Brooks Running is finally moving into minimalism with the Pure Project and it is Brooks biggest launch in its history. The line of four shoes (Pure Connect, Pure Cadence, Pure Flow, and Pure Grit) incorporate five new design elements and the shoes weigh in at less than 10 ounces each.

The Pure Connect is the lowest profile and lightest road running shoe. The Pure Grit is a trail shoe and developed in cooperation with ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek. The Pure Flow offers the most cushioned ride of the four. The Pure Cadence offers guidance level support for a light pronator.

We will only be reviewing the Pure Grit. We had planned on also reviewing the Pure Connect but it turns out that the toe box is way too narrow for most folks including those with standard sized feet. And for folks who are transitioning to minimalist running shoes or those who have already transitioned, the Pure Connect will not be possible to run in as your toes will be constricted.

I cannot find any comparative top view of the Pure Connect and Pure Grit but looking at the outsole, you can see the narrow toe box in the Pure Connect compared to the Pure Grit.

I decided to walk in my Pure Grit before taking it out for a run – this will hopefully stretch the uppers a little and also provide feedback as to whether my feet will get blisters or chaffing. My toes are a little constricted once I put the shoes on.

Surprisingly, after walking at different speeds (casual with my dogs and also briskly on trails at 15 minutes per mile pace) with the Pure Grit, no blisters or chaffing on any toes. The shoe is long enough that the widest part of my feet lined up with the widest section of the shoe. I don’t have to tape my toes to test these shoes out! But my feet still feel a little constricted.

The Brooks Pure Grit weighs in at 9.2 ounces and has a stack height of 22mm. Without the insole removed, the stack height is 17mm and shoe weighs 8.6 ounces. Heel-to-toe differential is 4mm.

The five new technology or design elements in the Brooks Pure Project are described below:

Ideal Heel – An inverted heel designed to promote a natural foot strike by allowing the runner to land in a more forward position on the foot. Brooks found that the shoes were able to shift the landing zone forward by 3cm, which is very similar to where runners hit the ground in the barefoot running style. This encourages the foot to land under the body’s center of mass creating alignment of force vectors through the ankle, knee and hip joints.

Flexible Nav Band – This wraps over the instep to secure the foot. Brooks says the stretch in the band provides reinforcement and conforms to the runner’s foot shape and size – dynamic fit for all foot types.

Toe Flex – A toe-box split that allows the big toe to function independently. This better isolate the first ray (big toe) empowering it to help the foot resupinate, creating a more efficient and aligned toe-off.

Anatomical Last – The last mimics the shape of the foot. The shoe is longest at the big toe and tapers down to the smallest toe.

BioMoGo DNA – Brooks has blended together its two proprietary midsole materials, BioMoGo and DNA into one compound. With each foot strike, the BioMoGo DNA tunes the cushioning and responsiveness to the specific needs of each and every runner. The result – runners ‘feel more with less’ as the shoes will offer a springy return and custom comfort.

So how did the shoe perform for running? I took it out on an initial 2 miles run (I had biked for an hour earlier) followed with a long run the next day. The toe box is definitely too narrow as I cannot fully splay my toes on each midfoot/forefoot landing. I did not feel the 4mm drop and had no inclination to heel strike with the Pure Grit. No blisters or chaffing though – yeah!

There is significant cushioning in the shoe and it protected my feet from the sharp and small rocks. But I prefer much less cushioning. The shoe is very light and great for long runs. My running partner is transitioning to a zero-drop minimal shoe and she likes some cushioning in her minimal shoes until she reaches the full transition goal. And she could use the Pure Grit now.

I had tied my laces loosely so my toe box is as wide as possible – I could probably have taken the shoe laces out as the Nav Band is sufficient to hold my foot in place.

As for the toe-box split, not sure if I felt that as it is too narrow for my toes to fully splay on impact.

Overall, this is a good transitioning trail shoe or ultra-long distance trail shoe because of the extra cushioning. For the pure minimalists, the toe box is a little narrow and there is too much cushioning. Previous owners of Brooks Green Silence will like this as they now have a trail option in the Brooks Pure Grit. They may or may not like Brooks Pure Connect because of its narrow toe box. If they fit the Brooks Pure Connect, that is a fine shoe according to Running Times Brian Metzler’s review.

Available in Black with Green (Earth) for Men’s and Grey with Teal (Water) for Women’s. Unfortunately, only standard widths at launch.


The Brooks Pure Grit and others in the Pure Collection are now available only on Brooks Running web site and running specialty retailers (brick and mortar only). It will be available online everywhere in January 2012.

*Product provided by Brooks (MSRP $100). CMP.LY/1 Review

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