Brooks Levitate 5 Performance Review
ALDREN: Not all of us could be fashion icons. Any extra bit of flair could draw too much attention on the roads for the more conservative dressers out there. Besides that, once you add something eye-catching to your everyday wardrobe, it becomes part of you. I can’t imagine seeing Jason Mraz without his fedora or Anderson Bobo not rocking a Hawaiian shirt. We can call that a character trait if you must.
As I said, some of us can’t dress that boldly. Rather than pulling up to the Sunday long run fully decked out in Tracksmith’s latest collection, you might settle for your standard Under Armour athletic apparel.
*I’m not judging you if you like running in Under Armour. It’s SUPER cool to run in basketball shorts and superhero tech shirts.*
Anyway, some of us might roll in the Brooks Levitate GTS 5 while the rest of us style kings and queens are going to order our peasants to fetch us a pair of the Brooks Levitate StealthFit GTS 5. You’re either Steve Jobs or Steve Jobs without his turtleneck (scarring to even think of).
ALDREN: Brooks released two “styles” (four if you want to add the non-GTS into the mix) of the Levitate GTS this year. The Brooks Levitate GTS 5 and Brooks Levitate StealthFit GTS 5 pack the same DNA AMP midsole and GuideRail System; however, we have two different uppers for each.
On the standard Levitate GTS 5, we’ve got the OG cut collar with an engineered mesh upper providing a solid amount of structure when laced in. To those who loved the ride of the Bedlam line in the past but always strayed away because of the fit around the collar, now is the time to say hello to an old friend.
The Levitate GTS 5 rolls with a firmer ride. It’s excellent for people looking for a daily trainer to eat up a ton of miles because I don’t see this shoe compressing in the midsole at all. I’m talking 400+ miles out of these bad boys. The DNA AMP midsole is added with the benefit of Brooks’s GuideRail System to provide an ergonomic amount of support to make your stride resist any pronation. Just like all Brooks shoes that fall into the GTS category, the Levitate GTS 5 has the same stable but non-intrusive support.
One of the biggest compliments I can give to the Levitate line is the looks. I’ve always admired how sleek they look, especially with this shine on the midsole. It somewhat resembles the same rainbow effect on the New Balance RC Elite 2. If I’m riding up to the local pub run in these, while I may not enjoy the ride, I know damn well that my shoe game will fire.
AUSTIN: According to Brooks, the Levitate 5 features a new last to “better accommodate the foot.” When a running shoe updates once a year, the changes tend to be minimal: think midsole tweaks, heel and tongue adjustments, and, of course, color. Frankly, the entire shoe is subject to scrutiny by designers and engineers, which is why a new last is such a big deal. The fit drastically changes for everyone. Of course, we’re discussing step-in comfort for Brooks footwear. The Levitate is no exception; the feet feel immediately comfortable, albeit a touch snug.
Version five is quite a departure from version four, though. Along with a new last, Brooks replaced the wraparound heel collar (sock-like fit) for the more traditional padded wall. Likewise, the tongue is a bit thicker. Brooks opted for an engineered mesh upper in the Levitate 5, which makes me wonder if the Fit Knit upper in version four created too much movement in the toe box and midfoot. Surprisingly, the weight only increased by two-tenths of an ounce. DNA AMP still powers this daily trainer that delivers a firm ride and excellent traction with a full-length carbon rubber outsole.Shop Levitate 5 – Men Shop Levitate 5 GTS – Men Shop Levitate 5 – Women Shop Levitate 5 GTS – Women
ALDREN: Like I just said, I don’t enjoy the ride. The Levitate line is marketed as a high-energy return, but I feel like I use more energy lacing it on. The DNA AMP midsole is way too stiff, and it gives a 13-year-old boy’s socks a run for their money. Around longer mileages, having to bend that stiff but somewhat bendy midsole wore up my toes, and they lacked the energy to progress in my run.
Along with a stiff midsole, the outsole isn’t grippy enough for some slicker roads. Sharp turns will be your end, but at least you’ll look cool busting your butt on the asphalt.
The toe box could use some extra space too. I can appreciate a dialed-in fit, but it gets to an extent when I’m seriously considering I have the feet of a 75-year-old geezer with peripheral neuropathy.
AUSTIN: Honestly, I figured the Levitate 5 would feel eerily similar to the Levitate 4. Yep. About the same. Aside from the upper changes, I still disliked the ride. Brooks categorizes the Levitate as an “Energy” trainer, “responsive and springy to add extra lift to your stride.” I wouldn’t call the ride harsh, but the firmness made the first mile, at minimum, feel clunky in every run. I needed about 2-3 miles before I seemed to settle into a preferred, smooth stride. DNA AMP is much less forgiving than DNA LOFT, which now makes up the entirety of the Ghost 14 midsole (and the company’s first carbon-neutral running shoe, I might add).Shop Levitate 5 – Men Shop Levitate 5 GTS – Men Shop Levitate 5 – Women Shop Levitate 5 GTS – Women
ALDREN: From the bottom of my heart to the soles of my feet, in good judgment, I cannot recommend this shoe to anyone. It has the feel of an introduction shoe like the ASICS GT-2000 v9 but the price point of a Brooks Glycerin GTS 19. Or if you are a die-hard levitate fan, then go for the StealthFit version. The upper will at least breathe a lot better and stretch with your foot.
AUSTIN: If you recall my remarks about the Levitate 4 last June, I opened with reference to a Panic! At The Disco song. So, it would seem appropriate to end this review with another fitting song reference since I seem to hear “Levitating” by Dua Lipa every time I turn on the local radio or a SiriusXM pop channel. In summary, this catchy tune soars much higher than the $150 Brooks brick. Occasionally, I may walk around town in the Levitate, but the weight, stiffness, and firm ride keep my feet anchored to the earth.
You can pick up the Brooks Levitate 5 for $150 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.Shop Levitate 5 – Men Shop Levitate 5 GTS – Men Shop Levitate 5 – Women Shop Levitate 5 GTS – Women
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