I'm a runner who's been running for 38 years. I've basically run every distance, from being a half-mile (800 yards) specialist back in college to completing 28 marathons and multiple 100-mile races.
I’m always looking for reviews from runners who know what they are talking about. While I’m getting up there in age, I’m still able to cover marathons in the 6 min/mile range but watch my teenage children run away from me.
If you are looking to see how the Brooks Levitate 4 feels while doing cross-fit, I hate to tell you, but I only use my running shoes for running until they're only good for yard work. Now, I would use my shoes for the running portion of cross-fit, but I would swap them out when not running.
This is a review of the Brooks Levitate 4 by a runner who covers 50-120 miles a week. Each week contains track speed and hill workouts, intervals (fartleks), long slow distance (LSD), on-road and on-trail runs.
My initial impression
I was pleased to find a shoe that has a grey-on-black knit upper with a pearlescent white outsole. On the flip side, I was also concerned due to the heel reminding me of the blisters that the Levitate 3 has caused.
I have a love-hate relationship with Brooks shoes. Some shoes have fallen apart on their inaugural run while others have felt that they been tailor-made for me.
My initial thought on the fit was I've found my new favorite shoe. It fits true-to-size, with a medium to narrow toe box and ample arch support. My foot is as average as average gets; average size, arch, width, and runner's toes.
The laces lace-up and hold tightly and they didn't loosen during my first run. The heel cup fits perfectly and I didn’t have any issues with it digging into my Achilles tendon. The shoe is very comfortable that I always look forward to my next run.
You should be warned that leaning too far forward in this shoe might land you on your face. This is a bit of an over-exaggeration, but there is some serious return on energy with every step.
This is the first shoe I've ever put on that I could feel a difference in function from all the other shoes I've worn.
LSD and Short Quick Distance (SQD)
Before anything else, I didn't exceed 30 miles while testing this shoe. With its energy return, I still felt fresh on my runs. So much so, that I've never felt sore the following day.
On SQD runs, I felt like I was getting more spring in each step. However, the forefoot didn't allow much toe roll as I would like.
The result of the forefoot's lack of flexibility was my mile splits becoming slower. But, the data that I collected have shown that I was still running the same pace I do in my other shoes.
Fartleks, Speed Work, and Hills
While the shoe is suitable for speed work, don't expect it to feel light and fast. Brooks has trimmed down its weight, but it's still not a track shoe.
I've experienced a bit of foot slap when I tried to pick up the pace, and I believe this is due to the continuous outsole and less flexible forefoot.
As with the speed workouts, I've experienced the same forefoot slap when running downhill. I attribute this to the same outsole issue from the track. But when running uphill, the shoe performed very well.
The transition from heel strike to toe was very controlled and stable. This is very much appreciated especially on hill workout days when I really didn’t want to run up another hill.
The shoe's midsole is comprised of Brooks' DNA AMP, and its structure is designed differently than the Levitate 3. With the new construction, I could tell the shoe provides energy back in each step. So much so that I felt bouncy and young again.
Below, I will compare the Levitate 3 and 4 so that you can see the differences. The reformulated DNA AMP of the 4 makes it lighter, which I didn't notice much. What I did notice was the energy return in each stride.
If you are looking for a soft, cloud-like running shoe, you will be disappointed with this as it pushes back to propel you forward. If my Physics is still good, when energy is transferred into the shoe, it will either need to absorb or deflect the energy to another form.
So, a softer midsole will soak up the energy while the stiffer midsole will return some of the energy.
In the Levitate 4, Brooks has found the right balance. The shoe returns energy, making me feel fresh at the end of a 30-mile run while being soft enough that I didn't feel beat up either.
One of my complaints about the shoe is it's less breathable than its predecessor. The picture above shows how much sunlight penetrated the knit upper, and it’s not much. As a matter of fact, the two elongated areas of light come from the lace holes.
For some background, every run on has been either on the track or road. All but two of the runs were in temperatures between 90-102°F.
I am sure that the temperature coming off the pavement was brutal for the shoe. I did two runs where I wore the Levitate 3 on one foot and the other, the Levitate 4. Surprisingly, I didn’t notice a difference between the two shoes, since my original assessment had been that the Levitate 4 was worse.
The fit was unbelievable for me! If I had one complaint, it would be that on long runs with high temps, the toe box becomes a bit too narrow.
As my feet swell, I typically like to move my toes around a bit and there isn’t much room to do this in the Levitate 4. This is only a minor complaint and I wouldn’t have any problems choosing to run a road ultra in this.
The arch support, while perfect for me, would not work for a flat-footed person. The shoe is designed for average to high arch, and I felt that they provided the best arch support than I have had in a stock insole.
With the Levitate 3, the heel cup was a little loose and the back of the shoe caused blisters in my Achilles tendon. These have all been resolved in the Levitate 4. The heel cup was snug and I never felt any kind of slip or looseness
Overall, the fit gave comfort to the mind as it felt stable and secure, albeit a bit on the hot side.
I feel like the outsole might cause people to love or hate this shoe. While I don't personally feel strongly about it, it makes a big difference in how the shoe performs.
The single-piece outsole has some areas that are thinner (closer to the midsole than to the tread) for flexibility. It’s a completely different ride than the old segmented outsole of the Levitate 3.
There is so much difference in the performance of this shoe that it doesn't really represent the Levitate 3. Warning: this shoe isn't the Levitate 3 if you loved it so much.
What is great about the outsole? The one-piece design offers great heel-to-toe transition, and I believe it adds to the stability of the shoe as well.
When running with one Levitate 3 and one Levitate 4, the difference in support is substantial. The Levitate 3 offers more forefoot flexibility, lending to a softer transition however it felt slower.
I am a huge toe-off runner, pushing off my toes so hard that have fractured my big toe on multiple occasions. I never thought I would like this shoe, given my running style but it offers a new feeling of speed and control that I really enjoy,.
I didn't have the opportunity to test the shoe in any kind of inclement weather. It's only been sunny and hot; no rain, no clouds, just hot sun. Despite not having tested this on wet pavement, I believe that it will do fine.
Levitate 3 vs Levitate 4
The upper as you can see is now constructed of knit material on the Levitate 4 and is obvious from the picture. While the knit upper conforms to the foot better, I didn’t find that it had any additional benefit.
The lace hole on the Levitate 4 are now slotted and hold the flat laces in place. I never had an issue with the laces slipping or loosening up during runs. The new holes also helped me with my OCD issues of trying to keep the laces from twisting.
On fit, the Levitate 4 is snugger than the Levitate 3 throughout the shoe. The toe box is narrower, and the heel cup and laces hold tighter. I think that the upper changes are an improvement.
If I haven't mentioned it enough, the midsole has a new structure and the DNA AMP has changed, as well. Now, the shoe feels more stable and is the best shoe I've ever run in, feeling the energy return in each step.
I don't know if the outsole is the biggest change, but with its one-piece design combined with the new midsole, the shoe is changed to something new. The transition from strike to toe-off is quick and stable but offers less flexibility. The segmented outsole of the Levitate 3 offers more flexibility in the forefoot but comes at the cost of less stability.
While I love the name Levitate (one of my son’s name is Levi and I’m Tate), I think the changes are so drastic that this is its own shoe.
- Looks great
- Very comfortable
- Fast heel to toe transition
- Great Fit
- Doesn’t breathe well
- Complete new shoe (only a con if you loved the Levitate 3)
The Brooks Levitate 4 is a good all-around training shoe and could be used for marathons and ultra-marathon races. It’s not the shoe of choice for 5K races or any race that I would be relying on my speed to take the win, but it can be used for speed work if you’re going for one pair of shoes to do everything.
I really enjoyed this shoe and will continue to put miles on this shoe until I have to find a replacement.
Be forewarned that there were many updates from the Levitate 3 enough that if the Levitate 3 were my favorite shoe I wouldn’t be happy to find out that all it’s a completely different shoe now.
I am very happy to be able to provide a review of the Brooks Levitate 4 and the latest updated features of one of Brooks’ neutral running shoes. This is my second time running in the Levitate model.
I previously had the opportunity to test the first Levitate model a couple of years ago. However, Brooks has completely revamped the Levitate since its original launch, and the Levitate 4 is much different than the original.
While testing this shoe, I found it to be a great option for mid-distance road running and there were features that I liked about the shoe and some that I disliked as well.
One of my favorite features about this iteration is the breathability of the Fit Knit upper. This feature makes it a great shoe for summer running.
The upper is also very soft and lightweight. In fact, Brooks has made this shoe 20% lighter compared to its previous model.
The women’s version weighs 9.2 oz and the men’s shoe weighs 10.3 oz. This is much lighter when compared to the Levitate 3 that weighed 10.3 oz in the women’s version and 11.6 oz in men’s.
I have always worn socks while running, but if there was ever a shoe where I felt like I could go without them, this is it. The stretch in the upper mesh and bootie makes the shoes very flexible and breathable.
In fact, when comparing both the Glycerin 16 and 17, I feel like the 16 is much stiffer compared to the updated 17 model.
Lastly, all the stretch in the bootie and mesh provides stability to the running shoes, molding to various foot types, giving a comfortable ride.
I think individuals who have tried this shoe would agree that the comfort provided by the mesh upper, the sock liner, and the internal stretch bootie is unmatched and makes these running shoes the most comfortable they have ever worn.
The Levitate 4 is a lightweight running shoe, weighing in at 9.2 oz only. This is even lighter than the previous Glycerin 16 model which was 9.4 oz.
You wouldn’t think that 0.2 oz would make that much difference, but when I try on one of the 16 and 17 models, I can tell a difference in the weight.
The Glycerin 17s do not feel heavy on your feet and this makes them perfect for various workouts including long runs and speed workouts.
High retail price
The Levitate 4 model retails for $150.00. This may not be feasible for some runners and is one disadvantage that I find about new releases of running shoes.
For this reason, I feel like frugal runners may be a year behind on shoe styles because they wait for the previous model to go on sale and don’t buy the update.
Wrapping it up
To conclude, I have enjoyed testing the Levitate 4. If you are a runner looking for a lightweight, responsive, and a neutral running shoe, these are a great option.
The comfort provided by the upper mesh, Ortho Lite sock, and internal stretch bootie is unmatched to any shoes that I have tried.
The new color options make these shoes really pop, and I think most ladies will agree they can find a color to wear when running or just with casual attire.
Lastly, Brooks is a trusted brand among runners, and they stand behind their gear with a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Things worth mentioning
- Great traction from the outsole’s arrow point pattern
- Color assortment
- Efficient and springy energy return provided by DNA AMP midsole
- Sock-like fit
- May be narrow for some
We have reached the fourth iteration of the Brooks Levitate, aptly named the Levitate 4. The name lends itself to hovering or being suspended in mid-air.
Does this offering from Brooks live up to its name? Let’s take a look.
Speed. That’s the first thing that came to mind when I unboxed these road running shoes.
Dressed in simple black, gray, and pearly white colorways, this particular Levitate that I received allows the design to speak for itself, and it spoke quickly.
From the heel tab and the glossy external heel counter piece in the back to the fading Brooks logo on the quarter, it’s a cool-looking shoe.
The toe box features multiple knit patterns, and the way the more supportive knit is broken up in line with the outsole toe-off area is very appealing.
Midsole & outsole
The pearlized midsole is unique, and the gloss that has showcased Brooks’ DNA AMP cushioning technology is heavily at play here.
The hard angles give the sole unit a measure of depth, and diagonal lines offer some texture to break up the top-line and the articulation of the bottom part of the sidewall.
A simple yet effective forward-pointing traction pattern on the outsole is another speed-driven aesthetic facet, and the “Designed In Seattle” wording in between the visible DNA AMP cutouts is a nice touch.
The first time I slipped my feet into the Levitate 4, I was relatively impressed. The footbed felt like it conformed to my foot very well.
The midfoot and collar wrapped around my foot, just like a good knit upper should. That being said, there was a little bit to be desired in the toe box, as I felt like my toes were constricted.
Not to the point of extreme discomfort, but considering how thin the insole was, I wasn’t holding my breath on it giving a whole lot. Regardless, it felt pretty good on-foot.
In terms of how the Levitate 4 felt underfoot, it was slightly different than I expected. Rocking back and forth, the shoe felt relatively well-cushioned, particularly in the heel strike area.
The forefoot felt okay, but not overtly plush. However, we’re not talking about a shoe in the Brooks Cushion line, but one in the Energize line, in which a firmer midsole unit is indicative.
At first take, the Levitate 4 fits the bill.
Right out of the gate, the Levitate 4 felt a little bit jarring. Having Brooks Ghosts, Mizuno Wave Riders and Skys, and Saucony Kinvaras in my rotation over the past few years, I wasn’t used to having such a firm ride. It took a few runs to break them in.
Surprisingly, the upper ended up working better in the forefoot than I imagined it would, albeit snug. One thing about the upper of the shoe is that the tongue only starts at the top of the instep, leaving little room for adjustment below the first few eyelets. The knit construction does help, stretching, and conforming to the foot in key areas.
Once the shoes were broken in, they felt decent. The weight of the shoe isn’t super light at just over 10 oz, but they don’t really feel that hefty. The fit seems to offset that, and at times, so did the springy nature of the shoe.
Getting back to the cushioning, I still felt that my feet took more of a pounding than they should have. It could be that it’s a shoe meant for hard heel-strikers, rather than midfoot strikers.
I can tell that the transition from heel to toe was smooth when I ran with a different gait than I was used to, but it wasn’t natural for me.
The rubber traction on the shoe kept me pretty confident on the road, and I can tell that the tread will last for a while. It’s a very articulated rubber pattern that grips pavement well and didn’t give me any issues on damp surfaces.
I didn’t take the Levitate 4s off-road at all, aside from some construction zones. The lugs don’t really speak to the trails, so on the pavement, they will stay.
When it comes to the overall experience of the Brooks Levitate 4, I would say that it wasn’t all that bad. The fit was a little narrow, maybe even too narrow for some, but it was form-fitting and relatively comfortable and breathable.
While the Energized feel of the DNA AMP midsole isn’t as well cushioned as other shoes on the market, lighter and faster runners might appreciate the firmer feel.
Brooks Levitate 4: An overview
Best used for: daily training, mid-distance runs at a moderate speed, runners with neutral pronation
Suitable conditions: warm weather, pavements, and roads
Levitate 4 vs. Levitate 3: The updates
Because the predecessor of the Levitate 4 has established a reliable reputation among athletes, there are only a few significant touch-ups included in the fourth iteration:
- Lighter: Promising to deliver much lighter engineering, the DNA AMP midsole’s weight has been trimmed down by 20%. Its configuration has also been upgraded to supply swift energy return.
- Sock-like fit: the platform features an upgraded knit upper. It also enhances the lightness, softness, and breathability of the running shoe.
- Smoother ride: To complement the midsole, a new arrow-point pattern on the outsole creates better heel-to-toe transitions for a springy feel.
How Levitate 4 compares
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