Our verdict

The Brooks Levitate 6 might be a little too heavy to hover, but it sure can bounce! The shoe’s updated DNA Loft midsole provides us with a responsive and springy ride that feels peppy and protective over any distance. It also delivers even more comfort than we've come to expect from daily trainers; whether out for easy recovery days or gritting our teeth through long-haul efforts. What’s more, with an incredibly consistent performance in our freezer tests, the Levitate 6 is truly a shoe for all seasons!

Pros

  • Great impact dampening
  • Fun and springy ride
  • Good for long distances
  • Responsive and capable at high paces
  • Extremely breathable
  • No break-in period required
  • Comfortable and durable upper construction
  • Supportive structure provides secure lockdown
  • Grippy and resilient outsole
  • Consistent performance all year round

Cons

  • Could be lighter
  • Not for wide feet
  • Pricey for a daily trainer

Audience verdict

89
Great!

Who should buy

We recommend the Levitate 6 as a great choice for:

  • Neutral runners looking for a plushly cushioned daily trainer with a bouncy ride
  • Runners who want a one-and-done, versatile shoe that can gracefully tackle easy runs, speedy sessions, as well as long distances.
  • Those living in colder climates for whom the shoe will feel consistent and comfortable all year round. 

Who should NOT buy

The Levitate 6 is heavier than it needs to be. Many modern running shoes of similar or greater stack heights manage to come out significantly lighter. The ASICS Superblast is an extreme example of this with its gargantuan 42.7 mm heel stack coming in at a surprisingly svelte 8.6 oz/244g (a fact made up for by its heavy price tag). 

For another daily trainer that provides a similarly bouncy ride but feels more cloud-like in the weight department, we vouch for On Running’s Cloudsurfer 7 as an alternative.

Brooks Levitate 6 cut up

While the Levitate 6 isn’t narrow per-se, runners with wide feet will benefit from a roomier toebox. It likely won’t be an issue during easier runs, but the shoe’s well-structured upper constructruction won’t accommodate much foot swelling in the latter half of long distance runs. For those broad-footed runners, we suggest having a look at the more spacious Saucony Triumph 21 instead.

Breathability

To test the shoe’s airflow, we put the Levitate 6 through our breathability test where we pump it full of smoke to simulate foot heat. The tongue immediately billows out plumes of smoke while the toebox steadily churns out a blanket of mist that tells us that ventilation certainly isn’t lacking in this shoe. The Levitate 6 easily earns a score of 5 out of 5 for breathability. 

For context, look at how the Adidas Runfalcon performed in the same test, keeping heat trapped in as effectively as a greenhouse. 

When we examine a backlit cross section of the upper, we can see that the soft knit portion around the toebox is quite opaque and blocks out most of the light. This is starkly contrasted by the engineered mesh that runs the lateral side which allows the light to happily shine through.  

Even the knit portion of the upper, while densely woven, is well perforated with a more airy layer beneath as our closeup images reveal. So while this section is a little cozier, it still promotes adequate airflow. This slightly warmer portion of the shoe also means the Levitate 6 is a good training partner for those frosty winter runs. 

Brooks Levitate 6 cu 1

Brooks Levitate 6 cu 2

Test results
Levitate 6 5
Average 3.8
Compared to 226 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

To simulate extreme wear and tear, we put the shoe through the battery of durability tests, starting with the toebox. Our Dremel test is usually a dramatic affair with material being shredded by the tool’s relentless grinding element. This is far from the case with the Levitate 6 which boldly withstands the four second test with a small shred of material rolled to the side. 

Clearly the damage isn’t very extensive as the Dremel barely made it all the way through the knit upper, with only a small hole poking all the way through. We therefore give the Levitate 6 an impressive toebox durability score of 4 out of 4. 

Brooks Levitate 6 drem toe

Compare that to how the ASICS GT 100 12 fared in the same test. Our merciless Dremel left a hole so big we could wiggle one of our toes through it.

Test results
Levitate 6 4
Average 2.4
Compared to 160 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Our Dremel was again thwarted by the durability of the Levitate 6’s heel collar, which proved to be among the tools' worthiest opponents so far. Beyond the little fluff that’s immediately cast away at the onset of the test, the tool’s abrasive element seems to have no effect on the shoe.

The aftermath of the test is a scuff that we would hardly even describe as unsightly, so giving the heel padding a perfect durability score was a no-brainer. We therefore expect the heel to look like new even after hundreds of miles of use, sockless or otherwise.

Brooks Levitate 6 Heel padding durability

The Saucony Ride 16 clearly didn't fare nearly as well against our Dremel, with a massive crater left in the aftermath of the same test. 

Test results
Levitate 6 5
Average 3.1
Compared to 156 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

To measure the hardness of the outsole, we whipped out our trusty durometer and pressed it against the shoe’s outsole rubber. With a reading of 80.5 HC, the Levitate 6 falls smack-dab in the average range for road shoes. This level of hardness usually provides a good balance of traction and durability, the latter of which will be put to the test in the next section. 

Brooks Levitate 6 Outsole hardness
Test results
Levitate 6 80.5 HC
Average 80.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 277 running shoes
Number of shoes
54.9 HC
Outsole hardness
92.8 HC

Outsole durability

Our outsole durability test marks the third and final appearance of our Dremel. As the test wore on, the 3.2N of abrasive force spinning at 10K RPM seemed to get the better of the shoe, with a virtual snowstorm of rubber being immediately kicked up followed by some rather unhealthy looking chunks. 

Assessing the damage with our tire gauge, however, our Dremel’s hopes for redemption were dashed when we found that it had only sheared off 0.5 mm of rubber from the outsole. This is a much better result than the average road shoe which loses roughly double that. We therefore predict the Levitate 6’s outsole to look and feel relatively intact after 400-miles of use.

Brooks Levitate 6 Outsole durability

It's like a where's Waldo challenge just to find where our griding element made contact with the outsole!

Test results
Levitate 6 0.5 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 138 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

With 3.5 mm of outsole according to our caliper, the Levitate 6 has an average amount of rubber underfoot. While this gives us added confidence regarding the shoe’s longevity, a little less outsole material would have shed some weight off the shoe without sacrificing too much durability as our last test clearly demonstrates.  

Brooks Levitate 6 Outsole thickness
Test results
Levitate 6 3.5 mm
Average 3.2 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.6 mm

Weight

Speaking of which, the Levitate 6 tips the scale at a rather chunky 10.73 Oz (304g). Many shoes of similar and higher stack heights turn out lighter, with the Levitate 6 falling more on par with stability shoes that tend to boast more structured and weighty constructions. 

Brooks Levitate 6 weight

For what it’s worth, the Levitate 6 isn’t THAT heavy; it’s springy ride means that it definitely doesn’t feel overly brickish or burdensome underfoot, but, in our humble opinion, a diet would make this shoe perform exponentially better. This feat isn’t beyond the capabilities of Brooks who nailed it with their feathery speed freak, the Hyperion (7.44 oz/211g) and the lightweight, mile-gobbling Launch 10 (8.11 oz/230g).

Test results
Levitate 6 10.72 oz (304g)
Average 9.35 oz (265g)
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
5.26 oz (149g)
Weight
12.56 oz (356g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Using our caliper, we measured the Levitate 6’s stack to be 34.3 mm high at the heel. This is slightly higher than average and a couple millimeters more than 32.5 mm in the official specs by Brooks. This disparity is small and might be accounted for by the fact that we include the insole as part of our measurements. 

This is a good amount of foam underfoot that ensures heel strikers will enjoy well cushioned landings over any distance.

Brooks Levitate 6 Heel stack
Test results
Levitate 6 34.3 mm
Average 33.6 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Heel stack
42.7 mm

Forefoot stack

Moving up to the forefoot, the Levitate 6’s stack measures a healthy 26.6 mm thick which is slightly more foam underfoot than our current lab average. This means that forefoot strikers will benefit from protective landings that feel as cushy as for their heel striking counterparts, whether out for an easy 5K or a stamina challenging long distance effort. 

For runners who prefer a more natural feeling daily trainer that provides more ground-feel, we recommend the speedy Brooks Hyperion, or the always reliable Nike Pegasus 40 instead.

Brooks Levitate 6 Forefoot stack
Test results
Levitate 6 26.6 mm
Average 25.0 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
7.6 mm
Forefoot stack
35.8 mm

Drop

We have to laud Brooks for the accuracy of their stated 8 mm heel drop. We turned up a drop of 7.7 mm which makes the disparity negligible. This isn’t always the case as many manufacturers (even Brooks) frequently misjudge their drop heights, leading to confusion and, at worst, injury as this article explores. 

This mid-level heel drop is favorable for daily trainers as it’s rather neutral and caters to a wide variety of runners, whether heel or forefoot striking.

Brooks Levitate 6 Drop
Test results
Levitate 6 7.7 mm
Average 8.6 mm
Compared to 296 running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
16.1 mm

Insole thickness

The Levitate 6 features a girthy midsole that our caliper measured to be 5.8 mm thick. This gives our feet a cushier than average surface within the shoe that dampens our landings before the midsole cushioning even kicks in. 

Brooks Levitate 6 Insole thickness
Test results
Levitate 6 5.8 mm
Average 4.5 mm
Compared to 292 running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Insole thickness
7.3 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

Onto midsole softness and the return of our reliable durometer. The updated DNA AMP foam is definitely the main attraction of the Levitate 6. With a reading of 19.8 HA, it’s quite a bit softer than the average road shoe. 

Brooks Levitate 6 midsole soft

We shouldn’t conflate softness with mushiness, however, in the case of the Levitate 6. The midsole cushioning feels well-balanced; with a springy rebound that feels energetic enough for high paces while also feeling pleasantly cushy and protective for longer efforts. 

Test results
Levitate 6 19.8 HA
Average 21.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 224 running shoes
Number of shoes
8.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
41.5 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Ordinarily we expect a midsole to stiffen up when exposed to the cold, but with the Levitate 6, we had to make sure our freezer was still plugged in!

After chilling with our ice cream for twenty minutes, we repeated the previous test and got a marginally more firm durometer reading of 20.8 HA. So expect a ride that remains soft and springy through the frostiest winter runs. 

We have to take our hats off to Brooks and their DNA AMP v2 foam as with a mere 5.3% increase in firmness, the Levitate 6 ranks among the best performing shoes in our freezer test. It’s practically impervious to the cold!

Brooks Levitate 6 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Levitate 6 5.3%
Average 25.6%
Compared to 223 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

As a neutral shoe that sits on a high stack with lots of plush foam underfoot, we didn't expect much in terms of stability from the Levitate 6. Though, for what it’s worth, we felt more well planted than we had anticipated when we shifted our weight from side to side in the shoe. 

This is good enough for neutral runners, but for those with pronounced pronation in their stride we recommend checking out a shoe with added stability features like the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23.

Torsional rigidity

We bent and twisted the Levitate 6 in our hands and faced a moderate level of resistance to our manual manipulations, leading us to give the shoe a middle-of-the-road score of 3 out of 5 on our subjective scale for torsional rigidity. 

This level of rigidity allows the shoe to somewhat conform with the natural movements of our foot while still providing a landing surface that feels relatively level and stable as we run.

Test results
Levitate 6 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 275 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter also feels moderately stiff, earning a score of 3 out of 5 after we pinched and squeezed it with our hands. In practical terms; the heel counter does a pretty good job holding our rearfoot in place, but our foot was still able to move quite naturally within the shoe. 

Test results
Levitate 6 3
Average 2.8
Compared to 259 running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

We measured the Levitate 6’s midsole to be 114.7 mm wide at the forefoot, which is only slightly wider than our current lab average. This gives forefoot strikers a broad enough base for stable landings and toe-offs, while avoiding being so wide as to feel blocky on corners. 

Brooks Levitate 6 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Levitate 6 114.7 mm
Average 113.7 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
100.5 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.5 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Moving down to the heel, it turned out a little narrower than average at 87.5 mm wide according to our caliper. This shouldn’t be an issue for heel strikers with a neutral stride for whom the shoe will still provide an adequately stable landing platform. 

Brooks Levitate 6 mid heel

For pronating runners, however, we suggest looking at a shoe with a more substantial heel for steady landings like the Brooks Glycerin 20 as a neutral option or its stability counterpart, the Glycerin GTS 20, for runners with more pronounced pronation.

Test results
Levitate 6 87.5 mm
Average 90.5 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
74.9 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We secured the Levitate 6 to our workbench and measured the amount of force required to bend the shoe 90-degrees. With a result of 24N, the Levitate 6 is significantly more flexible than the average road shoe.

This level of longitudinal flexibility plays a great part in the shoe’s overall comfort, with the Levitate 6 easily able to conform with the natural bending of our foot as we transition from landing to toe-off.

Test results
Levitate 6 24.0N
Average 29.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
2.2N
Stiffness
94.4N

Difference in stiffness in cold

We also re-tested the Levitate 6’s flexibility after leaving it in the freezer for twenty minutes and were similarly impressed by the result! With 29.3N of force now needed to bend the shoe to the desired point, the Levitate 6 isn’t just more flexible than the average shoe under similar conditions, but at room temperature too!

This further confirms how comfy and reliable the Levitate 6 is as a year-long training partner, whether during toasty summer runs or bitterly cold winter sessions.

Becoming only 22.1% more stiff in the cold, the Levitate 6 is much more consistent than the average road shoe between warm and cold conditions. 

Test results
Levitate 6 22.1%
Average 36.2%
Compared to 279 running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
148%

Grip / Traction

We had no issues with traction when testing the Levitate 6. The outsole rubber kept us grounded and surefooted over any surface, even when wet, while the strategically placed cut-outs aiding in the shoe’s flexibility by allowing it to bend at favorable points. 

Brooks Levitate 6 grip 1

We also ventured off on some mild and manicured park-trails with no issues on the dirt or gravel. The shoe’s performance in our durability tests gives us added confidence in the Levitate 6’s off-road capabilities. 

Brooks Levitate 6 grip 2

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Measuring the Levitate 6’s toebox with our caliper, we found it isn’t as roomy as the average road shoe at its widest point, measuring only 96.6 mm wide. While this isn’t toe-crushingly narrow, it means that this shoe definitely won’t be a favorite for runners with wide feet. 

Brooks Levitate 6 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Levitate 6 96.6 mm
Average 98.3 mm
Compared to 297 running shoes
Number of shoes
89.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
109.1 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The Levitate 6 doesn’t taper as aggressively towards the big toe as the average road shoe, with our caliper measuring that part of the toebox to be 78.3 mm wide. This gives the shoe a more natural foot-shaped silhouette that allows us to splay out quite comfortably within the shoe. 

Brooks Levitate 6 big tow

Though again, runners with broad feet will likely suffer from occasional hotspots or blisters in this shoe.

Test results
Levitate 6 78.3 mm
Average 78.2 mm
Compared to 171 running shoes
Number of shoes
60.4 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.5 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Despite the Levitate 6’s tongue being non-gusseted, we didn’t face any problems with it slipping from side to side during our test runs.

Brooks Levitate 6 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Levitate 6 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

The Levitate 6’s tongue isn’t as padded as our current lab average at only 4.5 mm thick according to our caliper. Nevertheless, we still felt plenty comfortable around the instep without any niggling signs of lace bite. 

Brooks Levitate 6 Tongue padding
Test results
Levitate 6 4.5 mm
Average 5.6 mm
Compared to 294 running shoes
Number of shoes
0.5 mm
Tongue padding
14.2 mm

Heel tab

The Levitate 6 features a finger-loop on the heel tab which aids in easily sliding the shoe on and off. 

Brooks Levitate 6 Heel tab
Test results
Levitate 6 Finger loop

Removable insole

The insole of the Levitate 6 is fully removable, making the shoe compatible with most custom orthotics where necessary. 

Test results
Levitate 6 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The Levitate 6 is emblazoned with a reflective element on the rear lateral side of each shoe that highlights its positions as sixth in the series. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing, right? Not quite. We recommend sticking to well-lit routes and/or using additional high-vis gear during nocturnal sessions. 

Brooks Levitate 6 Reflective elements
Test results
Levitate 6 Yes