Last updated: 20-Aug-18
Fiona is a keen runner, preferring off-road and hilly to flat and road. She lives in Scotland where the weather is fickle so needs to be prepared for all conditions.
This is a fairly minimalist, lightweight and flexible shoe that is meant for trail and hill running. The design aims to provide a close-fitting shoe with an aggressive outsole for good traction.
PureGrit 4 footwear fits into the PureProject collection, which is Brooks’ minimalist running line. The PureGrit 4 is an update of the award-winning PureGrit 3.
Brooks PureGrit 4 – Features
- BioMoGo DNA midsole for “adaptive cushioning”
- Rounded heel for “better alignment and minimising stress on joints”
- Omega Flex Grooves to “optimise flexibility”
- Ballistic Rock Shield to protect feet from trail hazards
- A forefoot propulsion plate “maximises energy return on a variety of surfaces”
- Nav-band wraps the foot for comfortable security
- Midsole drop 4mm
- Medium to high arch
- Weight: 232g
- Male and female fit
- Price £100
Photo credit: Fiona Russell.
PROS: What’s good about the Brooks PureGrit 4
The shoe fits like a slipper. The moulded footbed and upper helps to hug the foot and offers a good level of “snugness” in the shoe. I hardly needed to pull tight the laces, simply tying them with a double knot, because the shoe fitted so well.
Perhaps it’s the fairly cushioned foot bed, the shape of the shoe, the Nav-band wrap around the mid-foot or the combination of all these design features but the shoes do feel very comfortable as soon as I pull them on.
I also like a fairly high arch support so, again, the Brooks suit my feet. If you prefer a flat shoe you will be best advised to take a look at Inov-8 or even Vibram Five Fingers footwear.
If you like your off-road running shoes to flex with your feet then these are the ideal choice. I would say there is a bit too much flex for me but that’s personal choice. The shoes are meant to be flexible and these flex beautifully with the full range of movement of the foot.
The sole has a close pattern of hexagonal studs. The studs are small and plentiful and they do provide excellent grip on wet, muddy and grassy terrain. Note that they are not so grippy on slabs of wet rock.
I loved running in these shoes and I could feel enough of the ground under my feet for security and traction yet I also valued the extra cushioning when the ground became harder or when running on tarmac.
Compared to the Inov-8 Terraclaw 250s that I have also been testing the Brooks PureGrit 4s offer a greater versatility in terms of running terrains. I could happily complete a run that includes forest trails, hill paths, mud and tarmac in the Brooks and enjoy the grip and cushioning all round.
The addition of reflective detailing is a plus-point.
When running in the Brooks shoes I felt as though I had a good balance of bounce, energy and feel for the ground. It’s hard to create this in an off-road shoe but I think Brooks have done a good job.
Cons: What’s not so good about Brooks PureGrit 4
The Brooks shoes come up a little shorter than I would have liked. So it’s worth going up a half or full size on what you would normally wear.
While the soles work well on grass, mud, slopes and hill paths they are not too secure on slabs of wet rock. I also found the heel was a bit too rounded to properly dig into the ground on a steep hill descent. I prefer a squarer heel for this purpose.
Mud also gets a bit caked between the lugs on the Brooks shoe. I think this is because the hexagons are a bit too close together. However, the situation would be worse if the lugs were not so rounded in shape so this is a clever design but I think it would be better to have less and bigger lugs.
The shoes felt super comfy when I put them on but the laces loosened a bit as I ran. I had to stop once on an eight-mile run to re-tie the laces.
It wasn’t the case that the knot of the laces became loose because they have a good “knobbly” design to keep them tied; it was more that the whole shoe became a bit looser. Once I’d tied them tightly again the shoes felt secure on my feet for the rest of the run.
I think the shoes could do with a protective toe bumper or rand because I can see the uppers wearing out fairly quickly.
What most worries me about these shoes, however, is that Brooks state they will last between 250 and 300 miles. That doesn’t seem like many runs. If you run, say 20 miles a week off-road, the shoes would only last about 14 to 15 weeks, which is only around three to four months.
I would really expect shoes at a price of £100 to last at least a full winter and summer season, if not more.
Another small point is that I would prefer it if my running shoes did not feature pink. The pink is only in the detailing of the women’s Brooks PureGrit 4 but I am not a keen fan of “pinkified” female kit.
While I love the fit and feel of Brooks PureGrit 4 shoes for off-road running in hills and on trails I worry about the durability. The brand itself states they will last up to 300 miles, which doesn’t seem very long at all.
My podiatrist checked the shoes out when I was visiting recently and she said the shoes are super flexible. This is fine if you like a minimalist, barefoot style of running but also with the advantage of some underfoot cushioning but I fear the shoes would not last too long on tough terrain.
Many people have feet that need a lot more support to avoid injury and the Brooks are not a supportive shoe. It’s a matter of choice I guess and I prefer something a bit more structured.
Other shoes you may want to consider:
Inov-8 Terraclaw 220
Inov-8 Mudclaw 265
La Sportiva Anakonda
New Balance Minimus Trail shoes
Vibram Five Fingers, if you want a super-barefoot style
Have you used the Brooks PureGrit 4 running shoes? Don’t agree with this review? What’s your opinion? Add your own comment to this review and share your experience and passion for running with others.
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