As soon as the Brooks PureConnects (photo, right) arrived in the mail, our female tester put them on, laced them up and headed out for a lunchtime run. It was love at first step. There was no cramping in the feet and no pain in the arches — absolutely none of the minor getting-to-know you discomforts that come with a new pair of running shoes.
The minimalist, flexible shoe was a breath of fresh air compared to other minimalist shoes our female tester had used. The forefront and midsole protection made her think what Goldilocks did when she tasted Baby Bear’s porridge: It was just right.
That first run by our female tester was done along the Boulder Creek Trail, and subsequent runs done along the Platte River Trail in Denver, treadmills at the gym and the dusty, rocky dirt roads of the San Luis Valley, which is where our male tester is located.
Our male tester didn’t have quite the same experience (with the shoes pictured on the left). Accustomed to Vibram FiveFingers, our male tester felt the forefront and midsole protection were a little too bulky, making for runs that felt “too springy” at first. He did say that when he finally was able to break them in, they were comfortable and often he’d arrive home having logged more miles than he intended.
It was that same “springy” feeling that our female tester loved. Our female tester has tried other minimalist shoes where she said she would have liked increased midsole and forefront protection, and while wearing those other brands her calves often ended up sore and overworked. This wasn’t the case in the PureProjects — oftentimes she’d set out for a five-mile run and come home after eight.
Despite the opposing views of the increased protection in the front of the shoe, both testers agreed that the breathable outer covered in mesh was a plus. And environmentalists can rejoice as the outsoles are made of Brooks’ BioMoGo, which is biodegradable.
This was especially useful when the snow started to fall in Denver, which made for some wet, muddy runs. The shoes were quick to dry and because of the bigger lugs on the split-toed outsole, they didn’t track a lot of mud or catch a lot of rocks on the bottom. This feature also came in handy once when she forgot a pair of socks and went for a run on a treadmill at the gym. The shoes didn’t feel too sweaty or get stinky after that one five-mile run. Both testers said they loved the way the feet always felt cool and dry because of this feature.
Though the shoes are designed for road running, the increased protection makes them good trail runners in a pinch.
One thing SNEWS would like to see on future PureProject shoes is an incorporation of a strap versus laces, which comes in handy during long runs where there is danger of cramping up after kneeling down to lace up a wayward shoelace. Plus, our male tester found them a bit too narrow.
But overall, both testers, who logged a few hundred miles on the shoes each, said they felt the PureConnects did what the company said the shoes part of the PureProject line would do, which is help runners “feel more with less.”
Suggested Retail: $90
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
The Leisure Trends Group Data: According to Leisure Trends Group’s Outdoor RetailTRAK data, minimalist multisport shoes sales were up 71 percent in dollars between 2010 and 2011 at core outdoor stores including specialty, online and chain channels. Shoes like Brooks PureConnects and Vibram FiveFingers that are sold in specialty outdoor retailers are under the umbrella of multisport shoes in this data.
For more information: www.brooksrunning.com