By Brian Metzler
Brooks has been the No. 1 running shoe brand in the U.S. for the past several years, and, for good reason – they’ve produced some really soft, cushy and comfortable training shoes in the widest array of colors of any brand. The brand has been a bit of an enigma when it comes to modern marathon racing supershoes, even though its top-tier DNA Flash supercritical midsole foam has always seemed to be very responsive. I am excited to wear-test the forthcoming Hyperion Elite 4 soon, which is its new-and-improved racing shoe that features an updated carbon-fiber plate embedded in a thick slab of the new formulation of that foam in the midsole.
In the meantime, I’ve been wear-testing a pair of Hyperion training shoes, which is oddly similar to the circa-2020 Hyperion Tempo – because it is that shoe. While there have been a few minor updates (including no longer including “Tempo” in its name), it’s still a performance trainer with a more traditional geometry that’s designed for faster-paced workouts. Although it’s very different from any shoe I’ve been running in lately, I’ve found it to be a nice diversion from the vast array of maximally-cushioned shoes that have flooded my quiver of shoes the past several years. It’s definitely a unique outlier, so I’d recommend trying it on before buying it.
What’s New: The midsole has been updated slightly, both with a somewhat modified shape and a new formulation of DNA Flash foam. It has a new engineered mesh upper that’s lighter, more breathable and seems to do a better job holding a runner’s feet in place, thanks, in part to the new, partially gusseted tongue. The outsole has also been updated with a larger segment of durable rubber under the forefoot and two smaller sections under the heel.
Fit/Feel/Ride: The Brooks Hyperion fits true to size with a medium-narrow interior volume and a modest amount of wiggle room in the toe box. The thin, medial-side gusseted tongue and firm interior heel cup works in concert with the dynamic one-piece engineered mesh upper to feet locked down to the footbeds. The interior feeling isn’t exceptionally plush, but it feels good enough (soft and nicely comfortable, but not extraordinary in any way) without any issues. The medium-stack, semi-soft/semi-firm midsole feels mildly springy at slow to moderate paces, but almost bouncy at faster paces.
What really sets this shoe apart is the unique ride – something I’d categorize as a split between modern and old-school sensations. It’s decidedly lower to the ground than most shoes I’ve run in for the past several years, but the thinner layer of DNA Flash midsole foam still allows it to feel a little bit lively and responsive without compromising the natural vibe of the more traditional geometry. It serves up a smooth, stable ride with a hint of softness and responsiveness and exceptional proprioceptive feel for the ground. There’s no propulsion plate in this shoe, but the new shape of the midsole has made the transition to toe-offs quicker than the previous Hyperion Tempo shoe.
Why It’s Great: The Brooks Hyperion is a great shoe because of how simple and light it is. Let me be straight up: it’s a shoe with a pretty basic construction – a one-piece upper, a one-piece midsole, a thin tongue, thin, effective segments of outsole rubber and flat laces to stay tied. There’s really not much to it, but the components and the materials are legit and that’s why it’s such a good – and unique – shoe.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re like me, you know wearing maximally cushioned shoes feels great until it doesn’t. I tend to vary my shoe choices on a daily basis, but in doing so I try to make sure I’m wearing a pair that’s slightly lower to the ground without a chunky midsole at least once or twice a week. Why? I want to feel the ground, so I can feel my legs and feet in action. For that reason, I really enjoyed wearing the Hyperions because they’re like a modern version of a pair of early 2000s racing flats – they’re lightweight, low to the ground, super agile and completely uninhibited. I loved the sensation of feeling the ground in such a new (or old) way. Because they have a moderately responsive midsole foam, there’s a little bit of an energetic spark in each stride and not the energy-sapping flat feeling of an old-school EVA midsole or the excessively bouncy feeling of a max-cushioned marathon supershoe.
Weights: 6.6 oz. (women’s 8); 7.6 oz. (men’s 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (30mm in the heel, 22mm in the forefoot)
PRO: I wore the Hyperion for a variety of spicier workouts, including 4 x 1-mile and 8 x 200-meter workouts on a track, as well as a spontaneous fartlek of 3 minutes “on” and 3 minutes “off” on a road, and I really enjoyed this shoe for its liveliness. I also wore it for a 25-minute tempo run and a moderately paced 8-miler, but, interestingly, I didn’t find it quite as responsive in those types of runs. In those instances, it felt more like the basic, unsexy ride of the budget-oriented Brooks Launch 10.
CON: If you love the exceptionally soft or bouncy sensations of modern max-cushioned shoes, you probably won’t like or appreciate the Brooks Hyperion. Compared to those standards, it will feel low to the ground, semi-firm and maybe even boring.