Last night I finally got a chance to see the Brooks PureProject shoes in person. My wife and I had gone north so I could meet up with some one and pick up a motorcycle part (bought from a Craigslist ad). We met at Kent Station, near the Road Runner Sports store. Since we'd gotten there a little early, and he was running late due to traffic, we went in and looked around.
I tried on three of the four PureProject models -- the PureGrit, PureFlow, and PureConnect.
Right before that, I'd tried on a pair of Saucony Hattori's, and was amazed at (1) how light and slipper-like they felt, (2) how small they ran, and (3) how tight the midfoot area fit. In spite of the hype in the zero-drop community, these were an immediate send-back.
Of the Brooks shoes, I tried on the PureGrit first, in 10.5. I liked how the rearfoot fit. Secure-feeling and no pressure points. The midfoot was equally conforming to my foot. The forefoot, though, was where things started to go wrong. I went up a half-size to make sure that wasn't the issue.
Next up was the PureConnect. This one I tried on in a 11 right off, so I wasn't struggling against the size. Like the PureGrit, the rearfoot and midfoot felt great. The forefoot felt narrower than the PureGrit, and I was told by the salesman that they do have different lasts... My little toe was trying to hang over the side of the midsole, and I had plenty of room at the end of my toes.
How about the PureFlow? A slightly wider toe box than the PureConnect, but my toes were still pushed together. I investigated this further by forcing my foot inward, and while that gave my little toe more room, my big toe was trying to force the upper over the edge of the midsole at a point that was much more stiff from the toe bumpers.
Then it was back to the PureGrit in size 11. Same feeling.
It's the same feeling I have with the Saucony Kinvara, and it's due to the shape, or rather the shaping, of the forefoot into a more pointed look. This is NOT foot-shaped, at the very least not MY foot-shaped.
My overall impressions were a bit of disappointment. The shoes looked great, and felt great until I got to the toes. The same reasons I won't buy the Kinvara again are the reasons that I won't buy these shoes. And that's not to say they're bad shoes, just that they won't work for me. If you like the Kinvara you'll most likely really like the Brooks PureProject line.