The new Launch 7 – Brooks’ lightweight neutral trainer only receives an upper update. No real difference in the feel of the shoe, with the midsole, sock liner, outsole, lacing system… everything but the upper… the same as the 6. It’s an interesting study in shoe design and evolution. We often have customers (and we ourselves) wonder why shoe companies change the design of shoes from year to year, often alienating runners along the way. The Launch is a rare shoe which has stayed remarkably similar over almost its entire lifespan, and while it has a dedicated following of runners, it is starting to show how much the industry has changed in the past few years. While is has been a standard-bearer of the trainer/racer combo category for years, the technology that other brands have developed really puts the Launch (and Brooks’ lack of innovation/dedication to maintaining the same feel) into perspective.
Brooks Launch 7 vs 6!
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 a basic lightweight trainer that’s appropriate for everything from 5k races to marathons and the training that those races require. The BioMoGo DNA foam is really starting to show its age, however. The overall ride of the Launch is a traditional lightweight trainer, but with other brands developing lighter, bouncier, and softer midsole materials, the Launch now feels way behind some of it’s primary competitors. While it’s more substantial than some of those competitors (Kinvara, Zante, Beacon, Pegasus Turbo, etc) and it feels significantly lighter and faster than “standard weight” trainers like the Ghost, it feels “dead” compared to the newer foams now on the market. Even the similarly-priced Revel 3 from Brooks feels lighter, bouncier, and has a better transition.
The Launch is one of Brooks’ pure neutral shoes, and as such doesn’t really provide anything in terms of guidance. The new Launch 7 is certainly no more stable than the Launch 6.
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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 slightly 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 Revel
Designed with similar runners in mind, the Revel and Launch end up feeling pretty different. Brooks is positioning the Revel as more of a lifestyle shoe that blends wearability with responsive cushion, but the Revel 3 is probably what the Launch 7 should have been. It’s lighter, snappier, and just a little more fun than the Launch. It does all of that while still being slightly softer. The Launch is a little higher, but not as soft as the Revel. Toebox room is similar, with the Launch having a little more depth. Overall, the Launch is a little narrower, with the Revel’s knit providing a little more flexibility as well. Length is similar. 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 Revel, 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 similar in length 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. With the Launch 7 feeling inexplicably firmer than the 6, the Levitate does feel a little softer, but that could be due to manufacturing quirks with early 7s. 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.
Brooks Launch vs Nike Pegasus Turbo
The Pegasus Turbo is just one of a number of examples (including ones from NB, Adidas, even Sketchers) that, when compared to the Launch, simply offer a much better overall packages. The new foams have allowed those other companied to offer lighter, bouncier, and softer blends of cushioning. The Pegasus Turbo is lower and lighter than the Launch, and yet it is much softer and has a much better transition. It feels like less shoe, but for a lightweight trainer and racer, that’s kind of the point. In terms of fit, the Launch is considerably shorter but a little wider than the Turbo. The upper of the Pegasus Turbo 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 Pegasus Turbo as small flexible cloud attached to the bottom of your foot. Neither is designed to provide much stability.