Brooks Pure Flow Review
The Pure Flow from Brooks is the second Pure Project shoe I’ve reviewed recently. Check out my review of the Pure Grit to see how much I liked that shoe, and you’ll have an idea of how excited I might have been to try the Flow. I’ve been running in natural/minimal and barefoot shoes for a couple years now and love the natural shoe feel–primarily the ride of a low-drop shoe. However, I sometimes wish I had a bit more midsole cushion and support on long runs.
On paper, the Pure Flow looked to be the answer to my prayers. It is designed to be a neutral shoe, built with the Pure Project’s signature 4mm drop, and a bit more cushion in the midsole than the Connect and the Grit. The stack height (Heel: 22mm, Forefoot: 18mm) does feel higher than these other shoes, but doesn’t feel too high or precarious in any way due to its nice wide base. The Brooks IDEAL Heel, which rounds the heel in profile to promote a footstrike closer to the midfoot, combined with a special blend of DNA and BioMoGo midsole foam create a magical-feeling midsole. Brooks claims that DNA responds to a runner’s speed, providing softer cushioning at slower paces, then firming up to feel more responsive at faster paces. This isn’t a hollow claim- I was surprised at how the Pure Flow felt soft and cushy when walking or running slowly on recovery days, but felt fast and firm during speed interval workouts. I also really enjoyed the low-drop and IDEAL Heel geometry–the ride from heel-to-toe in the Flow is ultra smooth and fast. Kudos Brooks!
The midsole material is covered on the base in key wear areas only with a rubber compound that seems to hold up well to normal use. After 50-60 miles on a blend of concrete, asphalt and light dirt trail, the outsole shows moderate wear. Brooks does say that the Pure Project shoes are designed to be light and minimal, and will not last as long as the standard shoes in their lineup, but their price tag, at $90, keeps this from being a problem. In fact, the Pure Flow was recently named a Runners’ World Magazine Best Buy (March 2012).
The upper of the Pure Flow is made up of one type of mesh which ventilates well but is not so open as to freeze your dogs on cooler days, and a nice plush synthetic leather. The Flow includes the elastic Navband that all the Pure shoes feature, and I think the utility of it has been discussed quite a bit- it just doesn’t seem to do much, but in the Flow it doesn’t hurt performance at all either. The fit here is great – some natural shoes’ toeboxes are so wide the shoes feel like flippers at fast pages, but the Flow allows a bit of toe splay without feeling baggy anywhere. The lacing system is limited to only 4 main eyelets. I think that adjusting fit and getting a good lockdown could be more easily achieved with a couple more.
One other Pure Project feature the Flow sports is a slit in the mid/outsole that separates the big toe base from the rest of the front part of the shoe’s base (see photo at right). Even trying to manipulate this area with the shoe off, it doesn’t seem to operate independently of the rest of the shoe, and I didn’t really notice any difference on the run because of it. Again, it also isn’t annoying or detrimental in any way.
The Pure Flow slots in at 9.0oz. for a mens’ size 9, which is solidly in the performance lightweight division, not quite featherweight racer territory. Once again, the Pure Flow finds a nice sweet spot on the continuum. I tested this shoe in absolutely all conditions on all types of runs, and struggled to find a situation it didn’t excel in. I’m often asked ‘what’s the best running shoe?’, and I usually respond that it depends on what you want to use it for–no one shoe can everything well. However, I think I can now say that for neutral runners on a budget or just limited closet space, the Brooks Pure Flow can go from tempo runs to hard interval workouts to two-hour long runs and perform brilliantly in all of these. The fact that they cost 25% less than most shoes these days is just another feather in an awesome new shoe’s cap.
The Brooks Pure Flow retails for $90. For more information, jog on over to brooksrunning.com.
Weight: 8.7 oz
Platform: Anatomical Last
Launch Date: October 1, 2011
• BioMoGo DNA Midsole
• IDEAL Heel
• Toe Flex
• Nav Band
• Anatomical Last
Heel-Toe Offset : 4.0 mm