Ever hear of the Brooks Levitate? Don’t be surprised if you haven’t… yet.
The newly-launched shoe – the first edition in case you were wondering – is a slick new trainer from Brooks. It’s one of the more durable everyday, neutral-cushioned shoes we’ve ever tested. The aim of the Levitate echoes a trend widely seen in the running scene’s footwear in 2017 and that is to provide maximum energy return. If you’ve been hearing those words a lot these past months, that’s perhaps because of models like the Nike Vaporfly 4%, for example. This has been the year of maximum energy return, or “infinite energy” as Brooks describes it. In simple terms, Brooks wants more spring-back and less energy expenditure in order for the runner to take off more efficiently with each stride.
Weight and cushioning
For starters, let’s address the shoe weight right away. The Levitate is heavy for a road shoe. For men, the Levitate weighs 11.2 oz; 9.7 oz for women. That said, once you get a feel for the shoe and are a few minutes into a run, the weight factor very much seems to subside. CR considers this shoe as more of an everyday, durable trainer than a performance, workout shoe. (You can certainly do other types of runs, like tempos, in the Levitate but there are specific, lightweight shoes for fast running.)
Right out of the box, the shoe’s inner lining is one of the plushest on the market. Still, with plenty of inner cushioning, the shoe fits true to size. Plus, the cushioning maintained shape and, importantly, didn’t compress (which would in turn alter the fit of the shoe) or break down even after a few hundred kilometres. (Brooks put the shoe through nine rounds of development and seven of wear testing, for the record.)
The chrome mid-sole (you can’t miss it) is particularly eye-catching and is where you can find the DNA Amp cushioning system, which Brooks debuts in the Levitate.
The Levitate is the first shoe to feature full-length DNA Amp cushioning, which comes from BASF, the same company known for working with Adidas and its Boost system. Saucony’s Everun cushioning, as seen in the Saucony Freedom ISO, uses similar technology. We see these shoes lasting well into the hundreds of kilometres with the durable, and firm, cushioning.
What you need to know
Release date: Sept. 30, 2017
Type: Neutral cushioning
Recommended surfaces: Asphalt/concrete, non-technical trail
Heel-to-toe drop: 8 mm
Weight: Men: 11.2 oz (317.5 g) | Women: 9.7 oz (275 g)
Price (MSRP): $190
Buy Women’s Buy Men’s
The Levitate is one of the sharpest looking shoes out there, if that affects your shoe preferences at all. (Let’s honest: for many runners it does.) CR tested out the traditional blue/silver/black colourway, in men’s. The women’s shoe is almost identical – it just comes in a lighter blue shade.
It’s similar to…
If you’re familiar with other Brooks shoes, the Levitate is comparable with the Glycerin. This one is also a very durable shoe in our experience and a lighter alternative to the Launch, if not slightly springier. (Brooks has a fun shoe finder online. Based on submitted preferences, it chose the Levitate for our selections.)
As mentioned, the area around the heel is particularly plush in terms of cushioning. The heel is flexible, like the Saucony Kinvara, for example, without a plastic plate for any type of structured support that’s characteristic stability shoe. The tongue is soft too. That means the laces can be tied very tight, for a snug fit, without unwanted pressure points. The lacing system is pretty standard for a road shoe. Around to the toebox, you’ll find few seams, which reduces the chance for blisters on the topside of the foot.
The treads of the shoe are definitely an asset to the shoe. The grooves are not deep enough to collect excessive debris – small rocks and caked mud for example – but are plentiful to maintain traction, through the winter and into the spring. (Granted, we haven’t tested the shoe in the snow but it has all the makings of being a solid winter running shoe.) The arrow-pattern-specific traction isn’t immediately noticeable but it’s the type of feature that should go unnoticed.
CR recommends the Brooks Levitate for someone that feels like they need and tough and durable shoe, and aren’t too concerned with the weight of their footwear. Runners who enjoy a firm cushioning system may also enjoy this Brooks line. Future editions of the Levitate will be particularly versatile if Brooks takes a few ounces off the upper and midsole.
In case by now, you’re wondering, the Levitate is available now – the release date was Sept. 30 – in the colourway you see in this review as well as in white/silver. (Though a new colourway, black/ebony/silver, is slated to be released on Jan. 1, 2018.) You can find the Brooks Levitate online or at your local run store.
Buy Women’s Buy Men’s