The Brooks Launch 9 is the newest model in one of the brand’s signature lines. A lightweight, reliable running shoe, you’re as likely to see it worn by endurance monsters as by casual weekend runners. For this review, I invited my friend Rachelle Kuramoto to take the model for a spin. She’s a petite, front-of-the-pack masters runner with more than 20 marathons under her belt. In her last marathon, she was the first Masters Female to cross the finish line. Not only does she run a lot, but she’s also worn the Launch line since its introduction.
Rachelle: Every year, I go through 5 or 6 pairs of running shoes, and Brooks is always in my rotation. Typically, the Launch has been my go-to for shorter, faster runs and treadmill work because they are light, swift, and easy to wear. I tend to get around 350 miles out of them, so while I wouldn’t call them workhorse shoes, they do their job well – go largely unnoticed so I can focus on the run, not the gear.
Brooks Launch 9
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Weight: M: 8.2 oz, W: 7.1 oz
Drop: 10mm (26mm forefoot, 36mm heel)
Sizing: True to size
- Rundown: Reasonably priced, reliable running shoe with a smooth ride and more cushion than previous iterations. Built for shorter, faster runs.
- More cushion
- Flat laces
- Slippy tongue
The first thing I noticed about the Brooks Launch 9 is their weight – or lack of weight. The box felt empty when I got them! Compared to the (also very comfortable!) Launch 8, the Launch 9 feels like it lost a few ounces, even as it also seems to have gotten more cushion.
Like its predecessors, the Brooks Launch 9 is a slight shoe. It seems to sit somewhere between a proper ‘speed’ shoe and a more substantial longer mileage model. While it’s not a total con, this goldilocks status probably makes it a better generalist running shoe than an option for someone looking for a specific performance model.
After noticing the lack of weight, what became apparent was the added cushion in the midsole (~2mm more foam). The familiar drop seems to have gained a bit of curve and softness in the heel and the midsole, giving the shoe a comfortable, smooth ride. I am one of those runners who tend to lose good form after around 8 miles, moving more from a nice, center-midfoot strike to a slightly supinated heel strike. The BioMoGO DNA (stacked EVA) midsole material takes the shifted impact nicely, keeping the run feeling comfortable even as I take on fatigue.
For someone looking for less foam and a lower drop, the Brooks Launch 9 might feel a bit pillowy.
One of the outdoor runs was after a rain, and another was on a freak reoccurrence of winter temps that had us dodging some icy spots. The outsole keeps the traditional Brooks Launch tread, which I have always found to be really accommodating on slippery terrain.
One reason the Launch line needs to be replaced at 300-350 miles instead of 400 (for me) is that the outsole tends to wear down rather quickly and unevenly. At the time of this review, I can’t say that will be the case with the Brooks Launch 9, but the outsole doesn’t seem to have changed, so I will be watching for wear patterns.
One of the best things about the Launch line is how light and breathable it is – a genuine benefit for training in hot Atlanta summers!
I have a bunion on one foot, and the Launch is the only running shoe model I’ve worn that does not put any pressure on it or end up with a hole in the upper where it rubs. I attribute it to the roomy toebox and the width of the lacing, which allow me to control how the upper fits over the top of the foot.
This breathable Creel Warp mesh upper started a bit stiff but softened up quickly. The biggest complaint I have about the Brooks Launch 9 is the flat laces. They tend to get knotted up easily. And they lack the grip to keep the tongue from slipping slightly to the inside of my foot.
Every time I get a new pair of running shoes, I do two things: wear them around the house and then take a walk in them. When I put on the shoes initially, I was concerned that they felt roomier than the earlier models. But after having them on for a few hours and adjusting the lacing, the fit adjusted and seems consistent with all the other Brooks sizing.
I’ve had runners and non-runners comment on how good-looking these shoes are! One reason the Launch line is such fun is the plethora of designs and colorways it offers. The Brooks Launch 9 has a funky pixellated design on the top of the toebox, and the hot pink color I got practically screams, “I’m a runner!” This is a fun shoe.
After breaking them in on a comfortable 7-mile mid-week easy run, I tested the shoes in various run scenarios, including a 13-mile long run and 6 miles of tempo work outdoors, and a couple of treadmill workouts, including an 8-mile Yasso session and a treadmill Tabata bootcamp with high incline and speed boosts. The Brooks Launch 9 performed well in every scenario. There was some slight slippage during quick incline and speed increases, but not to the point of creating blisters or hotspots.
At $110, the Brooks Launch 9 is on the lower end for a good running shoe. However, it doesn’t hold up for as many miles as some other shoes, so there is a tradeoff. I think of these the same way I justify a nice pair of jeans. I can wear them pretty much every day and know I’m getting my money’s worth.
Brooks Launch 9 Summary
The Brooks Launch 9 is another excellent addition to a reliable running shoe line. Brooks made some changes without messing up what we know and love about this shoe. (Most of us runners understand that disappointment of our go-to shoe losing its expected fit and function!) This lovely everyday running shoe offers neutral stability, a smooth ride, fun designs, and a reasonable price point.
- More cushion
- Flat laces
- Slippy tongue