By Kelly Turner
I’m always excited for something new from Seattle’s own Brooks Running.
I get to try a lot of different brands as someone who writes about fitness trends (a job I’m still amazed exists), and Brooks seems to be the most unapologetically obsessed with the experience of running, no matter what your individual experience or preference may be.
No matter what you’re looking for, no matter how specific, or seemingly impossible, they’ve got you covered. They have been doing this whole running shoe thing for the past 100 years, so they have a little experience in the industry.
So, while “minimalist trail-running shoe” may sound like an oxymoron, Brooks has figured it out.
Minimalist runners look for a shoe that’s so light and barely there that it simulates running barefoot—and trail runners run on the most unstable and unforgiving terrain there is.
These two types of runners would seemingly have polar opposite needs. You either want shoes that allow you to feel the terrain beneath your feet and the impact of each step, or you want shoes that will protect you from rough trail terrain looking to trip you up with rocks, sticks, brambles and the occasional slug every step of the way.
Public opinion is limping away from the minimalist trend. Vibram, one of the most recognizable minimalist shoemakers, recently lost a lawsuit forcing them to pay back $3.75 million to consumers who bought shoes based on unfounded claims that they reduce injuries and pain. Regardless of lack of scientific backing, many still swear by them and crave what Brooks calls a “feel experience.”
Designed for runners who want to feel, Brooks’ PureProject line released the PureGrit 3 in June 2014, the third installment of lightweight trail-running shoes with substantial protection that still allows for a natural ride.
Brooks pulled from rock climbers for the redesign, creating a flexible, barely-there shoe with a hex lug outsole for maximum grip and a toe guard for protection and traction. The forefoot rock plate allows the shoe to keep up with beefier versions on technical terrain, so the runner won’t be confined to well-manicured trails. The PureGrit 3 thrives off the beaten path.
I’m someone who prefers a plush, float experience (and, yes, Brooks has a ride for that stride, too).
I’ve tried all kinds of athletic shoes in my career and always find myself disappointed by the lightweights, wracked with knee and foot pain because of the lack of cushioning while pounding pavement. (I wouldn’t even think to try any of them on anything as inconsistent as a trail). I was pleasantly surprised to find that the PureGrit 3 satisfied my need for protection, while keeping the overall lightweight feel.
Perhaps it’s the traditional tongue instead of the typical lace-up Aqua Sock design that makes them more relatable or the ballistic rock shield bottom assuaging any fear of impaling myself. At any rate, these shoes are substantial enough that I felt as though I was wearing a piece of gear that was enhancing my performance, not an expensive sock meant to mimic wearing nothing at all.
Call me crazy, but that’s one experience I crave from all of my shoes.
Kelly Turner is a Seattle-based ACE certified personal trainer and fitness writer. You can contact her at KellyTurnerFitness@gmail.com. Twitter: @KellyTurnerFit Instagram: KellyTurner26. Miss a column? Log onto www.OutdoorsNW.com and search Health Nut.