THE RUNDOWN: With a revamped foam configuration and sleek upper, the Brooks Launch 6 is worth its weight.
Surface: Road Stability: Neutral Stack Height: Medium
In the sixth iteration of the Launch, Brooks delivers an unencumbered ride. Designed for faster running, its firm but responsive midsole picks up the pace easily. But that doesn’t stop this pair from becoming a go-to trainer for everyday miles or a race-day shoe that goes the distance. Even after more than 100 miles, the Launch 6’s springy-ness and simple design hold up.
Weight: 8 oz. (women’s) / 9 oz. (men’s)
Stack Height: 24.5mm / 14.5mm
Midsole: BioMoGo DNA
Outsole: HPR Plus, blown rubber
Upper: Engineered mesh, internal bootie
100 Miles In: The Review
Out of the box, the Launch sprang sleek, bright and light. Beefier than a traditional racing flat but on par with many other training shoes, the Launch weighs in at 8 oz. for women (9 oz. for men). It’s designed, however, for faster running and the cushion underfoot is tooled to be firmer and more responsive than your daily pavement pounders.
Stepping in and lacing up the Launch 6 up for the first time felt (and looked) good. The intricate knit upper, seamless ankle collar, and internal bootie, fit like a sock and didn’t bunch or gap. A subtle chevron motif and fun colorway of electric coral and lavender popped. Initially, I committed the running shoe cardinal sin of walking around town in them, but the compliments were worth it.
Last time I tried a Brooks Launch shoe, it was the original, circa 2010. I wore it to train for marathons and even set my PR in a light blue colorway. I opted for the Launch for a few reasons: Back then, the Launch landed somewhere between a racing flat and a trainer on the shoe wall of running stores. It felt soft, light, and unadorned. It was peppy during strength-building hill workouts but also cushioned enough for pounding double-digit mileage out at goal marathon pace. So I was excited to see how the latest version, which dropped in December, stacked up.
The outsole has minimal tread, with cut-out high-abrasion rubber and blown rubber.
It held up for more than 100 miles without wear or tear, despite covering city streets, sidewalks, bike paths and even a few trails. Several latitudinal flex grooves keep the forefoot flexible, which help with toe-off. Brooks placed pods of “ideal pressure zones” underfoot for smooth transitions. Hot spots haven’t cropped up yet, so this approach seems to be working in concert with the rest of the shoe.
In the midsole, the brand placed its BioMoGo DNA, a dual purpose composition tailored to promote both cushioning and rebounding. Brooks cites that this midsole material provides twice the energy return of standard EVA or gel. With a stack height of 24.5mm in the heel and 14.5mm in the forefoot, the Launch 6 cushioning is moderate—just right for Goldilocks. The amount of foam under the forefoot, in particular, is more than the previous iteration.
Also underfoot, a Midfoot Transition Zone shaped like an “X” is designed for quick, smooth heel-to-toe transitions. This zone flexes well and contributes to an overall springy feel. Also under the arch, the foam construction supports my high instep well.
All this stacks up to a firm and responsive ride. It’s not, for the record, super squishy. Another perk of the BioMoGo, though, is that it includes an organic ingredient that decomposes faster than traditional EVA. So if it ends up in a landfill, it’ll break down 50 times faster, says Brooks. That’s not to say the midsole stopped working sooner; this pair still feels sturdy and almost-like-new more than 100 miles in.
When it comes to the Launch 6 upper, the one-piece mesh and internal bootie construction proved moldable and breathable. It ran neither hot nor cold, and dried fast, without trapping moisture. Thoughtful details like a padded tongue, soft ankle collar, and reflective hits on the heel were nice touches. What’s more, the round laces are just the right length and stay tied.
While the last felt a touch narrow in the forefoot, it didn’t cause any issues, likely thanks to the pliable upper. While the upper is forgiving, it fits snug, as to be expected with a performance-driven design. The heel fit well and even without my go-to lock-lace, it didn’t cause excess movement or sloppiness.
When it comes to performance, I found the Launch 6 to be a great lightweight trainer and/or potential racer for longer runs. It’s a versatile option in a shoe hoarder’s arsenal. True to the original, it held up for up-tempo and quality days as well as easy runs, strides, long runs, and even some light to moderate trails. Efficient runners could call on the Launch 6 for daily training and not-so-efficient runners (or those who are used to more underfoot) could use this on workout days.
There’s The Rub
If you’re used to soft cushion, this might take some getting used to. As I’ve mentioned, it’s more firm than squish. What’s more, it’s not as snappy as I expected—springy, sure, but snappy, no.
If you’re used to racing flats or other go-fast shoes, you’ll have to sacrifice a few ounces. The Launch 6 lands in the middle of the pack when it comes to weight class. Especially with current advancements in lighter weight foam cushioning over the years, it tips the scales more into the training versus racing camp. Which, let’s be honest, suffices for most of us.
Acronyms make this shoe sound fancy, but it’s really quite simple. Like its matriarch, it serves its purpose without fanfare.
The Brooks Launch 6 is a versatile running shoe that’s ready to go fast(er), with a moderate amount of responsive cushion and a decent weight-to-power ratio. With a sleek and refined upper and more foam under the forefoot, it is a solid update to its predecessors. It fits true to size and is worth a Benjamin Franklin bill.
Launched in December 2018, this style is available in specialty running stores and online for $100.