For a shoe with the word ‘levitate’ in the name, these are incredibly heavy. You’d need a lot of power to make these shoes levitate!
Despite the weight, there is a lot to love about the Brooks Levitate 2 running shoes. They hit the market in 2018 and have remained a firm favorite in road running circles.
Brooks have continued to refine and develop the Levitate shoe and are currently on the fourth iteration. But we’re here to talk about the Levitate 2.
The Levitate 2 running shoes have a thick rubber base with a knitted upper.
The upper features a pixelated burst design which comes in vibrant colors like orange, green, blue, and coral.
If you’re more reserved, you can choose the subtler black or gray colors. These versions only have the smallest bit of color as a highlight.
When you first glance at these shoes, they don’t scream ‘unique’ or ‘special.’
In fact, they look very similar to other Brooks shoes. Heck, they don’t look all that different from any other knit upper on the market.
However, once you start to take a closer look, you see a host of features that make these shoes stand out from the crowd.
Starting with the fit, you’ll notice that the shoe has a cuffed collar. This creates a snug, almost boot-like fit around your foot and ankles.
It is designed to make you feel more secure and supported in the shoe.
The collar is paired with a cushioned, suede heel tab. This super soft feature helps to prevent blisters over longer runs. It’s a wonderful feature we wish more shoes had!
Moving to the unseen elements, Brooks use their patented DNA AMP technology in the Levitate 2 shoes. This means that the midsole is made from polyurethane foam surrounded by a TPU foam.
The TPU is designed to stop the polyurethane from expanding outwards which makes the midsoles extremely bouncy and cushioned. More on this later!
The outsole has an interesting arrow patterned design which consists of chevrons separated by grooves. Within the chevrons you have vertically aligned treads.
The grooves don’t look incredibly deep, which does make people wonder at the effectiveness. We will discuss this in more detail later.
In terms of laces, you have 8 eyelets running up each side of the tongue as well as a middle eyelet at the bottom of the laces.
Interestingly, the top eyelet is more of a loop built into the collar of the shoe. This helps to keep the collar tight around your ankle.
- Great energy return.
- Comfortable, cushioned soles.
- Supportive collar.
- Smooth heel to toe transitions.
- Plenty of room within the shoe for toes.
- Padded suede heel tab.
- Uses Brooks’ DNA AMP technology.
- Not very breathable.
- Traction could be better in wet conditions.
What We Love
When we think about the Levitate 2, a few words come to mind including bouncy, fast, and comfortable.
The DNA AMP technology used in the midsole is one of the best things about this shoe. As previously mentioned, the midsole is made from both polyurethane and TPU foam.
Dense and spongy polyurethane foam makes up the bulk of the midsole, but it is surrounded by a stiffer TPU foam. The dynamic between the two foams is pure genius.
When you put pressure on the polyurethane foam, it compresses down. In many shoes, the energy from that compression is lost because the foam squishes outside and around the foot.
In the Levitate 2, the TPU limits the movement of the polyurethane. This means that all the energy from the compression is stored directly below the foot.
When you raise your foot, the energy is released. This adds a literal spring to your step!
Honestly, these are some of the springiest shoes we’ve ever seen. The DNA AMP technology is awesome.
It makes these shoes incredibly reactive and responsive. In terms of energy return, they’re some of the best shoes around.
Assisting the midsole, you have the outsole. The chevron or arrow design supports faster paces and encourages smooth transitions from heel to foot. The outsole and midsole combine incredibly well to help you shave time off your runs.
When it comes to the upper, the knit fabric allows for a comfortable but secure fit. Your toes won’t feel cramped or squashed in these shoes which is always great.
However, you’ll also notice that you’re not sliding and slipping inside them.
The cushioned collar gives a comfortable fit without being tight. It may take some getting used to if you don’t normally wear collared shoes. We love the fact that it helps to prevent your heels slipping around.
These shoes also feature an internal heel wrap. This is a bit like a sock or boot inside the shoe.
Again, it may take some getting used to, but it is excellent. It’s like the shoe is hugging your heel to keep it safe and secure. In conjunction with the suede heel tab, it’s like a cloud around your heel!
In terms of applications, these shoes are best for longer road runs. They’ll keep your feet feeling comfortable throughout, but more importantly, they’ll give you a much-needed boost.
All that cushioning combines to create shoes that help your weary legs keep going. If you’re flagging, they’ll pick up the slack.
You can wear them for shorter runs if you’re after a bit of a speed boost, but you won’t really use the full potential on sprint or short runs. Endurance is where these babies really shine.
Room for Improvement?
As great as these shoes are, they’re not perfect. We have a few niggling issues that we would have liked to have seen corrected.
First and foremost, the weight of these shoes is excessive. The men’s shoes come in at 11.3oz while the women’s come in at 8.9oz.
Unfortunately, weight is the price you have to pay for all that lovely, cushioning foam. It’s infuriating because you end up using the returned energy just to lift these shoes.
It’s a good thing that the DNA AMP technology works so well. If it didn’t, you’d feel like you’re running with weights around your feet.
If you’re used to ultra-lightweight shoes, then you are going to find it weird and difficult to adapt to the heft of these shoes.
Just looking at the shoe gives you an idea of how clunky these are. The silver foam that bulges around the outside of the shoe has a geometric design to fool the eye, but it is still large, bulky, and mildly ugly.
Another thing to be aware of is the tread. The chevron design is great for helping you get a smooth transition. However, the depth of the grooves leaves a lot to be desired.
There are a few reports of slipping or lack of traction on wet pavements. We think this is down to the fact that the grooves just aren’t deep enough to provide proper traction.
That being said, the shallower grooves and treads do mean that you don’t tend to get mud or grass stuck. This is great because it means your traction isn’t reduced when you run over different environments.
A few reviews mention the fact that the outsole begins to crack after a few months of use. We think that this has to do with the configuration of the treads.
The gaps between the chevrons seem to be a weak area prone to stress cracks.
It is a minority of reviews that mention this issue, so we think that it is just unlucky foot placement in relation to the grooves. Still, it’s a shame in a shoe that is otherwise awesome.
The upper lacks that ‘wow’ factor in the aesthetics department. These shoes won’t stand out on the shelf when placed with other Brooks or just other shoes for that matter.
It’s not a critical issue, but if you are looking for something different, keep looking.
More of an issue is the fact that these shoes aren’t particularly breathable. Knit uppers have become incredibly popular over the last few years because they are supposed to allow more airflow.
However, these shoes aren’t great for airflow. The knit is literally too close knit.
The Brooks Levitate 2 running shoes would make a wonderful addition to any road runner’s rotation.
They give unparalleled energy return thanks to the dense, compound foam midsoles which spurs you on every step of the way.
Comfort and stability were clearly at the forefront of the designer’s mind when creating these shoes. They hug your feet without crowding them and provide huge amounts of support around the heel and Achilles.
Issues like the weight of the shoe and the lack of breathability are frustrating but definitely not a dealbreaker.
If you’re a mid to long distance road runner, you’ll definitely want to consider getting a pair of Brooks Levitate 2 shoes. They work incredibly hard to make the run as easy as possible even for tired legs.