The brand spankin' new shoe line from Brooks is here. The PureProject has been eagerly anticipated by many runners for some time now. A look at the Brooks website reveals that they must have been pretty well received because they now show to be backordered.
Thankfully, we were able to get the hook-up on a couple of pairs of samples from the fine folks at Brooks (sorry, it's one of the perks we get by having a review site, and no, you can't have ours). We will try to give you a brief rundown of the shoes and our initial thoughts from some very limited use.
The samples we received are the PureConnect (the lightest in the lineup) and the PureGrit (the trail version).
The Pure Project is the Brooks answer to the natural running, minimalistic shoe trend that every company seems to be taking a stab at lately. We've tried several versions, some good, some bad, but we are definitely all for a better more natural shoe design. Our testing of these minimal designs has shown that sometimes less is more, and sometimes less is...well...less.
The PureProject incorporates 5 basic elements across the entire line. The main idea is what Brooks calls IDEAL alignment, they looked at aligning the runner so that ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joints are more naturally aligned, especially at impact during the foot strike.
Ideal Heel- Basically a curved heel designed to move things forward and promote a more mid to forefoot style of running as well as giving the runner a better center of gravity. As you can see in the picture below the heel is slimmed down and rounded off quite a bit.
Toe Flex- A clever split between the big toe and the rest of the toes. This feature is intended to give the runner a better feel for the road and a better push off during that phase of the run stride. This split also allows the big toe to move independently of the the other toes. The Toe Flex can be seen below, more noticeable in the trail shoe on the left.
BioMoGo DNA- A fancy sounding name for the midsole technology. Brooks has gone "green" with their midsole, it takes less engergy to produce and creates less waste. This midsole also incorporates less layers to give a better feel for the road and a responsive ride. Also, a very low 4mm offset in keeping with the more natural feel and to better promote a midfoot strike.
Nav Band-a stretchy elastic band the helps lock the foot in place.
Anatomical Last- The PureProject line has an anatomical last (or form) so that the shoe fits the foot better and follows it's natural shape. As you can see, the shoe sort of comes up to a point (the big toe) and tapers down from there following the natural shape of a foot (unless you have hooves or something).
This is the lightest, most extremely minimal example in the line at a mere 7.2oz. It has a low profile, 14mm in the heel dropping to 10 mm in the forefoot in keeping with the 4mm offset found throughout the Pure line.
Our very limited testing of this shoe has been positive for the most part. The first thing you'll notice when you slip this shoe on is the narrow, minimal, rounded outsole. It sort of feels a little unstable at first. When we first ran in this shoe it felt as if the the whole shoe has a rounded off profile. The first mile or two felt pretty strange, like there's a lot of roll to the shoe from side to side. The foot "pads" on the bottom do have a rounded profile which probably contributes to the unstable feeling. If you are looking for a wide, very stable platform, this is not your shoe.
Honestly, "the roll" was a little uncomfortable at first, but after a couple of miles it went pretty much unnoticed. The ride felt pretty responsive and the shoe seems to return a good bit of energy, it has a nice springy feel to it. The cushion seems about right as well, nice and firm, and at the same time, a little more substantial than other minimal designs we have tried.
These short test runs were done sockless and no problem areas were felt. The interior of the shoe seems to be soft and smooth. The Nav Band also makes for a nice secure fit and it seems to hold the foot in place well. The shoes are very airy, the entire upper is made up of an open mesh material that looks to be extremely well ventilated.
The view from inside. The seams run down a very narrow strip in the bottom of the shoe and are well concealed below the insole (more on the bottom of the shoe instead of the sides) which is nice from a seam free standpoint.
The soft tennis ball-esque insole is very cushioned and has a velvety smooth covering.
PureGrit - The Trail Version
The top view of the PureGrit shows that it has the anatomical shape as well
This shoes comes in at 8.9 oz and features a one-piece concave outsole that allows the shoe to spread out and give more support when pressure is applied.
The one-piece, lug covered outsole of the PureGrit
The PureGrit has many of the same features that are found throughout the entire PureProject line. It has the rounded heel, Toe Flex, and Nav Band, it also has a 4mm offset going from 15mm in the heel and dropping to 11mm in the forefoot.
The trail version also has quite a bit wider base than the other shoes in the PureProject line. You can see the wider stance in the picture below, a feature we think will be appreciated out on the trails.
The Nav Band on the PureGrit
We'll be updating the site with our TRI-al Run reviews of these shoes once we get some more miles on them. It looks like the guys over at Brooks have put a great deal of thought and innovation into this project and we look forward to getting acquainted with these kicks.