The Brooks Hyperion is a pretty unique shoe with some unconventional combinations for a racing flat. Lightweight? They're among the lightest traditional running shoes ever. Comfortable? They use the same materials and style as their heavier cousins in the Brooks lineup, widely viewed as the cushiest, comfiest kicks on the market. And what would a racing flat be without breathability? They dominate in that measure as well. They have a steeper heel-to-toe drop, which we tend to stay away from in racing flats, but the profile is designed well enough that there's very little interference when you're going all-out, accommodating a wider range of foot strikes.
Brooks Hyperion Review
Cons: Uncomfortable for some foot shapes, might require replacement after 1-2 seasons
Manufacturer: running shoes
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|Pros||Impossibly light, excellent breathability, great landing comfort||Flashy, fast, extra comfortable upper and landing||Stable, super comfortable upper, breathable, stylish||Affordable racing flats, more comfortable updated design, light||Responsive, supportive fit, roomy toebox, flashy, lightweight, springy|
|Cons||Uncomfortable for some foot shapes, might require replacement after 1-2 seasons||On the heavier side, can feel too stiff, premium price||Clunky, may wear down quickly, pricey||Limited durability, less attractive, less responsive||Outsole picks up rocks and gravel, toebox can be too flexible, tongue can rub|
|Bottom Line||Incredibly light, but they bring the delights of a big Brooks comfort model.||It doesn’t get much better than these plush speedsters.||Best choice for a comfortable, stable distance shoe.||Fast racing flats that will get you across the line in comfort.||A fast, high performance shoe best suited to mid-distance.|
|Rating Categories||Brooks Hyperion||Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14||Brooks Glycerin 17||Brooks PureFlow 7||On Cloud X|
|Landing Comfort (25%)|
|Upper Comfort (10%)|
|Specs||Brooks Hyperion||Nike Air Zoom...||Brooks Glycerin 17||Brooks PureFlow 7||On Cloud X|
|Weight (oz per pair for size 11)||14.5 oz||22.3 oz||23.2 oz||20.8 oz||17.8 oz|
|Toe to Heel Drop||10 mm||10 mm||10 mm||4 mm||6 mm|
|Width Options||Normal||Regular, Wide, Extra Wide||Regular, Wide||Regular||Regular|
|Style (Traditional, Minimalist, etc.)||Neutral||Traditional||Neutral||Neutral||Neutral|
|Sizes Available||7 - 14||6 - 15||7 - 15||7 - 14||7-13|
|Upper Material||Stretch-woven knit||Mesh||Synethetic||Stretch weave||Synthetic|
|Midsole Material||BioMoGo DNA||Nike React||DNA Loft||BioMoGo DNA||EVA|
|Sole Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Rubber||Blown carbon||Rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Brooks Hyperion was loftily named after one of the twelve Titans, known for first coming to understand the cosmos and thereby siring Helios, the sun. Back on Earth (well, Gaia, Earth, is actually Hyperion's mother), it brings a new option for those looking for a speedy flat with a little extra form to it. We love the PureFlow line, but there's a lot of value to a slightly stiffer shoe that can kick back what you're putting down. That's where the Hyperion steps up. The heel is a bit higher than we'd prefer in a racing flat, but it tapers down gently enough that it doesn't interfere with the forefoot strikes while heel strikes are protected by the extra cushioning. We spent quite a while digging into the details of this unique kick and comparing these to other competitors, so read on to see if they're a good fit for you.
The Brooks Hyperions did quite well in our testing and research. You can see below that they're top performers in all the aspects that matter for lightweight racing flats.
When it comes to responsiveness, you don't get a ton of bounce or kickback from the BioMoGo DNA midsole, but there's a bit of pop. We maintain that the Hyperion is essentially a track shoe without spikes and if you've ever run in spikes, you know that there's close to zero responsiveness - it's all in your feet and legs. These aren't quite that extreme. Plus they have about 10mm of extra DNA at the heel, adding a bit more cushion and kickback fo runners who land farther back on the foot.
They use their Propulsion Pods in the midsole to improve rebound, but it's not clear if that design makes a big difference in the energy return. Either way, the design performs quite well. The options for leaner, faster, lighter shoes are pretty limited, but if you're going to be doing longer runs or just need a little more oomph in your shoe, there are a few models you might consider. The Best Bang for the Buck Altra Solstice uses a uniform EVA sole to get a bit more pop and it's worth a gander for runners looking for a more comfortable model.
Generally, to get more responsiveness, you'll find yourself in a more robust shoe with a thicker, less flexible sole. A prominent example of that would be the maximalist HOKA ONE ONE Arahi, with its massive slab of firm EVA. The rebound is also achieved by using a tough upper with minimal flex or give, especially compared to the somewhat stretchy mesh upper of the Altra Solstice. We'll reiterate here that the Hyperion is best employed on short, fast runs, and its sole is firm, not plush, so middling responsiveness shouldn't be a detractor for most runners.
When it comes to lightweight racing flats, there's a line that has to be straddled between comfort and performance. The Hyperion leans a little closer to the performance side, especially for runners with wider feet. That's not a huge concern if you're focusing on 5Ks and shorter runs. The thin BioMoGo DNA midsole is just barely thick enough to protect the midfoot and forefoot from the road, but the extra 10mm of sole at the heel does a good job of protecting the heel.
It's also worth noting that because the model runs a bit narrow, it can alter how a runner lands and toes off, since the foot isn't able to freely splay the way it can in models like the Altra Solstice. Even so, the Hyperion's super lean, extra tight design helps you keep the cadence high and the steps clean and snappy - you know, all the things you want in a racing flat.
So if you don't race as much or you're less concerned with top-end performance and just need a quickish shoe that you can also take out on your long, slow runs, there are a few shoes that have a little more in the way of padding and landing comfort.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35 has a similar midsole profile, including a 10mm drop, but has a slightly thicker overall stack. It also uses a plush foam midsole, so it's more forgiving, but it doesn't feel as fast. The Brooks Pureflow 7 is also a great lander, using a thicker stack under the toes and midfoot. Both models also have more room in the toebox, so they're a lot more forgiving for wider feet, which has to go into the scoring. If you do longer runs or less racing, you might consider one of these.
The Hyperion's weight is one of its craziest attributes, and it's one of the biggest reasons it wins our Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat. It's just 14.5 ounces a pair in men's 11. 7.25 ounces per shoe places it firmly in the realm of track spikes. Weight is important but isn't all that goes into making a great racing flat. The Merrell Bare Access Flex is only 15.8 ounces, but its sole has an odd design that interrupts the natural transition of the stride and slows you down, not to mention some issues with the upper that cause chafing.
If you're after extreme lightness, you're close to the pinnacle with these, so you'll need to start looking at other features, like responsiveness or comfort. It's a little heavier, 17.3 ounces in a men's 11, and doesn't have the same compact feeling as the super lean Hyperion. Its Cloud Elements (the button-like midsole components) are just a bit bouncier than the slim DNA BioMoGo midsole of the Brooks, so you lose the firm one-to-one ground contact that you get with the Brooks model. That said, the Cloud is a bit more comfortable, and it still feels really fast. It's a good alternative if you do longer runs or aren't necessarily looking for a high-performance racing flat.
Using a stripped-down design has quite important advantages. It's obviously easier to cut down weight, but it also reduces complexity and tends to reduce the chance for errors and other vulnerabilities. The Hyperion's single, seamless upper benefits from that design strength. It also improves comfort by reducing the potential to chafe.
Generally, the shoe has good durability. The concern is that it leans a little too far to the stripped-down side and didn't do enough to gird or buttress the ambitious design. There are good reinforcements around the eyelets, and rubber pads effectively protect high-wear zones on the outsole, but we noticed a good deal of other areas that could have used a little more care.
For starters, an aglet was cracked and peeling apart when it arrived. That could just be a complete fluke, but it's not a great indication that the manufacturing process is kicking out indefatigable, world-class products. After a few weeks of training, some of the thin threading began to show signs of fraying, and the reflectors along the heel started falling off. In the grand scheme of things, these are not detrimental to the performance of the product, but they are annoying when you're paying for a premium running shoe.
Shoes that tend to do much better in durability also tend to be tank-like with fewer luxury or premium structures that can break down. The ASICS GT-2000 5 is a good example of a hardy running shoe, but it's not exactly the lightest thing out there. It's a bit clunky. It's also not especially breathable or comfortable, but it's also a popular shoe for pronators looking for a stability shoe.
The other tough running shoe is the New Balance Minimus 10v1, largely designed for the rigors of trail running, but often seen out on the road. It uses coarse mesh and a good deal of rubber to protect the Vibram outsole.
Your best bet for a comparable racing flat with better durability is probably the stripped-down Under Armour Charged Bandit 3 - it's very clean and sleek and doesn't use a lot of structures that can degrade, like air pockets, plush soles, and thick foam padding.
The Hyperions are generally pretty comfortable, but those with wider feet might find these a bit cramped. The good news is that they have a pretty short break-in period and they loosen up some after you put in a few miles with them. A shoe-horn might even be useful here.
Brooks always does a good job with its finer features, layering on the cushion and soft padding. These are a little different. The tongue is not quite as plush as the standard, max-comfort Brooks offering, but you're not likely to find many lightweight racing flats with this degree of cushion. It's also a relief that they chose to go with the rounded edges instead of the thin, chafing design we saw in the Brooks PureFlow 6.
It's a similar story for the collar padding. It's not the same volume of padding you'd get in their usual lineup, but it's the same luxurious design with a nice, silky cover. It still envelops the heel, ankle, and midfoot the way the more robust models do, but you don't feel like you're running in doughy pillows in these.
The super thin upper is made from a seamless, finely woven material, with laser-perforations for aeration. The fine weave essentially doubles as a sockliner, making the upper extremely silky and agreeable, despite its more spartan attributes.
You might notice that these aren't sitting at the top near the other Brooks models. Well, we mentioned they were a bit tight for wider feet. About halfway through the transition from landing to toe-off, the foot compresses and spreads, squeezing the foot against the edges of the narrow toe box, making the shoe feel tight on each step and slightly altering the stride. Runners with narrow feet would likely assign a higher score here.
If you do have a wider foot and really need the toe splay, which out the Altra Solstice. It scores a big higher here because of its wider toe box and to some extent, the higher flexibility of its mesh upper. The Brooks PureFlow 7 is also an excellent alternative for its freeing flexibility, but also because of its more traditional Brooks max-comfort padding. Both of these alternatives are worthy options, but they're not going to have that streamlined, locked-in feel of the Hyperion and might not do as well on the 5Ks and other quick races.
The upper is a finely woven material with lower permeability than most standard mesh uppers. Brooks overcomes that by not adding an additional layer in the form of a sockliner since the weave is comfortable enough to double as a sockliner. It also uses laser perforations to create ventilation over the toes and inner midfoot, both regions being ideal zones for heat-exchange. And they also have the advantage of not being as heavily padded as the comfort models, so there's less insulating material to hold or create heat and moisture.
As you move farther along the breathability scale, you start to drop other features, like upper padding and midsole cushion. The On Cloud X does a good job of balancing all of those, arriving at the same score as the Hyperion, but with just a little more room in the toe box and a bit more bounce in the sole. It's a pretty solid alternative for longer runs.
If you want the ultimate in breathability, you'll find yourself in a super spartan shoe, the New Balance Minimus 10v1, a cult favorite among minimalist runners. There's minimal upper padding, with only a perfunctory layer of material to insinuate a sockliner, so there's nothing to hang onto the heat or hold sweat. These are about the best you can find in breathability, but their level of support, comfort, and sole cushioning are…well…spartan.
For such an excellent pace-setter, it comes with a fair asking price. You're unlikely to find many other worthwhile lightweight racing flats that aren't in the same price range.
Putting the Hyperions on took us back to our old track days in school. They feel a lot like spikes, but with a lot less grinding and lot more stability when you're standing. They just dare you to lay down the pace and leave your friends in the dust. They're among the lightest mainstream shoes on the market, but they still have enough cushion in the midsole and heel collar that you aren't left feeling like you're running on the road in your socks. Needless to say, we happily awarded these the Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat and track runners will understand why. It's true, they take a bit to break in, but once you've gotten in a few runs, you'll feel the speed and be ready to tear up the local 5K and shred last season's PRs.
— Ryan Baham