Brooks Divide 3 Review

An in-depth review of the Brooks Divide 3.

By on August 30, 2022 | Comments

The Brooks Divide 3 ($100) has been marketed as having the “feel of a road shoe combined with the features of a trail shoe,” making this model a great choice for road-to-trail running. Like the Brooks Cascadia — see our Brooks Cascadia 16 review for more — the Divide is also often described as a “perfect shoe for new trail runners,” I would argue that newbies and veterans alike could enjoy the comfort and versatility of this daily trainer.

Upon receipt, the Divide 3 not only became my road-to-trail shoe, but also my “just” road shoe, my airport shoe, my errand shoe, and more. While I enjoyed the road-to-trail adaptability of the previous version, I don’t recall opting to wear them everywhere. Perhaps the comfort and style I’ve especially enjoyed in the Divide 3 is a result of the new DNA LOFT cushioning and an all-new air mesh upper. Priced at just $100, they feel of remarkably high quality for such a competitive price point. Over 200 miles in, they continue to provide a perfectly stable and very comfortable ride.

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The Brooks Divide 3

The Brooks Divide 3. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Brooks Divide 3 Upper

The all-new air mesh upper in the Brooks Divide 3 offers even more breathability than previous models — as well as tons of comfort accompanying that breathable mesh. Some of my more burly trail running shoes have tough, weather- and rock-proof materials on the upper that pinch or cause a blister on the top of my foot when they crease. Alternately, the Divide 3 has required no break-in period. Brooks keeps things simple with an old-school lacing style.

Under the laces, the bootie-style gusseted tongue makes for easy entry and also minimizes the need to tug/adjust/reposition. Some of my more trail-specific shoes sport that “in lieu of a gaiter,” sock-like collar around the ankle that keeps debris out. While the Divide 3 lacks this element, perhaps that’s part of its appeal, to those who are attracted to the road-shoe appearance and feel.

The TPU mudguard offers protection against whatever you might kick up, surrounding the air mesh that has had the durability to sustain hundreds of miles, yet the permeability to maintain adequate breathability. Consistent with their predecessor, the Divide 3 is true to size (I run in a women’s 9) and while sufficiently snug for my narrow midfoot, remains roomy enough in the forefoot to be bunion-friendly.

The Brooks Divide 3 - lateral view

A lateral view of the Brooks Divide 3.

Brooks Divide 3 Midsole

Having historically run in shoes with relatively significant drop, the Brooks Divide 3 is right in my wheelhouse with a full stack height of 31 millimeters at the heel and 23 millimeters in the forefoot, resulting in a 8-millimeter drop. Previous models of the Divide housed a rock plate, which seemed to receive mixed reviews. Some felt the rock plate limited the flex of the shoe. I appreciated the added protection in the previous model while overcoming a tender spot on the bottom of my foot. The Divide 3 has no rock plate, but I can’t say I’ve missed it! Perhaps the substantial enough stack helps protect the feet from rocks and roots, or perhaps the update in cushioning helps make surface changes and small stones less noticeable.

New to the Divide 3 is the incorporation of 100% DNA LOFT, Brooks’s softest midsole cushioning. DNA LOFT is made up of a combination of EVA foam, rubber, and air. The result is cushioning that absorbs impact while providing a super-soft ride. Previous models of the Divide — and Cascadia — featured Brooks’s slightly more responsive BioMoGo DNA. Like the Divide, DNA LOFT cushioning was also an upgrade to the Cascadia 16, so if you’ve run in the latest model of the Cascadias (or Brooks’s Glycerin 19 road shoe), you may have already experienced the all-around softer feel of DNA LOFT.

The Brooks Divide 3 - medial view

A medial view of the Brooks Divide 3.

Brooks Divide 3 Outsole

The TrailTack outsole on the Brooks Divide 3 has low-profile lugs that are smooth on road and perform well on “light trail.” I have found the TrailTack to provide sufficient traction on mildly wet trail. However, when faced with heavier rain and mud, you’ll get the full slip-and-slide experience unless opting for shoes with a more aggressive tread. I also can’t claim to feel as confident cruising down tight switchbacks in the Divide 3 as I am in my more grippy trail shoes.

However, Brooks makes no promises with the Divide 3 when it comes to mud, snow, ice, and especially tight turns, rather marketing the shoe as perfect for runners who frequent city parks or neighborhood paths. Like the Cascadias, I’ve treated the Divide 3 as a commuter car, reliably and affordably logging the miles and performing well from road to less technical trail in my temperate and relatively dry climate.

In terms of wear and tear, I would consider the Divide 3 to have plenty of life left after 200 miles. There are a few lugs that have been shaved down from heel striking, with the vast majority pretty intact. New to the outsole of the Divide is the Segmented Crash Pad. If you look at the bottom of the Divide 3, you’ll notice curved flex grooves that essentially segment the outsole, improving the flexibility of the shoe and yielding a smoother ride.

Brooks Divide 3 - outsole - v2

The Brooks Divide 3 outsole.

Brooks Divide 3 Overall Impressions

I am confident the Brooks Divide 3 will be a crowd pleaser for new and seasoned trail runners alike. Their versatility on road and trail, ability to get dirty without looking trashed, comfortable fit, resilience yet breathability, and remarkably competitive price point have won me over. They are an excellent addition to my shoe rotation.

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Call for Comments

  • Are you running in the Brooks Divide 3? If so, what do you think?
  • Have you also run in previous versions of the Brooks Divide? If so, what do you think of the updates in this third version, especially the new upper and midsole?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

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The Brooks Divide 3 - top view

A top view of the Brooks Divide 3.

Annie Behrend

Annie Behrend is a gear reviewer for iRunFar. She’s been writing about running gear since 2020. Aside from iRunFar, she’s authored and co-authored nutrition and fueling-related publications in research journals. As a registered dietitian and ultrarunner, she’s worked one-on-one with athletes, primarily runners, since 2013 to optimize performance via fueling and hydration. Based in temperate southern Oregon, Annie has year-round access to marvelous trail systems and public lands that she shares with more wildlife than she does people … the perfect paradise.