by Susannah Mazer, Marathon Sports Norwell assistant manager
The Brooks PureFlow 5 is an exciting update on a shoe that’s become a staple on the non-traditional running shoe spectrum for the last five years. Featuring a 4mm heel-to-toe offset but still offering plenty of cushion under the foot, the PureFlow can function as a transitional shoe for someone looking to move towards a more minimal shoe, OR as an everyday trainer for the neutral runner looking for something fast and lightweight.
The shoe is responsive enough for speedwork but still soft enough to provide comfort throughout the intensity of daily training. This update is a pretty significant overhaul of the shoe, featuring a redesigned upper, a new midsole blend, new outsole, and a redesigned heel collar. For longtime PureFlow wearers, this shoe is definitely a departure from the familiar fit, feel, and features, yet still remains true to its heritage as a cushioned yet light/responsive trainer on the minimal spectrum,
The step in feel of the shoe is awesome and the updates definitely shine right off the bat. I notice that the shoe cradles my foot, feeling very natural. It feels like I’m not even wearing a shoe. A couple of steps running around in the store and the shoe feels smooth and runnable, so I decided to take it outside for a longer test.
The new upper features 3D Fit Print, a one piece no-sew overlay that provides lightweight structure to the upper without any added bulk. The seamless upper is meant to provide increased flexibility for a natural feeling around the foot. PureFlow fans will notice that Brooks has done away with the Nav Band system in the fifth generation, but will be pleased to find the shoe still feels secure through the midfoot thanks to the placement of the 3D Fit Print.
Immediately, the upper felt very smooth and natural around my foot. My only concern was that the upper could be a little too form fitting, feeling a bit shallow on the instep and in the toe box. On my foot after a couple of miles, the upper began to feel restrictive, even though I had more than enough length in the toe and a proper amount of width.
The midsole has been completely overhauled. No longer featuring the pod system which had been in place since the first generation, the outsole looks more like that of a traditional training shoe, only very sculpted, with deeper-cut Omega Flex Grooves.
PureFlow followers will also notice that the big toe is no longer separated from the outer toes. To first-time users, this provides a more traditional feel from the outset and allows a more natural feel through the toe-off. By taking the focus away from the ways that the PureFlow is different from an everyday trainer, Brooks allows the stripped-down yet plush feel to speak for itself.
Inside, the DNA LT midsole is 10% lighter than previous models, yet retains the ability to adapt to the runner’s stride – softer at slower paces and firmer at a faster pace. The rounded heel felt like it was naturally propelling me forward, encouraging an efficient stride.
The Anatomic Last mimics my foot shape well and provides close support so the shoe and my foot work as a single unit. The hyper-flexible outsole complemented my every move, working with my foot to propel me through the gait cycle.
The PureFlow 5 is a good update on this series. The shoe maintains a light, fast, but still plush feel while undergoing some significant updates.
There is no doubt that it has a drastically different feel from previous versions of the shoe, but version 5 remains firmly in position as a plush but light neutral trainer in the Brooks Pure Series. Long-time wearers should expect a smoother underfoot feel and more of a form-fit, and new users will notice a super flexible shoe with a snappy feel that contours the foot naturally.
This shoe is a strong contender in its class, now featuring a more approachable feel and runnable ride.