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The Fresh Foam Zante v3 is New Balance’s attempt to tread the line between soft, cushioned running shoes and lightweight racers. Sometimes, attempting to hit this sweet spot results in a model that no-one really wants – but fortunately this is not the case with the Zante v3. It’s an excellent shoe that will fulfil every requirement for most runners.
Despite the large chunk of cushioning on the sole, New Balance has kept the Zante v3’s weight down to 249.5g (UK size 8.5) and if anything it feels lighter than that on the foot when you’re running, partly because of the narrow profile of the shoe.
The Zante v3 has a highly responsive ride, and – although the cushioning in the sole means it is suitable for long, easy runs – I found it was at its best when stepping up the pace. To be honest, it’s so snappy on the foot that my pace crept up during easy efforts without my even realising.
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Thanks to its balance of cushioning and responsiveness the Zante v3 is a great pick for pretty much all kinds of running. It might be a tad hard for your easiest efforts, especially if you’re used to plush, extremely cushioned soles, and some runners will want an even lighter shoe for racing, but the Zante v3 covers a lot of the bases between the extremes, making it suitable for most training and races from 5K to the full 42.2km.
That said, the narrow profile of the shoe means it’s not the most stable, so you need to take care when whipping around tight city corners in the wet and if you stray onto muddy ground during your runs, be prepared to either slow down considerably or hit the deck. (If you overpronate you should avoid it altogether.) Get into a rhythm on the open road, however, and the Zante v3 is a joy to run in.
The upper is breathable but felt very snug when I first wore the Zante v3, to the point where I worried that I should have ordered a size up on my normal running shoe size. However, after a few runs it loosened up nicely. For me, that is – if you like a lot of room in the toe-box or have very wide feet the Zante v3 might not be the ideal shoe for you.
It’s a stylish shoe, too, even in the Energy Lime colourway, and there’s also a reflective version that’s a inconspicuous grey in the daytime but lights up like a beacon at night for extra visibility.
It’s easy to recommend the Zante v3, especially as it costs £95. That’s not an insignificant amount by any means, but with more and more running shoes straying closer to £150 it’s welcome to see a price under £100.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.