GRIT FOR GRIME >> Brooks Pure Grit 3
Ask and thy shall receive. Not necessarily because anyone is listening. Just because sometimes the Gods of Iteration get it right.
In previous reviews I’ve been complimentary about Brooks Cascadia and Pure Grit models, with some minor gripes. If you combined the general gist of my opinion on past outings of both models, the thematic would be that they needed to be whacked into a blender together, and hopefully the alchemy that transpired would result in the best aspects of each shoe being combined into a super model.
Well, abracadabra, alchemy-do: the Brooks boffins have attained a level of sorcery here with the third outing of the Pure Grit. The result is an almost perfect balance of robust, dozer-like performance with biting grip (Cascadia gene-pool there) together with light, go-fast, low heel-toe drop, natural ride performance and comfort (Pure Grit parentage shining through).
The shoe is sporting the Pure Grit badge, not Cascadia, so the architecture remains true to the Pure Grit philosophy of being a transitional-minimalist shoe with low profile ride (4mm drop), and a good amount of cushion.
This model has lost the toe-splay that came online more prominently in the Pure Grit 2, reverting to a traditional toe-sole design (with good protection), however the splay remains in place at the rear (to what end I am still unsure) and, interestingly, on the outer side at midfoot.
The outsole is in fact the most obvious design change to the eye: much more aggressive than its predecessor with hexagonal lugs interspersed with perpendicular gutters up front and parallel gutter up the mid to outside rear. The gutters seem to allow the outersole to flex in advantageous spots underneath your foot, allowing for a more natural movement and response. Indeed while the lugs are grippier, I found the Grit 3 more tactile on the ground with much better feedback to rough trails. And of course it delivered more confidence on the rough stuff that the 2s.
The addition of a forefoot rockplate also brings with it better protection (but again, did not seem to dull the feedback from the ground). This allows the Pure grit to get stuck into much rougher terrain than the previous model could cope with, broadening its trail-type coverage. Indeed a run through the highly technical Grampians range in Victoria, Australia, where underfoot is a chameleon journey of rock, roots, mud, moss and everything in between, had the Pure grits performing like a greyhound on heat. Only I was the one panting, like I couldn’t keep up with them. They were perfectly matched to the technical terrain.
My other beef on the previous Pure Grits (2) was an upper that seemed to allow my foot too much movement internally, which meant increased instability when hoofing it around corners. Super dangerous in territory such as the Grampians. This model goes a long way to rectifying the upper fit, with a traditional tongue in lieu of what was a critic-polarizing wrap design, giving better hold up top. The lace opening remains off centre but not by much – essentially the tweaks made have worked to lock down my foot in comfort and security.
The upper wicks well up front with a mesh-style fabric, however does hold a little moisture up back with more materials built into the heel and ankle holds. Nothing that doesn’t dry out eventually though.
The colourways – which have absolutely nothing to do with performance so really who cares – are on the lairy side and up for taste critiques: all subjective. Get it dirty and no-one will notice the psychedelia.
The shoe won’t please those who were looking perhaps for more refinement leading towards the minimalist tendency: essentially this is a beefed-up Pure Grit designed to appeal more to the middle market experimenting with going low profile, rather than appeasing purists who may have been looking for a further stripped back version of Pure Grip 2.
But for this mid-pack punter, the middle ground has been an improvement. Now if I could just get it in black.
TAKE OUTS Brooks Pure Grit 3
Great for: gnarly, technical trails, mountain running, transitioning to minimalist
No so great for: mud, icy spots, slick rock
Test conditions: a mix of mild and super techy trails usually in damp and wet condition; Grampians National Park, Surf Coast trails. Approx 120km.
Tester: Chris Ord
Tester mechanics: slight pronator, mid foot striker, stiff hip flexors, prone to injury!