I wasn’t sure what to expect in my first run with the Brooks Launch 10. I’d never run in a Brooks speed shoe, and I typically associate the steady, workhorse brand with plush cushioning and accommodating uppers.
Brooks Launch 10
Release Date: July 1, 2023
Weight: Men’s 8.3 oz., Women’s 7.4 oz.
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: The Brooks Launch 10 is value priced shoe that offers a pleasant response without the squish.
Annie: Upon try-on, the first thing I noticed was that this was not quite the Brooks fit I’d anticipated. It felt like a classic, slimmer running shoe fit, and I had a smidge more than my usual thumb’s width of extra length in my regular running shoe size. That said, there was still plenty of comfort and room in the toe box for my average-to-ever-so-slightly-wide forefoot, and the tiny bit of extra length wasn’t noticeable in practice. It locked down easily without adjusting the lacing and was extremely unfussy from the jump (I feel like Brooks doesn’t always get enough shine for its lace game…). Once laced in, I never gave the engineered warp knit upper another thought, which is a good thing.
Chris: Even though the Brook Launch 10’s upper felt narrow from the midfoot up to the toe box, I can see why Brooks did this. Brooks aimed to provide more lockdown. Which makes sense given the build and purpose of this shoe.
Annie: The shoe felt old school, low-profile (by today’s standards), like it had nothing to prove – and frankly, I respect that quiet confidence. So, when I prepared to set out, I was curious to see what the standard DNA cushioning might have to say on the matter. Smooth and protective enough during the warmup, the Brooks Launch 10 continued to play it cool, further piquing my interest. Once we got into the workout itself, however, the DNA started to show me its personality.
I wouldn’t call the Brooks Launch 10 propulsive in nature—there’s no plate, no fancy supercritical foam, no aggressive rocker geometry, and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to run away with you. It instead has a simple, but surprisingly snappy feel in the forefoot, with an outsole that’s wonderfully flexible in all the right places without feeling remotely flimsy.
Granted, I’m literally smaller than and run less speedy paces than Chris, so he may have a different idea on the matter given the forces he exerts. But for a $110 shoe—which, let’s face it, is borderline unheard of these days—the Brooks Launch 10 feels well-built, protective enough for its intended purpose, and gives you a consistent response. All that combines for a natural turnover that easily meets you wherever you are, adapting rather than prescribing, and never demanding you ‘figure out’ how to run in it.
Apparently, “adaptive” is exactly what Brooks was going for with their DNA cushioning, in which case they kind of nailed it. As a mostly neutral, mid-foot striking, yet not particularly fast runner, I appreciate a shoe that doesn’t try to put me in a box.
Chris: I agree with Annie. The DNA Cushioning feels very “springy” and makes it very easy to pick up the pace. The Brooks Launch 10 felt very lightweight and is a good speed day choice, especially for runners that are lighter on their feet. At $110, this is a very good shoe at that low of a price point.
Stability and Traction
Annie: The midfoot hold and traction left me free to take corners in rhythm in dry conditions on various paved surfaces and wooden bridges.
Unfortunately, the midwestern summer had only humidity on the docket during testing, so I didn’t get to put the shoe through the wringer in a downpour. And while I’m not sure I’d risk this outsole in more challenging, wintry conditions (nor do I think its design aspires to that), it successfully conquered the neighborhood sprinklers through which I repeatedly plowed with reckless abandon. The humidity did give me ample opportunity to test breathability, and I can report that I neither felt the winds of the wide-open landscape breezing through the upper nor did I feel like I was being slowly suffocated. So can’t complain, really.
The Brooks Launch 10 would be the perfect houseguest: straightforward, wholly unobtrusive, yet could also probably fix your leaky sink if you just ask. It’s kind of refreshing, really. The more workouts I did in it, the more enamored I became of its understated snap. It’s the sort of shoe you greet with a head nod, it gives you the nod back, and then you both get on with the task at hand of seeing what you can throw down together.
One might say it’s not …flash-y… (get it, ‘cause the midsole isn’t made up of Brooks’ higher-end DNA Flash?… I’ll see myself out…). Aaannnyway… The shoe just hangs steady and doesn’t do anything weird to get in the way. Even at my fastest efforts when the rebound especially came alive, the shoe felt trustworthy, leaving me confident we were in sync whenever planting or pushing off.
Annie: The only knock I can really give the Brooks Launch 10 is that I didn’t feel quite as fresh the days after running in it as I often feel following sessions in a shoe with a little more stack or a more premium foam. But said foams also tend to come with a more premium price. So pick your poison. It’s not like I was hobbled afterward for god’s sake.
I’m personally a big fan of mixing things up regularly if you have the luxury of a rotation of more than a shoe or two. And with the Brooks Launch 10’s lower-than-average MSRP, that rotation becomes a bit more financially attainable for those of us who need to put most of our money toward our senior cat’s prescription kidney diet…or whatever. You get the point: it’s hard out here, and it’s nice to know there’s a thoughtfully put-together speed shoe that won’t break the bank and still holds up its end of the proverbial bargain.
Despite feeling perfectly comfortable and natural at a huge range of paces (even during my slowest warmup and cooldown miles), I found myself reserving the Brooks Launch 10 for workout days, such as intervals and shortish tempo runs. For slower, everyday runs or for anything set to exceed about an hour or so (regardless of pace/effort), I’d reach for one of the more protective options that have spoiled us all (curse you, Asics Superblast). If you like more ground feel regardless of run type, the Brooks Launch 10 might have enough underfoot for some of your daily miles.
One thing to note is that you might be able to find lighter-weight, more “exciting” midsoles in this category that may give you more of a thrill for a comparable price via a good sale, perhaps on previous years’ models or a shoe that’s been out for a while (here’s lookin’ at you, New Balance Rebel v3). But Drew will best be able to speak to that given the bevy of shoes he’s tested. Regardless, it can’t be denied that the Brooks Launch 10 delivers what it promises.
Chris: For me, the first negative is the narrow upper, which I discussed in the Fit section. The midsole around the arch area also felt very narrow, which tends to cause my foot to overpronate a bit more than I am used to. I recommend sizing up if you have a wider foot.
Brooks Launch 10 Summary
Annie: I was pleasantly surprised by the Brooks Launch 10. If you go in eyes wide open on what to expect of a 24:14mm stack shoe that costs $110, I don’t see how you’d be too disappointed. If you’re someone who likes to know you’re putting in the work in your speed shoe, and you want a pleasant response without the squish, the Launch 10 might sit in a sweet spot for you. It’d also be a great option for a first-time speed shoe buyer who loves a Brooks fit and quality build.
All in all, the Brooks Launch 10 is not going to vault you along or blow your mind, but it is a trusty companion that will follow your lead. Plus, the squiggly lines that adorn the heel counter are reminiscent of the seats on those charter buses we used to take for overnight (non-running) tournaments and competitions back in the day, so I’m here for it. A touch of obscure nostalgia and a no-fuss shoe that can reliably rock some workouts for just over a hundred bucks? Who am I to turn my nose up at that?
Chris: Most shoes in the $110 price range will skimp out on the midsole cushioning, especially towards the front of the shoe where you toe-off. I was surprised to consistently feel the cushioning and responsiveness of the midsole from footstrike all the way to toe-off! The DNA foam is an enjoyable ride and I would definitely recommend the Brooks Launch 10 for runners looking to save money or just starting out on more speedwork.