The Brooks PureConnect 3 is a neutral performance shoe engineered with minimalism in mind for faster paced training and racing.
I gave the PureConnect 2 a rave review last year and I was very excited to learn that Brooks was making changes to the upper that would please someone like me who prefers a shoe with a wider forefoot.
At first glance, the Pureconnect 3 seems to be the same shoe with different color ways, but after taking it out of the first time I appreciated the completely redesigned upper which provided more mid foot support and better toe splay.
The biggest changes in this shoe take place in the redesigned upper. Brooks used the same principals of asymmetrical lacing and and mid-foot Nav band, but improved them a great deal. The Nav Band is upgraded to a stretchy silicone fabric which really hugs the mid foot and has just enough flexibility to provide some stretch for all foot types.
The tongue now wraps over the top of the foot all the way to the lateral side which increases this wrapped feel and provides a handy barrier for any debris that could get into the shoe.
This tongue design is fantastic as it totally alleviates any bunching or movement of the tongue while running. Sausage laces run through eyelets attached over the tongue and provide additional support through the mid foot.
A combination of welded and sewn on overlays is consistent with the last two versions of the shoe in terms of design. The greatest change comes in the fit through the toe box of the shoe which is widened a great deal to accommodate a much wider forefoot.
Brooks uses a combination of BioMoGo EVA foam cushioning and DNA gel cushioning to provide an amazingly well cushioned ride in such a light shoe. Flex grooves are present throughout the midsole to increase flexibility and blow rubber is shaped into pods to increase cushioning throughout the mid and forefoot.
This shoe is a great choice for mid/ forefoot runners as the sweet spot is really in these areas and with a 5mm heel drop makes it feel very minimalist. Given the wider platform of the PureConnect 3 it does run a bit better on trails and uneven terrain such as grass.
Another feature I liked in the PureConnect 3 is that the prominent arch feel seems to be dialed down just a bit which will help runners with flatter feet.
The outsole has carbon rubber over the blown rubber pods in high wear areas and after about 90 miles I’m not seeing any wear. Brooks beveled the heel a bit more and this “Ideal Heel” encourages the runner to mid foot/ forefoot strike.
The outsole is very flexible and offers pretty decent traction on off road surfaces. Beware as some areas are cutout in the forefoot meaning that a sharp rock could jab right up to the insole of the shoe.
Brooks changed its split toe design which was aimed at increasing shoe flexibility. They now consider the first and second toes a single unit and the split in the midsole and outsole actually takes place between the second and third toes.
This is hardly noticeable and most runners will not be concerned about it in any way. I did find that this subtle change improved the overall ride of the shoe especially through toe off.
The PureConnect 3 is a shoe aimed at the minimalist/ natural running crowd, and Brooks has managed to cram in a great amount of soft and responsive cushioning into a 7.5 oz shoe. This shoe is a joy to run in and I almost always find myself cranking down the pace a bit as the run progresses. Subtle changes from last years’ model means that Brooks has totally dialed in this model in its third incarnation.
I encourage any runner looking for a racing shoe for up to the marathon distance or a shoe for speed work to check out the PureConnect 3. Some may wonder why I gave this shoe a perfect score, and the answer is simple.
The PureConnect 3 is not the running shoe for everybody, but Brooks have perfected a niche model which is as good as it gets in terms of minimalist/ natural shoes with ample cushioning for a high mileage runner.
A word to wise, transition slowly if you’re a runner in a more traditional shoe. The PureConnect is highly flexible and engineered for natural foot movement, meaning that your foot is going to work harder in this shoe than in traditional running shoes. That coupled with a 5mm drop means that you could experience some soreness if you transition too quickly.
We thank the nice people at Brooks for sending us a pair of PureConnect 3 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.