EDIT: I have a follow up post with my feelings on the PureConnect after 4 months and 250km in them.
Feel the run from head to big toe with the radically lightweight and flexible PureConnect. Neutral runners who crave less shoe and more freedom will love the maximum breathability of an open mesh upper built on a slim and nimble underfoot. A split toe groove extends through the forefoot allowing the runner to really engage the foot and get a greater sense of connection to the ground. This is a shoe for those who want as little as possible between them and the road. - www.brooksrunning.comDescription
The shoe upper is actually made out of three layers. The top layer is a very fine white mesh. The bottom two layers are not a foam substance as reported in some reviews but rather two layers of material. The top layer covers the Nav Band and overlays at the mid foot. The Brooks Logos and the strip on the toe and heel are made from reflective material that reflects at certain angles, but stays matt at others. Optically the shoe upper is not such a bright green as the sole.
The toe and heel cup both are reinforced with a heavier and much more stable material. This will help provide significant protection should you stub your foot, although I draw the line at testing that out personally. The reinforcement around the heel provides a nice supportive cup that your heel sits in.
The eyelets are manufactured similar to button holes using stitching to reinforce them, the line of stitching goes around the entire lacing area. The middle two eyelets that sit over the Nav Band have an additional overlay on the outside. The eyelets either side of that pass through the overlays under the top layer. The lacing scheme at the toe end of the shoe is somewhat unusual the lace running up the tounge about a cm on the the outside edge before coming out to cross over to the other side, this is not noticeable when being worn but might make fully re-lacing somewhat trickier.
The laces themselves are also interesting, at the two end sections they have been pinched in over a dozen times to create a series of beads similar to how a green bean looks. I understand this is to make it harder for the laces to come undone.
The Nav Band runs from the bottom of the shoe up to the eyelets as two separate bands these are then connected onto a wider elastic section that runs across the tongue underneath the laces.
The tongue is only padded in the middle underneath where the laces lie, It is held in place by an elastic tab on each side right at the second to top eyelet. The top layer is made from a suede like material.
The Sockliner in the shoe is made from BioMogo, something you'll discover if you take it out. It is also surprisingly thick. I guess for someone wanting an even more minimal feel you could remove/replace it and win a bit more space inside the shoe at the same time.
Inside the shoe only has padding in the heel area, the collar is slightly thicker but that extends quite some way down inside the shoe, the filling however compresses very well making the shoe very comfortable for me under the ankles and around the heel.
The mid sole has a slight metallic (sparkly) sheen to it on the sides of the shoe. The heel is rounded and extends significantly up the back of the shoe, the toe has a split running between the big toe and the rest of the toes, and underneath whole chunks of the mid sole have been carved away. There are additional grooves across the forefoot to increase flexibility, and the rubber has only been applied to the areas the really need it.
Germans a great language, bang two words together and you get a new one, in this case one that describes ‘that feeling you get when first try on a pair of shoes’. Here ill try and describe my first seconds in the PureConnect, my very first Impression if you will
when you first put then on its … different!
I straight away noticed the lower heel...actually it almost felt like I was standing on a slight upwards slope.
Next is the close fit of the shoe. Its not uncomfortably close I still have room to wiggle my toes, but the shoe certainly hugs the foot. This feeling is enhanced by what feels like a raised section under the arch… on closer inspection there isn’t actually any mid sole under there instead it’s a combination of the support band and the sockliner that come up under the arch.
It also feels as though my toes are raised ever so slightly, taking the first steps you notice the rubber pads in the sole, especially the one under the big toe.
I don’t know why but before I held these in my hand I sort of expected that I would be able to wiggle my big toe up and down independently of my other toes and the shoe would wiggle with it. This is not the case, the front is very flexible but I think the split is more designed to allow increased downward pressure from the big toe to aid in stabilizing the runner.
All in all it was 'Interesting' but it was also different enough from a regular trainer the I decided to be cautious about just pulling them on and taking them out for a run.
Because the initial feeling was different to my other shoes, I decided to wear them to the office for the first day. The walk there is about 1.5km, Unfortunately once there I have a pretty sedentary desk job. But it is surprising how quickly your feet and your mind adjust to the feeling of a new shoe. The closeness under the arch was no-longer unusual feeling. The close fitting form didn’t pinch there were no pressure points from walking, basically I think i just needed some time to adjust to them. Incidentally they can definitely be used as casual shoes… although in my opinion doing so exclusively would be a bit of a shame.
The plan was for a second day in casual use, partly to accustom myself to them partly because I was still recovering from a cold, So first up was a couple of hours watching children's football…. The thin soles are not really suited to hours of standing around on cold stone or concrete. However by the afternoon all this casual use was starting to make me feel like using a Ferrari to run down to the local shop for milk… so the plan was changed to include a short test run.
As soon as you start running you notice that these shoes are different. They are light, flexible, and for someone that hasn't run a lot in racing flats they literally scream speed at you. I didn’t feel that I had to work at or force a forefoot landing in them it just came naturally, even when I deliberately relaxed I still felt I had a midfoot strike.
I did a 10k loop, over a mix of asphalt, concrete, and crushed gravel bike paths. The shoe handled them all well, you could feel unevenness or large cracks in the asphalt and the bigger stones in the gravel. However the shoe has enough cushioning and protection that i didn't feel the need to slow down at all to specifically avoid any of those things, as I do when barefoot.
Mondays are my recovery day, I planned just a gently jog with the guys from the running group, and decided to test out the PureConnect's at a gentler pace. The new PureConnect did raised a bit of interest amongst the guys in my running group, they do stand out after all. After handing them around we headed out for what i hoped would be an easy run... after the warm up the pace picked up, So i stayed in the vanguard as the faster group disappeared down the road ahead of us, it was pretty hard to resist the urge to join them with the connects on my feet. But I'm glad I did because the PureConnect was great at the slower speed too, I noticed that I was running considerably quieter than my running partners. There is something almost catlike about running in them.
For the sake of interest I did force a few hundred meters of landing right back on the heel, and rolling all the way through onto the toes. The PureConnect handled that well, the heel is actually quite soft and cushioned under foot, much more so than i expected since the mid foot landing seems quite a bit firmer
The whole shoe stays in place really well, i had no problems with any slipping or worries that the shoe would come away from the foot. It stayed in place really well.
What i did notice is that the shoe works the foot and lower leg significantly more than my traditional trainers. This time i ran a bit over 11km and at the end my legs were quite tired, significantly more so than if i ran in Ghosts or the Glycerin 9's. I would therefore caution runners to be careful of doing too much too soon. If you are new to minimal shoes then i recommend that you keep the distance short in the beginning. You can definitely run further in the pure connect than if your starting out barefoot running, but you should keep it fairly short and build the mileage up as you adapt to the demands such a shoe places on you.
Currently I see the PureConnect as a great shoe for me during Tempo Runs. It works the legs a little too much for my liking to use during recovery runs. But it will almost certainly also see some use on days when the pace is slower and the distance a bit shorter.