Verdict from 4 experts and 42 user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • Cushion: The Brooks Trace's midsole is very soft and cushy, but it doesn't feel mushy at all. It's easily compressed like the Revel 3 and has more give than the Launch 8
  • Fit: The upper is "not very stretchable," but it has enough room in the forefoot for those with wide feet and is snug around the midfoot. 
  • Upper comfort: Thanks to the overlay-free design of the shoe, the upper feels very smooth, streamlined, chafe-free, and breathable. Because of these, runners are awestruck with the plush, step-in feel of the upper. 
  • Flexibility: Reviewers have not experienced any restriction to their foot bend. They attribute this to the outsole which "flexes in the right places," making the shoe "nice and limber."  
  • Traction: After taking the shoe out on dirt roads, light trails, wet leaves, winter snow, and ice, testers are happy to report that the shoe is very grippy and stable. 
  • Heel hold: It's great. The padded Achilles and ankle areas are not only plush but they also support the foot, keeping it locked in place. 

3 reasons not to buy

  • Warm: The top part of the shoe is a "bit too puffy." Aside from being an aesthetic gripe, it also makes the shoe feel warm. This is especially true for runners who live in the tropics. 
  • Poor lace lockdown: According to experts, the laces are hard to keep locked in place, especially against the thick tongue. When cinching down, it was always a compromise between keeping the tongue in place or maintaining comfort that comes with a loose fit. 
  • Lack of responsiveness: Yes, the shoe is well-cushioned with a bit of bounce, but it's NOT super responsive. So much so that athletes advise against using it in uptempo or very high-mileage runs. 

Bottom line

It's safe to say that the Trace from Brooks is not the most exciting, nor is it a game-changing shoe. It's everything that you can expect from a traditional performance shoe (only that it's less harsh than the EVA models of the past) without shelling out too much. It's not necessarily a bad thing because the shoe "does nothing wrong." It just doesn't have the bells and whistles of the more advanced daily training models of today. 

It doesn't matter if you're a long-time or a new runner, the Brooks Trace is a solid option that can work as your easy-day running shoe. 

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Expert reviews:

User reviews:

Video reviews

Our reviews

86
/100 by , posted on .

A new shoe in the Brooks Line, the Trace is part of the cushioned families along with the Glycerin and Ghost. It’s a neutral trainer but with a bit less cushion and fewer bells and whistles than its brothers in the line. 

 

brooks-trace-neutral-running-shoes.jpg

Pros

Upper/Heel/Laces

The Brooks Trace has an accommodating upper with lots of flex to form to your foot. It’s breathable with almost no welded overlays. 

The tongue and ankle collar, meanwhile, are nicely padded. There’s medium stiffness in the heel counter and no heel slip even without any special lacing. 

 

brooks-trace-blue-running-shoes.jpg

Midsole/Outsole/Weight

The Trace is engineered with the BioMoGo DNA midsole with a full-length rubber outsole, which provides a decent grip. At 9.2 oz, which is not insanely light but respectable, it feels light and nimble on the foot. 

 

brooks-trace-road-running-shoes.jpg

Cons

Upper/Heel/Laces

The seam at the bottom of the laces bothered me. It’s tighter there across the top of my foot and I keep noticing it. 

There are no gussets in the tongue. This is a feature I really like so I was sad not to see it on this shoe. 

Weight/Upper/Midsole

Unfortunately, I’m just not a fan of Brooks’ DNA LOFT. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, there’s no problem here. It rides fine, it’s just that I find myself wanting it to be more exciting. I want a little more bounce out of it. 

Given how comfortable the lineup is and its cool designs, I wish I loved the ride. But in my opinion, it’s just okay. 

Drop 

At 12mm drop, they could be flattened a bit for my liking. 

 

brooks-trace-cushioned-running-shoes.jpg

Price

It retails for $100, and yes, I love the price! 

Conclusion 

If you’re looking for something new from Brooks and don’t need all the plush features of more expensive models, the Trace is a perfect alternative. It drops in March, make sure to check it out! 

 

brooks-trace-running-shoes.jpg

| Level 4 expert Verified
Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.

Brooks Trace: Affordably fun 

The Brooks Trace may be cheap in price but this does not translate to its performance. It's comfortable, smooth-riding, and is bouncy, delivering a no-frills, enjoyable ride. Ready for an easy-paced run, the Trace offers the following benefits that make it a great-value shoe:

  • Effortless ride: The segmented crash pad on the Trace provides a seamless and efficient heel-to-toe transition. It also acts as the cushion that protects the foot during landing. 
  • Impact protection: Comprised of BioMoGo DNA foam, the midsole adapts to the stride, weight, and speed of the runner, thus mitigating impact. 
  • Durability: The shoe has ample rubber that not only helps in maintaining a grippy ride but also contributes to its resistance from abrasion. 

Virtually a shoe for anyone: What is the Brooks Trace for? 

Brooks didn't lie when it said that the Trace is a “soft, smooth first step" into the world of performance running shoes, as it is really an excellent, comfortable shoe for running beginners, just as it is for seasoned athletes. So, where exactly does Brooks Trace shine? 

What it's for:

  • short to middle-distance runs
  • easy miles 
  • daily runs

What it's NOT for: 

  • any uptempo efforts
  • recovery runs (not cushy enough to pass) 

Nice to know

The Brooks Trace is somewhat at the bottom of the list of Brooks' collection of cushioned running shoes. Sitting in the middle is the Adrenaline, while the Glycerin holds the most cushioned title. 

How Trace compares

This shoe: 85
All shoes average: 82
56 95
This shoe: $100
All shoes average: $119
$40 $300
This shoe: 9.2oz
All shoes average: 9.5oz
2.8oz 15.4oz
Ready to buy?
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