A minimal shoe designed to promote more natural running.
A good example of a minimal shoe design that is stripped down in all the right places.
A little less roll from side to side.
The Pure Project is the Brooks answer to the more natural running shoe trend that every company seems to be taking a stab at lately. We've tried several versions of minimal kicks, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is also designed to allow 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.
We didn't find the Toe-Flex to be a problem or an annoyance, nor did we feel it provided any significant benefit to our run stride. The Toe-Flex went basically unnoticed in our testing.
A fancy sounding name for the midsole technology. Brooks has gone "green" with their midsole, it takes less energy 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.
In our testing this shoe was one of the most responsive and "springy" feeling shoes that we have come across, especially in the minimal shoe design category.
The Nav Band is a stretchy elastic band designed to help lock the foot in place. We liked this feature, it does a good job of keeping the foot securely in place and it didn't provide any comfort issues. In fact, we feel like there are plenty of shoes out there that could benefit from this type of system.
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). The shape is not only more natural but also eliminates a lot of the bulk
of a normal shoe design. The slimmed down profile also lends itself to being a little on the narrow side, which is fine by this particular reviewer's standards because narrow feet are awesome. However, if you have a very wide foot this may not be the shoe for you.
After several weeks of testing this shoe our experience 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 and every time we slip these on we feel it. 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 somewhat rounded profile which probably contributes to the unstable feeling. Even while running we felt like the shoe caused the foot to roll inward a bit. If you are looking for a wide, very stable platform, this is not your shoe. For those who are familiar with the whole minimal shoe concept this shoe should not take much of an adjustment period before you feel comfortable.
Honestly, "the roll" was a little uncomfortable at first, but after a couple of miles it went pretty much unnoticed. The ride feels responsive and lively, the shoe also seems to return a good bit of energy. The little bit of cushion the shoe does have seems about right for our running style as well, nice and firm, and at the same time, a little more substantial than other minimal designs we have tried. We actually preferred this design over most of the super minimal, almost nonexistent shoes of this nature.
We feel like Brooks hit the nail on the head with the shoe as a whole. Brooks delivers a minimal running shoe that still has enough substance to it so that you feel like you are wearing a shoe capable of some real mileage. We feel like this shoe is stripped down and minimal, not just for the sake of being a "minimal" shoe, but rather making a well thought out design that actually works.
We would be comfortable recommending this shoe for quicker paced tempo runs and speed work. We also think it makes a formidable race flat. We've ran a few races in the shoe, the longest being a 12K Turkey Trot with our local running club and the PureConnect has performed quite well. The responsiveness and lightweight nature of this shoe begs for use on the race course. From a triathlon standpoint, this shoe would work for use up to 70.3 distance racing in our opinion. We would probably go with a little more substantial shoe for anything beyond that.
The interior of the shoe is soft and smooth. The Nav Band also makes for a nice secure fit and it seems to hold the foot in place very well. The shoes are very airy, the entire upper is made up of an open mesh material that is extremely well ventilated. We've ran in this shoe without socks without issue, but for the most part these runs have been relatively short. Not that the shoe is necessarily designed to be a sockless shoe but we always like to test that aspect for use in triathlon.
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.
Our sample in this shoe was a half size larger than our normal size and the fit was just right.
The PureConnect is priced toward the lower end of the running shoe price range.
TriBomb Bottom Line
One of the better minimal shoe designs we've tested.