The new Launch 6 – Brooks’ lightweight neutral trainer gets an update! A little more underneath the forefoot and with the strobel back, the Launch 6 gets pretty close to the feel of the Launch 4. With slight changes to the upper and midsole, the Launch continues to shine as Brooks’ lightest “energize” trainer.
Brooks Launch 6 vs 5!
The new Launch 6 remains a pretty standard fit, with the new mesh upper hugging but flexible – so it should provide a comfortable fit for runners with differing foot widths. The toebox is very accommodating overall, having a very generous volume (especially in terms of depth). Length is pretty true to size, feel free to go with your typical running shoe size. The arch is a little less engaging than previous versions – if you typically like to have your arch engaged while running/walking you might want to request one of our custom orthotic felt arch supports (free with a purchase!!!) or get an over-the-counter insole.
Brooks hasn’t really tinkered with the basic formula of the Launch – it’s still a go-to lightweight trainer that’s appropriate for everything from 5k races to marathons and the training that those races require. Putting the strobel back in for the 6 has made is a little softer, but unless you’re comparing it directly to the 5, you are unlikely to notice. The overall ride of the Launch is a true lightweight trainer. It’s more substantial than some of its competitors (Kinvara, Zante, Beacon, etc), but it feels significantly lighter and faster than “standard weight” trainers like the Ghost. Landing on the heel you feel that something is there, but the quick transition and firmer foam through the midfoot keep the shoe quick.
The Launch is one of Brooks’ pure neutral shoes, and as such doesn’t really provide anything in terms of guidance. The new Launch 6 is certainly no more stable than the Launch 5. It might actually be a little less stable due to the 5’s more cradling nature in the heel (due to the lack of a strobel).
Brooks Launch vs Ghost
The Launch and Ghost are designed for slightly different audiences. The Ghost is Brooks’ standard-weight trainer – focused on providing a cushioned neutral trainer while the Launch is more of a faster, performance-based feel. The Ghost is heavier, and it feels like it on-foot thanks to the softer foam and more cushioned transition. You feel slightly higher in the Ghost to go along with the additional plushness. Fit is similar, with not a ton differentiating the two in terms of upper. Support on each is minimal, with neither providing any amount of guidance to prevent pronation.
Brooks Launch vs New Balance Zante
Designed with similar runners in mind, the Zante and Launch end up feeling pretty different. The Launch is much more of a traditional-feeling shoe with softer foam and a little more of it. The Zante is much firmer and has a lower drop than the Launch. The toebox in the Zante is bigger, and the fabric is much more flexible. Overall, the Launch is a little narrower and much more flexible than the Zante, but the Zante’s light weight still allows it to feel fast and fun. The Zante is a little shorter, but only about a quarter-size, so it shouldn’t change your overall sizing. The Zante has a little bit of inherent stability, but neither will provide any significant amount of stability for those who need to prevent pronation.
Brooks Launch vs Saucony Kinvara
Saucony’s lightweight trainer, the Kinvara, is also similar in design to the Launch. Like the Zante, though, the on-foot experience is quite different. The Kinvara is much lighter than the Launch – and feels like a lot less shoe. The drop on the Kinvara feels somewhat similar to the Launch, but it is so lightweight that you feel like that there’s not much there (for both good and bad). In terms of fit, the Kinvara is considerably shorter but a little wider than the Launch. The upper is more flexible and lighter overall. There’s a notable difference between the two under foot, with the Launch feeling like a traditional trainer and the Kinvara a minimal piece of foam. It’s less flexible than the Launch, but since there’s not much there it feels a little faster than the Launch. Neither is designed to provide much stability.
Brooks Launch vs Levitate
While Brooks has positioned the Levitate as a more responsive standard-weight trainer and the Launch is their responsive lightweight trainer, the two shoes have very different personalities. The first and most prevalent difference between the two is the weight. While the Launch achieves its responsiveness from lightweight, firmer foam, the Levitate employs Brooks’ DNA AMP foam with a TU wrapper that’s much heavier than traditional foam. While the responsive nature of that material lets the Levitate pass for a much lighter shoe, it is not nearly enough to mask the considerable weight difference between the two shoes. Once you get them on your foot, the Levitate simply feels like a lot of shoe compared to the Launch. The ride (in terms of softness) actually isn’t actually all that different, but you’re higher both in the forefoot and heel in the Levitate and there’s a noticeably higher drop. The Levitate is bigger overall, especially in the toebox. Neither shoe provides any intentional guidance for those needing support for pronation, but the Levitate’s midsole technology and design does provide a slight amount of inherent stability.