Brooks PureFlow 5 ReviewFebruary 23, 2016
- Comfort throughout upper
- Rearfoot to forefoot transition
- Flexibility in outsole and midsole
- Rigid heel cup
- Upper warm in hot conditions
The Brooks PureFlow 5 is a shoe for cranking out the miles in comfort. Its design and construction help preserve natural biomechanics of the foot, while the cushioned ride and responsive midsole will also appeal to heel strikers. The 4mm platform is a sweet spot for heel to toe drop, and the PureFlow 5 accommodates a wide spectrum of running styles. They’re not zippy enough for race day, but they’ll be great for logging all the work to get there.
Although the PureFlow is a flagship Brooks model, the company isn’t afraid to revamp it on a regular basis. Fortunately, most of the changes on version 5 are good ones, and fans of previous PureFlow models will find more to love on this edition.
Length is true to size, but width in the distal toebox felt slightly narrow to some testers. The big change on the PureFlow 5 is the removal of the Nav Band across the midfoot arch, and the resulting 3D designed upper has a watersock feel with a no-sew overlay construction that comfortably hugs the entire foot. Tension is easily customized and tightened with a traditional tongue and lace system.
There is substantial padding around the heel collar and ankle areas that sit comfortably against the skin. The heel cup is quite rigid and could cause some irritation for those with sensitive Achilles tendons. Breathability is decent in normal conditions, but ventilation is lagging in hot conditions.
Brooks designed a new hyper-flexible midsole with deep channels both laterally and longitudinally across the bottom of the shoe, cutting through the outsole and midsole. The channels are so large that pebbles easily get stuck between them. The new DNA LT midsole adapts its rebound to the location and force of impact, which makes it equally useful for rearfoot or midfoot strikers. Our testers were impressed with its springiness, but had a hard time discerning the difference in responsiveness between this midsole compound and the previous model’s BioMoGo, which was very strong in its own right. Finally, a rounded heel helps rearfoot strikers transition more efficiently toward the front of the foot in stance phase.
The DNA LT midsole combines plush cushioning with smooth flexibility, and each midsole pod can flex and absorb impact independently of the others to further smooth out irregularities in the road. Testers found the ride quality equally comfortable at cruising speeds as well as with speedwork.
The main drawback of the PureFlow 5 is its positioning on the high end of the “lightweight” spectrum. There are plenty of shoes in this test group that combine just as much cushioning, responsiveness, and comfort in a noticeably lighter package. These are comfortable and responsive enough to sporadically pick up the pace on long training runs, but for serious speedwork or racing there are better options.