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Brooks’s Divide Feels Like a Road Shoe, Runs Like a Trail Shoe

The Divide is cushioned for comfort and equipped for gnarly terrain.

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The RW Takeaway: Brooks’s Divide is a resilient trail shoe at an affordable price with the features you need to run the rugged route.

  • A sticky TrailTack outsole that doesn’t slip on wet surfaces
  • Lightweight rock plate protects from gnarly roots and rock
  • May feel moderately heavy and stiff for some

    Price: $100
    11mm (M), 9mm (W)
    10.3 oz (M), 8.4 oz (W)

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    The Divide is Brooks’s newest trail shoe, featuring a lightweight rock plate in the midsole and a TrailTack outsole with a less aggressive tread pattern compared to the brand’s other offerings, the Caldera and Cascadia. The spaced out, rectangular lugs on the shoe’s sole may make it seem unfit for dicey treks (we even had to assure a tester that the Divide was indeed a trail shoe—twice).

    Lakota Gambill

    • TrailTack outsole has excellent grip over dry and wet surfaces
    • Resilient upper

    • Stiffer and heavier than the brand’s other trail shoes

    From previous testing with Brooks’s trail line (I can personally recall a successful descent wearing Calderas on slippery rock), we already knew traction wouldn’t be an issue with the TrailTack outsole. “The traction isn’t the most aggressive,” said a tester, “but for the rocky trails that I ran on, they gripped and did not slip.” Another tester, who also experienced no slippage running on wet rock, praised the Divide’s upper for its ability to “bleed” water after a stream crossing.

    The upper has a snug fit around the saddle, but a roomy forefoot. There’s ample protection from rocks and debris, too, thanks to firm cushioning and rock plate provide sufficient protection. “I judge shoes if feel the rocks I’m running on,” said a tester. “With these I didn’t feel any, but they also didn’t feel hard and stiff. I would race in them.”

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    Reliable Traction

    According to Brooks, “Divide” refers to the trainer having the feel of a road shoe combined with features fit for the trail. The sticky TrailTack outsole has a horseshoe-shaped heel for stability over uneven surfaces. Though its treads aren’t as pronounced, our testers found the Divide had excellent grip on “soft, hard, and wet surfaces.”

    “The shoe had great tread without feeling cumbersome,” said one. “Transitions to road felt seamless in regards to traction, [and the shoe] performed just as well on wet surfaces as it did on dry surfaces.”

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    Lakota Gambill

    The Divide With the Divide

    Testers who wore trail shoes from brands such as Hoka One One, Topo Athletic, and Altra, said the Divide was more comfortable than most trail shoes.

    “I really enjoyed the material of this shoe,” said one. “I have a wider foot, and I never felt restricted. The length was a perfect fit for me also. Everything around the ankle felt great.”

    On the other hand, testers familiar with Brooks found the Divide not as comfortable as other Brooks shoes.

    “The Brooks Divide was similar to the other Brooks models as far as length and width,” said a runner who previously tested the brand’s Mazama, Cascadia, and PureGrit. “The shoe was true to size. It was the padding around the collar and sole that was not comfortable. I do love the Brooks brand but this model was not up to par (with) the rest of the models.”

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    If there was one word I’d use to describe the comfort of the Divide it would be “gruff.” It’s stiffer and heavier than the Caldera and PureGrit, which is likely due to the rock plate in the midsole, and its thicker, more resilient upper. If you want to be nimble on your feet, the Divide may be too robust for some to maneuver on technical trails. But if you want a cushioned platform and lots of protection over jagged terrain, there is no divide—this is your shoe. Anthropomorphized, the Divide seems to say, “When the road is rugged, it’s the rugged who stay tough—and survive.”

    Wear Tester Feedback

    Renee H., tester since 2013
    Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
    “I was totally surprised by this sneaker. I have not worn a Brooks trail shoe for about 6 years. Turns out I was in love the first time I ran in them, so much that my second trail run I took them on was 21 miles. Not only were they comfortable, they performed great on the trails. Although it does not look like they have a great amount of traction, these sneakers held there own on every trail surface I tested them on. They are a more old school trail shoe. No fancy lacing system or wide toe box. Lots of cushion but surprisingly it did not make the sneaker feel heavy or unsteady.”

    Llew W., tester since 2016
    Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Heel
    “The Brooks Divide is a good shoe for entry-level trail running. The shoe is adequate for nontechnical trails but my feet suffered on highly technical (i.e., rocky) trails. I am used to a Hoka—highly cushioned shoe—and [shoes] with lots of technical features for trail running. This shoe is at home on dirt and grass trails, and even the asphalt trail—to get to the real trail.”

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