Feb 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm #1285521
This may not be of any value to many here, but I figure I would post my thoughts on this shoe for some that may have been interested in this….
I've been running in neutral trail shoes for several years now and have been less than monogamous in my relationship with off road footwear. There have been few that enthralled me and had me believing there could be no other- the New Balance MT100 and MT101 was one such shoe. The MT100/101 was the first minimal trail running shoe for me that opened the door to other moderately flat and simple trail shoe options. Since the MT100/101, I have run in a few other shoes, including the New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail for a period of time , which is an excellent near "barefoot" tool for stimulating the feet and working lower leg muscles differently, but they lacked the dampening and protection in the upper that I wanted in a daily trail shoe for me running 5-6 days a week. Seeking out a more robust shoe for an upcoming 50 mile trail race back in Oct. '11, I stumbled upon the Saucony Peregrine, which strikes a very good balance as a trainer/racer trail shoe. The Peregrine has been a solid trail shoe for me, both nimble and fast, but offering adequate protection for technical trails and a solid locked in fit with a relatively snug upper. The only real knock for me with the Peregrine is the slightly aggressive taper as you move toward the front of the toebox- small blisters developed on the tips of my toes in the Peregrines during my last ultra run- this was due to the toebox forcing my toes together in response to the repeated pounding and not accommodating for foot swell over the distance. Is this a problem? Only outside of my regular weekly running volume and distances. I haven't eliminated the Peregrine from my quiver. Moving on…
My unfaithful tendencies with trail running shoes has led me to the more recent Brooks Pure Grit, which is Brooks' first foray into the neutral/flat and "minimal" side of the shoe spectrum. Brooks has been clever in their marketing to not tout their Pure Grit line as a "barefoot" shoe, which it clearly is not, rather they are maintaining a certain amount of neutrality in their approach to this line in an attempt to not polarize this line of shoes into one camp of users. The Brooks Pure Grit is an amalgamation of different attributes currently found in minimal trail running shoes. It has a very wide one piece outsole that is broader than the upper that rests upon it- slightly atypical. Brooks forgoes the thin hardened rock plate in this shoe which has become common place in most trail shoes and they rely on a slightly more substantial midsole paired with a solid one piece rubber outsole to provide the necessary underfoot protection and traction required for running varying trail conditions on any given run. It seems Brooks did not have one specific surface in mind when designing the outsole tread pattern for the Grits, or flip that thought, maybe they had every possible surface type in mind when designing the outsole? The outsole appears slightly over designed and stylized, as if some Brooks designer ran some intense CAD models one late night- some form over function perhaps? I've run on my local desert trails and surfaces in the area in the Brooks Pure Grit, such as: slick rock, sandstone, arroyos, limestone, assorted gravels, volcanic tuff, mud, rough pavement, snow…… etc. What do I think? Well I haven't been slipping around out there on the trails so I guess the outsole is working just fine for me. How's that for qualitative data! The durometer on the outsole is unique, it is neither unwaveringly firm as is found on the MT101 and Saucony Peregrine, yet it isn't as soft as some blown foam outsoles found on extremely cushioned shoes. It is a generalist outsole in many ways, it doesn't excel exceedingly well at any singular surface, but does handle most conditions I have thrown at them over the last 8 weeks well enough to fade far away into the background of my runs and not be of any concern. One thing I have come to learn from using different trailrunning shoes is that deliberate foot placement and technique can often make up for any lack of traction related to an inadequate outsole.
I have roughly ~300 miles in the Brooks Pure Grits and have been more than pleased with the shoe. The Grits are a relatively durable shoe considering the lightweight materials used and despite my initial reservations of the design- they have proven to be a very comfortable neutral trail shoe that I can throw on for everyday running, much like I can with the Saucony Peregrines. Where the Pure Grit also shines is in the toebox for me. Users of the MT101 with average volume feet may find the Pure Grit offers more in the toebox, at least this is the case with my experience and my foot shape. Tactile response underfoot in the Pure Grit is dampened due to the midsole, but not to the point of numbing proportions. I can still respond to sharp rocks mid strike and adjust on the fly in the Pure Grits without feeling compromised. However, don't expect to feel every detailed undulation of the trail underfoot in this shoe, not going to happen- if this is something you're looking for then run barefoot or make huaraches. Cushioned midsoles are the "epidurals" of the minimalist running world, but for runners who are going out for long runs on rocky trails a supple midsole can be a godsend, especially as distance and time on the feet increases. In this case I have found the ample midsole cushioning in the Pure Grit to be welcomed and have not noticed any deleterious effects on my form as a runner. Out of the box the Pure Grits felt awkwardly raised and elevated, this lasted through the first few runs, before proper settling of the footbed occurred. After this small break in period I found the shoe nimble and responsive underfoot.
Things that just flat don't do anything as far as I can tell:
Nav band across the top of the foot- too loose and is only good for serving as a signal flare to overhead aircraft or tucking laces.
Split toe- this has to be the single biggest gimmick on the shoe, it just isn't noticeable as far as I can tell. Maybe that is a good thing.
Now how would the Brooks Pure Grit serve as a backpacking shoe? YTBD- I haven't had a chance to wear these with a pack and probably wouldn't reach for these as my first, second, or even third choice for a multi-day backpacking trip. Why? For one the price of the shoe is costly, there are less expensive options that would suffice for hiking. Due to the open mesh design in the upper, long term durability would also likely become an issue if you gravitate off trail for extended periods of time while backpacking.
Enough words, here are some photos:Feb 11, 2012 at 2:08 am #1837836
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
I tried a pair on a couple weeks back. I was impressed with how comfortable they were even just standing around. I ended up taking home a pair of the pure flows instead (had intended to shop for a new road shoe in the first place), but have since ordered a pair of the pure grits because I couldn't get over how well they fit my feet.
My experience with the split toe is similar to Eugene's. It hasn't made any apparent difference in the shoe's performance yet but hasn't been a problem either.
REI has them on sale still too, I think. EDIT: just checked again, some colors are on sale for $69.
Also just wanted to add thanks to Eugene for the thorough review. Good to know others are liking the shoe so far.Feb 11, 2012 at 5:17 am #1837851
@matthewbrownLocale: Blue Ridge Mtns
Great write-up. Thx for the info and pics.Feb 11, 2012 at 6:27 am #1837862
the split toe just seems goofy.
could you feel it during your runs or did its existance sort of disappear as you hit the trails?
would you wear it for 50+ ?Feb 11, 2012 at 6:40 am #1837869
The split toe seems a great place for small stones embedded in mud to gather during your run. Have you encountered this issue – is it full of gunk after the messier runs?Feb 11, 2012 at 7:47 am #1837889
@davidvcdLocale: Northern VA
I'll add a few more details when I have a bit more time but the short of it:
I use both.
MT101 for shorter distance,
PureGrit for longer distance since it is pretty comfortable.
Both have adequate protection (rock plate and all that padding).
Both i feel could use more traction (especially the MT101) in general.
Pure Grit did not do well in a mix of mud, snow and ice but does fine in the mud.Feb 11, 2012 at 8:18 am #1837904
Last I tried some on, I was impressed. They seemed to be a nice sweet spot between plush and minimal. If not the MT110, I'd likely be running in these. I still might try them when my MT110s are worn out; seems like it my be a better 20+ mile shoe for me than the 110- a little more cushion.
Only negative that I've heard is that the traction could be better; seems like the lugs could be a little more pronounced.
I'll put up a similar review/comparison of the MT110 with pics this weekend; I have about 200 miles of trail on them so far.
Thanks Eugene.Feb 11, 2012 at 8:44 am #1837919
I would definitely wear these for 50+ miles Art, they're very comfortable, moreso than the Montrail Masochists that I wore back in '09 which were quite cushioned. I think Brooks nailed the density of the midsole, it is responsive and still smooths out the rough stuff. I haven't owned them long enough to comment on longterm midsole compression, but so far so good. The Cascadia 7 recently came out and I'm keeping that shoe on my radar for next October as a 50 mile shoe, but from the photos that I've seen the toebox doesn't look very accommodating.
The split toe is a slight gimmick IMO, it has simply gone unnoticed on me while running. I'm cool with this in part because I like everything else about the shoe and didn't view the split toe as a selling point when I purchased the shoe. Brooks may have found quantitative data in their R&D supporting the split toe aiding in toe off but my experience with the shoe so far on trail tells me otherwise. One thing you don't see easily is that the split toe design does NOT continue into the interior of the shoe, it only extends up 1" on the front of the outsole. What is obvious is the flexibility of the shoe and this is where the split toe I do believe plays a role, particularly in torsional flexibility of the outsole which is pretty impressive with the Pure Grits.
Small rocks and trail debris do not get embedded in the split toe, not once have I caught anything inside this area. This isn't an issue because the split toe doesn't extend into the interior of the shoe, like Vibram Five Fingers for example, which are notorious for getting things lodged in between the toe.Feb 11, 2012 at 10:20 am #1837963
Nice write up.
After reading the review of them by Tom Caughlan I almost bought a pair of these.
The thing that keeps me from spending the money on them is that I unbelievably love the spikes on the Inov-8 X-Talon 212. I have over a thousand trail miles on mine and no matter what I am hiking on – be it established trail, road hiking, rock faces at the top of mountains, etc – I have just completely fallen in love with the soles.
As I said I have been thinking about buying the PureGrits as well as the new Brooks Cascadia 7 (which they thankfully solved the horrible problems that the 6 had) but neither of them really had the same feel of grip and protection that the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 have given me.
Granted the Pure Grit has a much more aggressive sole than the Cascadia's but still nowhere near as good as the X-Talons. I am really hoping that in next years model Brooks becomes a bit more aggressive with their soles on the PureGrits.Feb 11, 2012 at 11:37 am #1838010
Great review. I tried on a pair a month or so ago and also found them really comfortable. Like John, I like a more aggressive sole and was looking for something I could also backpack in and was a little unsure how they'd be for bp'ing. Seems like they'd drain/dry super fast.
John, I've also found the 212s to be surprisingly long-lasting. Seems like they reach a wear-plateau and just keep going. I feel like mine should be totally worn well past flat and they still somehow have some quite respectable lugs at 800-900ish miles. Uppers are in great condition.Feb 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm #1838034
Great writeup Eugene.
I have been using these shoes for a bit now. As a heavier guy I appreciate the cushion of the PureGrit's midsole. The low heel rise makes it easy to maintain a midfoot strike.
I have 2 problems with this shoe:
1) The fit is narrow enough that I have to use a size 11 to get the width I need, though I usually wear a 10 or 10.5 in shoes with roomier toeboxes.
2) The sole's grip is not that great on slimy surfaces like mud on a hillside.
I am interested in trying the New Balance MT110, which is said to address many of the complaints aired against the earlier models. I like being able to get the width I need without having shoes so long they belong on a clown (or at least they feel that way).Feb 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm #1838038
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Good write up Eugene. Sounds like a good shoe for me as long as I don't take it backpacking.
Those of you that use the MT110 how would you rate the durablity of the mesh? The 101s are not that great but they do have one thing going for them. The plastic overlays on the toe and on the side seem pretty durable. Even after the mesh was totally trashed this area held together preventing a catastrophic failure. There was a big hole that let in dirt but I could still wear the shoes. I wore them most of the summer that way just to see if I could really make them unwearable. It never happened. This makes me feel better taking them on long hikes. Even if I trash the mesh I'm confident enough of the shoe will survive to get me home.Feb 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm #1838047
The mesh on the mt110s is one of the things I was most excited about. There's a couple reviews online of people with 500+ miles with hardly any wear on the uppers. Another plus is that should absorb hardly any water (other than the thin liner). Looks like it should be a super durable shoe (other than the part of the sole with the midsole exposed).Feb 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm #1838656
I kicked a rock and tore the "mesh" on one of my MT110 uppers on top of my toes. The nice thing about it being perforated plastic as opposed to fabric is that tears don't seem to run. You can hose these off and they look new; no staining or fraying.Feb 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm #1838660
"You can hose these off and they look new; no staining or fraying."
That's too bad, dried up blood on your shoes pairs well with misfired snot rockets stuck to your shirt and salt stain riddled running shorts. ;-)
In all seriousness, the design of the MT110 upper looked pretty stout with the synthetic one piece perforated overlay, definitely unique. What I don't understand is why they didn't make the MT110 with a continuous one piece rubber outsole, the blown foam instep with foam lugs doesn't make any sense to me. Was their intention to save weight here?Feb 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm #1838666
"What I don't understand is why they didn't make the MT110 with a continuous one piece rubber outsole, the blown foam instep with foam lugs doesn't make any sense to me. Was their intention to save weight here?"
That's the really stupid part of this shoe. The lugs on the instep disappeared in about 3 or 4 good trail runs. I think it's a real compromise in the overall durability. And what's more sad is that the rubber is SO good. If they could have covered the entire bottom it would be amazing.
As far as I can tell, the lack of rubber in the middle is purely to save weight/increase flexibility.
I'll put up a review with pics similar to Eugene's. A lot of question have been getting asked about these.Feb 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm #1838668
For the MT110, they pretty much made the shoe that Anton Krupicka wanted. He was known to do a few modifications on the 101 and those modified 101's became the 110.
Here's a story about it: http://www.irunfar.com/2012/01/the-making-of-the-new-balance-mt110.htmlFeb 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm #1838677
@mzionLocale: Boulder, CO
I've been shopping around for shoes for the PCT and have found these intriguing. Glad to find a review about them I was about to post a thread asking anyone if they had any significant use on them. Looking at using these for 400-450 miles a pair, do you guys think they'd hold up that long? I do most of my running in 101's and Trailgloves. I love the 101's and these seemed very similar.Feb 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm #1838684
Here's my only gripe:
I think the blown foam lugs were nearly gone in only 40 miles. Contrast them with how sharp the rubber lugs still are; this is after over 200 miles.
If the sole was completely rubber, they'd have a real winner. The rubber lugs are the best I've used yet. The lack of rubber in the center certainly lightens them and adds to flexibility. But for me, these are lesser concerns than versatility and durability.
Despite this, I still love the shoe for running. As a forefoot striker, the lack of lugs through the center isn't much of an issue.
This does, however, pretty much eliminate them as a backpacking/adventure shoe (with the exception of short trips). In sloppy conditions I'd want the midfoot rubber. Whereas I used to use the MT101 as a running and backpacking shoe (also for adventure racing/obstacle courses), this is more of a purely running shoe. But that's OK; that's what they built it for. I'll use my Inov8 Roclite 295s for adventuring and backpacking.
I've worn out two pairs of 100s, two pairs of 101s, and 1 pair of MT10. These are my favorite for running (also best traction) of the lot. But backpacking fans of the MT101 will likely be disappointed; due to the foam instep, this is now more of a running shoe.Feb 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm #1838689
@matthew: According to that article, Anton trains and races in the 110's. If you check his blog, he runs 200+ miles a week. I'm sure you could email him through his blog and ask him how long a pair lasts him. He lives in Trust Fund, opps, I mean Boulder.Feb 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm #1838715
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
Anton was at a movie showing in SB last week for the film "Unbreakable" which was a documentary on the 2010 western states race.
Anyway part of the film shows Anton using a butter knife to modify the tread on the bottom of his shoes, around the midsole. Looked like he basically cut of the lugs.
In the Q&A after the movie he was asked how many pairs of running shoes he goes through a year. He said about 30!Feb 13, 2012 at 4:35 am #1838750
Both of those are interesting to me, but neither would fit. So far the only performance-type shoe I've found shaped correctly for me is the Altra Instinct. The Lone Peak (supposedly on the same last) is too narrow in the toe.
I wore the Instinct on a hike Saturday in the snow. Surprisingly my feet stayed pretty dry over 10+ miles despite the mostly mesh upper.
Anyway, note the more boxy/square nature of the toe box versus most "anatomical" shoes.Feb 13, 2012 at 5:29 am #1838764
Man you people and your wide feet…I tried on some Lone Peaks and felt like I could fit both my feet in one shoe (despite my big toe hitting the end of the toebox). Guess my feet just grew long instead of wide (size 13 usually and I'm 5'8").Feb 13, 2012 at 6:12 am #1838775
My feet are pretty normal except for the more squared primitive shape across my toes. I credit going barefoot a lot throughout my life and never tolerating pointed shoes.
Oddly the left foot (I'm right footed) appears a little more squared.Feb 13, 2012 at 6:41 am #1838786
Craig, that wear on the instep is nuts in comparison to the rest of the outsole which looks absolutely rock solid. I think I have gone a bit "soft" in my footwear preference as of late-pun intended- a bit of midsole cushion goes a long way for me and the MT110 was simply too dainty and slipper like of a shoe (*only tried them on and pranced around the house in them). I'm definitely still desire neutral design and minimal differential in the shoe but with some added softness to the ride.
'Unbreakable' was a pretty solid flick which kind of consolidated all the last few years of footage, interviews, and hype on all those big name runners into a good documentary. 30 pairs of shoes a year sounds about right considering he has been averaging over 100 miles per week the last few years- insanity! I think those off the chart 200 mile weeks were several years back when he and Skaggs were logging miles when Skaggs set the Hardrock course record and Anton blew Leadville wide open.
You have some seriously wide feet! I've seen the Lone Peaks and played around with them and they are quite wide. Everyone has a different foot shape, so what Altra considers "natural" may not be the case for someone with an arrow shaped foot like myself. I like the wide toe box in the Lone Peak but don't think that I would want such a wide toe box on technical trails and rocky ascents where having a secure fit throughout the full length of the upper is important for me.
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