Brooks PureFlow 5 Review
I liked the Brooks PureFlow 3 enough to give it a "recommended" rating, so I looked forward to the fifth version. Sadly, while Brooks have made a few improvements they've also made some significant mistakes. The biggest problem I found with the PureFlow 5 is that it's one of the more uncomfortable shoes I've worn recently. There's the poorly designed tongue that dug into the crook of my ankle, the odd cushioning, the stiff upper, the heel counter that's intrusive, all adding up to a shoe that I dislike putting on. Like the previous version, I found the PureFlow 5 to have less cushioning than I expected given its weight. You can get the same cushioning with less weight or the same weight with more cushioning, and either would be better. The flexible sole is nice, but has the downside of being a magnet for stones that get trapped and have to be removed. This review has taken me a long time to write as I put off running in it until I finally forced myself. Overall, I was torn between waiting this shoe as "not recommended" or being a little generous and saying that it's "worth considering." In the end I felt that the PureFlow 5 is just about "worth considering", but it was close. (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)
- . The PureFlow is reasonably cushioned, but it can feel a little odd and overly firm occasionally. This might be because the midsole contains Brooks "DNA" which contains a non-Newtonian fluid. Without going into too much science, this means that the midsole is softer when you landed gently, but harder if you land harder. To my mind, this seems to be the exact opposite of what you'd want. If you have a misstep and land a little harder, the shoe will compound the error and make your landing even more punishing. The other concern is that you can get the same cushioning with less weight or the same weight with much better cushioning.
- . The PureFlow has 5mm of drop, which is a little more than I'd like, but not enough to cause me problems.
- . The PureFlow doesn't have much in the way of structure that would interfere with your natural biomechanics. The area under the arch is only slightly raised, which could put pressure on the arch and cause problems as arches are strong when loaded from above, but can be broken easily by pressure from below. The heel of the PureFlow is more rounded than most traditional shoes, which is a good thing. There is little if any of the "snowshoe" affect that can create excessive torsional (twisting) forces.
- . The PureFlow is nicely flexible due to the midsole groves and the gaps in the outsole.
- . The hard rubber outsole covers most of the underside of the shoe, with just a bit of exposed foam under the arch of the foot. This outsole improves longevity and grip, but adds to the weight. As you can see from the pictures, the outsole is in patches which help keep the shoe flexible. I found that the gaps in the sole were something of a stone trap, and even small patches of gravel meant I sometimes had to stop and pick the stones out.
- cut open the toe box open to prevent toe problems. (I recommend cutting open the toe box of virtually all running shoes, with the exception of a few shoes like some Altra shoes. When you have some worn out shoes, you should try cutting open the toe box. I've found that it's a big improvement, allowing my toes to move naturally and engage for toe off, as well as reducing the possibility of blisters.) . The PureFlow, like most running shoes, has a toe box that is not designed for humans. I recommend you
- . The upper is inflexible and quite thick, but mostly seamless. I found it's not very breathable, nor as comfortable as I'd expect, mostly because the material is rather stiff. Thankfully Books have not included their "Nav Band" from previous versions, which was a poor bit of design. There is a reasonable amount of cushioning around the ankle opening, but not enough to offset the overly stiff heel counter (see below).
- . The PureFlow tongue is a real weak point in this shoe. The tongue is nicely padded and stiff so it's unlikely even the most sensitive runner would be able to feel the laces pressing on the top of their foot. However, this stiffness means that the top edge of the tongue dug into the crook of my ankle and caused me problems that limited how far I could run in the shoe.
- . The laces are slightly round, but stayed tied without a problem.
- . The heel counter is large and solid, adding to the overall discomfort. Mostly the heal counter in a shoe is isolated enough by padding to be harmless, but with the PureFlow 5 it was slightly noticeable. If you twist your angle, I think the PureFlow heel counter would dig in and make things worse.
This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.
2 Cushioning and Shoes
It's intuitively obvious that the cushioning in a shoe will reduce the impact on your body when running. However, The Science of Running Shoes indicates that the reality is rather more complex. While slight cushioning may reduce the effort needed to run by improving your Running Economy, most scientific research indicates that more cushioning does further improve Running Economy. In addition, cushioning does not generally reduce impact and may actually increase it. This is counterintuitive, but is likely to be due to the way a runners mind and body adapts to softer cushioning. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence is far from complete and it's hard to give clear recommendations. I believe that some runners will prefer more cushioning, while others prefer less, and typically those running further have a fondness for greater cushioning. I also believe that a shoe should be as light as possible, and a shoe should justify its weight with the cushioning it provides. My advice is to decide what level of cushioning you're looking for, and then find the lightest shoes that also fit well and are comfortable.
3 Visualizing the Attributes of the Brooks PureFlow
4 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.
For a more detailed on running shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Saucony Type A Review||Saucony||A/A7||Recommended||$100||6.0||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.1||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||7.7||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||4.7||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.4||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.4||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||3.8||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||5.7||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||6.7||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||8.6||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.1||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.2||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||6.7||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.2||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.5||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.4||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.4||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.3||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.6||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.3||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.7||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.1||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.4||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||7.8||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.4||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||5.6||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||4.7||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.3||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.0||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||7.5||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||3.8||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||6.8||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||6.8||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||8.6||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.5||6|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.0||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.4||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.4||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||5.8||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.2||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.0||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.1||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.4||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||5.7||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.3||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.1||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.1||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.5||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.1||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.1||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||4.9||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||5.7||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.1||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.2||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.4||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||5.7||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.6||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||9.4||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.4||6|
|Altra King MT||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||4.1||10.7||20.8||19||21||-1||4.4||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||8.8||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||7.5||5|
|Altra Lone Peak||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.9||11.4||17.7||23||25||-2||5.6||4|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||8.3||5.4||8.4||16||21||4||4.5||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||9.2||5.5||8.5||15||21||5||5.0||7|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.5||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.3||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Highly Recommended||$170||7.1||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||8.5||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.5||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||4.9||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.1||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.3||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.0||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||7.5||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||6.9||11.8||18.4||34||34||2||8.2||3|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||5.8||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.1||6|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||9.5||4.2||6.5||11||15||3||4.0||9|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||5.7||9.7||15.1||26||29||5||5.5||8|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||6.5||6.5||10.1||16||19||4||4.2||6|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.3||5.6||8.7||15||21||5||4.6||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||13.4||4.0||6.2||13||21||6||5.4||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||5.6||8.5||13.2||18||28||6||4.7||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||7.6||9.2||14.3||25||28||4||7.0||7|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||4.9||8.0||18.2||14||17||3||3.9||8|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||8.0||10.0||15.6||24||29||3||8.0||4|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||6.6||8.1||12.5||23||25||1||5.3||6|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||7.7||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||5.7||7|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||6.9||11.6||18.1||35||40||6||8.0||0|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||5.4||9.9||15.5||23||25||0||5.4||5|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.3||6.6||10.2||17||21||4||4.8||5|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||5.4||11.6||18.1||28||31||2||6.2||3|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||5.4||9.6||14.9||28||25||-1||5.2||4|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||6.8||7.4||11.5||21||24||2||5.0||5|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||3.2||8.4||23.8||13||13||0||2.7||10|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||5.6||7.3||11.4||20||18||-1||4.1||6|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||10.1||3.1||10.6||9||12||1||3.1||9|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||9.7||5.3||8.2||19||21||0||5.1||8|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||2.0||6.1||27.6||6||5||0||1.2||10|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||9.8||7.2||11.2||25||37||8||7.1||2|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||5.6||8.6||13.4||18||24||6||4.9||5|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.3||6.3||9.8||17||27||9||6.4||6|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||8.4||9.5||14.8||29||32||4||8.0||6|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||7.8||8.7||0.0||29||36||8||6.8||3|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.