One of the most commonly asked questions in any Obstacle Course Racing community is, “What is a good shoe to buy for my first race?” The typical answer is usually along the lines of Salomon Speedcross 3, Reebok All-Terrain Super OR, Icebug Zeal and Inov-8 X-Talon. My first OCR shoe was the Brooks Puregrit 1 and I have used the Puregrit 3 for the past 2 years. I believe the Puregrit line is overlooked during discussions about shoes and was very excited to give the Brooks Puregrit 4 a go.
Brooks Puregrit 4 Features
3D Hex Lugs– Aggressive 3D Hex lugs offer great grip on a wide array of surfaces
Ballistic Rock Shield– Toughened thermoplastic EVA sheath between the outsole and midsole protects the forefoot by spreading out point loads from sharp objects.
BioMoGo DNA midsole- provides adaptive cushioning
Omega Flex Grooves- These grooves are strategically placed to optimize flexibility while maintaining a rugged outsole.
Nav-band- The Nav Band wraps the midfoot for a secure fit.
Rounded heel- The rounded heel is a way that Brooks reduces the size of the heel while helping body alignment. From Brooks, “The curvature in the heel works to align the body by shifting the contact point forward. As you hit the ground there is a greater clearance distance under the middle of your heel, which aligns force through the center of your ankle, thus reducing internal stress on your body.
Brooks Puregrit 4 Usage
I wore the Brooks Puregrit 4’s for roughly 20 miles before I took them up and down the Mountain Creek Ski Resort for 15.5 Miles and 5,500+ feet of elevation gain during the New Jersey Spartan Beast. It rained before the event which left areas of the trails extremely muddy. Aside from the mud, the course took us through extremely technical terrain including rocks, roots, swamps and water. Basically, this race had everything you could possibly run into at an obstacle race. It was perfect for a shoe test. At no point did I ever lose my footing on any uphill or downhill. I did slow on wet rocks (as I always do) but did not notice any more slippage than usual. The Hex Lugs were unchanged from the Puregrit 3 and are a great tread when you are running into multiple terrain types in the same event. They hold their own in mud and are not awkward when transitioning to pavement, rocks or sand as shoes with deep lugs often are. Additionally, the side area of the outsole has little lugs that come up the side. These little lugs work well at gripping rope for rope climbs and also serve to protect the upper of the shoe when locking your foot onto the rope.
There are two categories where the Brooks Puregrit 4 shines and shines bright: drainage and comfort. Without having drainage holes these shoes manage to expel water moments after getting out of the water. I’ve worn them crossing my local river as well as during the multiple water crossing at the Spartan Beast and drainage was an afterthought. These are one of the most comfortable shoes that I’ve ever worn to an OCR. In fact, after putting the shoe on I barely even thought about them. Considering the constant changes in elevation I had no hot spots and no blisters. My feet were in great shape. I’d like to point out that even when I wear shoes that normally don’t have any hotspots they often arise when running a course with significant elevation change as your foot can situate itself in the shoe differently when you are ascending and descending. I had no such issues with the Puregrit 4.
Brooks Puregrit 4 Durability
After putting this shoe through the worst possible scenario as far as taking a beating at an Obstacle Course race I would rate these shoes in the middle to bottom end as far as durability. Similar to the pinky wear area of the Salomon Speedcross 3, the Puregrit 4 showed similar wear in less time however unlike previous Reebok All Terrain models they will certainly last more than a few races. The wear was across the outside of both shoes with sections of mesh fraying as well as some of the overlays starting to lift up. This can be fixed with shoe goo or any other repair kit, however it is worth noting. This shoe is ridiculously comfortable because of the mesh material of the upper, which I would compare to the mesh of the Inov-8 X-Talon line. The trade off is the softer and more comfortable the material is the less durable it seems to be. The previous version of this shoe (Puregrit 3) was not as comfortable but took more of a beating on the upper. It also appears from photos of the soon to be released Puregrit 5 that they will be reinforcing the side area. One area of improvement over the Puregrit 3 is the durability of the Hex Lugs. As you can see, chunks of the tread ripped off when running over tough terrain in the 3’s. This has not happened with the Purgrit 4. Ultimately a choice must often be made between durability and comfort when choosing shoes for a particular event. When considering the durability of the upper and the outsole this shoe falls in the middle.
Brooks Puregrit 4 Pros and Cons
- Above Average Drainage
- Extremely Comfortable
- Multidirectional Hex Lugs have great grip for a wide range of terrain. They also are more durable than the previous model
- Durability concerns based on early upper wear patterns
Brooks Puregrit 4 Conclusion
I have been a fan of the Puregrit line since Brooks introduced it to the market. I prefer a minimal drop and at 4mm these will continue to be one of my go to OCR and trail running shoes. I’ve worn the 3’s to World’s Toughest Mudder 2014 and 2015 and these will most likely make an appearance this year. If you want a comfortable shoe that is versatile enough for all terrains then this is a solid shoe. The early wear signs of the upper is concerning, however as long as you are cognizant of it they can be patched up if necessary. The Brooks Pure Grit 4 are currently on sale in many places due to the eventual release of the Brooks Pure Grit 5’s so it’s worth scooping up a pair while they are around.