Brooks PureGrit 2 Review

Nearly two years ago, when Brooks announced that they were going to be offering a trail shoe as part of their “Pure Project,” I joined many of you in being solidly excited about this offering. Minimalist shoes were still coming into their own and to have a model coming from a mainline maker, such as Brooks, was a signal that we might be seeing more options for lighter/nimbler rides on our trails.

As soon as the original PureGrits (iRunFar review) hit the market, I had a pair of them on my feet. And, I was generally pleased with the results. Brooks put together a shoe that wrapped the heel well, provided excellent ground feel, and had a last with great room in the forefoot. But, there were a couple of flaws: the slippery soles, the thin tongue that had a tendency to bunch up, and the “Nav Band,” whose function was so mysterious to me that I cut it off.

This year, Brooks put out updated versions of all the Pure Project shoes (and added a new model). The PureGrit received considerable attention and redesign as part of this update. The “new” Brooks PureGrit 2 ($110) has made some significant strides in important areas, but left a few quirks in place.

The Brooks PureGrit 2.

What the PureGrit 2 Does Right

Outsole

The sole on the original PureGrit was one of the most questionable aspects of its design. The combination of the soft-edged lugs and the type of rubber used made the soles prone to being slippery… dangerously so at times. Clearly, Brooks heard this feedback loud and clear.

The original tread has been replaced by a consistent geometric tread. In my side-by-side comparison of the two shoes, the difference in traction is quite clear. There is better adhesion to rocks and grabbing power in the mud is greatly improved. To my eyes and fingernails, the rubber appears to have remained the same between the two models.

The Brooks PureGrit 2’s outsole.

Tongue

Gone is the thin and bunchable tongue of the original PureGrit! In its place stands one of the best updates to the shoe, an asymmetrical, padded tongue that is reinforced by asymmetrical lacing. The tongue on the PureGrit 2 is a continuation of the lateral (outside) upper. It wraps over the top of the foot and tucks under the medial (inside) upper.

This is a huge improvement for me over the original. I had consistent problems with the original tongue bunching up under the laces and not staying in place. Not only does the asymmetrical design guarantee that those two issues do not happen, it also allows for the laces to run down the lateral side of the foot, eliminating any pressure points on the top of the foot. If you haven’t caught on already, I am sold on this design. It is quick-to-lace, comfortable, and fairly hassle-free. (Or, as hassle-free as a tongue can get.)

The Rest 

Other than those two major improvements, the best thing Brooks did with the PureGrit 2 was to NOT change much else (a few exceptions below). The last has remained the same. The heel lock remains consistent and comfortable. And the midsole provides a semi-firm ride without sacrificing much ground feel. They kept what made and continues to make this shoe an incredible model.

What the PureGrit 2 Doesn’t Do Right

The “Nav Band”

There are some shoes that have designs aspects I will never figure out. Altra has their trail/tail rudder. And, the Pure line has its “Nav Band.” On the original PureGrit, the Nav Band was a 2-inch piece of elastic that connected between the two sides of the upper. I never found it to be useful. In fact, it usually got in the way of lacing up the shoe. In the end, cutting it off didn’t change the feel of the shoe to me at all.

On the PureGrit 2, the Nav Band remains in all its mysterious glory. It has shifted to the side of the shoe to coincide with the asymmetrical design of the lacing. And, Brooks has sheathed it under some clear mesh, which protects it (for now) from my shears. As I lace and run in the shoes, it remains slack. The elastic only takes tension when I am putting my foot in or out of the shoe. Perhaps my feet are just too low-volume to appreciate its true purposes. But, for now, I still consider it extra material that adds weight and doesn’t do much other than look marginally cool.

Weight

The reported weight on the PureGrits has gone up from 8.7 to 9.7 ounces for a US men’s size 9. I can’t whine too much because it is still a great trail shoe under 10 ounces. And, more importantly, I’m sure some of that extra ounce is in the thickened tongue and the increased tread. So, while nobody wants to see weight creep up on a model of shoe, I would contend the ounce gained is worthwhile.

Overall

This is an easy model of shoe to mark as a winner. For me, it handles all lengths of runs capably. It scores bonus points for correcting two major issues from the previous model, while leaving all the pieces in place that made the previous model a great shoe. Brooks did a great job moving the PureGrit line along and I hope they continue to make as many or as few tweaks as necessary in the future to keep it on the market.

Another glance at the PureGrit 2.

Call for Comments

  • If you ran in the original PureGrits, what did you think of them?
  • Anyone out there get some miles in the PureGrit 2s, yet? If so, what did you think?
  • What are your experiences with the asymmetrical design of the tongue and lacing?
  • Have you found the Nav Band to be a useful feature?
Adam Barnhart: discovered from an early age that he loved running , but didn't like starting guns. As a result, he is frequently found wandering the area trails around Anchorage, AK, but only at races after considerable peer-pressure is applied. When not trail running, Adam keeps pace with his wife and kids, works as a pastor and, with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group.

View Comments (48)

  • To me the nav band is useful to stash the laces. for me it makes sure the laces do not untie while training or racing

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    • Rutger - Great thought. I had chopped it off before giving it a chance to perform other duties. I do enjoy the elastic strap that Scott added to the Kinabalu for that specific purpose.

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  • Coming from MT 110s I bought these and while better than most shoes I've had (plenty), there are issues.

    1) I find it hard to get the tension / tightness of lacing right. Either feels a tad loose or my feet end up going numb when I really crank the laces tight. Never had this issue with 110s.

    2) Grip is still not great. Just did a 40km mountain race here in South Africa [Broken link to trailrunning.co.za removed] and the tread clogs up with mud really easily and is still pretty poor on wet rocks but then most shoes would have battled.

    3) The top of the heel left me with a blister after my first run. Never had a blister from any shoe before - a small cutout at the top of the heel would be great.

    4) Maybe I'm spoiled coming from MT 110s but they feel heavy.

    Apart from the above they are a good shoe and the extra cushioning over the 110s is appreciated on the longer non technical stuff.

    Thanks for the review!

    Andrew

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  • I've been running in the original PureGrits, and I generally like them. The original rubber is terrible in the wet (particularly rocks), but if it's dry, they are really great shoes.

    I've found, though, that any distance above 15 miles really beats up my legs in these shoes. I know lots of folks who do long distances in them, so I'm not necessarily faulting the shoes--I just need a bit more protection the longer I'm out. (I'm looking for a more "natural" shoe to replace my Mizuno Wave Ascends, and I'm leaning toward the Altra Lone Peaks, but I'm open to other suggestions. I don't necessarily feel that I need a zero drop shoe, but I wouldn't want any more drop than the Brooks.)

    I'll be curious to hear what the durability of the newer model is. I have probably 150 miles or so in my PureGrits. The uppers have held up well (though, admittedly, I haven't done much rocky trail running in them), but I feel like the midsole is really losing cushioning at this point. I realize, though, that this is kinda by design--if I recall correctly, the Brooks website mentions that most of the Pure line reach the end of their usefulness around 250 miles.

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  • The PureGrit 1's remain some of the best trail shoes produced. Brooks really muffed-up the 2's by reducing the cushion in the sole (the 2's are notably more firm, especially in the forefoot). Yeah, the tongue moves off to the side...but who cares. The nav band, while having no real functional application that I can tell, does work as a nice way to secure the laces. Sure, the tread could provide a bit more traction on extremely wet/muddy terrain, but I find that most shoes out there struggle in similar conditions. Furthermore, the tread on the 1's sheds mud and debris very quickly so you're not left clomping through your run with 20lb bricks on your feet. Best part...the 1's are $59.99 at Running Warehouse! I just stocked-up...

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  • I've done some 100's of KM's with the PureGrit 2, also coming from the MT110 and using Salomon Sense Ultra for racing.

    Between these three, the Brooks are the training workhorse shoe, which does well in good dry conditions. In wet, they're probably the most slippery pair of shoes I own. They are also quite high and inflexible, which might have contributed to me tripping a couple of times as I probably was used to having a bit more ground clearance than with these (at least that's what I keep telling myself...).

    I was looking for a shoe that had a bit more durability than the MT110 which I destroyed pretty fast on rocky trails and bushes here in Catalonia and while the Brooks have done better, they've now also got some holes in the upper and the outsole is starting to peel off at the front. I've had them for about 2 months and I probably run trails 6-7 hours a week in them.

    While the Brooks have a nice fit etc, I just fail to love them the way I loved my MT110's and the Salomon racing shoes. It's probably a combination of the bad traction they've given me, the falls I've had, the inflexibility and the weight. To be fair, they have delivered what I was after - a robust semi-minimalist training shoe.

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  • Overall, I like the shoe - its faster and lighter than the Cascadia, and I am completely committed to Brooks.

    But... They completely Screwed the Pooch on the Nav-band!!!

    I live in the mountains of Vermont and run dirt roads and trails... That is what the shoe is for, right???

    So why on earth would you put a little pocket on the side that catches and traps dirt and rocks.

    So I have to pay $110 to cut the shoe apart??? WTF!!!

    Brooks better figure this one out FAST, or I'm going back to my K-Swiss sponsorship!!!

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  • I came to the same conclusion as Rutger on the band, I figured it was to tuck the laces into, still not much purpose though. The tread is oddly slippery in wet conditions but I still love the feel and ride of that shoe. I do want to get a pair of the 2's to see if i like them any better.

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  • I have both 1s and 2s. I loved the 1s and they hold a special place on my shelf as i fixed some persistent shin splints (that I suffered from for years, leading to stress fracture that healed but left some pain in there afterwadrs) by fixing my gait as well (obvisouly I worked on that more than the shoe itself, but it helped).

    I generally agree on the flaws of the 1s: moving tongue, although it being thin was not an issue, as I don't tighten my laces much - shin splint-wise, that makes a difference to me, and splippery outsole on mud and wet/sandy rocks. However they remain one of the most comfy shoe I own, with a wide toebox and no pressure points whatsoever.

    I also agree on the above regarding the update of the 2 flaws on the 2s (and no the oustole is still not great, but so much improved that it's worth applauding nonetheless).

    But... comfort wise, I am very disappointed:

    1. They feel narrower (not shorter though) - the navband might be feeling a bit tighter, or is it the whole shoe, I can't tell. But I feel so good on the 1s that it feels obvious to me.

    2. Worth mentioning I prefer sockless. However with or without socks, I get sore from pressure points on the upper, from where the lacing system attaches (the eyelet), mostly on the front-inside. So much that I haven't put more than 70k in them and put them away. I might give it another go in a few weeks but for now: no more.

    3. the balance feels a bit off, standing in them. They feel like a bump on the sole (mid-foot, out side - like arch support on the wrong side of the sole) is pushing my feet towards the inside, almost rolling slightly my ankles. I don't believe they changed anything to the arch support, the insole are actually the same than on the 1s (or the pureflows for that matter). I don't think it is due to "no arch support" either as I feel perfectly fine in more minimal shoes such as inov-8 or trailgloves.

    So much so that I tried a few other models around, such as the trailroc 245 from Inov-8 or the Merrell Mix Master 2 (softer ride than the trailroc, a bit more protective maybe for longer runs) which I would pick any time over the PureGrit2. And the grip is so much better (quite impressive even) on these 2 models too...

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    • Love my black PureGrit 1's and was excited to try the PG2, however, was disappointed with the update. Found the heel to slip significantly, didn't like the wavy tongue is designed, and while not that important, didn't like the color options. Went back and ordered myself another pair of PG1's (bright yellow this time). Love the PG1 simple design, durability, and the way it cleans up. Haven't found it to be slippery like others have reported, even running in heavy rain on the Kalalau Trail. I've taken my PG1's to the Swiss Alps, Alaska, Costa Brava Catalonia, and on the Dipsea and trust them everytime. About to pickup another pair of black PG1's before they are gone for good! :-(

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  • Unless they've added some significant room in the forefoot, they've done nothing to improve this shoe for me. And I don't have a wide foot! The shape of the forefoot just squeezes my toes together. Hail Altra, Merrell and Skechers!

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  • I must clearly admit that the Pure Grits were way below my expectations. I stayed away from this new version because of the extra weight which is too much and spooks me off.

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  • Did they do anything to improve the toe bumper?

    *insert grumpy mumbling about 'dirty' trails*

    This, for me, was the #2 issue with the first version, right behind traction. Its important that the shoe sticks, and important not to break your toes!

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    • Mike,

      There isn't any significant improvement on the toe bumper. It is similar laminated reinforcements to the fabric.

      - Adam

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  • Has anyone noticed that the sole of the forefoot is concave? That just doesn't make sense to me. I could really tell where midfoot was in the PG1, but not so in the 2's. The 1's had sort of a rocker shape to the sole or at least it seemed to work like that for me. The 2's did not have this same feel. In my opinion, all that was needed for improving the 1's was better traction.

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    • I have the worst time finding a good trail shoe. I previously wore the MT 101 and 110, but I needed more cushion due to labral tears in both hips but didn't want added weight. The True Grit 1 is the best trail shoe! I was so disappointed when they changed the model.
      I bought the True Grit 2 and noticed the fit in the midsole was not as comfortable. I took a nasty fall on a downhill bc the grip was different than the 1. And I felt that the TG1 had more cushion. In my case, I do not like the new model as well as the old one.

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  • I ran a 50k in last years model, big mistake. Sloppy fit, slippery sole. Here's a message to the Pure designers and New Balance, KEEP MAKING SHOES WITH PLANNED OBSOLESENSE AND I WILL NOT BUY YOUR PRODUCTS. I've had shoes that didn't even last a week. Never again. Some marketing shill comes in and says "Hey if the shoes fall apart faster, runners will have to buy more. Set them at a moderate price point and they'll end up consuming x% more over the course of a year." This tactic is ruining the value that has taken you many years to create. The temporary rise in profit margins is at the expense of quality and building loyalty. What a waste. I'll have to explore new companies this year, Pearl Izumi N1's look great, so do the Sense Ultras. Never bought from those companies before, but I'm going to this year. You had your chance.

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    • "if the shoes fall apart faster, runners will have to buy more. Set them at a moderate price point and they’ll end up consuming x% more over the course of a year"

      Totally agree here Brian, I am with Salomon = unparalleled durability & material quality!

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  • I have put a around a 175 miles on the original Pure Grits and have to say it is my favorite trail shoe. Lightweight and the right amount of cushioning...I have not had any real issues with the traction, though I run mostly on single track dirt trails without the slippery wet rocks that everyone mentions. Still love my Cascadias for tougher terrain but they are bulkier and not as flexible as the Pure Grit. I have also purchased the second generation Pure Flows for road running (which appear to me to be the same as the Pure Grit without the traction) and feel they are narrower to the point that I get pain in the middle of my foot for the first several miles...wouldn't want to find the same thing with the Pure Grit 2...I may just look up the originals again for a discounted price.

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  • Really disappointed to hear (1) the midsole feels firmer (the softness of the shoe was a big plus), (2) the forefoot feels narrower (the roomy feel was also a huge plus), and (3) no toe bumper (lots of folks found this a major drawback with the PG1, right after the no-traction outsole). I have enjoyed my PG1s as a secondary shoe for relaxed runs in dry conditions when my feet need something a little softer than my 110s, 1010s, or Inov-8s. After reading the review above I was inclined to pick up a pair of 2s, but after reading the comments I will probably pass. Too bad -- I generally like Brooks shoes and feel like the PG still has lots of potential.

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    • I didn't notice a significant narrowing in the forefoot, but that might just be the difference of our feet.

      I'd agree that the other two points stand, though.

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  • I love these shoes. I loved the PG1s before that (at least until they caused me to wipe out on glare ice and break my arm, which I blame totally on the tread and not operator error). Seriously, I have logged more than 500 miles and 75,000 Vs in them, most on rocky Montana trails, and never have had a blister, sore foot or any other problem. They make me feel faster than I really am, and what more do you need than that?

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  • Has anybody tried Pure Drift for trail running? For shorter runs I find they are the best minimal shoes I've ever worn on trails. The tread is grippy and the all-round feel is brilliant. Having a broader foot, I've found the Navband is good for giving a more solid feeling of shoe wrapped around foot. Of course stuffing the laces in is good too. Despite loving my Drifts & Flows, may pass on the Grits for another year or so. See if any pop up in the discount bin ;)

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  • I run primarily in the Peregrine, which I love, but the durability leaves something to be desired. The PureGrit2 is the only other shoe that I have considered trying. But for now, I'm content with replacing the Peregrine every 300 miles.

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  • I love my Pure Grit 2s! They are so comfortable and fit my feet perfectly. Maybe it's because I do all my road running in cushioned trainers, but they feel incredible light.

    And honestly, I didn't even notice the nav band until you mentioned it. Maybe it's for holding a shoe pod?

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  • I've been running in the original version and, aside from some minor annoyance with tongue slippage (can I say "tongue slippage"?), I've been very happy with them. I particularly like the wide toebox. So, the comments about the update being somewhat narrower concern me. Enough so that I just ordered a pair of close-outs of the PG1 to have in reserve.

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