Brooks PureGrit 3 Review

[Editor’s Note: This review was composed by Alaskan trail runner and guest reviewer Kyle Emery. We’ve previously reviewed the original Brooks PureGrit and the Brooks PureGrit 2.]

The Brooks PureGrit 3 ($120) introduced changes resulting in a superb redesign that fulfills the promise that previous models only hinted at. I have run two pairs of PureGrit 2’s into the ground. While they were solid pairs of shoes, I would never describe them as “great,” especially in comparison to the new PureGrit3. This review focuses on updates to the shoe from its previous versions.

Brooks PureGrit 3

The Brooks PureGrit 3. All photos: iRunFar/Kyle Emery

The most obvious redesign to the shoe is on the outsole. The new outsole has one of the most aggressive treads I’ve seen on a trail running shoe. It’s covered with hexagon-shaped lugs that are made of a gripping rubber that Brooks claims was inspired by rock-climbing shoes. Even though the tread is very aggressive, it does not take away from the comfort of the shoe. With the aggressive tread and comfortable sole, you’ll be able to run over rugged trails for hours.

The only potential downside to the rubber is that it deteriorates quickly. So far I’ve run about 150 miles in the PureGrit3s and some of the lugs are already showing signs of wear, despite most of those miles being on soft snow. I would expect any pavement, gravel, or treadmill miles would wear down the tread on these shoes even faster. According to Brooks, these shoes are only expected to last approximately 250 to 300 miles, so perhaps this amount of wear is normal for these shoes.

Brooks has created an innovation they call the “Forefoot Propulsion Plate,” which is their term for the rock plate and three grooves that are built into the forefoot of the sole. It is intended to “maximize energy return,” but I personally don’t notice this feature while running. However, the introduction of a rock plate to the PureGrit line is a welcome addition. To protect your feet even more, the Brooks designers also put in a toe guard which I can personally say works great!

Brooks PureGrit 3 outsole

The Brooks PureGrit 3 outsole.

Brooks made some pretty significant changes to the design of the upper on the PureGrit 3, the most obvious being the lace pattern. The purpose of an off-centered lace pattern is to distribute the pressure from the laces over a larger area of the foot, instead of having the pressure focused on the bones on the top of the foot. The PureGrit 2 had laces that were very off-centered and it was a comfortable design. The Pure Grit 3’s lace pattern is closer to the top of the foot, but is still off-centered enough to maintain the comfort it was designed for.

The second major overhaul is the design of the shoe tongue. The PureGrit 2 featured what I consider a “semi-gusseted” tongue (meaning one side of the tongue was connected to the rest of the shoe, while the other was not). The PureGrit 3 has an un-gusseted tongue. I know some people were upset to see this change, but I actually like the new tongue design. There were some instances when the gusseted tongue on the PureGrit 2 pinched my ankles. The new tongue design stays in place just as well as the gusseted tongue and is more comfortable.

The single best update to the shoe is to the infamous “Nav Band.” This odd piece of material was in previous versions of the PureGrit, but the function, other than aesthetics, wasn’t clear. The new Nav Band differs from previous versions by completely wrapping around the upper instead of only wrapping around halfway. Now the Nav Band provides a snug, comfortable fit around the midfoot. This makes the PureGrit 3 feel light, fast, and responsive.

Brooks PureGrit 3 lateral upper

The Brooks PureGrit 3 lateral upper.

The Ride and the Midsole
I found some major differences in the fit of the PureGrit 3 versus the PureGrit 2. In my opinion the changes are entirely for the better. The best change for me is a slightly narrowed toe box. This was an upgrade for me since the PureGrit 2 had a toe box that was a little too large for me. The PureGrit 2’s larger toe box would occasionally give me blisters during longer trail runs. The only thing I dislike about the fit of the PureGrit 3 is the heel. I have a narrow heel and the heel of the shoe is definitely a loose fit. It is not enough to cause blisters or discomfort for me, but it could cause problems for others.

The PureGrit 3 keeps the 4mm-drop design that the PureGrit line was founded on. The difference between the PureGrit 3 and its predecessors is that it has more cushioning. Even though the shoe is designed with a 4mm drop, the cushioning doesn’t make it feel like a minimalist shoe. Brooks incorporated much more of their BioMoGo DNA cushioning into the PureGrit 3. I feel like the additional cushioning is a great update, but it definitely moves the PureGrit line farther away from its minimalist roots.

FYI: Their oddly named BioMoGo midsole is built from a biodegradable material that Brooks developed in an effort to make their shoes more ecofriendly. It takes approximately 20 years to break down in a landfill, as opposed to most plastic midsoles that can take 1000-plus years. I can’t tell any difference in how the material runs compared to traditional material but it’s neat technology!

Brooks PureGrit 3 medial upper

The Brooks PureGrit 3 medial upper.

Overall Impressions
Brooks did a great job with the PureGrit 3 by keeping the vision of quality while upgrading features that were lacking in previous models. It has been an absolute joy running through the forest with them. I would highly recommend this shoe to anyone who likes the feel of a minimalist shoe, but likes having a bit more cushioning for longer runs. The PureGrit 3 is perfect for anyone looking to get on the trail and “Run Happy!”

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you run in the Brooks PureGrit 3’s? What are your thoughts on its ride and feel?
  • If you ran in previous versions of the PureGrit, what do you think of the updates Brooks has made with this third version?
  • In particular, what do you think of the increased cushioning of the PureGrit 3’s as compared to previous models?

There are 4 comments

  1. wMichaelOwen

    What is the weight? Close to 2's? Sort of on the high side of price for 300 or less miles, but I'd be interested in trying these.

    1. @EricAshleyNJ

      Brooks lists the 3 at 9.9 oz and the 2 at 10 oz. On my feet the 3's felt much heavier and clunkier though. Since the weight is listed as about the same, I'm guessing this was due to larger stack height and stiffer sole. Regardless, unlike the author, I thought the remodel was a big step in the wrong direction for this shoe, making it feel overbuilt and unresponsive.

  2. Martin Criminale

    Great, detailed review but you used "infamous" incorrectly as so many people unfortunately do, I think you meant exactly the opposite of what this word really means? Not sure how "odd" (the old version) or "works great" (the current version) could be construed as infamous? I agree with everything except for the tongue part, mine does not stay put nearly as well as I would like or as in previous versions of this shoe. I liked the lacing system of the 2 the best and wish they had combined that with everything else the 3 has to offer.

  3. p1fiend

    I had super high hopes for this third iteration of the Puregrit, especially since the color scheme was so similar to the killer orange PG1, but after ~70 miles, the best word I have to describe it is "Meh".
    The original PG1 was one of my favorite shoes ever – it provided me with ~ 230 of the most blissful and fun miles before it started to give me some funky blisters. I used it for a lot of 6-10 mile runs thru CT, MA, and even a 16 mile loop of the ADK Great Range. I never really had an issue with traction – the rocker sole seemed to enable me to just roll over everything effortlessly and downhills were an absolute hoot.
    After the PG1, I tried out the PG2, but after 30 miles I found it to be a horribly clunky, dead shoe with none of the float and fast turn over that the PG1 had. The fit was also quite funky and the burrito tongue really didn't sit well on my foot.
    After the hype of the PG3, I was quick to get a pair and immediately took it out onto CT traprock and some fresh mud. Within ~10 miles, I had already lost a couple of lugs! While the outsole may seem aggressive, I found the space between the lugs was way too small to actually make the lugs effective and they quickly got packed with mud. The rubber itself was a too hard and never gave the grip I hoped for on bare rock (I'm spoiled by La Sportiva rubber). To its credit, I actually thought the hard outsole did quite alright in mixed snow/ice.
    As for the upper – it's probably one of the most comfy I've ever tried standing still. I found the toe box to be the widest of the 3 PG's but also has trouble with the heel cup being too wide once I was on the move.
    I think the biggest disappointment to me, is the move away from the rocker sole. The PG1 midsole and rocker just felt like magic, while the PG3 feels neither soft or hard, it just feels dead.
    If you took away all the marketing hype about the useless features like the "Nav band" (which was most useful in the PG1 as a lace holder), the silly split heel, and "forefoot propulsion plate" all that's left is a basic no frills 4mm, somewhat hefty shoe. Meh

  4. northacrosseurope

    I didn’t run in the shoe’s previous incarnations, so can’t make a comparison, but I can say that the Pure Grit 3 is the most comfortable glove-like shoe I’ve ever worn. I wouldn’t call it ‘hefty’ by any stretch, certainly not compared with weightier shoes out there, but descriptions like that are clearly relative, just as one man’s wilderness can be another’s garden…

    My Pure Grit 3’s are wearing well after 400 miles of mixed terrain… a lot of rocks, some snow and ice, some trail dust and dirt, and limited road miles on trail approaches. The studs only show minor surface wear, and unlike on EVERY other trail shoe I’ve owned the fabric isn’t tearing towards the front on the sides where it meets the sole.

    For reference, my previous favorites were the old New Balance 101’s and the Saucony Peregrines… but the Pure Grit 3 surpasses them.

  5. romanair

    I didn't come to use my PG3 very often yet so maybe thats a reason why the "pure" feeling hasn't set in. I find them quite stiff and the nav band caused my arch to kind of cramp the first few runs (like ski or xcountry boots do if you make them to tight). I need to test their performance on mountain trails once the snow melts and maybe the nav band proves valuable in running down steep serpentines.
    One issue I had with the Peregine 2 was that my foot was almost slipping over the outer edge while traversing sloped terrain. So I hope the nav band helps keeping the foot in place in such side step like maneuvers…

    1. romanair

      Little update:
      I got used to the shoe and nav band. However, durability wasn't very good. Ran about 150 miles and most of the studs in the mid/forefoot area are more or less gone. Some studs got ripped out with parts of the outsole. Also the thin mesh material which covers the nav band got completely cut open by sharp rocks, producing a tengling threat. Despite that, the shoe is not bad and enjoyable to run in but more for smooth flowing trails and no rocky technical downhill passages (at least if you'd like to enjoy them a little longer).

  6. Genyphyr

    I love how these shoes fit my foot. I want to love then. But they seriously scare me and cause unpredictable slips and falls on trails that are technical and damp. There is a certain type of smooth rock that these soles suddenly slip on like glass. I go from feeling grippy and confident to being on my ass or face in an instant. I’ve had these for 2 months. I live in the Alps and run on everything from forest trails to boulder fields, some with serious exposure. I loved the old Cascadias, but the new model is too narrow and no.longer fits my feet. These are so comfy on my feet that I keep wearing them. But surprise falls on damp or wet rocks in steep sections where I least can afford it are sadly making me relegate these shoes to sunny day dry trail shoes (even then I have to be cautious when crossing streams with rocky beds). It’s frustrating because the effect is sudden, and only seems to happen on some types of rock. But it’s very unlike the consistent Cascadia and really f s up my run and scares the bejesus out of me when it happens, causing falls and then a timid running style in technical trails, which I really hate. If they could fix the issue with the very real danger the material causes on these slick rocks, they would be my favorite shoe. Currently am trying to replace them and checking out innov8.

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