The Brooks Divide is advertised as a door-to-trail shoe, and it serves that purpose nicely. That said, I’d describe it as a legit trail shoe that feels like a road shoe.
Overall feel needs a little more cohesion
Lack of reflectivity
Fit of the Brooks Divide
Sizing is accurate. The fit feels very standard for a road shoe, somewhat different from most trail shoes.
There’s a little extra wiggle room in the forefoot without feeling like a clown shoe. Everywhere else, the shoe feels snug enough, but not tight.
At first glance, the upper looks like it’s a knit material, but that’s an illusion of the coloring pattern.
Instead, the upper is a synthetic mesh — quite thin and very breathable. Where the upper meets the midsole, there’s plenty of rubberized material to provide protection and perhaps a little bit of structure to the shoe.
The heel fits snug enough, and the arches are sufficiently supportive. Nearly everything about the fit is as you’d expect from something more comparable to an everyday road trainer.
About the only trail-first characteristic of the Divide is the tread, but it’s enough to place the shoe firmly in the trail category.
The tread pattern has widely-spaced lugs. It's large enough to be on par with most trail shoes, and the outsole is made of durable and grippy rubber.
Other parts of the shoe are more road-oriented, like the midsole and upper, but the outsole is for the trail through and through.
Overall, the midsole feels soft and well-cushioned, less firm than some trail shoes that aim to connect your feet to the ground, but it’s not a maximalist shoe either.
Ride of the Divide
The road-oriented fit, standard midsole material, and lack of a rock plate make for a ride that feels closer to that of a road shoe, even if the tread is most definitely trail.
The Divide is more flexible than you might expect, especially considering the outsole is essentially one continuous slab of a firm, tough rubber. While the outsole provides plenty of grip on unpaved surfaces, the Divide is more than capable of keeping up with road trainers on the pavement.
These are perhaps the best double-duty shoes I’ve ever worn.
It’s hard to put a finger on it, but it still feels as if the components of the Divide are working together, but aren’t quite joined at the hip. The Divide isn’t more than the sum of its parts, at least not yet.
Since this is the first iteration of the Divide, this is certainly forgivable at this stage. I expect later iterations of the Divide will put it all together.
The overall design and color options for the Divide look fine, especially for a trail shoe. Dark colors are good, aside from pure black, which easily shows dirt. The Divide’s colorways all look as if they’re meant to get dirty. Good choice.
Bonus points for a dark-colored outsole. Points off for no reflectivity. C’mon, guys...
Overall thoughts on the Brooks Divide
If your training involves running on roads/sidewalks in your neighborhood and also hitting the trails in the park, this is your shoe.
I’ve always found road shoes to be more comfortable than trail shoes, but trail shoes to be more versatile and capable than road shoes.
The Divide combines the best of both worlds and gives you a shoe that can do everything a trail shoe can, while feeling as good as a road shoe. There should be more shoes like the Divide.
If I could change anything about the Divide, I’d consider using a midsole that gives more energy return, and I’d add plenty of reflective elements. I’d also add a few more color options (dark green, brick red, burnt orange). That’s about it.
The upper, midsole, and tread could work together better, but that’s not a problem with any one component, but rather is a matter of engineering of the shoe to make what’s already there perform its best. No change is necessary, only refinement.
For $100 MSRP, the Divide is one of the best-value shoes out there.
Robert "Coyote" Landauer is an ardent long-distance runner on both road and trail, with 27 marathon-or-longer races under his belt. Robert is a mild pronator and generally favors "ordinary" shoes with a touch of cushion and stability, but close to a neutral strike.