Excellent balance between cushioning and responsiveness
Outsole and tread are effective on a wide range of surfaces
Somewhat lacking in flexibility and ground feel
Stiff ride could be too harsh for some runners, particularly on long runs
Slightly narrow toe box
The Brooks PureGrit 4 is an outstanding all-purpose trail shoe that, because of its excellent balance between cushioning and responsiveness, performs equally well at a range of speeds on a variety of terrain. The major downside is a somewhat stiff overall ride, which will not appeal to those who prefer a more flexible and interactive feel.
The Brooks PureGrit 4 is one of those trail shoes that could, if necessary, be the “one shoe” that does everything. It has enough comfort to handle longer distances, but has the responsiveness and speed necessary for occasional faster running. The low profile outsole is remarkably effective in perhaps anything except sticky mud, and the handling of the shoe is as natural and precise as it gets for something in the 10-11 oz weight class. The PureGrit also performs just as well on flatter more runnable terrain (such as dirt roads and cruiser-grade downhills), as it does on steep technical trail. If one were limited to a single trail shoe, it’d be hard to find something more versatile.
The major caveat with the PureGrit is the overall stiffness of the ride. Shoes in this weight class tend to have a more cushioned and plush feel to them, whereas the PureGrit runs and feels more like a beefed-up racing flat. Whether or not this is an issue will really come down to individual runner preferences. Runners who are used to a more plush ride will likely find the PureGrit’s feel a little harsh. On the other hand, runners accustomed to lighter shoes will likely find the PureGrit to have more than adequate cushioning and support.
The PureGrit 4 would make an outstanding all-terrain, long distance training and racing shoe. It’s probably overkill for anything shorter than the half marathon distance, but would still be more than adequate depending on the terrain. The PureGrit 4 would also make an excellent general purpose shoe for road runners who want to venture into trail running, but don’t really have an idea of what type(s) of terrain, distances, and races might be most interesting. The PureGrit is probably not the best choice for runners who prefer a highly flexible shoe or need an unusually wide toe box.
Comfort The PureGrit has a very comfortable feel overall. The cushioning is definitely on the firm side, but still has just enough softness to avoid feeling harsh. The upper materials are also soft to the touch and fit extremely well on the foot, with no hot spots. The overall stiffness of the shoe does detract somewhat from its comfort on longer runs. The toe box is also a touch on the narrow side.
Speed & Agility The PureGrit 4 turns over remarkably well for a shoe in the 10-11 oz weight category, and is very comfortable at faster paces on smooth surfaces (e.g. dirt roads). The 4mm drop is right in the sweet spot: small enough to help keep the heel out of the way on technical terrain, but large enough to help accelerate foot transition and reduce ground contact time when cranking up the pace.
Security of Fit The PureGrit provides a reasonably secure fit without the need for excessive lace tightening, particularly once the interior of the shoe has had a chance to break in and mold to the foot. The heel cup is also quite secure. The midfoot overlays do seem to be somewhat less secure than those in the PureGrit 3, but not enough to significantly effect handling and agility.
Responsiveness The midsole material provides outstanding energy return compared to most mid-weight shoes. This was particularly noticeable on runnable climbs at speed. The PureGrit felt extremely efficient with little to no wasted energy.
Stability Although the PureGrit does not have the precise handling of a lightweight trail flat, it handles quite well for a mid-weight shoe due to the relatively low stack height and overall rigidity of the platform. The outsole lugs are also sufficiently low profile to stay out of the way and don’t get unnecessarily caught on rocks or other trail obstacles. Overall, there is a certain intuitiveness to how the shoe handles that really helps inspire confidence.