Specs: 8mm heel-toe drop; 11.2 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 9.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)
The Scoop: Like many brands, Brooks set out to create a new running shoe that offered both loads of soft cushioning, a lot of energy return and plenty of all-around comfort—basically a shoe that does everything for a lot of runners. That’s the buzz in the industry, and new cushioning compounds and manufacturing techniques make it possible. In this case, the key parts are Brooks’ new DNA AMP midsole technology and its 3D Fit Print and FitKnit upper. The DNA AMP midsole, which took years to develop with BASF, a chemical company, is essentially a polyurethane foam that’s wrapped in a TPU skin, a combination that allows it to absorb shock with a cushy feel while also returning energy with a springy pop. The segmented outsole seems to contribute to the shoe’s easy flex and energetic ride. The combination dual-knit upper allows for both a dialed-in fit for any runner’s specific foot shape but also allows room for the natural flexing and heaving when a foot is in motion or as it swells during long runs.
Who’s it best for? This is truly a do-everything shoe for a wide range of runners—and best for those running moderate to high mileage (30 to 60 miles per week) while training for races from 10K to the marathon. Our wear-test crew found the combination is great for long runs, short runs, fast runs and slow runs. A few relegated it only to long runs and a few used it only for slower recovery runs. And that’s the beauty of it. With the exception of very short and fast running (track workouts or 1-mile races, for example), you can wear this shoe for whatever you want and it’s going to hold it’s own.
Plus: The Levitate feels pretty soft and cushy and has a great “step-in” feel about it. But, because of the energy return, it also offers long-wearing comfort for runs longer than an hour.
Minus: Our only minor gripe with this otherwise stunning shoe is the weight. Some of our wear-testers found it slightly heavier than what they’d prefer in a versatile training shoe. It’s not that 11.2 oz for a men’s size 9.0 is overwhelmingly heavy, it’s more that there are other shoes in the 9.5-10.5 oz. range.