balance-574-womens-vs-880-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Nike Air Max 1 Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-nike-air-max-one-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Nike Blazer Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-nike-blazer-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Air Force 1 Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-nike-air-force-1-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 vs Hoka Sizing

new-balance-880-womens-vs-hoka-sizing

New Balance Women’s 880 (left) vs 1080 Sizing

new-balance-womens-1080-vs-880-sizing

To read more, visit my article about the sizing of New Balance 880 Shoes.


New Balance 990 vs 880 Conclusion

Both the 990 and the 880 are listed as running shoes, but that’s about where the similarities end. The 880 is built to be used primarily as a running shoe and the 990, although it can be used as an athletic shoe, is more of a casual athletic shoe that can also easily be paired with jeans and a t-shirt.

The 880 is a modern, lightweight running shoe that provides that sink-in, “squishy” feeling under the foot. The 990 offers more support, but doesn’t have as much sink-in softness as the 880.

The New Balance 990 is part of New Balance’s “Made in USA” collection, but the 880 is not.

Because the 880 is a modern running shoe, it was more flexible. But overall, the flexibility was reasonably close and surprised me a little bit. This is where you can watch as I test the flexibility and “twistability” of both shoes.

In my experience, both the 990 and 880 fit within the realm of what I consider “true-to-size” in length with a standard width. The 990v5 shoe is built using the SL-1 last, which is designed to create a standard fit. The 880 is built using a performance last that also delivers a standard width that isn’t too wide or too narrow.

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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