Just when we thought Brooks running shoes couldn't get any better, a new model rolls out!
The sales clerk describes running shoes. Their luxury confirms why they're top of the line, but can they withstand brutal training during the inclement weather?
Take a look at what the box suggests...pounding, tromping and running happy!
- Superb cushioning
- Durable material
- Outstanding flexibility
- No break-in period
- Outsole wore down quickly
- Limited colors
- Squeaks at times when walking
The very first test run will leave you yearning for more Levitate.
Runners will feel race ready at the onset because an extra spring in every step takes hold immediately! This made me forget about their actual weight so I researched Brooks racing flat statistics to compare.
Brooks Levitate = Men's weigh 11.2 (Brooks Hyperion 6.4)
Brooks Levitate = Women's 9.7 (Brooks Hyperion 5.4)
If Levitate shoes sound a bit heavy, the actual performance will definitely take runners by surprise. Furthermore, their overall comfort far outweighs their numbers. Truthfully, these are my favorite training shoes thus far.
Everyone knows top of the line and high quality comes with a price. Levitate shoes are no different with a $150.00 price tag. Don't discard this investment until extensive research has been done.
Besides, this price like others may eventually drop overtime and when it does be ready!
After the Paradise Coast Half Marathon in Naples, Florida, a competitor complained his New Balance shoes were hurting his feet and not broken in enough. I looked down and happily exclaimed, “not with Brooks brand, because they’re instantly broke in!”
This in itself is worth the extra money in my opinion. After racing, I kicked off these shoes with no blisters or discomfort whatsoever.
Surprisingly, Brooks only offers three basic colors
While none of these colors appeal to me personally, my niece absolutely loves what I call smurf blue.
One day a man commented, “You have colorful shoes.” I wish I knew if he liked them or not, but I’ll never know because I didn’t ask, darn!
I do know stark white shoes on sandy beaches would’ve been a sight for sore eyes and black isn’t exactly a spring/summer shoe color. Therefore, a purple, navy or pink would have been nice additions to Levitate's color line.
Even the mint you see on the sides would have made a nice overall color. Nonetheless, the blue did grow on me but didn’t coordinate with some of my outfits.
Collar, Tongue & Laces
Brooks did extensive research before rolling out their Levitate line. The quality of padding and materials is so top notch I truly believe other brands have their work cut out for them.
The way my foot slides effortlessly over an exquisitely cushioned collar is remarkable.
Then for some reason, many of us hurry to get our shoes on. Well, I’m no different because, after many rushed and careless ways of putting them on, I was shocked to see how the backs never broke down one bit!
The tongue is extra wide, full and soft around the upper foot. Runners will quickly become accustomed to a pure comfort level unlike any they’ve ever experienced before.
The shoestrings are a bit long but great for double knotting. I love the shoestrings width and how they never frayed or unraveled. Take a close look and see for yourself!
Brooks created “pure flexibility” in the Levitates toe box like no other running shoe I've ever ran in.
The material is stretchy like spandex, super comfortable and allows ample room for movement. Toes never feel tight, constricted or pinched in any way, unlike other running shoes. Best of all, the new “Fitknit” material holds up to heavy wear and tear.
When you slip into Brooks Levitate, they’re like putting on your favorite pair of slippers. Kudos to Brooks for bringing instant comfort to the forefront! Look close at the vented material because it was tested against daily water and sand elements.
You will see no rips, tears or holes whatsoever, but now imagine the softest and supple upper material still engulfing your feet. UNBELIEVABLE comfort after every run, no matter what the distance!
Brooks has pioneered an outsole above and beyond all others.
I recall the sales clerk counting the bottom upper rivets and pointing out one additional cut-in Brooks made. Now runners can both see and feel a big difference in flexibility throughout every run.
They constructed and improved an outsole which offers an outstanding barrier between any running surface. Levitate shoes absorb my jolting foot strike better than their Ghost 10.
Even though a picture cannot tell the story, here’s a visual comparison to Ghost 10 (on the right) with Levitate (on the left).
See my review of the Ghost 10 here.
There’s no denying Levitate's unique design adapts to grass, sand or asphalt effortlessly. Even more impressive, is how durable the manufactures made most of the materials.
The shoestrings, overlays, and stitching all held up against daily wear and tear.
My only complaint, however, was after only 122 miles, look how the outsole started wearing off. This was rather disappointing considering the expense, but other runners may not have the tendency to run down their outer heels like I do?
Levitate's midsole is my absolute favorite part of the shoe. The running experience is unlike any other with a quick, high “energy” return. You’ll definitely feel a bounce in every step.
This takes a runners mind completely off one's shoes, especially during a race. I’m confident they’d go a full marathons 26.2 with no discomfort but I have yet to conquer this challenge.
The 8 mm drop in the midsole feels extremely natural to run in.
In fact, after various races and many long runs, these Levitates do not only look but feel fairly new to me. Brooks utilized a super thick “Polyurethane Foam” for shock absorbing, light and cushy runs.
The midsole thickness is so spongy, sometimes it actually squeaks when walking. This may be due to all the extra moisture they were exposed to over time.
Pictures cannot possibly capture their state-of-the-art, astronaut foamy feel. An athlete must run in it to believe it! My advice is to visit a running store soon to experience this innovative technology for yourself.
The longer you run in Levitates, the better. Over time, runners will find the shoes naturally conforming to their unique foot pattern. They support while delivering the most cushion a runner could ever desire.
Brooks impressively combined a neutral shoe with a medium-high arch. This design is great for runners who depend on extra support to prevent injuries. Since I am prone to knee pain I quickly became attached to my Levitate shoes.
As always, I switched out the sock liners for personal orthotics. After one or two test runs, I realized they were typically flimsy just like other brands. Take a look in comparison to see any significant difference...Brooks Ghost is on top, New Balance in middle, Brooks Levitate on the bottom.
Years ago, Brooks consciously redirected their focus on running. Today lucky consumers reap the rewards of hard work and true dedication to our sport.
So today’s advise is to take the Brooks Levitate challenge as soon as possible!
Try on their high quality, top of the line running shoes and test for yourself what all this Levitate, energize hype is about. Then if indecisive, ask “Why settle for less when you can run in a Mercedes?”
Now, all we need are “Levitate Shirts" to debut with our new awesome shoes.
Until then, happy Running and enjoy the ride!
I love Brooks running shoes. There, I said it.
For many years, I have been ranting and raving to anyone who will listen about the value and merit in owning Brooks running shoes.
My first introduction to Brooks came via the Glycerin 14. If you don’t know, the Glycerin 14 is fierce. It seamlessly offers supreme comfort, flashy style, and peak performance. I suspect this is the case in the Glycerin 15 (although I have yet to run in it).
Something I’ve noticed about Brooks, as a company, is that they always find a balance between performance, comfort, and style. I have never once noted a glaring flaw in the design of any of their shoes. Depending on the type of runner you are, Brooks has a shoe for you.
Fast forward to my time with the Brooks Levitate.
As per usual, Brooks has once again delivered a truly inspired product. Not one to rest on their laurels, Brooks has continued to push for better performance while taking steps to ensure comfort and value.
With the Levitate, Brooks has attempted, once again, to marry top-notch performance with comfort. The result is an admirable, if not remarkable, introductory outing for the Levitate.
When reading this review, I urge you to keep in mind the phrase “energy return.” And believe me, Brooks wants you to think the exact same thing. Energy return is king in the Brooks Levitate, which is essentially the entire sales pitch for the shoe.
After two whole months running in the Levitate, I feel I have an understanding of what the shoe offers in its current state, and also an idea of what the shoe hoped to deliver.
Over the course of my two months with the shoe, I wore it for a variety of runs (sprints, fast tempo runs, distance training). I ran both indoors and outdoors.
Finally, after a cumulative 700+ miles, I feel I’m ready to adequately discuss the good, bad and ugly aspects of the shoe.
In theory, the Levitate should be my favorite running shoe ever. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The Levitate is a shoe whose value hinges on one selling point: Energy return.
That’s fine and good, but unfortunately the Levitate under-delivers on this selling point and sacrifices much in the process. So, what happens when Brooks shoots for the moon with a brand new line of shoe?
Does the Levitate arrive at its destination, land amongst the stars, or does it crash back to the earth?
The Brooks Levitate
So, at 6’3” and 180 pounds, I’m a pretty big dude. I mention this to highlight the fact that my opinions concerning the Levitate are anchored in the needs dictated to me by my body (and size 14 foot).
Furthermore, I am primarily a distance runner. So please, keep this in mind as I explain my opinions concerning comfort and impact reduction.
The first time I wore the shoe, I took to running until I started feeling the effects of impact in my joints, feet, or back. This happened quicker than I had hoped.
The Levitate is the least comfortable Brooks shoe I have worn. Now please understand, I do not mean this as an indictment necessarily. From Brooks, I have grown accustomed to a tasteful balance between performance and comfort. The expectation for me now is excellence.
Now, is that fair? Probably not. However, before moving forward, it’s important to note that if you are looking for a comfortable Brooks shoe, you should probably look elsewhere.
Unfortunately, most of the discomfort associated with running in the shoe is by design. As I stated previously, energy return is king, which unfortunately comes at the expense of a plush ride, and impact reduction.
Simply put, I just don’t think that the modest amount of energy return offered in the Levitate is enough to compensate for the loss in comfort and impact reduction.
Shoes that offer excellent impact reduction do so by effectively distributing force across the shoe during impact. In the name of energy return, very little of the force of impact is diffused across the Levitate.
DNA Amp Midsole
As previously stated, this is for the sake of returning energy to the runner. I simply do not believe that the benefits of the energy return are pronounced enough.
While running in the Levitate, I felt the impact of each and every stride. While this was fine on short runs, it was borderline unbearable on long distance runs.
In my opinion, the sweet spot for the Levitate is a 3-mile run. Unfortunately, at around the 5-mile mark, the impact becomes too much for me to take.
So, what even is energy return? More importantly, does energy return deserve an entire line of shoes specifically designed to attain it?
Well, energy return can be considered the “bounce” in your step. In each stride, over the course of a run, the impact of your feet hitting the road exerts energy.
Subsequently, the road returns an equal and opposite amount of energy to you, the runner (this is essentially Newton’s laws of physics). Essentially, if 100% energy return was possible, running would be effortless.
The two main ways energy is lost during a run is in the form of heat, and through compression of the midsole.
This is where the new DNA Amp material comes into play. The DNA Amp material is surrounded by traditional TPU midsole material to limit the horizontal compression in an attempt at delivering the most energy return possible.
Forefoot DNA Amp Midsole
So, the shoe is stiff, but not by accident. Personally, I would have preferred a more comfortable ride over the marginal energy return offered by the Levitate.
The shoe felt unaccommodating, rigid, and bulky, especially during my first few runs. If you plan on taking this shoe for a long test drive, over many miles, I suggest investing in plush insoles.
To its benefit, the Levitate is a quick shoe. It is very responsive, and the added firmness of the midsole directly results in quicker transitions and a faster run.
If speed is something you value from a shoe, then look no further. I don’t think I’ve ever run in a shoe that had more authority and feel for the road. The toe-off is firm and explosive.
Furthermore, on shorter runs, I was able to better appreciate the subtle benefits of energy return offered by the shoe. This was mainly due to the fact that the added impact, coupled with the modest amount of cushioning, was barely noticeable until further into my run.
I actually really like the outsole of the Levitate.
I find it responsive, durable, flexible, and stylish (yes, I said stylish). The rubber used in the outsole is thick, plentiful and allows for excellent traction.
Staggered Rubber Placement
The outsole lends itself, along with the stiffness of the midsole, to a quick ride and good transitions through each foot strike. Furthermore, the staggered placement of the outsole rubber adds much in the way of flexibility.
Oddly enough, while the DNA Amp leads to a firmer (even stiff) ride, the shoe is still very flexible.
The Levitate's Flexibility
While I have modest gripes with many aspects of the Levitate, the upper is not one of them. I love the upper of this shoe. It offers breathability, durability, and comfort (as a result of the seamless construction).
The heel and the tongue of the shoe also add to the plush and accommodating fit. Furthermore, the upper is rather attractive. I really can’t get over how good this shoe looks. It is, in my opinion, the most attractive shoe in the Brooks lineup.
For light activities (walking, jogging etc.) the Levitate was excellent. It was comfortable, and thanks to the upper, very accommodating to my foot. Unfortunately, the only problem I had concerning the fit of the shoe was in the toe-box.
The shoe is a little too narrow for my taste, which is not a problem until a few miles into a run. However, the longer I ran in the shoe, the more discomfort I felt as a result of the narrow design of the shoe, and the narrowness of the toe-box in particular.
Breathable, Mesh Upper
Brooks has made another durable shoe.
Unfortunately, the DNA Amp material does not provide anything comparable to the cushion of Boost and EverRun midsoles. This works in its favor when it comes to durability.
The integrity of the midsole in the Levitate is as intact now as it was when I first unboxed the shoe. The Upper mesh is also remarkably resilient considering the amount of breathability it provides.
Furthermore, the outsole of the Levitate has maintained its traction and is still as responsive now as it ever was. If anything, the Brooks Levitate will outlast almost every other shoe in your arsenal.
Thanks mostly to the midsole of the Levitate, the shoe feels stiff. It feels heavy.
In my opinion, it isn’t cushioned enough to justify its weight. At size 14, my shoe weighs in at well over 12 oz. Depending on your personal preference, the added weight of the shoe will either be tolerable, or unbearable.
In my opinion, unless a shoe is specifically designed with comfort or stability in mind, there is no reason for it to be this heavy.
In this sense, the Levitate is a shoe experiencing an identity crisis. Perhaps, if the energy return was more obvious, the weight of the shoe would be tolerable.
For me, this shoe’s saving grace is how good it looks. The upper is sleek and inspired.
The reflective shine of the DNA Amp midsole is just cool looking. The color options, while limited, are very handsome.
In an environment where most running shoes have color schemes that were seemingly chosen through blindly picking combinations from a bag of Skittles, the Levitate stand alone.
The Levitate simply refuses to follow the trend of designing obnoxiously colored running shoes.
It opts instead for a more modest and refined look. I love this move. Even the outsole of the shoe has a natural “coolness” to it.
So, this is the point in my reviews where I bring up the Ultra Boost and blather over the course of an entire paragraph why I think it’s a top of the line shoe, worth every penny.
Don’t worry, I will spare you the Adidas sales pitch (and no, they aren’t paying me).
At $150, I will not be purchasing another pair of Levitates until I find them significantly discounted. If a friend asked me to recommend a Brooks shoe to them, I would quickly direct them to the Ghost 10.
In my opinion, the Ghost line has seen improvement in each successive version of the shoe. This is undoubtedly due to trial and error. It also doesn’t hurt that the Ghost 10 is 30 bucks cheaper.
Having said that, I find it necessary to mention that this is the inaugural shoe in the Levitate line. Considering this, I have no doubt in my mind that the Levitate will see improvement in future incarnations of the shoe.
That is the word that comes to mind when I think about my time with the Brooks Levitate. Even though I wasn’t crazy about my time with the shoe, I couldn’t help but admiring what it was trying to accomplish.
Energy return is a big deal. It is a worthy endeavor to pursue technology that improves energy return and subsequently aids in performance. But my gripes with the Levitate were never about its performance per se.
The shoe is quick, springy, and firm. For anything under 3 miles, the Levitate was perfect. It isn’t until deep into a run that the flaws in the Levitate become apparent.
This will naturally be a point of contention, but I’m actually most disappointed with the Levitate because of its potential. I want to wear it for all of my runs. It looks good, the fit is excellent, and the concept behind the shoe is ambitious. Believe me, everything in my body wants to adore this shoe.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend it over any other shoe in the Brooks line, let alone my personal favorites (Mizuno Wave Sky, Adidas Ultra Boost). I’ve come to expect better from Brooks as a company, and this may be the reason for my less than glowing review of the Levitate. I know there is a good shoe in there somewhere.
I know that Brooks will eventually find a balance between providing energy return, and a comfortable ride. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Levitate delivers.
So, what happens when a shoe company designs a shoe with this much potential? Brooks shoots for the moon on the Levitate. In fact, on take-off, everything indicates that a moon landing is imminent. But the moon is far away.
Many miles stand between the genesis of an idea and its implementation. En route to the exceptional shoe the Levitate wants to be, it shows flaws in its design.
Maybe the Levitate evolves into a wonderful shoe at some point, but for the time being, it stands as a serviceable, yet thoroughly unremarkable one. Brooks is a quality brand, and they make quality shoes.
With the Levitate, they have still designed a shoe that lands amongst the stars. Unfortunately, there are plenty of stars out there, and a whole lot of them shine much brighter than the Levitate.
neutral road running shoe and ones that they have spent years developing. It was named as one of the most anticipated shoe releases of 2017, and I was very excited to get the opportunity to test this pair.
The goal of the Levitate, as advertised by Brooks, is to offer runners with energy return and a springy, responsive ride.
While testing these shoes I have ran various distances and types of training runs in them.
Miles later, I believe that this shoe serves runners best during moderate distance training days and is well suited for beginning runners.
As I mentioned before, the Levitate is a neutral running shoe, with a medium to high arch. They have an 8mm midsole drop and weigh in at 9.7 ounces.
The new midsole is created with Brooks’ latest technology, the new DNA AMP material. This is a new cushioning that is supposed to provide greater energy return and a springy step.
The outsole is flexible and designed in an arrow pattern, which is advertised to offer quicker heel to toe transitions.
Lastly, the upper is made from a knit material that is lightweight, but at the same time forms to your foot for a secure fit.
Excellent Color & Fit
From the moment I saw these shoes, I loved the style and color.
I received the white and silver style, and I think it is one of Brooks most stylish color combinations that they have ever created. These are easily shoes that someone could purchase for running, or for work as well.
They match with almost any outfit, which is always a plus. Along with the silver and white style, they also are available in black and a blue for anyone seeking a splash of color.
Additionally, when I first tried these shoes on I was blown away by the upper. It is hands down the most comfortable upper design that I have ever worn in a shoe.
The knit material is seamless, lightweight, breathable, and when tied it forms a secure fit to your foot.
The lining of the tongue is so soft that it almost feels like you aren’t even wearing shoes. I cannot say enough good things about the upper design, and I hope that Brooks continues to use this in their shoes in styles to come.
Weight & Cushioning
As I mentioned before, the weight of these shoes is 9.7 ounces and this makes them heavier compared to other models of Brooks shoes.
While 0.5 ounces and 0.9 ounces may not seem like much, it can feel extremely different for runners who are used to lighter shoes.
When I first began running in these shoes they did feel heavy to me, and for this reason, these are not shoes that I would recommend for short runs or speed sessions.
Another noticeable difference that I found in these shoes was the cushion. The midsole technology that Brooks designed for these shoes offers runners a firmer and durable ride.
While they are not uncomfortable, this is certainly not the cushioned ride that I feel when slipping into a pair of Glycerin 15 or Saucony Triumph ISO 3. Therefore, this factor limits my ability to run in the Levitate more than 6-8 miles.
I would also like to add that I didn’t feel like these shoes offered me anymore “springiness” than what I was already received in other shoes.
As a long-distance runner, I would much rather be running in the Saucony Triumph ISO 3 which is lighter, has the same drop, and more cushion.
In my opinion, Brooks’ DNA AMP is not on the same responsive level as the Saucony Everun technology.
Quick Review: Positives & Negatives
To conclude, some of the positives that I found in testing the Brooks Levitate is: they fit true to size, the color scheme of the shoes is very appealing, the upper is lightweight and offers a secure and comfortable fit, and Brooks offers a 90-day money back guarantee.
Some of the negatives that I found when testing these shoes was: the midsole seemed heavy, the price was $150 (which some individuals may find high), and they lacked cushion that I am used to in other models of Brooks shoes.
After testing, I found that these shoes fit best in my moderate distance training runs. They are way too heavy for speed work and aren’t cushioned enough for longer runs.
I think they market best to the beginning runner who may just be starting their running journey and looking for a durable, neutral running shoe.
I am a 41-year-old runner, about 170 pounds and 6’ 1” tall. I race all distances, from 5ks to Marathons, and spend at least half of my year training for an upcoming marathon.
Before I begin, I must admit that I have had mixed experiences with Brooks running shoes.
Upon receiving the Levitates, however, I was thoroughly impressed with their comfortable fit.
The new Levitate boasts of “infinite energy return” through its DNA AMP midsole technology. The fit was extremely comfortable, but the midsole and outsole combined with the lightweight knit upper seemed to make the shoes a little too bottom-heavy.
Aside from that though, the shoes provide a spacious toe-box, ample arch support, and firm-but-comfortable heel support. Of all the shoes I’ve worn recently, this shoe has been the most comfortable fit for my feet.
The Levitates are comfortable, flexible, and very springy.
Even though they seemed a bit heavy, the shoes are a superb choice for a daily trainer. I ran 206 miles in the Levitates, building up to the 2018 Phoenix Marathon.
From easy runs, to hill workouts, to speed intervals, to a tune-up 15k race, and even the Marathon itself, the Levitates were nearly flawless in function.
One of the only problems I faced with the shoes is their limited traction on wet surfaces, causing me to slip quite often.
On long runs and recovery to easy runs, the Levitates are perfect, providing a cushioned, springy ride for unending miles.
I felt like I was running on cushioned pillows from time to time. For speedwork and interval runs, the shoes performed satisfactorily, though their weight was noticeable.
In addition to peak marathon training, I subjected my Levitates to a few longer races: A 15k and a full Marathon.
Obviously, these are not race day flats, being double the weight of my usual pick of shoes for races. However, I wanted to see if they would be suitable for longer race uses.
In both races, I set personal records: 1:03:03 in the Dallas Running Club 15k and a Boston Qualifying 3:12:41 in the Phoenix Marathon.
What the Levitates may give up in additional weight, they more than make up for in cushioned, bouncy responsiveness over the duration of longer races. I could not have been happier with their performance.
As I am writing this, I am 5 days post-marathon and my legs feel fully recovered already. I have to acknowledge the possibility that the Levitates’ energy return design and cushioned midsole have everything to do with my quick recovery.
With 206 miles on them, my Levitates feel like they are just now getting into the groove.
There is some wear on the outsole’s tread, and the lifespan of the midsole remains to be seen, but I speculate these shoes could last well beyond 500 miles with no problem.
- Exceptionally comfortable fit
- Soft but springy midsole
- Adaptable to every kind of workout
- Wide, stable foundation
- Bottom heavy
- Uncomfortable heel-to-toe drop
- Poor traction on wet surfaces
What an exceptional shoe!
I was pleasantly surprised by the lively yet supremely cushioned feel of the Brooks Levitate. I received no injuries while training in these shoes and the way they are designed seems to fit my feet perfectly.
The outsole provides a wide and stable platform for various foot strikes and running strides. If you are looking for a well-rounded running shoe for smooth, dry surfaces, you can’t go wrong with the Levitates.
Check out my video review here.
Good to know
- The Levitate is a new addition to Brooks' road-running shoe line, with the brand spending seven years to develop its technology. This shoe was designed for neutral pronators. The structure of the shoe is durable enough to use for everyday running and lightweight enough to appeal to beginner runners who are after comfort.
- The upper consists of 3D Fit Print and FitKnit, which work together to accommodate the foot as it moves and expands, thus resulting in a natural fit.
- DNA AMP is a brand-new cushioning system found in this Brooks running shoe. This technology promises a higher level of energy return – ‘infinite energy,’ to be exact. Meanwhile, the outsole delivers flexibility and a comfortable ride, allowing the runner to move from heel to toe quickly without losing energy.
Same as with the latest Levitate 2, the outsole in the Levitate makes use of rubber and features an arrow-point pattern. This design is intended to enable quick movements from the heel to the toe without losing energy, therefore creating an elastic effect. The arrows are pointing towards the toe area to indicate the direction of the heat pressure movement of the foot.
Brooks Levitate is the first shoe to feature the DNA AMP midsole from the chemical company BASF. DNA AMP asserts to be the perfect blend of cushioning and energy return, as it uses polyurethane foam wrapped in TPU to capture energy from each foot strike and push it up back to the runner. While it is heavier than EVA, it is also easier to compress and thus more likely to be springy.
The insole is removable and can be replaced by custom inserts for a more personalized fit.
An integrated FitKnit upper is structured to comfortably accommodate the runner’s foot as it moves and expands, generating a soft and adaptable ride. This technology utilizes a circular-knit process to produce an engineered upper that provides breathability and flexibility where needed.
The overlays are made with the 3D Fit Print technology, which Brooks claims as its revolutionary process with a strategic application to ensure the shoe’s structural integrity while adding elasticity. They possess a thin diagonal design that results in an equal support across the foot.