Grit and bare it? Happily says TRM Editor, Chris Ord, who finds the new PureGrit2 trail shoes from Brooks remain well within the comfort zone.
“The Brooks Pure Grit 2 is the best trail running shoe I’ve had the pleasure of running on”.
That’s not me. That’s the Running Shoes Guru speaking (www.runningshoesguru.com).
For my money, he’s not 100% on the money, but my foot is different to his. That said, and (assumed) anatomical differences aside, he’s still about 89% correct. The Pure Grit 2 runs a damn fine performance on any form of flowing dirt and is up there with some of the best on offer in the low heel-to-toe drop sphere (4mm in this case).
First impressions centre on fit and comfort. The shoe molds snugly to the foot and the asymmetrical upper and lace system better distributes pressures on the top of the foot as it motions through strike. This design factor is evident and equally impressive on the new Brooks Cascadia 8s (reviewed here), although the Grit 2s add in an elastic band, which does, well, look good if nothing else.
You’ll immediately note the cushioning as super plush, especially for a minimalist shoe, yet it’s not at the expense of trail feel, which remains precise. The concave sole (running the width of the foot) adds to this ever so, working like a flexed spring, to splay out on each impact.
Following complaints with Pure Grit mark one that grip was appalling, Brooks claims that it has imbued the Son Of with a new, more aggressive outsole featuring multi-directional lug pattern. Aggressive is a stretch – while I can’t compare and contrast to the previous model (online reports seem to indicate this version is definitely grippier) – I would say the earth-suck is middling, with traction lost on fast, winding forays on gravel and loose dirt, while mud renders them skates.
Toe protection is mid-weight but sufficient and the toe groove cut form the front sole gives a little independence to the big toe from its smaller brethren, again adding a pinkie’s worth to trail feel.
The upper is light and breathable, although this has a downside – the structure of the upper is so barely there that for me, when on super twisty trails, my foot would slide over the footbed given any sideways momentum meaning my confidence to whip through fast flat corners suffered.
Where the Pure Grit 2s really shine, however, is in general comfort. They also suit those wanting to transition across to a lower heel-toe ratio, as the heel is soft enough to take a heel strike as you tire and your form fades.
I’d rate them as a great door to trail option and perfect for a runner wanting minimalist heel-to-toe with some rebound for longer training runs on non to semi-technical terrain. When the going gets really rough, I’d prefer to run the Cascadia 8s. Perhaps Brooks can consider a flatter-heeled Cascadia as a perfect middle ground?
Great for: door to trail, runners transitioning to minimalist heel-to-toe drops
Not so great for: hardcore technical trails
Test conditions: mostly singletrail, soft to firm, some graded track, technical, rocky, 135km+
Tester: Chris Ord
Tester mechanics: Mid-foot strike. Slight pronator. Prefers minimal shoes, but technical trail.