Brooks Anthem

Trail running is not an exercise for the faint of heart. It may seem simple at first; all it is at its core is running on an offroad trail instead of a track or sidewalk. However, the difference in the environment brings substantial ramifications that drastically transform this casual exercise into a much more grueling and dangerous affair. This is why thrill seekers, rugged outdoorsy types, and hardcore survivalists are among the most passionate participants in the sport of trail running.

Any runner will tell you that when it comes to their exercise of choice, shoes can make or break the entire experience. However, trail runners will tell you that your chosen footwear can make or break your body. Environmental hazards like an overgrown root or sliding rocks can quickly lead to serious medical emergencies which can be life-threatening if the nearest hospital is hours away. For this reason, many reputable brands have attracted dedicated fans due to their ability to construct trail running shoes that are comfortable, durable, and able to provide the proper protection and stability needed to get the most out of this exhilarating pastime. Brooks is one such manufacturer and their Anthem trail runners are a fantastic example of what to expect from a reputable pair of trail running footwear.

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons
  • Surprisingly lightweight design
  • Decent sense of style
  • Terrific underfoot stability and protection
  • Excellent breathability
  • Affordable
  • Cons
    • Disappointing upper protection
    • Lack of color variety
    • Key Features
      The outsole for the Brooks Anthem is made from hard rubber, which is more or less standard procedure for modern running shoes. However, what differentiates these shoes from more casual footwear is the fact that this material is extremely thick and concentrated around areas that are more susceptible to damage. This serves two purposes: first, it ensures that the undersides of these shoes are going to stay in good working condition for longer, and second, it helps to absorb some of the shock from trail running that could otherwise cause repetitive stress injuries. Additionally, another impressive design aspect of the Brooks Anthem’s HPR Plus outsole is the slightly rounded heel which improves its underfoot stability. Since the outsole is usually the most important part of a trail running shoe, the design expertise that went into this shoe’s outsole will have a very positive effect on the wearer’s experience.
      While the outsole of a running shoe plays an important role in its performance, the midsole is responsible for both performance and comfort. This delicate balancing act has led to most modern running shoe manufacturers to adopt the use of EVA foam for the construction of this component. Many of the different brands will use this material as a base starting point and then expand on it with their own proprietary material to ensure the ideal functionality for its intended setting. With the Anthem trail running shoes, Brooks resorted to their trademark BioMoGo DNA material due to its dynamic cushioning. This means that comfort and responsiveness can be targeted around areas of high impact in much the same way as with its outsole.
      A traditional running shoe requires an upper that is breathable and comfortable but still able to provide a decent measure of protection and durability. With a trail running shoe, the durability and protection take much higher priority during the design process compared to comfort and breathability. With that being said, Brooks designed their Anthem trail runners with the intention of offering a lighter and more comfortable running experience: more in line with casual running shoes than most other trail running shoes on the market. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the engineered mesh that comprises most of its construction helps these shoes to function as a transition between both forms of footwear which can be very helpful for individuals who are interested in trying trail running for the first time.
      The average weight for a pair of Brooks Anthem trail running shoes is just under 8 ½ ounces, which is surprisingly lightweight for this kind of footwear. Normally, a shoe intended for this kind of environment and activity will end up weighing significantly more than the average casual running shoe; as a result, the lower weight of this trail running product is indicative of cut corners. In this case, the upper portion is the area that has the least weight on it, providing increased breathability and comfort as a positive with protection and resilience from damage being negatively affected. Another potential reason for this product’s lower weight class can be found in the midsole since Brooks’ proprietary BioMoGo material is lighter than some common forms of footwear.
      As was previously mentioned, the engineered mesh material that comprises the majority of the Brooks Anthem’s upper portion doesn’t weigh as much as the forms of material commonly used for this purpose in other trail runners. Even other Brooks products frequently adopt sturdier and heftier materials such as leather or synthetic nubuck for this portion. And while this does negatively affect the Anthem’s durability and foot protection capability, the lighter load means that breathability isn’t as significant of a concern. After all, the wearer is less likely to generate heat or sweat that needs to be managed if the product they are wearing doesn’t weigh very much. What’s even better about this design aspect is that the ample perforation that makes up this mesh’s design allows for an impressive degree of breathability regardless, making this a fantastic choice of off-road footwear for runners in warmer climates.
      Some of the ways that these Brooks trail running shoes provide the wearer with comfort are through its lighter weight and highly breathable upper. Unfortunately, these features are a double-edged sword since they come at the consequence of core features that are necessary for a quality trail runner: protection and durability. On the bright side, there are other components of its design that make the Anthem comfortable without sacrificing any integral functionality. These include the midsole which uses BioMoGo cushioning to selectively target areas of high impact as a preventative measure. This works fantastically in conjunction with this shoe’s outsoles since their HBR Plus material provides a similar focus on key points of stress as an effective protective manner. Through the combination of these elements, the Brooks Anthem both provides comfort and avoids discomfort.
      It isn’t unlikely to see trail running shoes that are bulky and starkly designed. This is because many manufacturers of off-roading footwear, as well as the individuals who frequently purchase their products, care a lot more about these products’ functionality over the way they look. With that said, there are always exceptions to any rule and companies like Salomon go to great lengths to provide visual variety in their trail running footwear. The Brooks Anthem shares many design quirks with traditional low-intensity running shoes, with the most notable of these similarities being seen around its upper. These shoes are a bit closer in visual appearance to some popular athleisure products, with the most obvious resemblance being Nike’s Air Zoom shoes. However, the Anthem falls short of providing the same range of appealing colorways which may disappoint some fashion-focused trail runners.
      One of the most important design elements of any trail running shoes is its ability to withstand abuse from harsh terrain for hundreds of miles. This single focus explains a number of design quirks that have become commonplace among this catalog of products. Brooks understands the importance of this principle, which is why many of their other trail running shoes are reinforced with highly durable material like leather. Because of this, it will come as quite a surprise to long-time Brooks customers that the Anthem is disappointing in this regard. Their upper portion, while stylish and lightweight, is simply not as sturdy as other trail running shoes or even other products from Brooks. While the extremely important areas where durability is concerned are adequately reinforced (outsole/midsole), this design discrepancy will likely disappoint many experienced trail runners.
      Many of the statements said in the section on durability apply to protection, both for the Brooks Anthem and for trail running shoes as a whole. Much like with durability, protecting the wearer’s foot is one of the most important aspects of its design. In fact, it can be construed that this is the single most important aspect of this product since just about every other facet of its design plays into this need. And unfortunately, much like how the upper portion of the Brooks Anthem is disappointing in terms of durability, it will also disappoint wearers who are looking for adequate foot protection. Because of this, these shoes should only be used in less intense trail running environments where hazards such as falling rocks are less of a concern.
      The speed at which a shoe responds to the wearer’s movement is important for just about any runner, but those who are interested in speed are likely to care about this feature the most. Because of this, most trail runners don’t care as much about responsiveness in comparison to features like stability or protection, although it can certainly enhance their experience. In the case of the Brooks Anthem, responsiveness is provided through its neutral foot design enabled through its midsole and outsole. The midsole’s focus on targeted cushioning causes it to suffer from diminished responsiveness in comparison to an EVA material with a different composition. However, this is mostly counterbalanced by the shoe’s lighter weight, resulting in an overall experience that is likely to impress many seasoned trail runners with the way it can react to their minute movements.
      When it comes to support, the Brooks Anthem provides most of it through its midsole and outsole. As previously mentioned, the selective cushioning enabled through the use of BioMoGo material in the design of this trail running shoe results in an adaptable level of support that will vary depending on the needs of the runner. The outsole can’t provide this same level of adaptability but the areas in which its supportive efforts are focused will fit the needs of most wearers, provided that they run in a neutral stance. This is perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Anthem for newcomers looking to dip their toes into trail running since it means that much of the initial discomfort that can come with the first few trail running sessions is mitigated.
      It’s a no-brainer what kind of terrain trail running shoes are best suited for: it’s a part of its name. The Brooks Anthem, much like every other trail running shoe from this brand, is designed to provide the best experience on a trail. This means that hiking paths, forests, deserts, and any other environments that don’t feature a paved road are fair game for wearers of this product. It’s important to note, however, that while these shoes provide the necessary stability and support for running on these surfaces, the upper portion of these shoes doesn’t provide a comparable level of protection or durability. As a result, caution needs to be exercised when taking these shoes on sojourns that can lead to contact with hazards from above. Additionally, these shoes don’t have any extra protective capabilities for moisture which means that these environments and weather conditions must be met with a similar level of caution.
      Trail running shoes are some of the more expensive footwear options for customers for a few reasons. They’re usually made from considerably more material than traditional running shoes which would make the cost of production greater. Additionally, they usually require more expensive material to comprise its core components so they can ensure greater durability and performance and whatnot. With the Brooks Anthem, however, there are many design elements that are comparable to more casual forms of footwear. As a result, these are some of the least expensive trail running shoes available for runners to choose from. For this reason and because they offer such a similar experience to casual running shoes, this is one of the best options for trail running beginners.
      Traction is almost single-handedly provided by the outsole and is instrumental in the proper functionality of a trail running shoe. The outsole of the Brooks Anthem is designed to provide a greater degree of traction than the traditional article of footwear intended to be used on a sidewalk or treadmill. However, it isn’t the outsole with the greatest amount of traction on the market, mostly due to the fact that it isn’t equipped to handle certain environmental hazards like excessive moisture. Still, it’s enough to get the wearer through a significant amount of trail running sessions.
      Trail running shoes aren’t known for their flexibility. This has mostly to do with the aforementioned stereotype of a heavier construction but it also has to do with the relation this attribute has with stability. These are polar attributes for the most part in terms of footwear design; too much flexibility will inevitably lead to diminished stability and vice versa. However, these shoes are lighter and thinner than most trail running shoes which means that they are more flexible than established trail runners may expect.
      Despite its increased flexibility over the average trail runner, the Brooks Anthem still manages to provide an impressively stable running experience. This is almost entirely due to the outsole since it is constructed from a very rigid and hard rubber compound. Even the intricacies of this component’s design provide ample control thanks to the rounded heel design. The upper can provide some stability through a tightly laced fit but this isn’t particularly significant and shouldn’t be relied on due to its questionable durability.
      The heel drop for the Brooks Anthem is roughly 4 millimeters, meaning that this is the difference in height between the rear and front of its midsole. This slight elevation provides a modicum of extra cushioning for the rear of the wearer’s foot which will allow for greater shock absorption and support in the event that the wearer strikes the ground with their heels. Another benefit to this design is that the wearer’s toes will have close contact with the ground in a manner that greatly enhances the Anthem’s responsiveness. That said, this is a shallower difference in elevation than what is commonly found on a casual running shoe.
      Key Features

      • HPR Plus outsole made from hard rubber

      • BioMoGo midsole provides targeted cushioning

      • Engineered mesh upper for lightweight breathability

      • Average weight of 8 ½ ounces

      • Rounded heel for increased stability

      Bottom Line
      Brooks doesn’t usually make trail running shoes like the Anthem. For the most part, this company sticks to the common tropes in the design of its off-road footwear catalog. The departure from convention that is evident in the design of these shoes is both a positive and a negative and will ultimately depend on the preferences of the prospective buyer. On the bright side, these shoes are great for newcomers to trail running since they feel similar in many ways to running shoes meant for more casual environments and exercises. On the other hand, this means that experienced trail runners will be disappointed by this shoe’s lack of durability or protection. Still, it’s a well-made shoe that is worth its asking price.
      Where to Buy
      By Mike Valverde
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 29. 2021

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