This was my first foray into the Brooks brand. I had been seduced by the new Pure Line consisting of the PureFlow, Grit, Connect, Cadence, and now the new PureDrift which accompanies the Pure Line 2.0. The Pure Line is Brooks answer to the minimalist craze, made to compete with the Kinvara/Cortana/Nike Free crowd which had dazzled runners in 2010. Though not specifically called minimalist shoes, Brooks has clearly made a “natural” running shoe.
This is my second pair of this shoe. My first pair has 300+ miles on them, and are retired for rainy day use. I can’t seem to get rid of them. I even wrote about their longevity issues here.
I’m not pleased with how low this number is, but the first time I put on these shoes, I had the best run of my life. Every time I run in a pair of these, I think of that run and automatically I have a great run. Sometimes, the mental aspects of shoes are also the most important ones. However, these shoes have other respectable merits that make them “work” for me.
Dubbed the most minimal of the Pure Project line, the PureConnect is often too narrow. I find their fit comparable to a race flat, specifically the Nike Jana Star which it uniquely reminds me of. The most common response runners have to this shoe is that it simply has too narrow a toebox for a comfortable toe splay; this is compared to their top rival, the ridiculously cush toebox of the Kinvara. If you can get past that fact, then feel free to read the rest of this review and consider this shoe.
Initial Thoughts: This shoe is like many other “minimalist” options with its light weight (7.2 oz for men, 6.5 oz for women) and low heel-toe drop (4 mm). However, Brooks has a “unique foot philosophy” that prompted the innovative design of the shoe (from RunningWarehouse.com blog):
1. Ideal Heel uses a unique heel geometry, which reportedly results in the initial ground contact point occurring 2cm forward compared to traditional shoes. 2. Toe-flex utilizes a split-toe midsole/outsole configuration to better engage the big toe’s natural stability function at toe-off. 3. Nav Band hugs the midfoot with an elastic band for a secure fit. 4. Anatomical Last allows for the toes to splay during ground contact and allows the shoe to better follow the contours of the foot. 5. BioMogo DNA is a midsole blend that truly adapts to different ground forces, so the running experience is unique to the pace of the run; a softer feel exists at slower paces and a firmer feel is present at faster paces.
I personally don’t have an opinion about the toe-flex. It looks funny, doesn’t do much for me. The Nav Band is okay, it helps adhere the shoe to my foot. The shoe is so narrow though, that this is rarely an issue. The BioMogo midsole is perhaps my favorite part.
The Sole: I already discussed the split toe, which is honestly unremarkable. The bottom of this shoe is small segmented pods of cushion, using a BioMogo DNA midsole that “adapts to different ground forces”. This is to say that the shoe feels firmer when you are pressing off of a sprint, versus a jog where it will feel more cushioned. It is true that this shoe performs well as a racing flat for this reason: I ran a 10 mile race across trail and road in these shoes, and felt like I was pushing off well o the uphills and able to coast on air during the flats. That is why I love this shoe. The difference may not be as notable as I make it out to be, but the midsole of this shoe is the best part.
Flex shots below. Not particularly supportive so they are rather flexible.
The Upper: Not much to say here, it;s a nice mesh. Very reminiscent of the Kinvara 2. There is no flywire or any supportive devices like on the Nike Free Run+ or Kinvara 3, but there is the nav band and pure mesh. I’m very into it. Wear thicker socks in the winter, and enjoy the breeze in the summer.
This shoe is ideally made for performance runners looking for a minimalist shoe (low heel-toe drop, really) to rotate with the Kinvara. If you have wider feet and are still looking for cushy, low riding digs, try the PureFlow. Certainly, though minimal, these shoes are far from the barefoot craze of Merrell and Vibram. A lot of the ground feel is removed by the BioMogo cushioning. However, at a $90 price point they aren’t bad if you’re willing to take the narrow forefoot.
Type: Natural running (minimalist).
Weight/Heel-toe Drop: 7.2 oz (mens), 4mm drop.
Pros: Very flexible, and a very comfortable upper that is breezy and light. Has a lot of foot technology that you may or may not like which also removes a lot of ground-feel. The ride is phenomenal, but not particularly minimalist. Cushioned, tight to the foot, like a sweet, pimp-my-ride racing flat.
Cons: Very narrow toebox, not a lot of support. For me, crapped out at 300 miles.
Comments: Most minimal of the Pure Projects, if you have wider feet go for the PureFlow. If you want a more minimal shoe, try the Saucony Hattori or a Brooks Launch. I love these shoes, but they are not for everyone, so put them on before you buy them.