Brooks Pure Grit 3 Review

July 7, 2014
Brooks Pure Grit 3
Comfort & Protection
Security of fit
Speed & Energy Efficiency
Agility & Traction

The Good

  • Excellent balance between responsiveness and cushioning
  • Greatly improved traction and forefoot stability

The Bad

  • Less flexibility and ground feel than previous versions of the Pure Grit

The improved traction and stability combined with a near perfect balance between cushioning and responsiveness make the Pure Grit 3 a compelling long distance shoe for the performance-oriented runner.


Editor’s note: Because the Brooks Pure Grit 3 falls on the line between a minimalist shoe and a trainer, we included it in both minimalist trail running test (directed by Donald Buraglio) and our lightweight trail runner test (directed by Jacob Waltz). For the other tester’s perspective, click here [LINK]

Previous versions of the Brooks Pure Grit were often highlighted as having poor traction and a sloppy upper. In what amounts to a fairly substantial overhaul, those deficiencies have largely been eliminated in the third iteration of the Pure Grit. The redesigned outsole performed perfectly on a variety of surfaces, and the upper provided the expected foot lockdown. The addition of a rock plate further enhances the shoe’s appropriateness for long runs on demanding terrain.

Where the Pure Grit 3 really outshines the competition is the midsole material. Brooks seems to have found a nearly ideal blend of cushioning and responsiveness. The result is a shoe that feels soft and compliant underfoot, yet still provides energy return during faster running and on steep climbs. This makes for a truly versatile platform that can handle a wide range of speeds and distances. The downside of the new midsole however is that flexibility and ground-feel are both reduced relative to prior versions of the shoe.

Runners who want a single, do-it-all trail shoe in an intermediate weight would do well in the Pure Grit 3. Although a bit heavy for speed work, the Pure Grit can hold its own–and provides far more protection than a trail flat. It also would make an excellent (ultra)marathon racing shoe, with the possible exception of heavy runners who need more cushioning and support.

Comfort & Protection
The Pure Grit 3 is one of those shoes that just feels good when you put it on. The cushioning is not plush by any means, but still has a certain softness to it that somehow doesn’t sacrifice support. The flexible and breathable upper materials are soft to the touch and wrap the foot well without any hot spots. Underfoot protection is excellent due to the full-length outsole and rock plate, but upper protection was a bit lacking on very rocky trails.

Security of Fit
Security of fit was generally adequate, and didn’t stand out as remarkably good or bad (whereas previous versions would definitely fall into the latter category). It definitely improved with break-in, so that is something to be mindful of when trying on the shoe and during initial runs. One minor caveat is that there was a small amount of foot movement during aggressive running on off-camber surfaces.  To be fair this is something that a lot of shoes struggle with.

Speed & Energy Efficiency
The overall feel of the Pure Grit 3 at faster speeds was probably its most enjoyable characteristic. Shoes in this intermediate weight class are often designed as built-up versions of trail flats, or stripped down versions of heavier-duty platforms. In either case it’s usually the balance and turnover of the shoe that suffer in the process. The Pure Grit on the other hand was nearly perfect in these areas, and with the responsive midsole foam it was a flat out joy on long cruiser-grade downhills. The balance and responsiveness also give the Pure Grit a very light feel on steep climbs.

Agility and Traction
The Pure Grit 3 felt quite nimble for a 10oz shoe, especially compared to other shoes in this weight class. This is in part due to the excellent overall balance – which is something Brooks just always seems to get right in its trail shoes. Traction excellent on a range of surfaces with the exception of bare wet rock. A stickier outsole material would have helped there.

The MSRP of $120 is perhaps a bit higher than most shoes in this category.


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