From toe and heel splits in the outsole/midsole materials to the burrito-wrap tongue the Brooks PureGrit 2 is one of the most unique trail shoes on the market today. But does unique mean the best or at least better? The only way to find out is to put them on and start logging miles…long, hard miles.
Putting the PureGrit 2’s on for the first time was like putting on my favorite pair of comfy slippers. They didn’t feel like the highly protective and stiffer trail shoes I normally wear, which instantly raised all kinds of red flags for me. I’ve tried softer, more comfortable shoes in the past only to have them break down after a few miles on the trail and leave me with the feeling of being fooled and disappointed…they would look great and feel great at the beginning but when put to the real test there was no substance under the enticing facade. Fortunately, the PureGrit 2 didn’t turn out to be like that.
Technical Schmechtical StuffWeight: 9.7 oz (size 9)
Drop heel to forefoot: 5 mm (21mm heel, 16mm forefoot)
Heel: medium to narrow
Toe box: medium (although I find it roomy)
Midsole cushinoning: BioMoGo DNA
Fit: true (if you wear size 10 order size 10)
When testing a shoe I go all in, it’s the only shoe I wear until I have a solid opinion and I don’t make an opinion for 150-250 miles or more. I loved the PureGrit 2 after the first few runs I had in them. My heel felt locked in with no slippage and there’s ample room in the toe box, but after 10 mile, 12 mile, 8 mile, 15 mile runs all of a sudden I noticed my feet feeling very tired. No they weren’t yawning around dinner time and falling asleep on the sofa while my wife’s feet watched “The Good Wife” on Sunday night, it felt like my arches were being strained. For the sake of trail runners everywhere I toughed it out even though I was convinced I had developed plantar fasciitis. After a few more runs and having every waking hour consumed with thinking about it I realized the feeling in my feet was from the PureGrit 2 allowing, or promoting, my feet to “grip” the trail in ways my normal trail shoe didn’t, thus I was using muscles in my feet that I either wasn’t used to using or I was using them in a different way. Once I realize this I instantly noticed on my next runs that my feet were in fact trying to dig into the trail due to the softer midsole. Knowing that most elite (I classify anyone faster than I am as elite) runners like trail shoes with flexibility this was not a bad thing, it exposed a weakness in my running that I now had to correct. It didn’t take long, after the first week of running in the PureGrit 2 I was acclimated. The moral of the story is if you’re used to heavier, stiffer shoes it will take a while to get used to the PureGrit 2.After 12 days and more than 150 miles of trails it was time to put the PureGrit 2 through a true test…Rim to Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon. Our planned route was 48 miles and not having worn the PureGrit 2 for more than 20 miles on any run I did have reservations. But doing 48 miles in the Grand Canyon was a training run and I had several other items I was testing and experimenting with so I thought “what the hell, its not like it means anything”. If you’ve ever run Rim to Rim to Rim you know there is a little, or a lot, of just about every trail condition you’ll find. Smooth groomed trail, dusty sandy trail, rocky jagged trail, steep ascents and steep descents and even a few miles along the Colorado River filled with deep beach sand. In the end nothing went wrong and the PureGrit 2 performed like a champion.
The BadThe one item that did concern me is the grip. Even though there has been a lot said and written about the improvement of the outsole grip for the PureGrit 2 compared to the PureGrit 1, I still found it slippery in wet conditions. It isn’t just my shoes and the way I run in them, I’ve noticed fellow runners sliding across rocks in wet and muddy conditions too. In all other conditions I found the grip to be more than satisfactory. Just keep that in mind if your next race is on rocky trails and the forecast is for rain.
So the bottom line is would I recommend the PureGrit 2? Yes. Overall I think it’s one of the more comfortable trail shoes on the market. It’s a nice blend between lightweight responsiveness and rugged protection. If you’re in the market for a sub 10 oz. trail shoe you can’t go wrong by visiting your local specialty running store and trying the PureGrit 2 on for size.