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Road Running Shoes • June 17, 2020

Brooks Levitate 4 Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.3 oz. (292 g) for a US M9.0/ 9.2 oz. (260 g) for a US W8.0
  • Fit Knit upper wraps the foot like that too-touchy aunt breaking every COVID rule
  • DNA AMP midsole is now lighter, but it’s a pretty firm ride for a daily trainer
  • If you came to this review looking for Panic! At The Disco references, you’re in luck

AUSTIN: The Levitate. A fantastic brick, and I mean that in a good way. I reviewed the first version of the Levitate in 2017 and truly loved the upper. That classic Brooks step-in comfort that hugs the feet like a long lost relative who likes to hug your feet. But the weight and bold claims of superior energy return courtesy of DNA AMP fell so short of my high, high hopes. But it’s 2020. The Levitate 4 is here. Surely the ounces dropped and the energy return soared like Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie scaling a Los Angeles skyscraper? Hope rises, friends.

ROBBE: I’ll chime in with… you know what, if I start my day off quoting P!ATD, I won’t be able to recover from my own self-loathing. Apparently Austin is stronger than me. Anyway, on to the Brooks Levitate 4, a neutral daily trainer with newly-reformulated DNA AMP midsole (20% lighter according to Brooks) and a redesigned Fit Knit upper.

The Good

AUSTIN: Unlike the Ghost 13, which I’m concurrently testing, the Levitate 4 has a snug fit. Burrito. That’s the word I kept thinking of after slipping on the shoes. Burrito. They wrap the feet like a Moe’s associate tucking rice, beans, steak and all the fixins into the glorious warmth of a pressed tortilla. But I digress. The Levitate also sports an 8 mm drop, down from the Ghost’s high-heeled 12 mm drop.

What really struck me about the Levitate 4 is the much thinner outsole. I’m theorizing that this was done to keep the weight down as the DNA AMP midsole is heavier than the DNA LOFT or BioMoGo in the Ghost. Along with trimming the outsole, the knit upper helps some shed additional ounces. It actually weighs an ounce less than the last version. Unsurprisingly, heel and tongue padding are both minimal, though they didn’t cause any irritation during runs. There’s a simplicity to the design too, a stripping down of unnecessary overlays and patterns. The Brooks chevron adds a touch of midfoot structure, but the basic design just works. It’s a good-looking shoe.

Though it’s hard to think back to my first runs in the Levitate 1, I do remember them feeling heavy, clunky. The shoe was somewhat responsive, but nothing worth shouting from the rooftops. The Levitate 4, in contrast, feels much more responsive. I feel like I wasn’t working as hard to find a smooth stride.

ROBBE: It’s good and bad for me, but the upper feels locked in on first step-in. There certainly isn’t much to it, it’s a pretty simple knit upper with a Brooks logo overlay for some structure.  I always appreciate simplicity in a shoe because it makes me feel fast, and winning the mental game is half the battle, right?

There’s not a lot of cushion to the Levitate 4 midsole, so-to-speak, which is fine. I like a firm(er) shoe. The DNA AMP is somewhat responsive, but it’s not forgiving. It’s a good shoe for anything under six miles, but as you’ll see, I’m not sure I would reach for it on a long run.

The shoe also seems to run lighter than it weighs at 10.3 oz. That is to say, it didn’t feel heavy. And while that falls into the normal range of daily trainers (the Pegasus 37 is right around there), I’d still like to see it lose a little bit of weight, especially if I’m going to be getting a firmer ride out of it.

Lastly, it looks really good. The sea foam/white women’s colorway with a pearlescent midsole is a perfect summer sidekick and got me a lot of compliments, so… *hair flip emoji*.

Shop Brooks Levitate – Men Shop Brooks Levitate – Women

The Bad

AUSTIN: Honestly, I’m blanking for critiques. Some runners may prefer a slightly wider toe box, but this didn’t adversely affect my runs. Also, thin heel padding tends to cause irritation around my ankles, but I finished every run without hot spots or blisters. That said, I’m not sure how to categorize the Levitate 4. I’m inclined to lump it in the daily trainer category, though it might have some workout potential. Decide that for yourself.

ROBBE: Let’s start with the upper. While snug, I felt it was a bit too constrictive, especially in the midfoot area. Also, for a Fit Knit upper, I didn’t feel that it formed to the foot all that great. And it also seemed a little stiff/too thick? Disclaimer: I was testing the women’s version, so maybe that had something to do with it.

As far as the overall ride, I found it to be too firm, which seems to be where the Energize line is trending for me. I thought the Launch 7 was a huge miss, it felt like a board, and while the Levitate is much better, my feet and legs were beat to hell after a recent 10-mile run in the shoe. A much different next-day experience than I had with the Brooks Ghost 13 just a couple weeks before. In some ways, that’s to be expected– like Austin said, the DNA Loft of the Ghost is much softer and forgiving than DNA AMP. That said, I quite enjoyed the Bedlam, so I’m not sure if that weight reduction and new formula of the DNA AMP in the Levitate translated to a firmer ride.

Shop Brooks Levitate – Men Shop Brooks Levitate – Women

Brooks Levitate 4 Conclusion

AUSTIN: I’m doing more investing, and a phrase I regularly encounter when it comes to stocks/bonds/mutual funds is as follows: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” In other words, don’t assume that an investment that did well in the past will continue to do so in the future. Conversely, an investment that didn’t do well recently might be ready to rise. In shoe parlance, the first Levitate fell flat, but the Levitate 4 is going to fly.

ROBBE: Overall, if you’re a fan of the Levitate line, this should suit your needs, but be forewarned of its firmness. This shoe certainly isn’t on track to change the world of running, but it can get the job done. Honestly, you should pick up the Brooks Hyperion Tempo if you can find it right now, cause it’s lighter, faster, and provides about the same amount of cushion but with way more energy return. Even though it’s more of a tempo shoe, it translates to a daily trainer better than the Levitate, imo. On the flip side, if you’re looking for a daily trainer with some more comfort underfoot, go with the Ghost 13 or something like the ASICS GEL-Cumulus 22. And if you do want a firmer ride with more energy return,

You can pick up the Brooks Levitate 4 (supposed to be out 6/1 but the date has been pushed) for $150 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Brooks Levitate – Men Shop Brooks Levitate – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Incredibly helpful!! Thank you for this review! I’m currently doing a 60 day trial of this shoe and hoping it will relieve the hip and knee pain. I don’t run past 6-8 miles in one shot so it was really helpful hearing your experience with longer runs.

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