I was pretty excited to check out the Brooks Launch 3, I was a huge fan of the Transcend and loved the idea of a lighter, sleeker shoe with tons of color options. What I found is a really solid shoe designed for recreational runners that gives you a ton of flexibility regardless of your run style. Turns out its definitely not a super light speedwork shoe which is okay and honestly, the styling speaks louder than the features because they give you so many choices.
Construction: The Upper
The upper is a full redesign from what I can tell. It’s a dual layer design, but the mesh is on the outside so they have flipped the metaphor on its head. Typically you find heated overlays on top of the mesh, but in this case the structural elements were placed on first and then the mesh overlay was laid on top. It does still breath really well throughout the entire upper regardless. Additionally, 3d printed support overlays cover the mesh in spots and it’s basically seamless aside from near the laces.
The mid uses DNA foam which is supposed to adapt to your running style, basically it’s an active foam system. This works for the most part, but at distance I found it tends to lose its activity a bit and feels a little firm. It’s somewhat responsive, but the actual mid platform is pretty high, so it definitely could be better.
The outsole is full contact and the tread visually looks like the tires on your car. There is rubber everywhere on the bottom instead of just your typical key areas and this definitely increases durability. The problem is it also increases weight. You do get solid traction overall and there were no major grip/contact issues to speak of. The 10mm drop on the shoe is a little off for me especially given the fact it’s full contact and does not favor heel strikers. Also at 9.8 ounces, I really feel like they could trim this down a bit and only get that rubber in key areas.
Style and Aesthetics
The Launch 3 comes in a ton of colors which is awesome, seriously the mens alone has 12 difference color options. I actually quite like the styling, they visually look fast and the upper is really clean looking. The overlay and mesh combo is very well integrated some of the color options are very cool.
My first take on the Brooks Launch 3 visually was, it’s a racing shoe. It comes in at that interesting spot where it offers just enough cushioning to keep things comfortable, but also it lacks a lot of the stack height and stabilization elements that would make me want to use it for distance. My first several runs in these came below the 10 mile mark and the Launch 3s performed quite well. They were very quick off the toe, but that toe is very pointy and I definitely was aching for a little more room up front. That being said, I was able to achieve and hold mid six minute paces over short mileage.
I then took them out on several longer runs and my opinion here comes more from my position of leg strength, so everyone will experience something different. I found at distance the Launch 3 just didn’t have enough cushioning for me. After the 10 to 13 mile range, I felt like the cushioning had disappeared for the most part and my legs were left wanting a bit more. So that DNA system over system really started failing me a bit and my legs felt like I was doing a lot of work.
Overall, the Brooks Launch 3 is a solid consumer shoe. This is a multi-utility shoe for runners who pace in the 8 to 12 minute range, don’t do a lot of speedwork, and probably just want one shoe in their closet. I do think you can very much rev them up and go fast, but at this weight, I would love a little more cushion in there.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 9.8oz (size 9)
- Drop: 10mm heel/toe
- MSRP: $100.00
- Surface: Road
- Category: Neutral
- Available: Now