Brooks Pure Drift – Review

I’ve finally got round to having some spare time to write up my thoughts on the Pure Drift shoes I had received the last time I blogged. It’s been a hectic few weeks with a lot of travel for work, mixed with a lovely weekend away in the countryside and a couple of personal situations which have required a fair chunk of time.

I managed to rack up over 30 miles in the Pure Drifts in the week that I had them, not a bad effort considering I’ve been averaging somewhere in the mid 20’s.

  • 8 mile steady run at target Marathon Pace (9:00min/mile)
  • 1.5mile jog with my wife (she’s started running, hoorah!)
  • 13.8miles long slow run over to Gary’s house followed by an awesome roast dinner (9:22min/mile)
  • Another 1.5miler with Becca (she’s getting keen)
  • 6.5miles with Hill Repeats

I also wore the shoes quite a bit around the house and walking out and about, they’re incredibly comfortable and have a slipper-like quality to them when indoors, I nearly forgot I was wearing shoes rather than actual slippers.

Rather than have me list out the blurb and specifications on the shoes, I’ll link to the Brooks Site and make this blog about my own opinions, what worked for me and what didn’t.

Pure Drift vs Road-X 233

Pure Drift vs Road-X 233

What I liked

  • This is a light shoe and putting it on made me feel fast. As you can see in the above picture it weighs a good 53g less than my regular Inov Bare-x 233’s. That’s a nearly 25% reduction in weight.
  • The cushioning, minimal thought it may be, is effective. I’d been having some pain on the bottom of my left foot behind my toes, I think caused my the move to a more midfoot/forefoot landing in less cushioned shoes. It was only when I was on my final run in these, that I’d realised I hadn’t experienced any of that pain at all whilst wearing them. Incidentally I haven’t had any more pain since, so the issue with my foot has either worked it’s way away naturally, or the shoes helped. Either way, the second I put these on, I didn’t have any pain, even after 14miles, and the soles of my feet felt good.
  • No blisters (with one exception, see below). Other shoes have caused hotspots and rubbing on various parts of my feet. I didn’t have any issues at all with them in these shoes. I even ran with existing blisters and they weren’t irritated at all.
  • 4mm heel-toe drop. Even though my Inov8’s are 6mm, I could tell the difference. It became much easier to land on my forefoot and I was able to retain my form a lot more naturally. It didn’t require much thought to correct things if I felt my foot land a little heavy at times.
  • The lacing – I wasn’t sure about the asymmetrical lacing system, but I found once my shoes were tied they stayed tied (this is a good thing as it’s not always the case with me). I also didn’t need to stop or adjust the laces tighter or looser at any point, once they were on my feet and tied, I forgot about them.
  • Flexibility, the modular ‘podded’ sole allows for superb flexibility in all areas of the foot and in all directions. This combined with a flexibly and breathable upper makes for a running shoe you forget you’re wearing
Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

What I didn’t like

  • The anatomical last of the shoe is meant to mirror the shape of the foot, and as such it curves more than most traditional running shoes. What I found and mentioned before was that it felt a bit tight on my left foot and my toes were near the end of the shoe. Whilst it didn’t bother me on my first run, after my long run I found I had blisters across the tip of my second toe. I’m ‘lucky’ enough to be in the 10% of the population to have the condition known as Morton’s Toe, where the second toe is longer than the big toe, and I suspect that the natural shape of the shoe is more inclined to accommodate a foot with a longer big toe as that fits the natural curve better. If I were going to get a pair of these for myself, I’d have to go at least a half size bigger to avoid this happening, which may throw out the perfect fit of the rest of the shoe.
  • The pods on the bottom of the shoe that allow for flexibility did become noticeable towards the end of my longer runs and as I wore the shoe more. I’m not sure if this is a settling down period, but I was able to tell exactly where the pods were located by the feel of my foot landing. This didn’t cause any issues, but was the only thing that stopped me being able to absolutely forget I had the shoes on.
  • I also managed to get a pea-sized stone stuck between 2 of the pods that managed to start working it’s way up into the soft EVA and started digging into my foot.
  • The ‘burrito-style’ upper, where one side of the upper actually becomes the tongue was quite a neat design, but due to the way my feet are shaped, when the laces were tightened it really became bunched up just above the toes (you can see this on the above picture). This didn’t seem to cause any issues whilst running, but would make me concerned for long term usage.
  • EVA soles – There is a lot of exposed EVA on the bottom of the shoes, some of it in areas that I land on regularly, and after a week I could already see it wearing down notably, although the black rubber still looked good.

Final Thoughts

I really did like these shoes and could see them becoming a part of my shoe collection and filling in a role as a low-mileage training shoe or even for short distance races (5k etc.). Whilst I didn’t have issues with them on my longer runs, I do have some concerns about the durability of the EVA areas if I were to put high mileage on them, especially with the relatively high price point of £90+. With my plans to do both my first Marathon and first Ultra-Marathon this year, these won’t be the next shoe I buy. I’m more inclined at present to go for a low-drop higher-cushioned shoe like the new Hokas or the Altra Instinct 1.5, simply due to the high mileage I’m going to need to put in, I feel like I’d get much better value for money.

On the plus side, due to how much I did like the shoe we’re considering using the £25 voucher from Brooks and getting a pair from the Pure range for Becca, she wants to do a half-marathon with my sister later in the year and her current running footwear options are horrendous.

Brooks Pure Project – Free Shoes for a week!

Yesterday I went and picked up the Brooks Pure Drift Shoes I’d signed up to test back in January. I’ve got them for one week before I have to return them and give my feedback on them to a Brooks representative. At which time, I’ll get a voucher for £25 off the price of a new pair of Brooks shoes if I so wish (which is unlikely, I just wanted to try them out and rest the Inov8’s for a week).

Brooks Pure Drift

Brooks Pure Drift

Out of the box I was impressed with how light and flexible they are. My Inov8’s are not heavy shoes at all, but these are notably lighter, a lot of this weight saving I think comes from them only putting rubber on the most used areas of the sole (the black sections in the picture), and leaving the white exposed EVA elsewhere.

Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

Very nice fit, felt a bit tight on my left foot.

Once I’d put them on, I was impressed with the fit, although a little nervous that the toes on my left foot were very close to the end of the shoe. The Pure Drift has an anatomical (curvy) shape that looks unusual off the foot, but feels very good when on, and doesn’t look at all weird. After one steady 8 mile run at target marathon pace I’m impressed, the main thing I liked about them was that by the end of the run, I’d forgotten I was wearing and testing new shoes, they just felt right. The fit wasn’t a concern at all, nor were blisters, the ones I had acquired on Tuesday’s run weren’t aggravated at all in them, although I was wearing a new pair of socks, which may have helped with some of the friction.

I’ll write up a more full review next week, after I’ve done a longer run and hopefully some speed work, that’ll allow me to ensure I give the Brooks rep my full and honest feedback when I hand them back.