Our team at Outdoor Adept is a fan of Brooks running shoes, having tried more than 10 of their Brooks Cascadia models, the Brooks Divide 1 and 2, their wonderful Ghost 15, and more.
Recently, we tested the Brooks Divide 3 on two different trails – the Rocky Ridge Trail and the Boulder Creek Path – for a total of 50 miles.
In summary, we found that the Brooks Divide 3 offers a good combination of protection, traction, and comfort for trail runners.
During our tests, the Divide 3 performed exceptionally well, providing a comfortable and stable ride on both trails. We loved the upgraded rock plate and the more aggressive lug pattern that put this trail shoe above Divide 2 from the start.
One minor downside we noticed was the slightly heavier weight compared to its predecessor, but the added durability and comfort more than make up for it.
So, if you’re in the market for a reliable pair of trail running shoes, jump with us on this Brooks Divide 3 review to see how we evaluated its trail capability.
- DNA LOFT midsole
- TrailTack sticky rubber outsole
- TPU mudguard
- Engineered mesh upper
Things We Tested When We Reviewed Brooks Divide 3
With an air mesh upper and a reinforced toe bumper, this trail shoe can withstand frequent city parks and neighborhood paths. After covering approximately 100 training miles, we noticed only minor wear and tear on both the outsole and upper materials.
As expected, it is tougher than a regular road shoe and substantially protective in the toe area. But you need to consider that this is not a leather shoe, so the upper is more prone to tear when exposed to rough trail conditions.
On the other hand, this model comes with better materials than the previous versions, so it is a good investment for a daily trainer or light trail runner.
The Brooks Divide 3 stands out in terms of comfort, showcasing a DNA midsole that provides dense cushioning and a medium-firm feel underfoot.
This trail shoe incorporates a segmented crash pad, which further enhances the smooth ride, while the moderate arch support is reliable enough for normal arches.
When we compared it to its predecessors, the Divide 3 seemed to have undergone a complete makeover, delivering an exceptionally comfortable experience by expertly balancing cushioning and responsiveness.
The spacious toe box permits natural foot movements and splay, making it a virtually perfect choice for extended runs. It is also an ideal choice for those looking for a moderate to low stack height model, as it measures only 20mm in this area.
Since it is not too bulky and offers good breathability, we all agreed that this Brooks would also make a good road shoe with extra protection to make you feel confident as you explore the city.
While testing the Brooks Divide 3 for traction, we discovered that its TrailTack outsole delivered excellent grip on three types of terrain: light trails, moderate trails, and uneven surfaces.
The outsole has 4mm lugs, which contribute to satisfactory traction on technical trails.
Indeed, when we encountered more demanding terrain or wet rocks, we observed that the Divide 3’s traction was not as remarkable as trail shoes with deeper lugs we tested, such as the Salomon Speedcross 5 or the Saucony Peregrine 11.
But the Brooks Divide 3 is presented by the brand as a light-trail shoe, so we accepted its limits.
Despite this shortcoming, the Divide 3 presents sufficient traction for novice trail runners transitioning from road to trail, ensuring stability and confidence across diverse trail environments.
The Brooks Divide 3 excels in breathability, thanks to its air mesh material that facilitates outstanding airflow, ensuring your feet remain cool on the trail. In fact, we found Divide 3 to be among the more breathable options available on the market.
This superior breathability makes it an ideal choice for warmer weather and extended distances, setting it apart from competitors in its class.
However, a potential downside to Divide 3’s breathability is its reduced ability to repel water, making it less suitable for wet or muddy scenarios.
On the other hand, we appreciated its moisture-wicking capabilities that kept a dry and comfortable environment for our feet, allowing our experienced runner testers to focus on performance while minimizing discomfort caused by excessive perspiration.
The Brooks Divide 3 registers a weight of 10.3 ounces (292 grams) for men and 9.2 ounces (261 grams) for women, classifying it as a relatively lightweight trail shoe within the Brooks lineup.
While it may not be the lightest road-to-trail shoe, the Divide 3 strikes an optimal balance between the weight and underfoot protection.
During our tests, we found the weight to be virtually imperceptible, contributing to a nimble and agile experience on various trails.
This perfect balance of weight and protection makes the Brooks Divide 3 a compelling choice for runners seeking a lightweight yet durable trail shoe that doesn’t compromise on comfort or performance.
The Divide 3 lacks specialized waterproofing technologies, presenting a potential disadvantage for runners facing wet conditions or crossing streams. However, the air mesh material compensates to an extent by drying relatively quickly when exposed to moisture.
If waterproofing is a critical factor in your trail shoe selection, you might want to explore other options within the Brooks lineup that feature GORE-TEX membranes, but from our firsthand knowledge, these shoes work great for the summer, when a waterproof lining proves less airy, making your legs feel hot and sealed.
7. Fit and Sizing
In terms of fit and sizing, the Brooks Divide 3 adheres to standard shoe measurements, ensuring a true-to-size fit for most runners.
Boasting a familiar fit and a slightly wider profile compared to its predecessors, this versatile road-to-trail shoe caters to both narrow and wide foot shapes.
The Divide 3 also offers an efficient lacing system, which allows for effortless adjustments and a customized fit tailored to each runner’s preferences.
Like all shoes in the Divide line, the Divide 3 stood out for its familiar and comfortable fit that adapted well to my foot shape.
This well-designed shoe provided an almost perfect fit, offering the confidence we needed to tackle diverse terrains and challenges on our running adventures.
Although I have high arches and sometimes longed for more support, my fellow team colleagues found that the shoes were supportive enough for navigating light to moderate trails.
The secure upper, incorporating a combination of mesh and synthetic materials, ensured a snug fit during our tests while maintaining breathability. Additionally, the heel counter provided ample rearfoot stability, preventing excessive movement during runs.
With average arch support, the shoes accommodate neutral arches, with no gaps underfoot, but also work well for runners with slight overpronation.
Unfortunately, for those tackling technical terrain or requiring extra stability, alternative trail shoes may be more appropriate.
What Updates or Improvements Are Found in the Brooks Divide 3?
Three major updates appear in Brooks Divide 3 compared to its predecessor, the Brooks Divide 2.
The most important is the redesigned upper, which now presents an engineered mesh material that enhances breathability and overall comfort. This new upper construction also provides a more secure fit, ensuring better lockdown during runs.
Another update found in the new trail runners produced by Brooks is the revised midsole, which incorporates the DNA LOFT cushioning technology, offering a more responsive and adaptive ride than the previous version.
The outsole of the Divide 3 has also been improved, with a TrailTack rubber compound that offers better traction on both wet and dry surfaces. We noticed that this upgraded outsole is more durable and provides increased adherence on rocky terrain and muddy paths.
In addition to these major updates, the Divide 3 also presents a modified lacing system that allows for easy adjustments and a more personalized fit.
Furthermore, the padded tongue and collar have been refined to enhance comfort and reduce the potential for irritation during extended efforts.
How Does it Compare with Other Products?
Brooks Ghost 14
When comparing the Brooks Divide 3 to the Brooks Ghost 14, it’s essential to consider their intended uses.
The Divide 3, built for trail running, comes with a TrailTack sticky rubber outsole that excels in gripping various terrains.
On the other hand, the Ghost 14, a road running shoe, sports a blown rubber outsole designed for durability and responsiveness on the pavement.
Cushioning technologies are basically the same, with both trail shoes employing DNA Loft for a plusher underfoot feel. However, the lightweight rock plate present in Divide 3 that protects against rough terrains is an attribute absent in Ghost 14.
Ultimately, the Divide 3 is ideal for off-road adventures, while the $140 Ghost 14 shines on road surfaces.
Brooks Cascadia 16
The Brooks Cascadia 16 and Divide 3 are both trail running shoes designed to cater to different runner preferences and trail conditions.
Although they share the TrailTack rubber outsole construction, the Cascadia 16 has a more aggressive lug pattern that offers superior traction on almost all surfaces.
In terms of cushioning, both shoes provide similar levels of comfort. However, the $130 Cascadia 16 goes a step further by incorporating a unique Pivot Post System that enhances stability on uneven terrain, setting it apart from the Divide 3.
Additionally, the Cascadia 16 boasts a more durable and protective upper design, ensuring that your feet remain safe and secure during long efforts on challenging terrain.
The shoe’s added protection and stability make it an excellent choice for those who frequently encounter technical or rocky paths.
Hoka Torrent 3
In a head-to-head comparison between the Brooks Divide 3 and Hoka Torrent 3, both trail running shoes showcase their strengths.
The Divide 3’s TrailTack outsole offers dependable grip, while the Torrent 3’s sticky rubber outsole with multidirectional lugs ensures exceptional traction.
The cushioning in the Divide 3 stems from the DNA midsole, contrasting the Torrent 3’s PROFLY midsole, which offers a softer heel and more responsive forefoot.
Additionally, the Torrent 3 is designed with a lightweight, breathable mesh upper, whereas the Divide 3 incorporates a more conventional engineered mesh upper.
In terms of performance, the Hoka Torrent 3 may have a slight advantage due to its lighter construction and improved traction capabilities, but at $130, it is a more expensive option than the $100 Divided 3.
Where Brooks Divide 3 Performs Better?
The Brooks Divide 3’s TrailTack sticky rubber outsole offers solid adherence on terrains such as dirt, gravel, and moderately rocky trails, making it an ideal pick for runners who frequently face changing surfaces during their runs.
Cushioning-wise, the DNA Loft midsole ensures a comfortable and responsive ride, allowing runners to tackle average distances with ease.
The lightweight rock plate integrated into the shoe provides extra protection against sharp rocks and debris, ensuring a safer experience on uneven terrain.
Additionally, the Brooks Divide 3 performs well under mild to moderate weather thanks to its breathable engineered mesh upper. This feature helps keep your feet cool and dry during warmer weather while offering a decent level of protection from light rain and dampness.
Where Brooks Divide 3 Falls Short in Performance?
While the Brooks Divide 3 is overall a good shoe, there are three areas where it may fall short in performance. One notable limitation is its traction on highly technical or slippery terrain.
Although the TrailTack sticky rubber outsole provides a good grip on most surfaces, it may struggle to maintain traction on extremely rocky, muddy, or wet surfaces.
Another potential drawback is the lack of substantial cushioning.
The DNA midsole does provide a decent level of comfort and responsiveness, but runners who prefer more cushioning or require additional protection for longer distances might find the Divide 3 insufficient.
Additionally, the shoe’s breathability, while suitable for mild to moderate weather, may not be enough for extremely hot or cold environments.
Do We Recommend It?
Throughout our testing, we enjoyed a secure grip on diverse terrains and appreciated the responsive cushioning that made our runs more enjoyable and carefree.
After putting the Brooks Divide 3 to the test, we can confidently say that these trail running shoes provide a well-rounded combination of comfort, protection, and adaptability.
There were some situations where we wouldn’t wear the shoes, such as highly technical or slippery trails, due to their limitations in traction.
However, the Divide 3’s strengths, including its lightweight rock plate and breathable engineered mesh upper, contributed to a comfortable and protective experience on most trails.
Overall, wearing the Divide 3, we felt self-assured and well-supported on our off-road adventures, especially during long runs when they offered nothing but pure comfort.
Yes, Brooks Divide 3 is suitable for walking due to its comfortable cushioning and versatile design that offers good energy return both on trail ground and pavement.
Brooks Divide 3 is a neutral shoe, designed for runners with a neutral gait or those not needing extra support or stability features.
While Brooks Divide 3 is primarily for trail running, it can be suitable for moderate hiking, offering good adherence and protection. For technical hikes, a dedicated hiking shoe may provide better protection and durability.