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Brooks Levitate 2 vs 1 Comparison Shoe Review

by Sportitude
2 Jul 2018

New to 2018, Josh reviews the Brooks Levitate 2 running shoes that stay loyal to the midsole and outsole that made its popular predecessor fly off the shelves, but with innovative tweaks to the upper.

It sports a knitted upper design that wraps your heel with a deeper feel, a DNA AMP midsole to boost energy return for a lively, springy ride and arrow-point outsole pattern for flex and quick heel-to-toe transitions. 

This unique blend of energetic performance and comfort is ideal for a neutral to supinated foot type. 

Check out the full review with transcript below.

Hello guys, it’s Josh from Sportitude here today and it’s shoe review time. We are going to do the Brooks Levitate 2. This little guy has just dropped into our warehouse in the middle of 2018. 

There is a bit that has changed with this shoe, not a lot but all the changes are in the upper. There are some considerable amount of good changes that I really like which I want to talk to you today. 

I won’t skip over the midsole and the outsole because that’s obviously a vitally important part about why this shoe is so successful.  

Foot Type

Let’s talk about what foot type should be sitting inside the Brooks Levitate 2. We’re talking about a foot that is neutral to supinated in its design. 

We are talking about a high pitched navicular region, a slightly raised arch that has a bit of a gap between the arch and the ground. 

When we’re going through our gait cycle heel to midstance, we aren’t collapsing through this arch region and flattening out that plantar fascia. We’re staying quite high, quite pitched, almost to the point where we are supinating, and the pressure is on the outside of the foot. 

A neutral to supinated foot type can quite comfortably get themselves inside the Brooks Levitate 2.

Widths 

Let me touch on the widths first and foremost before I get too carried away on the midsole components. For ladies’ and men’s, we are talking about standard widths only. 

We’ve got B in ladies’ and D in men’s. They haven’t with the Levitate family broken that into any width options just yet but never say never. Brooks could have it on the cards for future ranges.  

Outsole 

As I have said in my intro, with this shoe here the changes are all in the upper. However, I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t start from the ground and work my way up. 

Let’s talk about the outsole configuration. They’ve got an outsole which only plays on the horizontal platform with their flex grooves. 

What I mean by that is through the forefoot there is no split down the middle. There is only a slight little split through the rearfoot for the heel striker that needs a little bit of extra give underneath their foot. 

This shoe is all about energy return. It gives some considerable amount of cushioning but it’s all about getting that foot out of that midstance to toe-off phase as quickly as possible, keeping you on top of the ground. 

What they don’t want to do is put rubber on the outsole that will contradict what they’re trying to achieve with the midsole. 

That outsole configuration is nice and stable. It has four horizontal flex grooves to the forefoot after midstance. It has a unique design with the arrows pointing forward. 

As I flex the shoe it doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary than what you’d usually get with the traditional horizontal flex groove, it just probably helps with the propulsion as you get through that toe-off phase. That’s your outsole component.  

Midsole

Let’s talk about the midsole. What we’ve got is a DNA AMP. If you haven’t watched my previous Levitate video, I won’t skip over this. DNA AMP is the first polyurethane blended midsole that Brooks have achieved last year with the Levitate 1. 

They haven’t changed it obviously with the version 2. I can’t give you the exact polyurethane break down, but what essentially polyurethane does is kick back a lot more and encapsulates energy that is absorbed on that first point of impact with the shoe, and then it helps respond you through your midstance to toe-off phase. 

I want to quickly touch on that. What we are finding with shoes is obviously when you hit the ground there is an element of what we call impact force that happens within every single shoe, whether it be heel strike, midfoot strike or even in that forefoot region. 

As soon as your foot hits the ground there is an element of impact that occurs within the running shoe. As we go through our breaking phase or midstance phase, breaking is used to slow down any midstance movement, whether that be pronate or supinate. The breaking phase is minimising the amount of velocity that is going through your foot. 

What is going to happen through the midsole is you’re still going to be compressing or sinking through this phase however you don’t want to be sinking at a higher rate than what you are on that first point of impact with the ground. 

What we have found with this midsole component is a 20 to 25% differential with the impact zone and your breaking zone. However, this is sort of pushing the 30 to 35% differential with that breaking phase compression rate. 

What that is essentially doing is keeping your foot on top of the ground, and it’s helping you get through to that toe-off phase a lot quicker. 

Personally, if you love a shoe that’s got oodles of cushioning, really soft and plush underneath the foot, you’re probably going to find this guy a little too responsive, a bit hard underneath the foot. 

However, for the runner out there that really likes to turn over their legs quicker and stay on top of the ground and is all about response, this little guy is a great shoe to consider. 

Upper

I’m going to hold the men’s up. We’ve talked about the outsole, we’ve talked about the midsole, I want to start talking about the upper changes in this specific shoe. 

They’ve gone with the knitted style upper which has been very popular for the last few years across all brands. It provides a tighter woven configuration through that forefoot, which holds the foot in quite well. I do like the knitted style uppers. 

I’m going to talk to you about the differences between the upper of the Levitate 1 and 2 so you at home have enough information to decide whether this might be the shoe to consider. 

I’m going to put version 2 down and talk about version 1 for a moment. They had a traditional internal heel counter at the back, with Brooks almost hanging their hat on this very soft, plush collar on the inside. 

That is one of my favourite features with most Brooks mileage shoes, how comfortable the collar is around the back of your calcaneus, your lower Achilles and your ankle as well.

It’s a really nice, plush fit. I’ve always loved the Brooks shoes the last couple of seasons with that collar configuration in combination with the internal heel counter at the back. 

When I hold up that version 2, they’ve tweaked it quite a bit. If I fold this bootie or flared upper in, that’s just what I’m going to call it just for today’s argument, you’ve got the exact same heel counter as what we have with version 1. 

There is no extra height and they certainly haven’t shaved the height away. There’s the same internal heel counter, however this extra piece of material that has got a little bit of elastane in it is quite firm.

It’s almost like that bootie construction we’re seeing in a lot of running shoes out there, probably Nike the most recognisable for doing that construction which is not overly high. 

They’ve extended it up the back through the Achilles, so you do naturally get a deeper feel with this shoe. It’s not to the point where it is a deeper, more supportive feel, but it just goes up around the back of your ankle, the back of your calcaneus a little more so.

It’s not as soft as the Levitate 1 is on the inside of that collar, so if you love that you may not like how the 2 is a little bit thinner. However, the 2 does have a suede lining on the inside, so that’s a really nice feel on the foot. 

Instead of going for plush, foam configuration like version 1, they’ve gone for a really nice finish with that stitched-in suede setup. There’s no stitching that’s going to rub on your foot by any means. 

They could have done that also considering orthotic use, because I’ve done reviews in the past when we’re talking about orthotics going inside running shoes and how they can dig into the back of the heel counter and cause a bit of a split or a rip. 

In early days I would be incredibly surprised if that happens with any suede material. That’s a really durable material that Brooks decided to put on the inside of the collar.

Let’s get talking about the breaking phase in the upper and what’s going on with this shoe. 

Last year they had the navicular overlay, with the vertical slits on an angle. As they come over the shoe you can see it wraps that midstance phase quite well in version 1. 

When you put your foot in here it allowed a little bit expansion, a little bit of give. However, with those overlays it gave that shoe a bit of integrity and support in that section through midstance phase.

In version 2, they’ve wiped that out. We don’t have those vertical slits. We’ve got a slightly different upper material. 

That knitted upper is quite strong. What we do have however is the tongue that is essentially stitched into the upper. It sits just underneath this part of the shoe on the medial and lateral side so when you put you foot in and do your shoe laces up it does hug that foot in quite well.

Therefore, they didn’t think they needed the extra stitching in overlays. They’ve allowed for a traditional lacing configuration which you can customise to your exact requirements of depth depending on your arch pitch etc.

It’s very accommodating. I have no issues whatsoever and I’ve tried this shoe on myself. I have a slightly flatter arch when I’m not using an orthotic inside it and it gave me the snug fit that I required. 

I also have some staff members and some runners in the store that have come and purchased this shoe already with quite high arches which this guy does cater for very well. There’s plenty of room and space for customising that midfoot fit inside the Brooks Levitate 2. 

As you come through to the forefoot there is nothing that really has changed at all with the fit. It’s not deeper, shallower, wider or narrower. It’s near on exactly the same forefoot feel in version 2 that we got from version 1. 

The only thing that has been tweaked ever so slightly is the material they’ve used, but they’ve kept the same depth through that forefoot region. It’s probably a good thing, I like the secure fit through the forefoot, especially when you’re talking about a shoe that has extra energy return underneath your foot. 

Could you imagine if this shoe was quite loose and boxy on your foot when you first put it on? For those of you that like a really boxy feel, it wouldn’t be great. It wouldn’t work well with this midsole because we are talking about the extra kick back you get through breaking or midstance phase through to toe-off phase. 

If you’re getting extra energy return, your foot is going to move around too much on that platform, so you want a relatively secure fit which is what Brooks have achieved with the Levitate 2 as well as version 1. 

Stack Height

Let’s talk about the stack height. We’re talking about a heel-to-toe gradient of 8mm, that means we’ve got 26mm in the heel and 18mm in the forefoot. It’s the same for both genders, men’s and women’s. 

Weight

We’ve got a weight configuration of the version 1. They came in at 300g for the men’s and 275g for the ladies’. That’s measuring on a size 9 men’s and a size 7 ladies’. 

However, with our scales there was marginal difference. We found the new version to be 3g to 5g lighter, that’s on my scales, not Brooks' scales.

I’d be very surprised if 5g is going to be a deciding factor for you at home. Not much has changed in that weight which is great.  


That’s it, Brooks Levitate 2. If you have any questions on this shoe we can help you out with, please contact our Sportitude shoe experts. If you haven’t already subscribed to our YouTube channel please do. We are going to do a lot of reviews in 2018. 

Until next time, happy running and we’ll see you soon.