Monday, November 12, 2012

Brooks Pure Drift Review

Most of you would had known that I've gotten a review unit of PureDrift from Brooks Malaysia. I promised a detailed review of the shoes and it started with the unboxing of the "can't-find-it-yet-as-of-November-2012" yellow fellow in the blog entry here.
Decked in my own Elastic-laces - race ready.
The first shoe by Brooks to be claimed as a true "minimalist" apart from being the lightest in the Pure Project family, this shoe comes with a lot of expectation. Continuing from the "Feel More With Less" direction, Brooks has came out with a shoe that allow the full removal of the Sockliner (or in layman term, the shoe insert) for a full Zero Drop experience.
Blue Sockliner removed to reveal a yellow base
With a Zero Drop minimalist set-up  the shoe now forces or encourages you to land mid-foot or fore-foot. This is done due to the fact that now your feet (in the shoe) is level (hence the ZERO mm differences). And if you noticed, if you run barefoot, your feet will automatically strike anywhere but the heel. Don't believe?
Sole victor: Ethiopian athlete Abebe Bikila runs barefoot for victory in the Rome 1960 Olympic Games marathon. (Caption and photo from article on 100 Days to Olympic)
While the hype of running barefoot has taken the road sans any protections, wearing a minimalist shoes does provide a certain degree of protection and perhaps, assist with performance to an extend. Much like how a certain socks-like fingered shoes are favorite by athletes all over.
First Impression Counts
The market has moved from plain boring shoes to bright floro in-your-face-damn-you-can't-see-me-run color. Yellow. Plain and simple. Striking Yellow. If that doesn't make you look (at the shoes), you have to be color blind.
Apart from my man-boobs, you would agree that the most striking would be the striking shoe. Photo by Mr. Chan WK. Thank you sir!
OK, now, fashion aside, one of the more significant changes between the Pure Project (PP1) and Pure Project 2 (PP2), particularly the PureDrift is the Dual Toe Flex. Traditionally, there is only ONE groove. Sample seen below is from the PureGrit from PP1 which i reviewed here.
PureGrit. Toe Flex allows for more "feel" between the feet and ground.
Now, compared to the PureDrift with Dual Flex Toe. The PureDrift’s dual flex toe design allows the foot and toes to do what they are designed to do – provide stability and balance while we run. Which sound like how our feet reacts running barefoot.
In red dotted line - the two grooves for more feel with the ground
As some of you running barefoot already know, the correct striking would be for the feet to roll from the outside-in aka from the small toes to the big toes. Studies in my barefoot running article points to the importance of bio-mechanic changes aka your running gait to be able to except and embrace this form of running. Likewise, as some of you are aware, another brand's "barefoot" shoes work on this principle - but with more cushioning, making the shoes heavier.
The Sole of the PureDrift
For weight comparison, lets assume an US9 size as most manufacturer peg their shoe's spec to this "average". The PureDrift came in at 5.6oz or 158grams per side. As some runners love technical details, this weight when compared to other "similar" competitors would be the Nike LunarRacer2 at 5.5oz, Vibram 5-fingers KSO comes in at 5.7oz and New Balance Minimus Zero at 6.4oz. Do bear in mind for most elite runners, these weight is significant for them as their timing are typically down to hundred of seconds in a closely competed race. Every ounces (or grams) of weight shaved allows them to have higher power-to-weight ratio, which in return, spell efficiency for them.
For us mere mortals that runs for health, it is for us to feel like the "pros".
See, told ya. Runners all want to be like Kenyans. Photo credit to Tey Eng Tiong. Thank you Huey Ling for the poster!
My US10 PureDrift comes in about 190grams each side, which is about 32grams heavier than an US9. Not too shabby considering the extra materials to fit a centimetre longer of a shoe.
380grams/pair for US10
Now, if i remove the Sockliner, the weigh shaved off ...35grams!
345grams per pair minus the Sockliner!
I have no idea that a Sockliner could be that heavy.
The Test
The timing of the shoe seeding coincide nicely to the Powerman race I will be doing the next day. While some might argue that would be "suicidal" to try a new gear a day before, It has been the case for me in some of my previous seeding from another brand. I am a firm believer that a (well made and designed functional) shoe SHOULD live up to the expectation and deliver nothing short of what they are supposed to do. PureDrift in this instances, should not be an exception. After all, my reputation as an independent reviewer is at stake if i do not write in representation of the actual experience.
Sockless. Sockliner-less.
As the Powerman race is a Run-Bike-Run race. I planned for the shoes to be tested two ways - with and without the sockliner. As both the distance would be the same, I would have a good idea how the shoe will perform over the same distance (of 11.4km each run).
Run 1: Without Sockliner
Me And Just You, PureDrift

I decided that the first run will be without the Sockliner, effectively making me run at a Zero Drop configuration. Based on my experience with the PureGrit, i decided to run without socks as well. So, this is really a minimalist approach - KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupe. Fitting in the PureDrift with no socks or the liner provided substantial space for my toes. Perhaps it was early morning when my feet has not swelled up yet (tips to buy shoe is to get them in evening so your feet already at it's maximal width). As the gun went off, I started to pick up my pace. First thing i noticed immediately was how the shoe "forces" me to land midfoot/forefoot first. There were almost complete absence of heel-strike.
The Line. My Best Friend.
In fact, i felt "fast". I was running at sub 4:30 pace in the first two KM and I know I will not survive the whole 11.4km if i sustain that effort. I guess the lightness of the shoes did sort of gave that impression, or performance.
First 2km completed in 4:17 and 4:24. I could had posted a new 1-Mile dash record.
The DNA out sole that claims to be 30% more plush than the normal EVA lived up to it's name. The DNA features allow the shoe to offer more plush ride when demanded and firmer if the run is less aggressive. I felt exactly that.
Run 1 Loop 1 Captured by Tey. 
The Dual Flex Toe, that, I felt it functioning, this of course was compared to the PureGrit with single toe flex. As my barefoot run tend to roll in from outer to inner (aka landing on the outside, with the pad of my small toes contact first, and rolling towards the big toes), i felt connected and more stable. I counted strides and it was hitting 90 stride-per-minute (spm) with minimal effort. I ran strong and ran fast. I could had posted a new 10km personal best when i review the data back again. What say you?
Putrajaya was humid with rain from the night before and the morning run. I soon found myself and the shoes drenched in sweat. With no socks and no liner I started to feel blisters forming on the bottom left foot (inner, near the midfoot) and on the toe of my right foot. It happened circa KM9 water station and I got a few plasters from the first aiders in case i need it later.
Just In Case...
I told myself to just continue running and tend to it in T1. The blisters felt "controlled".
Run 1 Loop 2. Passing the timing map before entering T1. Thanks to Sophia Chu for the photo.
My first 11.4km was completed in 52minutes. I ran to my Bike, removed the shoe, insert the sockliner and went for my bike. The PureDrift, it was drenched. 
Preparing for Run 2 in advance.
Run 2: 11.4km
I finished my biking faster than what i expected myself to do. Those hours on the trainers helped immensely. In fact, i was blasting past 57km/h at one stretch and felt like a pro-rider. This post, however, is not about me cycling. Lets get back to the shoe.
Superb Shot. Just Out of Run 2. Checking My watch to make sure all system go. Thanks JoEtaNg for the photo capture! Nice play with wide angle lense!
With the shoe now with the Sockliner, the bed was dry and suprisingly the top portion was not as wet as it was 2hours before. One plus point to the PureDrift as it wicks off sweat and water pretty well and fast. With the Sockliner in, the shoe fits a bit better. Less "roomy" feel. I started running and the familiar feeling of forefoot/midfoot strike came back. It still promote this running gait though I was recovering from the bike.
Lets Run! Again. 
One thing i forgot to mention is that the tongue of PureDrift is rather unique. It actually an intergrated part of the top last and wraps from the outer to inner, tucked into the shoe which actually allowed this shoe to be worn without socks.
Get what I meant on the Tongue?
I exit transition and started running. I was maintaining a 5:30 pace, which is a comfortable pace for me and I slowly started to pick up the pace again.
Run 2 Loop 2. Thanks Nurina! You can still see my Mid and Fore-foot strike.
It started to drizzle not long after passing the timing mat on my second loop and the shoe got wet with rain and sweat. I decided to record a video on how i feel of the shoe the second 11.4km. It will work better than trying to remember and decide what to write. Here is the video.
Pardon the constipated talk as I was trying to talk and think at the same time. Haha. Excuses.
After 6km on the second loop, the blisters that formed earlier did not get any worse. The Sockliner could had saved the day for me. I maintained the pace and keep counting my strides to ensure more efficient energy usage.
Powering the last 700meters. Chris was inspirational.
The consistency and the lightness of the shoe despite it being wet did not deter my pace as i crossed the run in 1:04 with 5:39/min average.

This entry has become like another Race Report. Pardon me for getting out of context, again. But that's all folks. The review of the shoes, in a race.
After 23.4km and the shoe still look clean.
Thumbs UP. Thanks Tey!
This PureDrift is light. I believe I had managed to set a little buzz about the shoes especially amongst friends and stranger that actually asked me which model of Brooks I am wearing. Lightweight. Fast. Responsive. Provide close to barefoot stability with more feel to the ground. By the way, the NavBand, that band across the top of your leg, it did not bother me one bit. 
Whose Shoes Is The Smelly Shoe?
- Light. No complain in this department. Even when fully drenched in rain and sweat, it still felt light.
- Responsive. The Brooks DNA and TDM worked as claimed. Minimal padding but provide good feel and adequate cushioning.
- Stable. I noticed that the outer part of the sole runs from the front to the back, giving the shoe a continous tread much like the Ghost 5 "Caterpillar" crash pad. The Dual Flex Toe likely to lend even more real feel to this stability.
- Broad feet? No problem, this shoe is ROOMY. Which lead me to the following comments (Cons) below...
Notice the black sole part on the outer part of the shoes? That's the Caterpillar-like pad I meant.
- The sizing is a bit iffy. I wear a US11 on my PureGrit and Ghost5 but it was rrrroooommmy in the PureDrift. I down size to US10 and it fitted. Condition of fit is without socks, with Sockliner and in the late afternoon. I suggest that if you intend to use it as a Zero drop shoe to try it without the Sockliner; or should i say try it on using the typical condition you will wear your shoes for run.
Yes. Only ONE con from me. The list will be updated as the shoe is being put through it's paces whenever I run. I have plans to run this over 20km to see how it will behave.
Now, everyone, KL-Drift on PureDrift!

The shoe is only available in January 2013. It will be priced at RM399/pair. With the current Brooks discount structure, you will or might be able to get it off at 30% less making it an almost Sub-RM300 investment that look good and is actually functional. Make sure you test the shoe for good fit before buying and if any of you wear an US10 and would like to try it, let me know and I will bring it along when I come run with you. That is, if you don't mind wearing what my feet got in (Don't worry, I don't have Hong Kong Feet).
Additional Comments/Review
Well, not really additional since this is still within the original posting. :) But it does add some drama to the review, isn't it? Like there is something I am not telling. As this is a review unit, I decided to do something not many will do to their shoes.
Put it into a mesh bag....Washing Machine!
I did not get any approval from Brooks to do this. This was driven by the fact that a certain brand mentioned that their minimalist "can be machine washed". So, I was thinking...WHY not? I washed the sole, clean out any dirt, put in mesh bag and dumped it in with the rest of my racing clothes and some laundry. The machine was set to normal wash and it..survived. I then air-dry it in shaded area and the shoe was dried within the next hour. Damn this shoe wicks everything!
The Sockliner from my bike shoe and PureDrift in another mesh bag
Please do this at your own risk. Brooks will not be responsible for any shoes that losses it's shape after putting through a washing and drying cycle.
My Current Color. Anything and Everything BRIGHT.
Hope you enjoyed the post and find it useful. Meanwhile, stay tuned to January 1, 2013 for the official launch!

Brooks Malaysia Official Website : Brooks Malaysia Here
Brooks Malaysia Official Facebook Page: Brooks Facebook


  1. thanks Stupe for the review...arghhh..lambat nye January.... :)

    1. My advice remains : Make sure test for size and also for feel. If you on Minimalist, bring it along so you can wear them both to compare. :)

  2. Thanks for the review. I am currently using the Brooks Pure Connect and was wondering if the Pure Drift is suitable for me.

    1. Hi Bernard, It will be in store in January 2013. I suggest you bring your Connect to the shop and then try the Drift and Connect on. That way, you will feel the immediate differences.

      Drift to me is superb. I am testing it extensively.

    2. Hi ..Thanks for the response. It sound like the Drift would be a good fit for a person who is using Connect but as you noted, I should bring my Connect to the shop for side by side comparison.

    3. My only other comparison to the Pure shoes are the Grit. With the Drift, the Grit felt very very cushioned. Drift is minimalist and the lightness gets to you as you wear a heavier trainer later. :)

  3. Great review. Thanks. I have these shoes and I'm still trying to decide if Iike them. I like how my feet fall, but the toe box is a little weird, and without socks I've developed some blisters on the first few runs.

    1. For me,this shoe is good except it doesn't last as long as I wanted it to be. But to be fair, past 250km, it is still servicable provided I do not mind the tear on the side.

      s for blister, i get them on the inner side of the big toes (both side), something I never get from any other shoes....

      It could be the inside the the toe box with the harder material that could had caused it.

  4. Hi Tristupe!
    I'm currently on brooks ghost 4 n merrell road glove. Both size 10 us. Tried size 9 us, length was ok but feels a a little t tight with liner.

    Will it expand or should I stIck to size 10?

    1. Abang Jamboo - hehe. Nice nickname. Will you run with or without the liner? I agree it was tricky when i fitted it also.

      I got a size i usually wear and with liner. If i wear whout liner, I will wear a thicker socks.

      So, in your case, a US10 if you plan to run mostly with liner.