The updated Brooks PureFlow 7s keep most of our favorite features from the earlier versions, but make a few useful improvements to make them even better racing flats, earning them our Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat Award. The best improvement was that they finally redesigned their tongue so doesn't fold at the sides or chafe - a chief complaint in previous iterations. It also uses a bit more padding than earlier versions and has a slightly different toe box and foot shape, but neither aspect seemed to change performance or road feel. The new PureFlow 7s remain one of the best racing flats on the market. Read on to see how they do against other top shoes.
Brooks PureFlow 7 Review
Cons: Limited durability, less attractive, less responsive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Yes, the new PureFlow 7s won our Lightweight Racing Flat Award, but that's not enough to tell you if it's the right running shoe for you. For that, we spent hours and miles testing these things against our measures and compared to other top shoes on the market right now. Take a look at the measures below that matter most to you and see if the PureFlows match up with what you need.
This racing flat is not particularly responsive when compared to the rest of our lineup. We consider the responsiveness to be just a bit better than average, though the high-quality midsole does seem to add back to what's put in. But lower responsiveness in this case corresponds to improved comfort. It performs slightly better than the minimalist Merrell Bare Access Flex, and does a great job of preserving the natural gait.
Along with many of the other low-profile racing-flat style shoes, any responsiveness from this model comes from the bounceback of its BioMoGo DNA 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 the simply doesn't have the responsiveness of other pairs like the HOKA ONE ONE Elevon, which we felt was the most responsive shoe in our lineup.
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 BioMoGo DNA, which 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. In fact, that low discrepancy is one of the major deciding factors that earned it the Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat Award instead of other models like the Pegasus 35 with its 10mm of discrepancy or even the Cloud X with its 6mm discrepancy.
They have an extremely comfortable plush upper heel wrap and a smooth, felt-like tongue covering the lace bed. The 6 introduced a new seamless upper design that provides more comfort than the 5. The 7 brings a significant improvement to the tongue.
Earlier designs used a paper-thin, velvety smooth version that felt nice, except the edges rubbed and chafed a ton. The new tongue is closer to a traditional design with a bit of padding inside and a mesh cover. The remainder of the upper is a fine synthetic mesh with 3D Fit print overlays to make for a snug, comfortable shoe.
Other models like the Nike Free RN also has that annoying tongue problem. We are extremely glad to see that Brooks listened to its customers with the friendlier, softer design. The update even fixes the problem with the edges folding up between the top of the foot and the lace bed, as seen in the Altra Escalante 1.5. Finding a more comfortable shoe will be difficult and any alternative will put you into a different category of shoe, like the Brooks Glycerin 16, which is really meant to be a larger comfort shoe. It comes with more padding, cushion, and bulk, so it's heavier and less nimble than its speedy cousin.
The improved design of the thin, synthetic mesh with 3D print overlays back in the 6 update pushed the PureFlow up near the top. There was concern that the thicker tongue in the 7 update might retain more heat or moisture, but the mesh seems to breathe better than the super thin tongue in earlier versions. The fine mesh throughout the rest of the upper 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 X, which shares the fine mesh, heel-counter, and moisture-holding liner, though its padding is thinner. Only the New Balance Minimus 10v1 had greater breathability, largely because it had such limited padding and no sort of impermeable upper stability structures like heel-counters to block heat and moisture exchange.
The Brooks racers ranked somewhere near the middle of the class with their weight coming in at 20.1 ounces for men's 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 Clouds X were only 17.8 ounces.
That isn't to say that the Brooks are heavy, it's really just that the field of shoes is insanely light. Even though we gave this contender our Editors' Choice Award, 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, or the On Cloud Xs if you want something closer to a traditional shoe.
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 7 alongside most of the other lightweight shoes, below the huskier stability shoes like the ASICS GT-2000 5. There was an exception to the durability-stability rule found in the Minimus 10v1, which also topped out the measure, though neither shoe meets the cushioning, padding, and speed of these. 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 hard-pack and low intensity trails, but they will excel on roads, tracks, and other paved surfaces.
At $100, the PureFlow 7 has a great price, as it offers incredible upper and landing comfort. After all, we did name this our Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat. 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, especially with the updated tongue to completely stop chafing. This shoe earns every penny.
The PureFlow 7 is absolutely the best iteration of the line yet. They took the best of earlier models, listened to customers, and made the best fixes. This time around they earned the Top Pick for Lightweight Racing Flat, edged out of the Editor's Choice spot by the excellent On Cloud X. Brooks built on the success of the super comfortable seamless upper and the natural flex in its midsole by redesigning the tongue to avoid the chafe of earlier models. It remains at or near the very top of the field in landing and upper comfort, breathability, and weight. 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