The Brooks Pure Grit 5 is an outstanding general purpose trail shoe that will appeal to a wide range of runners. Although it is somewhat less responsive than the previous iteration of the shoe, it is substantially more flexible and thus recovers the natural ride present in the original Pure Grit.
The original Brooks Pure Grit was praised for its flexibility and natural ride, but suffered from poor traction and a sloppy upper. Subsequent versions of the shoe were considerably stiffer and more rugged, but could feel harsh during longer runs, especially on firm surfaces. The Pure Grit 5 splits these differences nicely, and manages to recapture the natural feel of the original Pure Grit while still providing enough traction, comfort, and protection to be a legitimate long-course trail running shoe.
The stand out feature of the Pure Grit 5 is clearly the comfortable and forgiving ride. The shoe is soft throughout, and the cushioning has a supportive, but in no way harsh, feel. The softness does make the fit a touch sloppier, but this abates somewhat as the show firms up during break-in. Fortunately the softness and comfort do not lead to a total loss of responsiveness either. Granted the shoe is not and never will be a racing flat, but at typical long-run speeds the midsole has just the right amount of pop and energy return.
The Pure Grit 5 would make an outstanding all-terrain, long distance training and racing shoe. The Pure Grit 5 also would make an excellent general purpose shoe for road runners who want to venture into trail running, but don’t really have an idea yet of what type(s) of terrain, distances, and races might be most interesting. The one major caveat with the shoe was the very poor traction on hard wet surfaces like rock.
The overall comfort of the Pure Grit 5 is clearly best-in-class, and even rivals that found in many heavier shoes. This is the type of shoe a person could wear all day—or even longer—and not even think twice about it. One could argue that the heel cup is perhaps a touch overbuilt, but this is at most a minor preference issue.
Speed and turnover are fairly typical for a general purpose shoe in this weight category: not necessarily outstanding in any particular regard, but not deficient either. The Pure Grit’s balanced weight distribution does make the shoe feel a little easier to turn over, which helps when fatigued or otherwise trying to conserve energy.
Security of Fit The Pure Grit 5 initially feels a touch loose and sloppy. The fit definitely becomes more secure however as the shoe breaks in. Once it reaches the point where it has firmed up and conforms to the foot, the shoe feels quite secure even with just a moderate amount of lace pressure.
The Pure Grit 5 handles very well on technical terrain, primarily due to the balanced weight distribution and the 4mm heel-to-toe drop. The former works to keep the shoe from leading the foot, and the latter works to keep the heel out of the way. Combined these features make for a very intuitive feel when, for example, quick-stepping through rocks or tight turns.
The responsiveness of the Pure Grit 5 is sufficient to provide a bit of energy return on more runnable terrain. This helps to improve the overall efficiency of the shoe without sacrificing comfort.
Although the Pure Grit 5 does not necessarily look or feel like a highly protective shoe, the outsole provides a surprising amount of protection from underfoot obstacles. The toe bumper and upper materials are somewhat less protective, but are more than adequate for the occasional rock or root.
A competitive road cyclist in his younger years and lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Jacob discovered his love for long distance trail running as an adult. He lives in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe. Follow him at Google+.