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Brooks Divide 4: Budgeted Improvements
By Matthew Klein

In an age of fancy foams and super stack heights, finding a simple, do it all shoe that can handle almost whatever life throws at you without breaking the bank is pretty tough. Do it all shoes are often expensive, making it challenging to access as a new runner trying to figure out what they like. The Brooks Divide 4 is a solid solution to these issues. An update from version three, the upper is the main thing that changes, providing a more secure fit up top while retaining just enough room in the toe box. Although supposedly similar, the ride is slightly softer but just as quick, continuing to provide comfort on a variety of surfaces that you may choose to explore. Continuing to be moderate in all parts except price, the Brooks Divide 4 improves accessibility to trails by being a budget shoe with a surprising amount of performance. 

Brooks Divide 4
Price: $100 at Brooks Running
Weight: 10.4 oz, 294 g (men's size 9), 9.3 oz, 263 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 20 mm / 12 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Classification: Road Trail Hybrid


The Brooks Divide 4 is an update to this entry-level, moderate to lower stack height road/trail hybrid shoe. Continuing to run a little lower to the ground, the ride softens just slightly from the previous version but continues to be snappy when you want it to be. The fit is normal and secure, snugging up slightly from the prior version but still providing a little room for foot swelling. A slight, unnoticeable gain in weight has transpired, but that does nothing to stop the Divide 4 from still being a high performer for the new runner or those who want a simple, relatively light trail shoe for a variety of surfaces. 

PAST MODEL: Brooks Divide 3


The Brooks Divide 4 fits me true to size, if slightly short from the lower volume upper, in my normal men's US size 10. The overall volume is low and the fit is slightly snug in the midfoot and heel. The forefoot is slightly wide width-wise, but still fits normal-to-snug thanks to how low the upper sits on the foot. This does a great job of securing the foot on the platform but can take some getting used to. The upper does initially feel short on my big and little toes thanks to the low volume and mild toe guard. This has not caused me any issues with shorter to moderate runs but did cause some irritation with longer efforts. Those planning to use these for longer efforts may want to consider a half-size up.

The midfoot is slightly snug with a moderately thick and gusseted tongue. I did not have to tighten the laces due to the snug fit and had no trouble with security. The heel fits slightly snug with moderate heel collar cushioning. The lateral and medial aspects of the heel counter are somewhat flexible but the posterior aspect is quite hard.

For those that like a rigid heel counter, this shoe will do well but for those sensitive to them this may cause issues, particularly for those with Haglund Deformities (like me). The inner mesh does have some scratchiness and with the shorter fit/toe guard, I would definitely recommend at least thin socks. However, the trade off with the snug fit is that the security is improved. I have not had to tighten down the laces or lace lock this shoe. Those wanting a more performance fit may like this shoe, while others may need a shoe with more room. 


Like its predecessors, the Divide 4 is a hybrid road/trail shoe with a more traditional/lower stack height. The ride is slightly soft with full-length DNA Loft. On the trails its feels more cushioned whereas on harder road surfaces it compresses and feels slightly firmer. Although the listed weight is 10.4 oz, the shoe feels nimble and far lighter than that. There is an 8mm heel drop listed and it feels at that height (not too low or high). The heel transition is better on trail as the softer surfaces compress underfoot, whereas it is a slightly clunky at first on the road due to the small beveled but fortunately rounded heel. The forefoot is moderately flexible with a little bit of snapback.

The nimble feeling and slightly snappy ride make the Divide 4 a great shoe for short-to-moderate distances on both road and trail when you want to run easy or pick up the pace. Like its predecessor, I have used the Divide 4 for everything I could find. It is not the lightest or fastest shoe and certainly is not something I would choose for high-level racing. It is also not the best trail shoe for the most aggressive climbs. For moderate soft ground, hard pack trail, gravel and road the sticky rubber TrailTack outsole does a great job. I have bombed down hills confidently and run several fartleks well in this shoe including on steep climbs. On aggressive rocky trails this shoe is not the best due to the lower sole and lack of a rock plate. However, for normal trail and road it does fine.

Similar to the prior version, I would try to keep this shoe more for trail use and shorter transitions on road. The small lugs are fine on trail but have quickly begun to wear down with only short road use. It should last an average number of trail miles as long as you keep it on softer surfaces.


The Brooks Divide 4 is a neutral hybrid shoe with no traditional elements of stability. There are a few guidance methods that may work for those with mild stability needs. The rearfoot features sidewalls on both the medial and lateral sides of the rearfoot and part of the midfoot. These are not major or intrusive but do a decent job of keeping the foot mildly centered. The sole is wider with mild sole flare in the heel/forefoot and the midfoot does not taper excessively. These provide mild guidance methods in all three areas of the shoe that will work well for those with subtle needs but not for those with major stability needs. 

Thoughts as a DPT: What is a Road/Trail Hybrid? 
By Matthew Klein

We throw around the terms "versatile" and "hybrid" quite a bit, so I thought it would be helpful to provide an operational definition of a hybrid shoe. Typically, a road/trail hybrid refers to a shoe designed to handle both road and trail surfaces. The shoes are frequently more trail-oriented with the outsole durability to handle the harshness and friction of the road. They all have lugs, the small protrusions that help dig into the surface below and provide traction. However, hybrids typically have smaller/more shallow lugs to also tolerate road surfaces. While this typically allows the versatility to handle road mileage, it limits their traction on more challenging and technical trail surfaces. 

Being able to do both things decently may limit the shoe's ability to do them well individually. Most people will tend to wear through lugs quickly on road, potentially limiting the durability of these types of shoes (although not always). The smaller lugs are meant to compensate for this, but this often limits traction on more technical or aggressive trail terrain like steep climbs, mud and soft ground. So these shoes often sit squarely in the middle, making them great options for newer runners, those beginning to explore trails and those of us who have a decent amount of road to get through before we get to local trails. The Divide (Brooks) and Blaze TR (Saucony) are both great series to experiment with given their accessible price ($100) and solid performance. Once newer runners and new to trail runners have confirmed trail running is something they want to stick with, then they can invest in more expensive and technical trail stuff. For those still on the fence, a Road/Trail hybrid will do just fine.


The Divide 4 makes some positive changes with a slightly softer midsole but some backwards steps with the snug/lower volume upper. The softer midsole will be a welcome change for newer runners. However, the lower volume upper may be challenging given the known swelling/foot volume changes that happen with running, particularly with longer efforts. As long as the shoe is kept to shorter distances, this should be fine. However, given that many runners might start exploring longer distances, the lower volume/snugger fit may be problematic. It certainly improves security, but that may be better placed in the midfoot than lowering the volume in the forefoot.

I would like to see the volume in the forefoot increased while maintaining the security, possibly through improved internal stitching or overlays in the midfoot. This would solve the security issue from the last version while maintaining a better fit. I would also like to see the weight come back down to 10.1 oz (men's size 9) or below to restore the true faster versatility this shoe had. This is still a great shoe for $100 and there are some improvements. The biggest thing is that the upper change may make this work for a slightly different runner now.


The Brooks Divide 4 is for those with lower volume feet wanting a lower stack height shoe that can handle road/trail efforts for shorter to moderate distances. The upper security is improved thanks to being much lower volume, however those between sizes may want to consider going up a half size due to the toe guard and low upper. The midsole remains lower to the ground, but is softer than previous, providing a tiny bit more versatility in distance. Despite a small weight gain, the Divide 4 retains its nimbleness, making it an affordable option for those who want to pick up the pace somewhat on trails.

As one of the extremely rare $100 trail shoes, the Divide 4 has an important place in today's shoe spectrum. Particularly for those new to running or new to trail running, this is a great option that provides enough traction and security to safely explore softer surfaces without breaking the bank or breaking and ankles getting used to super maximalist shoes (the more common trail shoe at this time). The contrast from maximal trail shoes is also great as an easy option to work on ankle proprioception over shorter distances. Brooks, I am begging you to keep this shoe. Just widen the forefoot upper a little bit to help the newer runners get used to the foot swelling that happens after pounding several miles downhill.


Fit: B+ (Lower volume and secure fit. Makes shoe almost feel short)
B+ (Lower to the ground but slightly )
Stability: B+ [Neutral] (Sidewalls in rearfoot with wider base)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (No major changes geometrically on sole. Still need more posterior lateral. Lower volume somewhat counter-intuitive but does provide security. Unsure where weight gain came from)
Personal: B (I really like the simple ride but the lower volume fit is a turn-off for me. Will do better for those with narrow/lower volume feet)
Overall: B/B+ 


Brooks Divide 4
Price: $100 at Brooks Running

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Brooks Cascadia 17 - A great trail shoe for easy runs, hiking, and walking
Brooks Catamount 2 - A redesign adds a SkyVault plate to the trail shoe
Brooks Divide 3 - A surprisingly solid trail runner at $100
Hoka Challenger ATR 7 [Stable Neutral] - This road-to-trail comes in at its lightest yet with a firmer rolling ride
Hoka Stinson 7 - A crossover max cushion shoe that is built for trails, but can do road as well
Hoka Tecton X 2 - Subtle changes keep this trail racer a fun and fast ride
Hoka Zinal 2 - Hoka's super light trail runner gets an update
La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX - Winter ready running in every way possible
New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail v3 - A real balance of cushion and durability for the trails
Nike Ultrafly - Nike releases their ultramarathon shoe, powered by ZoomX
Salomon Glide Max TR - A new max cushion trail entry from trail specialists, Salomon
Salomon Glide Ride 2  - A solid moderately stacked trainer for the trails
Salomon Pulsar Trail Pro 2 - A fast, aggressive trail shoe that has one setback that holds the shoe back
Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 v2 - A snug, nimble trailer runner for speedy trails
Salomon Sense Ride 5 - A lower cushion, well-riding trail shoe that can do a bit of everything
Saucony Blaze TR - Surprisingly light trail running for $100
Sauocny Endorphin Rift - A flexible, light, PWRRUN PB-fueld trail runner
Saucony Peregrine 13 (and ST) - The lightest, yet also most cushioned model in the trail line
Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 [Stable Neutral]- A great trail runner becomes even better. Lighter, better fitting, and fun
Topo Athletic Terraventure 4 - An excellent walking, hiking option for runners and hikers alike
Xero Shoes Scrambler Low - A minimalist trail trainer with a generous fit

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Brooks for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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Xero Shoes Scrambler Low

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