Sunday, March 3, 2013

Brooks PureFlow 2 Review

I just finished my 100th mile in the Brooks PureFlow 2. So I thought I'd give the folks at Brooks Running a shout out. This is quite possibly the most comfortable shoe I've ever run in. From the trail to the track, from 30x:20 at 800 pace to a six-mile tempo run, this shoe delivers. Time and time and time again.

The motto of Brooks' Pure Project is "Feel more with less." In other words, minimal running. I've worn two different shoes from the Pure Project, the PureConnect and the PureFlow 2, which is the shoe I'm reviewing here. Some features carry over between all the models including a "Nav Band," which wraps around the arch and stretches to fit all feet widths, asymmetric lacing, minimal heel to promote forefoot strike, and a split toe, which give the toes more room to act independently.

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The PureFlow 2 is Brooks' answer to Saucony's vetted Kinvara line. The main features are pretty similar. A 4mm heel-toe drop promotes a forefoot strike, a softer sole to give the shoe some cushion, and deep grooves in the sole help the shoe flex. Beyond that, they are wildly different. The PureFlow 2 has a much more anatomic shape and adapts to the shape of the wearer's foot, where the Kinvara 3 is much more a traditional shaped shoe with some minimal features. The PureFlow also has a roomier toe box, allowing the toes to spread more freely. However, having wide feet, I found the PureFlow to fit more like a traditional running shoe, slightly tight around my forefoot. With time, that decreased as the shoe started to break in. What really drew me to the PureFlow was the way the toe box and nav band stretched to fit my foot like a glove. And, unlike most minimal shoes that have either a sewn in tongue (Nike Free) or a freely moving one (New Balance Minimus), the PureFlow has one side of the tongue sewn in, and one not, which could prove useful in say, a triathlon, when getting into the shoe but not blistering because of moving parts and seams is key.

Bottom Line: An awesome semi-minimal shoe that offers cushion, comfort, and fit. From racing to training, this shoe is the complete package.

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