Brooks PureFlow 6 Review
Cons: Less durable, less protective
Our Analysis and Test Results
With its snug, plush upper and sleek build, the Brooks PureFlow 6 remains our favorite shoe by far and we think it will be the favorite for most runners, too.
This racing flat is not particularly responsive when compared to the rest of our lineup. We consider the responsiveness to be just about average, though the high-quality midsole does seem to add back to what's put in.
Along with many of the other low-profile racing-flat style shoes, any responsiveness from this model comes from the bounceback of its DNA LT midsole and mostly lacks any internal stability structures that might add to the bounceback. It does have a Nav Band through the midfoot and a sculpted medial midfoot for stability, both of which contribute to additional responsiveness, but the model remains a flexible shoe that simply doesn't have the responsiveness of other pairs like the Hoka One One Arahi, which we felt was the most responsive shoe in our lineup.
This shoe ranked at the very top of our pile for landing comfort, sharing the designation of top-scorer with the Top Pick for Stability winner, the Hoka One One Arahi.
Brooks has done a really great job of creating midsoles that remain flexible while giving adequate cushioning with 22mm of cushioning at the heel and 18mm at the forefoot. Their midsole is made of DNA LT, which is a lighter version of BioMoGo DNA that feels firm, but giving enough to make even the longest runs pleasant affairs. We felt that this shoe was amenable to any strike style with its low heel-to-toe discrepancy of just 4mm and a cushy, padded stack through to the toe.
They have an extremely comfortable plush upper heel wrap and a smooth, plush tongue covering the lace bed. The 6 introduces a new seamless upper design that provides more comfort than the 5. The remainder of the upper is a fine synthetic mesh with 3D Fit print overlays to make for a snug, comfortable shoe.
The 6 also improves on the rougher design of its tongue in the previous version, which tended to rub against the ankle. The Nike Free RN also shares this annoying problem. We are extremely glad to see that Brooks listened to its customers and improved the design with a new, softer design, though the edges of the tongue do still tend to fold up between the top of the foot and the lace bed, which makes it hard to give a top score. A good alternative in the comfort category is the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34, which had a top score among the racing flats.
The improved design of the thin, synthetic mesh with 3D print overlays pushed the PureFlow 6 up near the top. The fine mesh allows for a great deal of breathability, but its plush heel collar and tongue tend to hold moisture. We feel that this shoe is great for dry summer runs, but might require thick, warm socks for cooler months, while snowmelt conditions or cold, wet conditions are right out. We placed this shoe's breathability alongside other lightweight runners like the On Cloud, which shares the fine mesh and moisture-holding padding. Only the New Balance Minimus 10v1 had greater breathability.
The Brooks racers ranked somewhere near the middle of the class with their weight coming in at 20.3 ounces for a men's size 11. They're much lighter than most of the stability shoes - the Asics GT-2000 5 were 24.4 ounces - but heavier than most of the other lightweight racing flats - the On Cloud kicks were only 17.3 ounces. But that isn't to say that the Brooks are heavy, it's really just that the field of shoes is insanely light. If weight is your sole interest, we suggest looking into the 17.2 ounce New Balance Minimus 10v1, which is our only minimalist offering in the lineup.
One of the unfortunate downsides of such lightweight shoes is that their durability typically suffers, but that is not quite the case with this model, which scores better than the other lightweight flats. The blown carbon outsole allows this shoe to take a good deal of beating while the tough mesh upper provides a good layer of protection. We scored the PureFlow 6 as a notch above the other lightweight shoes, but slightly below the huskier traditional shoes. Even so, there should be minimal concern that they may be vulnerable to wear if you train and race in the same pair. Brooks suggests that the shoe should last 250-300 miles, which is consistent with running a few miles a few times a week for most of the year. (At a bare minimum, 3 miles twice a week for 48 weeks out of the year… we figure you can't make an excuse not to run for more than 4 weeks out of the year.)
These sneakers are great road racing flats that will serve you well through to the end. They are also suited to packed earth or low-intensity trails, but they will excel on roads and tracks.
At $100, a $10 discount to the already formidable PureFlow 5, we felt that the PureFlow 6 has a great price, as it offers incredible upper and landing comfort. For the money, it will be very hard to find a better shoe on the market that delivers as much upper and landing comfort in such a light, low-profile package. This shoe earns every penny.
We are confident that improving on the design of the 5, the Brooks PureFlow6 remains one of the best overall running shoe on the market right now. We did not find any of its features to be perfect or for it to even be the best choice in any of our categories, though it did improve on its seamless upper and improve the flexibility in its midsole. When it was at the top of the field, it shared the honor with another shoe, as in Landing Comfort where it shared the top spot with the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34. But most of the other shoes have specific standout qualities that push them to the top of just a few categories and cause them to suffer in others. This award winner did extremely well across most of the categories and only came up middling in responsiveness and durability, but those fields are expected to lag with a light, fast, natural shoe like these. In the end, we are very happy with this shoe and we hope this shoe serves you as well as it did us.
— Ryan Baham
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