The two words that come to mind when thinking about the Brooks PureGrit 7 ($120) are light and fast. However, it has limitations. I won’t be donning the neutral shoe (4 mm) when I do races or training with significant ascents and descents, or with technical terrain.
But the PureGrit’s beauty is in the speed it delivers, including when runners transition to and from trails to paved surfaces like roads. Its low heel lift allows almost full ground contact, while Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA midsole adapts to the runner’s stride and provides adequate cushioning.
On a side note to those who are dealing with foot issues such as plantar fasciitis. The Brooks PureGrit lacks the cushion to protect against further aggravating such injuries. In my training, after a long run which included trails, paved surface and rocky sections, I reaggravated a heel injury.
Still, the PureGrit is extremely comfortable, fits true to size and provides smooth balance over moderate trails, grassy cross-country courses and similar terrain.
Similar to its cousin, the Brooks Mazama 2, the PureGrit’s lugs are shorter than the average trail shoe, which makes it suitable for the paved trails/dirt trails combo runs. This also explains its aversion to perform on rocky and muddy runs.
For its class, the Brooks PureGrit performs really well. Personally, it is one of a handful of shoes I would consider for a trail marathon or 50K that would be runnable and not very technical.
In fact, I have already worn it for a 29-mile training run on moderate terrain as my last long run before a 50-miler. During the training run, the PureGrit performed well and allowed me to complete hill repeats, stay upright through tricky footing areas and hit the accelerator when the trail allowed.
As previously indicated, the PureGrit 7 (9.6 ounces for men, 8.7 ounces for women) is lightweight and therefore lacks some protection that heavier, less nimble shoes would provide.
Brooks’ full-length BioMoGo DNA midsole and Ballistic Rock Shield provide protection from trail obstacles, though the shoe does not have adequate protection for technical trails, sections that are rocky or distances of 50 miles or longer.
On the bottom, the PureGrit’s sticky rubber outsole features a mix of low-profile hexagon and chevron-type lugs. For Brooks fans wanting to take on more challenging courses, the Cascadia or Caldera would be better choices.
Brooks updated the upper to improve protection and durability in high abrasion zones while offering strategic stretch and structure. To add lightweight protection and durability, the PureGrit 7 was finished off with a stretchy air mesh upper and 3D Rubber Print overlays.
After more than 50 miles in, the shoe shows little signs of wear and tear even though I have pounded it on dirt trails, paved trails, rocky sections and through hill repeats.
Responsiveness & Speed
The PureGrit is built for speed and it delivers. Whether I was doing hill repeats or strides during my workouts, when I asked the shoes to kick it up a notch, they responded. Among fast trail shoes that I have tested, the Brooks PureGrit is among tops when it comes to responsiveness and overall speed on easy or moderate terrain.
During the time I tested the shoe, I didn’t have a fast trail race on the calendar. But I would definitely turn to the shoe as an option for a race where I wanted to PR or challenge for a podium spot.
Comfort and Fit
A plush midsole gives the PureGrit a slipper-like feel. The midsole contours to the runner’s foot, providing minimal cushioning. That enable the runner to get a quicker push-off but on rocky and technical terrain, the foot takes on the burden of the trail hazards.
And interesting note about the PureGrit 7. It is one of the last remaining models with Brooks’ “burrito” tongue which connects from one side of the upper and curves down for a comfortable but unusual fit.
What’s really notable is that the tongue wrap is made from Ariaprene, which does not absorb water. That way it keeps the foot secure and dry.
For those looking for a fast trail shoe with just the right amount of comfort and a seamless fit, I would fully recommend the Brooks PureGrit 7.
This is especially true for runners hitting light trails or a mix of road and trails. They will be able to easily hit their same road times as they would with a daily trainer. For more heavy-duty runs, runners should consider a shoe with superior protection that are also durable.
We purchased a pair of Brooks PureGrit 7 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.