Brooks Levitate 3 Review

With the third generation of the Brooks Levitate, Brooks has not changed the overall formula of the shoe, but have made some important changes that make it critical to try on version 3 before purchasing. Overall, most Levitate fans should like the update and it should continue to win new fans with its mesh upper and responsive yet soft midsole.

The Levitate 3 follows the same formula as the Levitate 2 – a full AMP DNA midsole wrapped by TPU designed to provide a responsive, fast ride in a standard-weight neutral trainer. The Levitate 3 keeps the flexible sock-like knit upper, with some minor tweaks. The fit and feel of the shoe is similar, but there are some slight changes:

Brook Levitate 3 vs Levitate 2:

  • No significant changes to the midsole or outsole – the ride is almost identical in terms of softness/responsiveness
  • The knit upper has been tweaked a little bit- it provides plenty of flex, but wraps pretty snugly around your foot throughout the shoe
  • The tongue is a more integrated into the knit upper, but it doesn’t really change the feel or fit
  • One big difference is that brooks has added a pull tab on the heel to assist with getting the shoe on – unfortunately, that change adds a seam to the back of the heel collar
  • That seam runs a very high risk or irritating the achilles – the heel collar has been slightly reinforced and the addition of the seam is noticeable and a possible source of irritation
  • Stability remains unchanged

Brooks Levitate 3 Review

Fit

Nothing has significantly changed with the fit of the Levitate. Width is about the same as the 1 and 2, and the knit upper creates a sung fit throughout your foot as the Levitate 2 did. There’s not a ton of toebox room, both in terms of width or depth, but the knit upper should be flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of runners. The addition of a heel tab to assist with getting the shoe on is somewhat welcome, but the seam that now runs to the top of the heel collar creates a possible fit issue. With how curved the heel is overall, the now-reinforced heel collar presents an irritation threat to the achilles. We noticed it immediately upon picking up the shoe, and our early tests with it confirm that some runners feel that irritation. It’s something to evaluate be aware of before taking the shoes home. While not as bad as the PureFlow 5’s “razor blade” tongue, it’s somewhat puzzling how that design feature made it through wear-testing.

Feel

When the Levitate launched 2 years ago, it was a revelation – Brooks had created a unique combination of cushion and response that wasn’t available in traditional EVA foams. The feel of the Levitate is still unique – it’s a little springier than the Brooks Ghost 12, but softer than the Brooks Launch 6. EVA technology has really caught up, though, and there are now a few blends of midsole material that come pretty close to the balance of the Levitate at a much lighter weight. Only 2 years in, the cost in weight of the PU-wrapped DNA AMP foam now starts to hinder the shoe’s competitiveness against other standard-weight trainers. The feeling of the foam is similar to the Saucony Freedom (due to the similar PU foam), but there’s much more there in the Levitate with a more traditional 8mm drop. It also feels pretty similar to Saucony’s new Triumph 17, but the Triumph provides that same balance at a much lighter weight. The Levitate shines for customers who want a balance between soft cushion yet responsive ride – a combination that EVA foam it still trying to achieve.

A neutral trainer, the Levitate is firmly on the heavy side of the spectrum on the scale. The on-foot experience does it’s best to transform that weight, however, and the responsive ride that the DNA AMP provides makes the shoe feel lighter than it is. There are some competitors that are now catching up with lighter-weight foams.

 Function

The Levitate is designed by Brooks to be neutral, and it works well for neutral runners. Another aspect of the wrapped PU foam is that it provides some stability for runners with a slight amount of flexibility. It’s not going to provide any real stability for those needing some guidance, but it can serve as a balanced neutral shoe for those with slight tendencies for either inversion or eversion.

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Comparisons:

Brooks Levitate 3 vs Ghost 12:

When evaluating the Brooks Levitate vs Ghost, it’s important to note that they are designed with different audiences in mind and contain very different technologies. While the Brooks Levitate is a standard-weight neutral trainer which showcases Brooks’ DNA AMP foam, the Ghost is more of a standard-wight shoe with a more standard EVA foam midsole. However Brooks has tuned the DNA Loft foam to be so versatile that the two shoes feel remarkably similar. Overall height on the Ghost is much lower, but the experience is a little more plush.¬† While the Ghost is much lighter, the flexibility and minimal upper of the Levitate 3 do a lot to minimize that difference on-foot. While both are designed as neutral shoes, the Levitate provides a little bit of inherent stability given its TPU wrap and responsive foam. You have a lot more room in the Ghost overall. It is wider, longer, and has a bigger toebox.

Brooks Levitate vs Glycerin

A similar transition has occurred with the Brooks Levitate 3 vs Glycerin 17 comparison… with the Glycerin featuring a DNA Loft midsole, the two feel remarkably similar. Brooks has simply advanced their EVA foam construction far enough that there’s not a whole room between the shoes. Despite having quite different design goals, the Levitate and Glycerin are really not all that different under-foot. The Levitate is a little wider and has a more forgiving upper. While the Levitate is slightly heavier on the scale, you can’t really tell a difference on-foot. Both are designed as neutral shoes, the Levitate provides a little bit of inherent stability given its TPU wrap and responsive foam.

Brooks Levitate vs Saucony Freedom ISO

The Levitate and Freedom both serve as flagship vehicles for Brooks’ DNA AMP and Saucony’s EVERUN, respectively. While Brooks has put their Boost competitor in a standard-weight, standard-drop neutral trainer, the Freedom deviates as a lower, more flexible neutral trainer that doesn’t really fit into an existing typical stereotype. The Levitate is much higher but a touch firmer than the Freedom, but both feel about the same weight on-foot. The Levitate is a little wider but with the new knit upper they provide about the same amount of toebox room. The above comparisons and evaluation of the Levitate is probably one of the reasons that Saucony is moving away from its EVERUN technology… like Brooks, Saucony has simply developed more traditional EVA composites that can effectively mimic the feel of the Levitate/Freedom with less weight and less expense.

Brooks Levitate vs Saucony Triumph

With Saucony moving away from EVERUN, the Triumph has been the first neutral trainer to be updated to the new PWRRUN+ foam. Like the Glycerin, the Triumph is designed to be Saucony’s most cushioned shoe, delivering a soft, plush ride for the duration of your run. Saucony has made the same strides with PWRRUN+, now allowing their softest shoe to deliver a surprising amount of energy return without feeling hard. The result of these advances in technology is that there’s not that much difference between the two in terms of under-foot cushion. The Triumph is much more plush in terms of step-in feel and upper, but once you get running, the knit of the Levitate feels just as comfortable. The Triumph is roomier all around, and especially so in the toebox.

Brooks Levitate 3 Review

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