When I got my PureGrit Trail Runners I started a 3-part review of the shoes. In Part 1, I laid out the specs and tech on the shoes and my out-of-box impressions. For this part, I will describe the time, distance and conditions I’ve worn and tested the shoes along with some basic reactions to the performance. I will write a more in-depth analysis of the performance of the shoe in Part 3.
PureProject – PureGrit Trail Runner
These shoes were purchased specifically with trail running in mind. I really like my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes and I was using them for both hiking, trail running and occasionally street running. I wanted something lighter and more specifically design with trail running in mind. When Brooks came out with their PureProject line I was very excited to get my hands on the PureGrit and get more serious about trail running.
Since I got the shoe’s in late January, I have put over 30 miles of trail running on them. I also started using them for my street runs to see if I could tell if there was a performance difference on pavement (also, I was growing to like them and wanted to wear them more).
The trails out here in Arizona are very hard on footwear. The Sonoran Desert is littered with jagged, rough terrain and mean, prickly cacti that usually equates to a short life for shoes. The main trails I’ve been running are the Main Loop at Thunderbird Recreation Area (3.6m loop) and the trail system behind North Mountain (Shaw Butte and Trail 100). The terrain in both locations is a combination of loose rock, rugged exposed bedrock and sandy washes.
The PureGrit outsole has proven to be incredibly tough against these conditions. It’s thin, so you can still feel the ground even through the padded mid-sole but I like to have a sense of what’s under me when I’m running. The unique tread design on the PureGrit is amazingly functional. It really grabs the trail for traction when pushing forward or climbing uphill. The impressive part was how effective the reverse tread at the heal of the shoe allows control on the downhill. I have never once felt as though my footing was compromised in these shoes. The durability of the outsole is also commendable. With over 60 miles on varying terrain, I have seen no real wear and barely any scuffing of the tread. The open tread design also means it doesn’t pick up small pebbles and rock as you run.
The outsole design has two specific features that are part of what makes these shoes unique. According to Brooks, the Toe Flex (a split in the outsole to isolate the movement of the big toe) and the Ideal Heel (designed to shift your stride forward) are key features of the PureGrit that allow for greater stability, control and better form. I really have not noticed much benefit from the Toe Flex feature. I’ve even been wearing toesocks with my PureGrit runners in the hopes that it would allow me to feel more of the intended effect of the Toe Flex feature, but I don’t notice it. The Ideal Heel design, however, does seem to have altered the mechanics of my stride. I do feel a difference when wearing these as compared to my other running shoes.
The midsole was one of the pieces that worried me when I initially looked at these shoes. It’s soft, allowing for fantastic comfort, but I didn’t expect it to hold up to trail conditions all that well. Luckily, I underestimated the durability of the material. It’s got a couple of scratches and stains, but otherwise has held up perfectly and has yet to let me down.
The main body of the shoe is so super light-weight that I expected to have some problems with it. I had a pair of Nike running shoes a few years ago with an ultra-light material upper and it began to fall apart after only a few runs. The upper of the PureProject shoes is remarkably resilient. It conforms to my foot amazingly well and yet, somehow has really done well against the elements. The outer material is a mesh, which I feared would let dust and fine sand in to the shoe and create problems in the footbed during runs. Even running on very dusty trails and through sandy washes, I did not have any issues with small particles finding their way in to the shoe.
The cut of the upper is very low, offering no protection or support for your ankles. On a trail shoe, this can be a little dangerous. However, I have never felt unstable or uncomfortable running in these. Other than my ankles feeling sore and fatigued afterward (something I attribute to my running mechanics rather than the shoe), I really have not had any trouble due to the lack of ankle support.