Dave: Saint Louis, Mo. 2013. I had moved to the Midwest from Central NY and had gotten away from trails for some time. I was co-managing a run shop on a slow Thursday night when a road-weary Brooks rep came in and seeded me a pair of PureGrit 1. The inaugural voyage for Brooks into the lightweight trail shoe game.
I remember taking that shoe out and lovin’ it like a hot roulette table in Vegas (those exist, right?). Suddenly, I enjoyed trail running again.
So, thank you Brooks for reigniting my love for the trails in a moment of uncertainty in 2013. I’ll probably write you a letter someday. Or, just consider this review of the PureGrit 8 your love note. Maybe absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder.
Robbe: All I got to say is that the PureGrit 8 is only one letter off from True Grit, but instead of going outlaw hunting on the hardened trails of the great American west, I just went running on some mildly dusty trails in the American east. I really liked the PureGrit 7 and I do like this shoe; however, the reasons I like it are also the reason I don’t.
Dave: Typically I’m reviewing shoes in SoCal. Trails are hard and we rarely have roots at all terrains and altitudes. You need the cush underfoot out there.
However, I got this shoe in August when I was spending time with family out on the Beast Coast in New York state.
In short, the PureGrit 8 is smooth. This zapato just rolls right along. If you are looking for a better “feel” in the trail, this is your weapon. To be honest, I was completely blown away by how I cruised right along on some upstate New York dirt and vert with tons of rocks and roots.
Most of my runs were on some muddy trails. The outsole gripped pretty dang well for not looking so “tough” aesthetically. Trails had good water saturation underneath and almost all of my runs felt effortless while my legs stayed fresh due to “bouncier” trails. The PureGrit 8 was the perfect complement to this.
Long sections of single track feel outstanding via the BioMogo midsole. BioMogo is definitely not one of the hippest midsoles around, but it works on this shoe. I found the midfoot well and transitioned quickly to my forefoot, whether rolling in the flats, or moving up some gradual power line climbs.
While the shoe doesn’t really have a great look to it, it laces up well via the stretch woven upper. I was very skeptical about the lacing system and thought I might struggle with this shoe.
Note: The shoe has some volume inside, so I’d think most people will dig a thicker trail running sock. However, I felt my normal size 9 was fine.
Robbe: I like the PureGrit 8 for the same reason I liked the PureGrit 7. It’s a fast and lightweight (i.e. minimalist) trail shoe that carries itself like a slightly tweaked road shoe. Except this go-around it’s even lighter– it somehow lost a whole ounce and a half, which is ridiculous. I mean, it really is as close to a road shoe as a trail shoe can get. I even took these on a four-mile road run and was like “Yeah, I’m totally okay with this.” While the loss of weight is a huge bonus, it also creates some problems. More on that later.
The PureGrit 8 gains its trail shoe status from a chevron/hexagon lug patterned outsole and a flexible rock plate (which I didn’t even realize was there until I read the specs). The outsole looks unformidable but holds up oddly well even on technical parts.
It moves fast over hardpack or non-technical trails, due to its 8.2 oz. weight for a US M9. I ripped this on some downhills with trail bends and felt like I was road running. Always a good time when you can open it up and not feel weighed down by a shoe.
While I wouldn’t take this for over a half marathon on hard surfaces, I don’t totally agree with Dave in that it doesn’t have a place on hardpack, or even road. I mean, a lightweight shoe is meant for fast miles and the best place to get those is on non-technical terrain.
Although not groundbreaking, I’m still a fan of the Brooks BioMoGo midsole, and this shoe is no different. It just hits me in the sweet spot as a solid midsole.
I also liked the stretch woven upper as a whole, and really the whole aesthetic of the shoe. This is one of the better-looking trail shoes I’ve worn over the last year, with just a slight Brooks name-branding towards the heel. Don’t know if I recall ever wearing a Brooks shoe that omitted its classic logo, but I dig it.
Dave: While the shoe rolls nicely and allows for a great understanding of proprioception in the trails, for me, it won’t get past about 15 miles without me needing some more underfoot.
It’s also not going to perform well on harder packed west coast cruisers. It’s made for the soft stuff on the east coast, PNW, or Canada where trails have some saturation to them. Should I ever get my ass in gear to train for a 50+ mile, I can see this shoe being a mid-week cruiser, while allowing the heavy hitters (i.e. HOKA Speedgoat or Mafate 3) for a long day in the dirt.
It could use a bit more forefoot pop for my liking. I’m probably completely brainwashed because I am testing and training in a lot of plate action of late, but a little more toe-off power would be dandy.
Long descends may pound on the legs for a bit if you are used to more cushion underfoot.
Robbe: I really enjoyed the PureGrit 7 and was hoping to get much of the same feeling with the PureGrit 8. I asked for a size 8 which I’ve worn in every pair of Brooks I’ve ever owned (including last year’s PureGrit 7). It was much too big, but whatever. Got a 7.5, and honestly, I think I needed to go to a 7 to get a good fit. Just still too much room in the toe box, as well as heel movement, which couldn’t be mitigated, because…
For some reason, there is no heel lock lacing option on this shoe. To me, this doesn’t make sense because the collar is dug out low with really no padding or support due to the lightweight structure of the shoe. It would help a ton to get that extra tie-down because at no point did I feel secure, and I did roll my ankle once.
I also had my first ever trail running fall on the easiest damn section of trail. That comes back to the extra room in the toe; I just wasn’t feeling the trail right and caught a stupid little rock and went down.
While I think the PureGrit can manage some technical terrain, you’re rolling the dice in the PureGrit 8. The support and cushion just is not there to feel safe and secure on a run. Use at your own risk. Then again, I don’t think that’s what this shoe is designed for. For technical terrains, I suggest you fix your sights on the Cascadia 14 if you’re trying to get real work done.
Recommended for the runner who wants to rip a fast trail half, maintenance aerobic trail days (runs of 1-3 hours) and just someone looking to have a little more fun out in nature.
Robbe: At times, this shoe felt so refreshing on the trails. It was fun and fast. But the oddly long toe box and the complete lack of support in the heel/collar are frustrating for me. If you’re like Dave and don’t find that to be an issue, then you’ll love the PureGrit 8.
If you’d like to try it out, pick it up at Running Warehouse for $119.95.Shop Brooks PureGrit 8