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Zero Drop Cushioned Running Shoes Comparison

February 25th, 2013

This spring, zero-drop footwear is getting a boost – in terms of underfoot cushioning and protection. Once the exclusive domain of “minimal” footwear, zero-drop designs are growing up (off the ground, that is) with thicker platforms designed to provide more impact protection.

Three big brands – Brooks, Mizuno and Saucony – have introduced cushioned, zero-drop models this year. We took to the roads in all three, and here’s how they stack up.

Brooks PureDrift



Likes: Excellent ground feel, flexible platform that moves with the foot, wide forefoot allows for natural toe splay

Dislikes: Many runners will want more underfoot protection, midsole pods are noticeable, upper may be too generous for some

Verdict: The Brooks PureDrift delivers a near barefoot experience suited best for experienced minimalist runners

6.1 oz (Men’s 9), $100 MSRP

The PureDrift got a lot of buzz before its January release. Known for its close to the ground feel, this shoe maintains a touch of cushioning underfoot. One of the more minimal releases of the year, the PureDrift is a treat for those looking for an almost barefoot ride.

Not as cushioned as it may appear, the extra firm underfoot feel makes it best reserved for experienced minimalist runners. Removal of the sockliner allows for an even closer to the ground experience, though testers agreed that the difference in cushioning is small.

The PureDrift platform utilizes a pod construction that delivers remarkable flexibility, especially in the forefoot. The pods are noticeable underfoot when transitioning from landing to toe-off, though the effect on the overall ride is small.

The toebox is the widest in this test, and there’s a roomy fit throughout the shoe. Runners with narrower feet may notice scrunching of excess material over the top of the foot.

Read more…

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Brooks PureDrift

February 1st, 2013

Brooks PureDrift Men's Shoe

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A minimal shoe with just a touch of cushioning from the hard ground below, the Brooks PureDrift is a dream for those looking for a near-barefoot running feel.
(View Men’s Brooks PureDrift and Women’s Brooks PureDrift)

Big Features

  • Removable Sockliner: A lined footbed beneath the sockliner allows for either a 4mm offset with the sockliner in or 0mm offset with it removed.
  • Flexible Ride: Deep flex grooves throughout the platform give the PureDrift plenty of flexibility from heel to toe.
  • Slipper-Like Fit: A stitch-less upper combined with asymmetrical lacing deliver a natural and comfortable sock-like fit.

Road Test

Promising a lightweight design, low stack height, and flexible ride with either a 4mm or zero drop platform, the PureDrift has attracted the attention of many runners, especially those seeking a near-barefoot feel.

So how does the PureDrift perform? Ground feel is excellent in this shoe, yet thanks to its slight (albeit firm) cushioning, it lacks the bare-bones pounding sensation of many of its quasi-barefoot competitors. This isn’t the smoothest landing shoe out there, but runners can rest assured that there is some protection from the impact of footstrike.

One notable feature of the PureDrift is its removable insole – the shoe’s 4mm offset is reduced to zero drop when the insole is removed. Testers didn’t notice the difference in offset either way – the insert seems to compress down in the heel considerably under body weight, and both options encourage a mid-to-forefoot landing. We did, however, find the cushioning to be significantly firmer without the insole.

The upper, designed around a wider last to allow for toe splay, nicely accommodates a higher volume foot. Some testers looking for a snugger fit found the upper to fold over itself in several places, resulting in a crease over the top of the foot. When wearing a sock, the creasing isn’t noticeable. It’s just one small quirk of an otherwise excellent minimal shoe option.

Runners Say

“I couldn’t tighten up the laces without the upper bunching up; there was a bit too much material there for a snugger fit.” – Taro

“This shoe has a very flexible forefoot. I might even go as far as to compare it to the Nike Free Run.” – Joanna

“The PureDrift is a firm shoe, but its definitely not as firm as some of the practically barefoot shoes that have come through the office. Its touch of protection can make the difference as the miles add up.” – Matt

Brooks PureDrift Women's Shoe

Taro Running Shoes , ,

New and Cool: Jump into January

January 23rd, 2013

All the running gearheads around the RW offices (which we’ll admit, is most of us) are getting stoked, because new spring run gear is starting to trickle in to our warehouse. There’s a lot more to come in the next few months, and we can’t wait to share it with you. Here are just a few of the new arrivals that we’re really excited about right now…

Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans: Assorted & Pomegranate

Give us a reason to eat jelly beans – any reason – and we’re pretty much on board. Extreme Sport Beans, from the geniuses who make Jelly Belly® jelly beans, give us reasons to eat these tasty little bites during a workout. Fuel your run with carbs, electrolytes and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C. B vitamins help your body burn carbs and fat, and vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. The Extreme version of these beans also packs 50mg of caffeine to help keep you going through long training sessions. We now have two new flavors: Assorted and Pomegranate. Yum.

Nike+ SportWatch GPS

If you’re ready to kick up your training a notch, then the Nike+ SportWatch GPS is a great place to start. The watch comes with the Nike+ sensor foot pod and everything you need to get started so you can monitor your training progress. Measure your pace and distance, and track your progress over time as you work toward your next goal. You can even get involved in the Nike+ online community to compete with your friends and get inspired by the running accomplishments of other athletes.

But wait a minute, we hear you saying, I think I’ve seen this watch before. You’re right, this is not a new model from Nike. But what is new is the fancy white color, which looks pretty dang futuristic. In fact, we think the watch’s sleek design looks so good that you’ll want to wear it even when you aren’t running.

New Minimal Options from Brooks and Mizuno

This season we’re excited to see some zero drop shoes that offer a bit of protection from the road. A couple newbies that caught our eye are brand new models from Brooks and Mizuno. Brooks introduced the Brooks PureDrift as the lightest member of the PureProject family. Its flexible midsole gives your feet a bit of padding from the ground, while maintaining an excellent feel for the running surface. The shoe can have a 4mm offset or zero drop with insole removed.

From Mizuno, we’re pumped about the Mizuno Wave Evo Levitas, which boasts low weight, a low stack height and an invitation to get your runner’s high on. The zero drop platform and wide forefoot combine to offer an excellent shoe for a mid-to-forefoot strike. Mizuno uses their Wave technology in the forefoot midsole to provide cushioning on ground contact. The colors are great, and we couldn’t help but fall for the incredibly breathable open mesh upper of this shoe.

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Brooks PureDrift Sneak Peek

May 30th, 2012

The PureDrift is an entirely new shoe to the PureProject line. It’s lowest to the ground and lightest, with Men’s designed to weigh 5.6 oz (size 9) and Women’s 5.1 oz (size 8). A removable sockliner drops the shoe from its standard 4mm offset to a 0mm offset, giving just a bit of padding between your foot and the ground. MSRP will be $100.00.

Back to All PureProject Sneak Peeks >

Men's PureDrift. No seam interior construction means you can go sockless.

Men's PureDrift. A Black/Blue version also will be available at the January 2013 launch.

Men's PureDrift. Note the parallel cuts in the forefoot to improve flexibility.

Women's PureDrift. Asymmetrical lacing is designed to improve midfoot fit.

Women's Puredrift. Looks dead level, and with the sockliner removed, it is.

Back to All PureProject Sneak Peeks >

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