Sunday, May 6, 2012

brooks pure grit - review

since my new balance minimus trails (MT10) have just about reached their expiry date after 15 strong months, i pulled the trigger on the brooks pure grit as their eventual replacement.

i made the switch with much consternation, because the feel and responsiveness that minimalist shoes provide are second to none, and i love being able to feel the ground with each foot strike. up until this weekend, the two trail shoes in my arsenal were the minimus (7.1oz for size 9.5) and the salomon XR crossmax (11.4oz for size 9), so depending on the type and length of trail run on any particular day, i would choose between the two accordingly. however, the circular pods on the minimus' sole have nearly flattened out, so each rock or tree root would penetrate that much more effectively, making it a challenge for the bottom of my feet to remain unscathed with each run.

the pure grit seemed like a nice go-between (8.9oz for size 9), and on paper it contained many appealing features, like the 4mm heel-to-toe drop, a semi-split toe (i've had the luxury of experiencing this with my nike air rifts), a rugged one-piece outsole, a roomy toe box, and good breathability - important for the typically warm socal weather.

i took the pure grits out for a 7.5M test run on saturday morning up and down sullivan canyon to a positive first impression. one thing that is apparent is the radiused heel, which is there to promote a midfoot or forefoot strike. an oval pod in the middle of the outsole is designed to inform the user of the shoe's center, although i can't say i ever felt it or adjusted my stride because it was there. i've read a number of complaints about the outsole lacking traction in snow and ice, but fortunately there is none of that out west and they performed admirably on fire roads and rocky terrain.

rounded heel
aggressive lug pattern

the split toe is a perplexing feature, because it's not a true split toe if you look at the upper, but from the outsole it appears to be. contrast this with my air rifts, which have a completely independently-functioning big toe and even comes with a pair of appropriate split toe socks. in any case, it's there on the pure grits for the big toe to provide propulsion or lift-off with each step.

upper remains unchanged
a real split toe
the NAV-band - the stretchy green band across the top of the foot - is there to provide a snug fit, but because it goes partly over the laces, it doesn't quite reach its desired affect. during a few missteps where my feet landed in contorted angles, i did notice a touch of lateral foot shifting, which was something i never experienced with the minimus trails.

lastly, the shoe laces have a sinusoidal curve-like pattern towards the end of each side of the lace, which in theory would help prevent them from coming untied. ironically, my laces came untied on sunday for the first time in years. however, the small quirks of the pure grits do not detract from the shoe's primary function - which is to provide more feel, with less.

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