Brooks Hyperion Max Review: Not Max, But Still Pretty Great
Weighs 7.9 oz. (223 g) for a US M10.5/ 6.7 oz. (190 g) for a US W8
Nitrogen-infused DNA Flash midsole, higher stack than the Hyperion Tempo
Works great as a lightweight daily trainer or tempo shoe
Stack height of 33 mm in the heel/25 mm in forefoot (8 mm drop)
Available January 1, 2023 for $170
This review is sponsored by Bombas socks, which we’ve been using to keep us warm and comfortable this winter (especially the Men’s Running Calf Sock below). You buy one, they give one to someone in need. Use code BITR20 to save 20% off your first order!
ROBBE: Sometimes you fall in love with a shoe, and sometimes it falls in love with you. It follows you around, DMs you with things like “when are we going out?” and “Would love to get to know you better,” and “Can you go buy an Apple gift card from Royal Farms and send me the code?” But I only send gift cards to those in need via Instagram DM, not to a pair of shoes with a fake profile pic. Nevertheless, I still went on a handful of dates with the Brooks Hyperion Max. And while its profile pic looks a bit different irl, I’d still give it my social security number if it promised not to share it.
There was much discussion on our YouTube first thoughts on this shoe as to whether the name “Hyperion Max” is a misnomer or an oxymoron. It’s kind of both. Because it’s not a max cushion shoe, in the way that the Hoka Bondi, New Balance More v4, or Saucony Triumph 20 are max cushion shoes. It’s more of a “mid-Max.” It’s only max in that Brooks designed it to be a maxed-out version of the Hyperion Tempo (now simply called the Hyperion). It’s also not really that either, so the Hyperion Max is also a misnomer. For those experiencing insomnia, reread that paragraph 10 times over for your daily dose of word melatonin.
But here’s what the Hyperion Max is, on paper, anyway: it’s a (very) lightweight daily trainer that can pick up the pace at a moment’s notice, thanks to the nitrogen-infused, supercritical DNA Flash midsole, which we’ve seen in both the Hyperion Tempo (great), Hyperion Elite 3 (good). Other attempts at nitrogen-infused foam have had mixed results in the case of DNA Loft v3 in both the Glycerin 20 (meh) and Caldera 6 (great). We somehow couldn’t get the actual stack measurements from Brooks (someone told us 26 mm/18 mm at The Running Event, which is not correct), so we measured it ourselves, and it’s roughly 33 mm in the heel and 25 mm in the forefoot (8 mm drop), putting it at just a slightly higher stack height than the Brooks Hyperion. Not exactly maxing it out by today’s standards.
A Green Rubber outsole is designed with sustainability in mind, while a stretch woven upper and 3D Fit Print seek to provide great structure and breathability. Also, a Rapid Roll rocker design makes for an easy transition from heel to toe.
So anyway, let’s see if this thing is just catfishing us oxymorons here at Believe in the Run, or if it really does need a gift card to pay off our IRS debt so we don’t go to jail before Christmas.
THOMAS: Brooks is a brand that our team is rooting for. Though the past few years have been a bit ho-hum (sorry, it’s true), we’re always looking forward to seeing Brooks innovate and bring new products to market. In early 2020, Brooks handed us the Hyperion Tempo. We were impressed with the simple shoe that performed well. After the Hyperion Tempo, the Aurora-BL showed up. The Aurora-BL blew our minds with its nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3. The futuristic styling of the shoe with its decoupled heel made us think it was a gimmick. It wasn’t. A year and a half later, the Aurora-BL still stands out as an exceptional running experience. Unfortunately, since then, we’ve been ghosted with no exciting updates or new models (though an updated Aurora-BL is supposedly coming in 2023). It’s almost three years since the Hyperion Tempo and Hyperion Elite came out, and… crickets. On one hand, we get it— Brooks is the number one seller in run specialty— why break it if it ain’t broke?
However, like the Aurora-BL, there have been some mild attempts at new stuff, but the results have been quite mixed. The Glycerin 20 tried to employ the same foam found in the Aurora-BL, but it fell flat, lacking the excitement of DNA Flash and other nitrogen-infused midsoles. However, Brooks did manage to make it work on the trail side in shoes like the Caldera 6 (again, nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3) and Catamount (DNA Flash). Perplexing, to say the least.
I would love to tell you that we saw some exciting new designs when we visited Brooks at the Running Event this year, but it looks to be more of the same, at least for the beginning of 2023. The most exciting shoe we saw was the Hyperion Max. Lucky for you, that is the shoe we are covering here.
ROBBE: I took the Hyperion Max out on our first date and immediately realized she’d been lying on her profile photo. It’s not a max shoe. The cushion isn’t ultra soft or ultra comfortable, and the stack isn’t that max. But I think she was just trying too hard to impress me, which wasn’t necessary— because, as Billy Joel crooned: I love you just the way you are.
Once I got past the surface-y stuff and realized what this shoe actually is– a lightweight daily trainer that can double as a tempo shoe or triple as a budget racer– I was all in.
The stretch woven upper fits great in all the right places. Perfect lockdown around the midfoot, no heel slippage, a nice fit the whole way through. We were off to a good start. At slower paces, the shoe wants to go fast; I was pleasantly surprised to see myself running 15-30 seconds faster without any extra effort. Needless to say, it’s one of the lightest shoes in the Brooks lineup, so it has a “not there” feel that allowed me to effortlessly run through my paces. The Rapid Roll rocker geometry allows for a smooth turnover through the stride.
As far as the midsole, it’s DNA Flash done right. I always wanted an everyday version of the Hyperion Elite, and that’s basically what this shoe is. I never loved the rigidity of the Hyperion Elite, and without a carbon plate, the Hyperion Max is much more flexible and easy on the legs. You don’t get the same snap off the toes, but I was more than okay with it. As far as the actual feel of the midsole, it’s not as super bouncy as, say, the Saucony Endorphin Speed, but it’s responsive in the way that you want in an uptempo shoe. It just feels right when picking up the paces.
I did take this out for a ten-mile run last weekend and thought that it held up well over that distance. While I may not take it much past that, and opt for something with a little more cushion on long long runs, if you like a more responsive feel in a shoe, then you’ll enjoy the ride of the Hyperion Max.
The rubber coverage on the outsole is pretty solid as well, more than the other Hyperions, which is something that was needed.
The shoe definitely falls into that “do-it-all” category of other shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Speed 3, Asics Superblast, and the Hoka Mach 5. It can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, and shines the brightest as an uptempo shoe for those interval or speedwork days.
THOMAS: Robbe has covered the technical aspects of the Hyperion Max. I’ll settle in and tell you about the experience. The upper is near-perfect in fit. The engineered mesh is breathable and contours the foot while the heel counter cradles you securely over the midsole. The thin tongue protected the arch from lace bite and stayed in place without a gusset despite the lace stay positioned towards the bottom of the tongue. My size 10.5 fit true to size with no hotspots.
The midsole is sculpted (Brooks calls it Rapid Roll), and indeed, it does roll through your stride. The shape enhances the feeling of a smooth landing and take-off through the running phases. You’ll find the DNA Flash midsole on the firmer side but still resilient. The sensation is well-cushioned without feeling mushy. If you are familiar with the Hyperion Elite 3, you get the same foam characteristics but a more flexible natural feel underfoot.
Shoes have gotten so good that runners are getting pickier about the details. Like, we talk about outsoles a lot. The Hyperion Max has a generous amount of tacky rubber on the outsole. I ran on loose gravel trails around Lady Bird in Austin, Texas, while hitting some wet brick, wet wood decking, dry roads, and everything in between back here in Baltimore. The rubber on the Hyperion Max never failed me.Shop Brooks Racing – Men Shop Brooks Racing – Women
ROBBE: As a standalone shoe, I have no problems with this shoe. It does what it’s meant to, and it does it very well. My main issue is with the naming convention. When the average consumer sees “max,” there’s a certain standard or feeling that comes along with it. We’re talking about that Hoka marshmallow, that New Balance more is more, that Saucony grand triumph. It’s not any of those, not close. It’s not even an actual max version of the Hyperion Tempo, which is the entire idea behind the name. It’s a slightly upgraded version of the Tempo.
In fact, I don’t know why this and the Tempo– of which the second version will be called simply the Hyperion in 2023– even exist in the same line. Like, who would buy both of these shoes when they’re so closely aligned with each other? The Hyperion Max can do everything the Tempo does in the tempo range, and it can double down as a daily trainer. Why have both? Just doesn’t make sense. I guess if you want to offer some very specific use cases, then that’s cool, but does the average Brooks customer get that granular? Let’s be real– no. Pick a lane and stick to it, don’t give us one path with a 55 mph speed limit and another with a 60.
The price point is okay at $170, but for what the shoe is, I’d like to see it a bit lower (like in the $150 range), especially since you can get Endorphin Speed 3 for the same price, which is a better shoe overall.
THOMAS: Let’s start with the name. There is nothing “max” about this shoe. The stack isn’t max. The cushioning isn’t max. The only thing I can think of is that the designer’s name is Max. In truth, it is more of a tempo shoe, but you see the problem now.Shop Brooks Racing – Men Shop Brooks Racing – Women
ROBBE: I think our initial thoughts on the shoe were reserved, but once we got more miles in it and set the shoe within its proper framework, we ended up really enjoying it. It’s definitely the best (or most exciting) Brooks shoe right now, no question. If you liked the Hyperion Tempo that came out before we even knew the word Covid (for real, it’s been that long), and you’re looking for a better version of that shoe, then you should pick up the Hyperion Max. Even if you’re not, you should pick it up.
Turns out we weren’t catfished by the Hyperion Max, but I still don’t know why my 401k balance reads zero. I’ll check to see if it got transferred to my other account managed by my Nigerian prince friend.
THOMAS: Despite the confusion over the name, I like the Hyperion Max. The ride is lively and feels light on the foot. There are way too many great race day shoe options for me to pick this shoe for race day, but I like it for a daily trainer that can switch gears and pick up the pace. I would compare the Hyperion Max to the Saucony Endorphin Speed, New Balance Rebel, Adidas Adizero Adios, Asics Magic Speed, and the Skechers Razor.
You can pick up the Brooks Hyperion Max on January 1, 2023, for $170 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Brooks Racing – Men Shop Brooks Racing – Women
Want to learn more about how our review process works? Check out this guide.
Have something to say? Leave a Comment
Robbe is the lead copywriter and editor for all things Believe in the Run. He loves going on weird routes through Baltimore, finding trash on the ground, and running with the Faster Bastards. Appreciates mezcal and New York Times crosswords. Loves his two boys more than anything. Has the weakest ankles in the game.
All-time favorite shoes: Nike Epic React, Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 Runshield, Asics Metaspeed Edge+More from Robbe
As the founder of Believe in the Run, Thomas’ goal is to help runners pick the shoes and gear that will make their running experience the best that it can be.
All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Kinvara 2, Hoka Clifton 1, Nike Alphafly Next%More from Thomas
Doesn’t the Glycerin 20 have Loft v3 not Flash?
Yeah…was gonna mention Loft v3 as well…
Yep. Glycerin 20 and Caldera 6 use Loft v3. Catamount uses DNA Flash.
Damn, my bad! Good catch, I definitely just put nitrogen-infused and DNA Flash into the same bucket, but you’re totally right. It’s been a long year of shoes, got my wires crossed. Thanks for pointing that out.
I have owned a run specialty store since 06 and I would note that the most impressive shoe from Brooks for 23 will be the hyperion gts (fall 23). With the prevalence of carbon plates, medial supports have essentially disappeared from the market. 15 years back there were many great models like slip lasted Asics DS Trainers, Saucony Tangents, Mizuno Elixirs. The GTS will return a shoe to the marketplace that many runners will benefit from. The GTS also offers a terrific option for speed focus power walkers. Carbon plates are inherently unstable midfoot due to the extended ground contact time for most walkers.