Brooks PureGrit 8
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81% say it's true to size.
Overview of this review
The 8s are much nicer looking, and my Puregrits have about 450 miles on them (still going strong though).
I was so excited when I got the 8s in the mail that I immediately took them out for an 8-mile run (after a quick photoshoot, before I got them covered in mud).
During the next 45 miles, my excitement turned to disappointment, back into a bit of enjoyment, then came to rest upon indifference.
The PureGrit 8 is the latest in Brooks’ line of low drop, mid to low cushion trail shoes that Brooks says helps runners “Connect” with their running surface.
With a 4mm drop and a stack height of 21/17, there is plenty of cushion without compromising ground feel or making you feel too far off the ground.
The cushioning is the same full-length BioMogo DNA foam that Brooks has used in the puregrit for the past 5+ models. This model did seem to take a little more time to break in than previous models, though, and the 8s seem to be firmer than the 6s even after 50+ miles.
I do wish that the cushioning was a bit softer as it is fairly firm, but it is not a deal-breaker. The low cushioning is bolstered by a thin rock-plate, which does a decent enough job.
I step on lots of roots and small rocks on the trails I ran and never felt any pain from a rock pushing too hard into my foot. The rock plate is thin enough that it doesn’t compromise the flexibility of the shoe.
The Rock-plate may actually help give this flexible shoe some added responsiveness. The Puregrit 8, like other shoes in the Brooks Connect family, is designed to be flexible. Brooks cuts out bits of the midsole to allow more flex, and it works.
The 8s never felt stiff and had great flex when landing with a mid to fore-foot strike. But like I said before, they do take some time to break in.
I noticed when switching mid-run between my PureGrit 8 and PureGrit 6 that the 8s feel far less nimble than the 6s.
So why was I disappointed in this shoe?
In all honesty, after the first 12 miles in this shoe, I was ready to throw it in the trash. Plantar fasciitis like pain flared up, and my pinky toe needed to be cracked every 5 minutes.
But out of my love for you, the reader, and my obligation to put at least 50 miles on a pair of shoes before writing a review, I persevered, and I am glad that I did.
In the 40 plus miles after those first 12, I got to know this iteration of the PureGrit more intimately and learned how it wants to be worn and used. The reason for my initial disappointment was due to the heel of this shoe being terrible in almost every way imaginable.
The heel-cup on the PureGrit 8 is super shallow. By my very unscientific measuring techniques about a half-inch shallower than the PureGrit 6. This makes the top of the heel-cup sit in the middle of the heel and not over the top of the heel.
At first look, you don’t see any padded heel collar, but there is one, it just sits much lower than a normal shoe and is located inside of the shoe rather than creating the back ridge of the shoe.
Again, this heel collar sits ON the heel instead of cradling it and securing your foot in the shoe. You know that feeling when the elastic in your sock is loose and falls down your foot on your heel, that’s kind of what this shoe felt like to me at first.
For some reason, Brooks decided to go with form over function, putting in a silly lip on the back of the shoe ala the Adidas Boost series. This lip does the opposite of securing your foot in the shoe, by being an ultra-flexible piece of fabric that flexes backward letting your heel slip up and out.
Now you might be saying to yourself, “But Justin, you like the Inov-8 X-Talon 210, you raved about its lack of a hard heel cup or heel collar. Don’t you like ultra-flexible heel cups?”
You’re damn right, I do. The difference is the X-Talon 210’s heel is molded and reinforced to cradle the shape of your heel.
The PureGrit 8 is not contoured to the shape of your heel. Instead of curving inward toward your ankle and around your heel, it curves away.
Brooks has also removed the extra lace holes at the top of the shoe that is used to create a “heel lock.” You can create your own heel lock by threading the lace back through the same top hole, but it is less effective and more annoying when tying and untying your shoes to do this.
Finally, the midfoot is shallow, making for more pressure on top of the foot. This proved to be problematic in the first few runs I took because my heel felt sloppy, and to correct this, I tried to really crank down on the laces which did little for my heel but put an uncomfortable squeeze on the top of my foot.
All of this added up to an unstable shoe and a very uncomfortable foot.
After accepting that the heel wasn’t going to cradle my foot like a mother, would her first-born child, my running experience with the PureGrit 8 got better. I left the laces at a comfortable pressure and was able to put this shoe through its paces.
I found this shoe to be great when running on solid, even ground. Taking it on a few roads, it performed wonderfully. If there is a lot of concrete crossings on your trails or you have a short jog to the trailhead, the outsoles won’t wear down too quickly or feel strange on concrete.
This is not a great shoe for muddy trails or lots of uneven ground as the heel is a bit sloppy, and your foot can move around a bit when changing direction. The lugs on the outsole are not very aggressive, which is great for road to trail but make traction in wet conditions less than ideal.
It is an attractive shoe. I really like the look of these. The PureGrit used to have a wild, bold look until the 6s and 7s, which were quite plain.
The 6s were very boxy and looked kind of like a skate shoe. While not as bold as the 4s or 5s, the 8s has a great style that looks sleek and fast.
The upper has been great for fall/winter running here in Iowa. Temps ranging from 65 to 16F, my feet have never felt too warm or too cold.
After 50+ miles, a bit of heartache (and foot-ache), I feel fairly indifferent to this shoe. It is not amazing but not as terrible as some reviews say or as I initially thought.
It’s a nice looking, lightweight, everyday easy-grade trail runner, with a few issues. It’s a bit firmer and less flexible than previous iterations of the PureGrit.
If you do want to try this shoe, I highly suggest buying directly from Brooks because you can try the shoe out for 90 days and still get your money back if you don’t like it.
There are other shoe outlets that give you a trial period where you can send the shoes back for store credit as well.
An otherwise amazing trail shoe is botched by a heel design that is far too low and loose, leaving the hindfoot slipping around like you’re wearing a flip flop.
I’ve been a big fan of Brooks’ Pure series of minimalist running shoes since it was launched almost a decade ago. I have many good miles running in Brooks Pure series shoes, so I was optimistic about trying out the Puregrit 8.
Who the Puregrit 8 is right for?
Like most shoes in Brooks’ Pure series of minimalist shoes, I was impressed with almost everything in the Puregrit 8. A sticky outsole; just the right amount of midsole cushioning; and a lightweight but durable upper.
The one major failure is the shoe’s literal Achilles heel: a low, loose, and soft heel design on the upper that leaves the hindfoot slipping around. As a result, your heel is a few notches more secure than when you’re wearing a pair of flip flops, but not secure enough for real technical train running.
Rarely makes a single error botch an entire pair of running shoes. However, in trail running where having snug, secure footing is a necessity, this Achilles heel is the Puregrit 8’s downfall.
For more details from top to bottom, see the detailed review below. For those looking for a minimalist trail shoe that won’t leave your heel slipping around uncontrollably, see the “Competition” section toward the end.
The upper of the Puregrit 8 is terrific from the forefoot through the midfoot. It is lightweight and breathable yet also durable, even facing abrasion from rocks, sticks, and other trail hazards.
The forefoot provides enough space for toes to splay out naturally, while the midfoot gets a nice and secure wrap. There are also a few strategically placed TPU overlays that provide added protection at the most vulnerable parts of the foot like the toe cap.
But then you get to the heel, and the upper falls apart. The heel shape of the upper is cut way too low and flairs out at the top, leaving the heel flopping around, even after tightening down the last eyelets as much as possible.
Loop lacing the shoe helps, but still doesn’t fix the problem completely. As any trail runner will know, having a good secure fit on your shoes is a necessity for running safely and efficiently over technical terrain, and the Puregrit 8 just can’t deliver that promise.
It’s a sad problem because otherwise, the upper is impressive and an upgrade from previous models of the Puregrit.
Minimalist trail shoes are a challenging balancing act: they need to have a low enough stack height to allow natural flexion in the foot, but at the same time need to have enough foam to protect the foot from rough, technical terrain.
The Puregrit 8’s midsole hits that balance perfectly. Even on aggressive, jagged, rocky trails, my foot felt protected but also could flex naturally and allowed me to run smoothly through the gait cycle.
The outsole on the Puregrit 8 is very good. The lugs are deep enough to provide grip on a wide range of trail surfaces from dirt to snow to grass.
At the same time, they’re smooth enough to give grip and stable footing while running over hard, smooth surfaces like flat rock or pavement, giving them versatility for runners who have to put in a couple of miles on sidewalks to get to the trailhead.
The only surfaces where the outsole proved inadequate were wet, muddy conditions where deeper lugs would have been preferable. Other than wet ground, though, the outsole is versatile and will give trail runners adequate grip while running over dirt, rocks, grass, gravel, and pavement.
Finally, the outsole rubber is impressively durable! After 40+ miles on a range of different surfaces, it is showing very few signs of wear.
Unfortunately, the Puregrit 8 is a bit of a botched version of the shoe. Hopefully, next year Brooks will take care of the error in the heel (most reviewers have highlighted this as a problem, and I’m sure Brooks is scrambling to tweak the upper to fix the issue next year).
But in the meantime, trail runners who love minimalist shoes may be looking for other options. One solution is to shop for previous versions of the Puregrit, which are both on sale and did not seem to have any heel slippage issues based on numerous reviewers.
A second choice could be the Merrell Trailglove (another minimalist trail option). However, I found the Trailglove provides only a slightly more secure fit in the heel than the Puregrit 8.
It’s a soft, low-cut heel without a heel shank, and in my opinion, the Trailglove does not have enough midsole cushioning to effectively protect the foot on anything but the smoothest groomed trails.
In my experience, the best minimalist trail shoes come from Inov-8. One solid option is Inov-8 Trailtalon 235, which has a perfectly secure upper (including the heel), an excellent midsole that balances minimalist flexibility with adequate protection from trail hazards, and a durable, grippy outsole.
Another set of minimalist trail shoes come from Salomon, either the S-Lab Speed 2 for wet ground or the S-Lab Sense 7 for a wider range of terrains. Both of these shoes offer minimalist, natural foot flexion, adequate protection from rough trails, and secure heel fits.
However, both of these shoes are a full price point higher (at $180) than the Inov-8, Merrell, and Brooks minimalist trail options (all at around $120).
The Puregrit 8 was a promising shoe. It is amazing in every way, from its grippy, versatile outsole to its flexible yet protective midsole to its secure and protective upper in the midfoot and forefoot.
The shoe’s literal Achilles heel is its low-cut sloppy hindfoot design in the upper that leaves the foot unsecured. For trail runners looking for a good minimalist shoe, I would suggest either:
1) Shopping earlier models of the Puregrit that didn’t have heel slip issues
2) Waiting for next year when hopefully Brooks has fixed this issue, or
3) Try other minimalist trail options like those from Inov-8 or Salomon
The Brooks PureGrit 8 trail shoes are very well built. I think they could hold up for comfortable long trail runs.
They are built to last. However, the shoes have one major issue dealing with uphill running.
When these shoes first arrived, I took them out of the box and immediately admired the construction. I put them on, and they felt extremely comfortable. The sizing was perfect, and I was ready to hit the trails.
The upper part of the shoe feels like a strong material that should protect the shoe from rocks and any other things found on the trail. The front of the shoes has rubber all around to protect them even more.
The material is better than many other trail shoes that have a soft cloth material that can rip from a twig. The material is still breathable, and it is comfortable in warm weather.
The toe box is very big, and it gives your toes plenty of room to move around. While running, your feet can really relax without being tight in the toe box.
The whole shoe is very comfortable. The fitting just forms directly to my feet. The inside has a nice soft feel for added comfort. The heel is soft and comfortable, but it does have one major issue.
With trail running, you will more than likely run uphill at some time. Running uphill can cause your heel to come out of the PureGrit 8 shoe slightly.
The picture above is taken on an incline, and you can see the heel coming out of the shoe. You can tie the shoes tighter and tighter, but you cannot prevent the heel movement completely.
The steeper the uphill incline, and the harder you run, the more heel movement you will suffer. However, I never had an issue with a shoe coming completely off my foot. This issue is not a problem on flat or downhill trails.
The midsole also looks very well built. The front and the back of the shoes have extra protection because the midsole goes a little higher.
The shoes are flexible enough to give you comfort, but stiff enough to hold up on tough terrain.
I am not a heel striker, and I run on my forefoot. These shoes have great cushion where I need it most. The Brooks PureGrit 8 may not be built for a heel striker.
If you are looking for a high arch support or stability shoes, these may not be the best option. I do, however, feel stable running in these shoes.
From the first look at the bottom of the shoe, the shoes have traction ready for the trails. The bottom feels sturdy enough not to wear out quickly.
I have run over 50 miles on the trails and roads in these shoes, and there are no signs of wear. Compare the before and after shots below, and the only real difference is some dirt.
The traction on these shoes is great on dirt and mud. There are no complaints on the trails dealing with the outsole.
I know these are trail shoes, but I did run some miles on the road with them. They actually run great on the road, and may even give you extra traction if needed.
- Traction for trails
- Cushion in the forefoot
- Heel comes out on uphill running
The Brooks PureGrit 8 are well-constructed shoes that should last a long time. They work well on trails and roads. I think I could use them for long trail runs and still feel comfortable.
Overall, I would recommend these shoes for any distance on trial runs. However, they do have one major issue with your heel coming out on uphill running.
Good to know
- With the aim to allow the runner's underfoot to react on a variety of terrains with ease and confidence, the Brooks PureGrit 8 is carefully crafted to let the user perform better. It utilizes the Stretch Woven upper. The primary goal of this feature of the footwear is to provide added durability. It also aims to deliver adaptability when tackling challenging trails. With its sleek new look, users will be able to appreciate a more enjoyable running experience.
- When compared to the old version, the midsole uses the full-length BioMoGo as well. The main function of this is to provide a lightweight cushioning system that can easily adapt to the stride of the runner.
- The ballistic rock plate is still used in this model. This is essential in protecting the foot from hazardous rocks and roots that can be found on the trails.
Following the sizing scheme of other Brooks running shoes, users are recommended by the brand to go a half-size to a full-size higher than their usual size preferences when purchasing the PureGrit 8. However, the best way to get an accurate fit is to try the shoe in-store before buying.
This trail shoe has features intended for its minimalist structure, such as a tongue and collar that contribute to a second-skin fit. Additionally, the upper is made of a thin material, which might not be compatible with runners who are looking for more support or coverage.
Integrated into the outsole of the Reebok PureGrit 8 is the sticky rubber. This component of the shoe aims to deliver a reliable and durable grip on both wet and dry surfaces.
Along with the sticky rubber are the 3D Hex Lugs. These lugs lie on the outsole are to deliver excellent grip on a wide variety of surfaces.
The Ballistic Rock Shield is used in crafting the trail running shoe. This material is described to be a thermoplastic EVA sheath that is layered between the midsole and the outsole. This is essential in protecting the foot against stone-bruising.
Located under the ball of the foot are the Splay Lugs. Brooks added this feature to provide the right amount of traction without compromising the shoe's flexibility.
Like the Brooks Caldera 3, the BioMoGo DNA is utilized in making the footwear. This material fuses with the DNA gel cushioning technology and BioMoGo midsole to offer a more responsive ride. As a result, the specific needs of every runner during the activity are met.
Featured in the Brooks PureGrit 8 are the Omega Flex Grooves. The primary purpose of these grooves is to enhance the flexibility of the midsole flexibility without sacrificing its cushioning system.
Lying in the upper section is the Stretch Woven upper. This component of the shoe aims to adapt to the user's foot during the running session. The material is focused on providing adaptability while delivering lightweight durability.
Securely wrapping the foot is the sole responsibility of the Adiprene tongue. With the utilization of this feature, a more secure fit is offered. The tongue unit is also significant in draining water quickly. It prevents hazardous debris and dirt from getting inside the shoe as well.
Brooks added the Anatomical Last in crafting the footwear. The primary goal of which is to mimic the natural shape of the foot. As a result, a glove-like feel is experienced by the runner. This is also vital in allowing the foot to work and perform well as a single unit.