Product Review: Brooks PureConnect

Confession: over the past few years, I’ve had a love affair with Brooks.  To be clear, though: these shoes were bought and paid for myself.  These are not wear-test, discounted or free products.

Sure, here and there I’ve strayed and tried out other shoes, but somehow I’ve always come back.  I’ve been a member of the ID program, and now am a “Brooks Fanatic”. I value Brooks’ focus on the amateur runner and their focus on running, not multi-sport. I’ve run in the Glycerin, Defyance, Green Silence, T6 and my go to shoe for the last three years: the Launch.

In the last 18 months, to address chronic Plantar Fasciitis and other recurring nagging aches and pains, I’ve really been focused on midfoot striking and the ChiRunning/POSE approaches.  For me (and most), its simply tough to run that way in traditional stacked heel running shoes.  That simple fact has led me to try out the Saucony Kinvara and the New Balance Minimus Road as Brooks did not have a comparable model with a low heel to toe ratio.  I had hoped that either the Green Silence or the T6/T7 could work for me, but sadly, they simply didn’t.   So, I was pretty excited when I heard about the PureProject!

Brooks was pretty clear about their stance on minimalism when the CEO wrote an open letter expressing his disbelief in the benefits of barefoot running and minimalism.  However, clear market demands seem to have forced the issue of bringing product to market, if even for a niche.  Brooks created the Float/Feel axis and the shoes in the PureProject line up vary along the two-dimensional grid according to their targeted purpose, however most lean toward the Feel side as the Float side is covered by Brooks’ traditional product line.

I chose to try the PureConnect out of the PureProject line, as it is the least cushioned and the furthest toward the Feel side of the spectrum.  All the products have a relatively low heel/toe drop, and the PureConnect is measured at 4mm, exactly the same as the Kinvara and the New Balance Minimus Road.

So, on to the impressions:  when I put it on for the first time, I was struck by a couple of things:

  1. It felt like a sock.
  2. It felt like a sock with a surprising amount of arch support.

The upper fit my foot very much like the Vibram FiveFinger Bikilas in that it is a foot hugger.  Obviously without the toes, but with a much more generous toebox than the T6/T7.  I was surprised by the snug arch fit I guess because I was expecting something similar to the Kinvaras and the Minimus, which both have little there in the way of the arch.  The combination of the Nav band (an elastic strap) and molded sockliner really fill up my high arch.  Not really minimal, and I’m on the fence of how I feel about it long term.  I don’t want another crutch for weak feet.

There is also a generous amount of cushioning in this shoe.  Enough to make me very glad that I didn’t get the PureFlow with even more cushioning.  They are well made and comfortable out of the box, and I took them for their first spin in a 5 miler at 6:45 pace with no issues whatsoever.

To compare it to the other shoes I’ve referenced here; it’s between the Kinvaras and the Minimus road.  Similar weight to both.  More structure and firmer than Kinvaras, yet softer than the Minimus road.  If you can run in these, you’ll do fine in the PureConnect.

They have a fairly aggressively cut out outsole with a mix of EVA and harder rubber pods.  I don’t get why companies focusing on minimal shoes are constantly putting these pods below the ball of the foot and directly under the big toe.  If you’re like me, you don’t toe off from your big toe.  i could be the anomaly here, though.  Anyway, as a result, after about 20 miles on them in the first week, there’s a fair amount of scuffing in the EVA under my second toe, directly where there should be a pod, but there’s not.  Time will tell, but I suppose they’ll wear like the Kinvaras where I had similar concerns.

I’m not sure yet I really see a benefit from the split toe, but the shoe rides well and feels springy and flexible enough.  So far, I’m enjoying them, and I can see them replacing the Launch as my go to daily trainer.

  1. Good review Jay, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve thought about trying these but Thomas warns they are a bit narrow. The Kinvara 2’s are about at my limit of “narrowness” in a shoe, so I’m interested in your impression too on how these compare. Anyway, the arch support now also concerns me. Nonetheless, I think I’ll take the opportunity to at least try a pair on, as I’m still on a hunt for something a little lighter than the Lunarfly’s but maybe more supportive than the Kinvaras.

  2. Greg, they are a bit narrow in the toebox, but I have pretty skinny feet, so it wasn’t an issue for me. I was really more comparing these to the T6 in my mind, and that shoe was extremely narrow for me. The arch really wasn’t a support issue, as the midsole isn’t shaped, but there is a pronounced upward curve in the sockliner which was a bit surprising.

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