a review by John Schrup
The Brooks Pure Grit is the trail model from the biomechanically appropriate Pure Project line. Of the four models in the line, the Grit is a true hybrid shoe. Not that it can be used for road and trail, because we’ve seen the outsole shear off too quickly when used on the road, but because this is the model that will be voted mostly likely to be worn on the Greenbelt AND with jeans while perusing the olive bar at the Ho Foo.
And, truth be told, and at least in my very humble opinion, of the four Pure models this is the one with the best fit and feel—road or trail. Alas, like I mentioned, it is not road worthy, but if it were, it would be my road shoe.
The Grit is sits low to the ground and is protective enough against all but the very sharpest rocks on the Greenbelt. But very few shoes are. There is no rock plate in the midsole of the Grit, which is initially a minor worry, but that fear is quickly assuaged on the first run because you’re on top of just enough midsole foam to protect your dainty feet and the flexibility and nimble feel allow for the quickest of reactions before any damage is done. The first really noticeable rock I encountered was much less of a problem with the Grit because before I’d even recognized that I was about to get banged, proprioceptive response had me off the rock and continuing on, albeit with some “Whew!” in the back of my mind.
The fit is comfortably snug, in general probably the best of the lot; and the anatomically broadened forefoot upper allows for decent foot splay without feeling sloppy, in perhaps all but the most narrow of feet. That Nav Band? Still pretty worthless. On some feet it will engage, but unless you’ve got a Fred Flintstone foot, you won’t even notice it. The split toe seam, designed to allow for a more “proper” toe off? Still nothing noticeable when running, especially on the trail. I like the idea of it, but really it is unnecessary, and the application just doesn’t do anything.
The feel is, for a trail shoe, very bouncy and moderately soft. It is a strange feel for a trail shoe, being that most trail shoes—save the luxurious, ubiquitous Cascadia—are firm and responsive. The Cascadia, of course, is the most popular trail shoe (50% of the market!) for people who want to drive an Escalade down the Greenbelt. At first I thought the Grit would be tooooo soft, but within a mile or so, the softness was found to be helpfully protective. Certainly, it is no marshmallow—it isn’t the Glycerin—but for a trail shoe, mmm yeah, pretty soft. For a road shoe, however, it would be almost exactly what I’m looking for. (Hint, hint Brooks.)
Traction is good, at least on the Greenbelt, but I imagine that in really wet, Vaseline-greasy conditions you’ll find in other parts of the country, you’d be wise not to go too quick downhill or through off-camber turns. For what we have ‘round these parts, I can’t really imagine that traction will be a problem at all, if you’re really concerned about it.
The Grit is a cool shoe. Heck, all of the Pure line are cool. There is potential, let’s say, in each model, but they’ve done really, really well right out of the gate. Given a choice, I’d pick a Pure shoe over almost all of the traditional Brooks models, save maybe the Green Silence or T-Series, maybe the Launch, but still I’m already beginning to wonder what Pure v. 2 will bring. For our terrain, you can’t do much better than the Grit. And in the Ho Foo line, you’re now in never-before-achieved levels of outdoor hipness.