Brooks Launch 4 ReviewFebruary 3, 2017
- Great midsole responsiveness
- Strong outsole grip
- Snappy energy return
- Toebox too narrow for wide feet
- Steep heel-toe doesn’t favor midfoot strikers
The Brooks Launch 4 is a favorite of our test group, and is one of the best all-purpose lightweight trainers we’ve tested. They have a light and crisp feel for uptempo training, but are durable and supportive enough for everyday training and high mileage efforts. Our testers like the energetic midsole bounce and the comfortable uppers, although the overall fit may be narrow for wide feet.
The Launch 4 fits true to size. Our testers found the redesigned upper shape to have a much more precise fit, and the toe box has generous height to prevent hot spots on top. However, the width will feel slightly impacted for those with wide feet. The moderately padded tongue and traditional lace system keep the midfoot in place very effectively.
Lightweight padding around the ankle collar and a soft interior liner provide a soft feel across the entire foot. The mesh uppers breathe well in hot conditions and dry quickly after being wet. The underfoot stack height and cushioning provide a comfortable ride and diminish road impact quite dependably.
Brooks sticks with its versatile BioMoGo DNA midsole material that adjusts its energy return based on your speed and impact forces; when you’re cruising slowly, it’s a softer ride, and when you’re accelerating, the resistance is firmer. Our testers loved the energy return through the midsole, and expanded outsole rubber underfoot improves grip and further improves the responsiveness from foot strike to toe spring.
A couple of design changes in the midsole are intended to improve the transition from heel to toe. One is the reshaped underside cutout in the heel area, intended to help the heel find a neutral position (not too far lateral or medial) more quickly upon heelstrike. Another is the U-groove that wraps around the backside of the heel, which helps transition impact forces in a forward direction more quickly. In our testing the Launch 4 provided one of the smoothest rides among our test group – but with a 10mm heel to toe drop, the ride technologies in the Launch 4 are better suited for heel strikers than midfoot strikers.
The Launch 4 comes in right in the middle of our weight range with the current testing group, and is lightweight enough to allow quick leg turnover. Responsiveness and ride quality combine for a snappy feel during speed work or racing.
Donald Buraglio- Minimalist Running shoes
Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports.