Verdict from 6.1 hours of research from the internet

10 reasons to buy

  • The 4th iteration of the Brooks Launch is impressively comfortable, according to a large number of reviewers.
  • It drops almost an ounce of weight compared to the earlier model.
  • There are more flex grooves that are also deeper than before for better flexibility and excellent toe off.
  • Most runners consider the $100 price as a bargain because of the shoe’s impeccable performance and durability.
  • Some runners valued the Launch 4’s versatility as it can handle daily training together with tempo runs.
  • A handful of reviewers loved the responsiveness of this shoe.
  • A few runners observed that it is even smoother than the past version.
  • An expert reviewer noted how the upper holds the foot in comfort and security.
  • Some runners were extremely happy with the color combinations and sleek look of this shoe.
  • More than a handful of reviewers were satisfied with the shoe’s breathability.

2 reasons not to buy

  • The midfoot, due to the Midfoot Transition Zone, made the area stiffer than what some fans of the Launch were used to.
  • No optional widths.

Bottom line

The changes made by Brooks in the Launch 4 catapults the shoe as one of the early contenders for the shoe of the year. It feels agile, runs smoothly, and bridges training and speed work with ease. The shoe has excellent arch support, loads of comfort, and very versatile. To top it off, the price tag makes it even more attractive for all sorts of runners. This is one shoe that is going to find a place in the shoe rack of many runners.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Expert reviews:

User reviews:

Our reviews

84
/100 by Frank DuCett, posted on .

This shoe is exactly what it's supposed to be, light, fast and responsive.

I am accustomed to the more robust Brooks Launch 4 was easier than you might think.

With a 10mm heel-to-toe offset, it was easier than transitioning to a zero drop shoe, and the lightness could be felt immediately. Runs were simply easier and faster, but at the cost of some comfort.

 

Construction/Quality

Not a lot of unnecessary material used in this shoe, just enough to get the job done. The quality of materials and workmanship are all high. The forefoot uppers have no overlays of any sort, just a well-stitched toe box.

This shoe does have a full-length outer sole of rubber, however, the rubber is far thicker in the front and much thinner in the rear. This may make these shoes last about half as long for heel strikers than for the rest of us. The shoelace keeper is offset to one side, easily keeping the tongue place.

 

Brooks DNA

I do not think the claims that Brooks DNA offers 33% more cushioning than Gel or EVA are based on fact, however, the DNA added to the midsole seems to make some difference.

In my non-scientific analysis, I would say that the Brooks DNA provides excellent responsiveness that the runner can actually feel.

As I change my running gait from a slow jogger to me "imagining" myself finishing a big city Marathon with world-class runners on either side of me, these shoes actually seem to come alive, it must be the DNA at work, the shoe's DNA not mine.

 

Comfort/Fit/Ride

It would not be any more fair to compare this shoe to the Asics GT 2000 or the Brooks Adrenaline as comparing a Formula One car to a 4 door Mercedes.

The uppers are form fitting and about as wide as expected for a medium D width.
Toe box is high enough to comfortably use with thicker winter socks unless you opt for a thicker liner for more cushioning as well.

Weight

301 grams per shoe size 12 US, 46 Europe and 11UK  with original sock liners.

Safety

Good grip on any road surface,  great reflectorization only from directly behind. No reflectors up front, there are designs at the front of the shoes that look a little like reflectors, they are only graphics providing no reflector safety for the night runner.

Bring your reflective shoelaces.

 

Pros

  • Light weight
  • Fabulous Colors
  • Fairly quiet on pavement
  • Form-fitting uppers
  • Durable ( except for the heel strikers )

Cons

  • No front reflectors
  • Thin outer soles under the heel
  • Not enough cushioning in the forefoot

Conclusion

More cushioning?

These shoes are fun for a little while, then after a few runs, I start to miss my old Launch 4 is better left to race day or short runs.

I am going to add a thin foam layer under the Brooks sock liner and I think this will add just enough cushioning to make this my new Half Marathon training and racing shoe.

This has been my third pair of Launch shoes. I am looking forward to getting in some long miles and reporting back about how they hold up after 200 or 300 miles. The more I think about it, these shoes are about perfect, it could be the 5 pounds I gained over the winter months.

I hope Brooks does not drastically change next year's Launch.

Historical Nugget

Back in 2007, a young woman working for Brooks in Seattle, Washington, USA, was struck by a car while out running and tragically died. In her honor, a shoe, the Brooks Defyance carries her initials  "LD" to this day.

Run Happy! Run Safe!

Frank DuCett | Level 5 expert Verified
My name is Frank DuCett, living and running in the Heartland of America. My love is the long lonesome road half marathons of Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois. My training of 20 - 30 miles weekly is dedicated to staying under 2 1/2 hours for the 13.1 mile distance into my 70s and beyond. I run alone and without earbuds, enjoying the solitude and true sensations of the act.

90
/100 by Kris Ward, posted on .

Brooks Launch 4 Specs - 10mm drop, 7.5 oz weight (advertised – mine weigh 9.7 oz), have neutral support and are made to be used as daily trainers.

Competition: Adidas Boost, Saucony Kinvara, & Under Armor Gemini

I began using these shoes as I started to increase both my long run mileage and my weekly overall mileage as preparation for my first half-marathon.

After a little over a month, I broke the 100-mile mark on these shoes and I can say without a doubt that they feel even better than they did fresh out of the box – which was great, to begin with. 

the Launch 3s. As a result, the shoes still feel comfortable when I go past 10 miles but they feel much more at home on speed work or tempo runs.

Weight 

At only 9.7oz (according to my scale) the shoes feel light but the cushioning is still obvious.

This is nice in that they work well for hitting some fast speed work on the toe area & support well for going slightly slower as both areas are cushioned underneath and the heel is wrapped with a layer as well.

 

Arch Support

The arch support is good and I don’t wish for anymore during any run. However, the cushioning in the heel area play negatively for sweaty purposes as it holds in moisture.

The toe box seems to do the same and I started noticing blisters near the area of my big toe. I should mention that I do sweat a good deal. Some glide worked well to prevent any further issues – so no real harm there.

Cushioning

Brooks used their DNA midsole cushioning and if you are familiar with Brooks then you are familiar with this as well. As the shoes get used, the midsole adapts more to your specific foot.

As you get more miles on the shoe, the midsole adapts more to your foot.

 

 

This is why the shoes became more comfortable to me when I started getting some mileage on them. They felt more natural on my foot.

The effect creates a smooth transition from heel to toe – though previous versions of Brooks did feel more natural to me in that regard. This is not a complaint so much as it is an observation.

Comfort & Upper Design

The toe-box is a bit wide for me but I knew this before I made the purchase.

My feet are narrow and Brooks naturally offer a wider toe box. However, I do appreciate this because it allows my toes to spread out.

 

 

As compared to other Brooks, the toe box does seem deeper and this led to me having to really tighten down the laces to provide solid support in that area.

The tongue has a lace hole to help hold it in place and the laces offer a strong lock on the foot which prevents heel slipping without having to worry about using a lace lock. Also, I did not have the feeling of too much pressure from any part of the laces.

Breathability

Brooks uses 3D print and ventilated fabric to create a lightweight and breathable upper area.

This is one of my more favorite features because the shoes really do breathe quite well. When on a long run or a tempo run the shoes helped keep my feet from ever feeling hot.  

The zoomed in picture shows just how breathable the upper mesh area is and gives an idea of the nice breezy feeling that I found while running.

 

Tread

Perhaps my favorite part about these shoes is their tread. Considering these are meant more for road use the tread has played better than I thought it would on light trail runs.

Rocks and twigs aren’t enough to create any pain and the tread is sufficient enough to provide a strong grip. Even on brick during a slight rain, my feet did not slide around or slip.

 

 

The wide toe area, groves, and material hold up well under any circumstance – though I would not suggest using them as a main trail running shoe.

That X design in the middle of the shoe is their “crash pad” and is meant to help the transition between heel and toe. I’m mostly a midfoot striker and perhaps this is why I felt that the landing zone was cushioned and responsive step for step.  

Pros

  • Breathes well
  • Great for speed but cushioned enough for pace
  • Excellent tread work
  • Good support

Cons 

  • Cushioning holds moisture
  • Early miles needed glide to prevent blister near the big toe/ball of foot
  • Toe box is deeper than other models

Overall

The Brooks Launch 4 breaths well, feels responsive and is great for tempo runs and speed work. 

There are better options for longer distances but for 10+ miles the Launch seems to work just fine. Though I would prefer the cushioning to be better suited at drying, it does feel comfortable every time.

The DNA adapts well to the foot and with the tread design, the transitions are fairly smooth.

Kris Ward | Level 3 expert Verified
I'm not the extreme athlete that will win the next Iron man competition or take 1st in the next local race. I am more like the average guy that likes to go jogging, do some lifting, and every now and then show a pizza who's boss! My goal is to be functionally fit. To do so, I try to log anywhere between 15 - 30 miles a week.

86
/100 by Stephen Clevenger, posted on .

The Brooks Launch 4 is a lightweight daily trainer without too much extra bulk to weigh it down and enough cushioning to provide comfort for even the longest of runs.

The upper and forefoot are lightweight and comfortable however the heel was a bit too built up for me causing the shoe to feel oddly light and bulky at the same time.

 

Upper

The Air Mesh upper was designed to improve circulation, provide a better fit and keep the foot cool. The upper does feel like a sock, it is extremely comfortable, as most Brooks shoes are.

The Engage sockliner provides padding around the ankle which really provides a secure feeling fit and does not rub on your Achilles or ankle the way some other brands tend to.

 

Cushioning/Midsole

Brooks has a couple different technologies that offer cushioning benefits in the Launch. There is a full-length BioMoGo midsole that promotes stability without compromising comfort as well as a full length S-257 Cushsole that decreases breakdown and offers energy return.

The shoe does seem to offer more stability than a neutral trainer, however, the energy return doesn’t feel like it has made the same strides that Adidas has with their Boost technology.

A segmented crash pad in the heel is supposed to reduce shock upon impact.

I found that the technology was a lackluster attempt at reducing shock because the heel feels too overbuilt and cumbersome. The large heel almost promotes a heel strike, which actually increases impact shock.

Outsole

Brooks has implemented an HPR Plus rubber outsole that increases durability with abrasion resistant rubber. I have run quite a bit of mileage, probably around 100, in the Launch and they have held up well.

Traditionally, I have found that Brooks shoes hold up quite a bit better than some of the other brands and the launch is no different.

 

Conclusion

While there is only a 10mm drop from heel to forefoot in the Launch it feels like there is more of a substantial drop. For me, the Brooks Launch 4 felt as if it set me up to lean forward as I ran.

Additionally, the bulky heel in combination with the 10mm drop seemed to promote a heel strike as the heel on the Launch was so big.

The upper did feel great, and the shoe has held up very well. The  Launch may not be a long-term shoe for me, but it did offer quite a bit in terms of comfort and responsiveness.

Stephen Clevenger | Level 3 expert Verified
This is Stephen! I ran cross country and track for two years in college but struggled with injuries, giving up any serious training until a couple years ago. In my return to running, I’ve run 4 half marathons and one marathon so far with a personal best of 1:08:01 and ran in the 2018 Boston Marathon placing 55th. I've been rotating shoes and ready to share my knowledge with everyone in the running community!

75
/100 by Shamus Reid, posted on .

They don’t stand out, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have to admit, I bought these because I like Brooks, and always want to have a pair on the go. My dad ran in Brooks and always recommended them.

I ran my first two marathons in Brooks. They tend to fit me well with no adjustments needed. So, when I found myself without a pair of Brooks in my lineup, I made an extra effort to convince myself to pick these up, despite not being overwhelmed by the reviews I read.

 

 

I was looking for a versatile workhorse shoe, and that’s exactly what I found. I don’t love these like I’ve loved previous Brooks, but I’m getting good value out of them. Here’s why...

The build 

I wear my Launch 4 once or twice a week. They aren’t built for speed, but are light and cushioned enough for any length of run. I use them for long runs, consistency runs, and recovery runs. Everything except speed work.

I also use them in all conditions. If my legs are particularly tired, I’ll pick these up for their cushioning. The upper is relatively thick so they’re also great in cold or wet weather. And they’ve got solid traction for gravel and trails that aren’t too technical.

 

The races 

I’ve had these for one training cycle. So far, I wouldn’t consider them for a race of any length. They are too heavy and there's so much cushion.

I only wear them for long training runs when my legs are particularly tired. That said, for a non-competitive runner who wants to finish a faster marathon or half marathon, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend trying these out.

The fit

I’ve gone through 14 different pairs of shoes in the last 2.5 years, and these are among the snuggest I’ve worn.

My first couple long runs resulted in some blistering and calluses along the inside of my foot. I think partly this was a result of rubbing in the toe box, and partly the result of wearing them in hot weather, as the upper isn’t ventilated.

I no longer wear them in hot weather, while adjusting the laces and running a bit more in the shoes has loosened them up a bit in the places that need it. Other than at the forefoot, the shoes fit my foot well, and I generally feel comfortably strapped in.

 

The Feel

The upper is made from a very cushiony material that feels a bit like being wrapped in a pillow. This feels like too much material, making my foot overheated in hot weather. It also seems unnecessary. Seems like these could be a lot lighter without sacrificing any cushioning, just by changing the material.

The Cushion

The cushioning in the upper also doesn’t make me feel fast in these shoes.

After early adjustments to the fit, I’m never uncomfortable in these shoes but they don’t give me any sort of boost. They sorta feel like the bat you pick up for practice swings, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Practice makes perfect!

 

Fresh tread, fresh foam after 175 km. These are built to last.

After 175 KM, they still feel good as new and show very few signs of wear in the foam and tread. I suspect we’ll be on to Brooks Launch edition 8 by the time I wear these out.

The Upshot

 A good value, cushioned shoe. I wouldn’t buy them again, but I don’t regret buying them the first time.

Shamus Reid | Level 2 expert Verified
Shamus took up marathon training in 2016 as part of the healing process following the death of his father from cancer. He since logged over 5,500 meditative miles. He recently completed his fourth marathon with a PB of 2:44:02. He’s now on a quest for 2:30:00. His next step would be running ultras.

  • The 4th version of the Brooks Launch still uses the outsole pattern of the previous version. However, more blown rubber compound was added in the forefoot area for an increased springy toe-off.
  • The upper of the Launch 4 was also updated. It features the 3D Fit Print that enhanced fit. It also provides a stretchy atmosphere and added structural integrity.
  • The U-Groove in the heel was also modified. The U-Groove is specifically designed for added support and flexibility.

The Brooks Launch 4 is available in standard running shoe length and the fit feels the same as its predecessor. It delivers a comfortable and secure fit in the heel and midfoot area. The shoe accommodates a wide range of foot measurements and shape. 

Found on the outsole of the Launch 4 is the carbon rubber that gives durability in high-abrasion areas. Added blown rubber is also found in the sole especially in the forefoot area. It gives improved flexibility for a springy toe-off. The durability and traction level of the shoe is very similar to the Brooks Launch 6.

The same with its predecessor, the Brooks Launch 4 features the BioMoGo DNA midsole that offers adaptive cushioning for a more responsive ride. This works perfectly with the Midfoot Transition Zone and Segmented Crash Pad that is designed for smoother and faster heel-to-toe transitions.

The Brooks Launch 4 uses an air mesh material in the upper for maximum breathability, keeping the foot well-ventilated all throughout the run. The air mesh fabric keeps the foot cool and dry through its moisture-wrecking capacity. For an enhanced fit and added comfort, this Brooks running shoe uses the 3D Print overlays that also gives structural integrity. The padded tongue and collar give added comfort and the thick laces helps in providing a secure fit.

Size and fit

True to size based on 1329 user votes
Small (33%)
True to size (67%)
Large (0%)
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Same sizing as Brooks Launch 7.

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How Launch 4 compares

This shoe: 93
All shoes average: 86
53 98
This shoe: $100
All shoes average: $119
$40 $350
This shoe: 9oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
3.5oz 16.2oz
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com