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Brooks Divide 4 (2024): Top Road-to-Trail Hybrid Pick?

Brooks Divide 4 review
The Brooks Divide 4 is an affordable no-frills hybrid pick to alternate comfortable between road and trails.

Our Verdict

8.6Overall Score

Solid road-to-trail shoe at a budget price.

Don’t have time to read the full review? Here’s what you need to know.

The Brooks Divide 4 is a bit of everything at a decent price – that one shoe that you can take from road to trail, providing you with enough ground feel and confidence to head into the woods on vacation, but with some extra support for road running when you can’t get onto the trails easily.

Featuring more recycled materials than the previous version, a more aerated upper, and slightly softer DNA Loft cushioning in the midsole, the 4th iteration doesn’t change much from a tried and tested fan favorite. It’s also kept a budget price at $100 – ideal for beginners or for those looking to save on kit purchases.

However, there are some drawbacks: less bounce and fanfare than you get on the market nowadays, less adherence in slippery conditions (especially on hills), and just overall a less exciting ride. On balance, the pros outweigh the cons though – making the Divide 4 a solid choice as a no-frills hybrid shoe.

Please read our full review of the Brooks Divide 4 for more information.

Comfort
9
Grip
8
Foot lockdowb and protection
8
Responsiveness
8
Durability
9
Value
9.5
Design
9

PROS

  • Smooth ride
  • Stable underfoot
  • Good adherence to most surfaces
  • Hybrid shoe – good for hiking, road to trail, and more
  • Great value for money

CONS

  • A bit dull overall
  • Insufficient traction on mud or in wet conditions

Introduction

Brooks Divide 4 field testing

As a major shoe manufacturer in the US, slowly making progress with take-up in Europe, too, Brooks has traditionally made its name for reliable, sturdy, and roomy shoes with innovative support features. The Brooks Divide 4, a new iteration of the brand’s flagship road-to-trail shoe, ticks all these boxes and more. It’s not the shoe you’ll hear about runners winning races in, but it’s definitely a go-to for good value for money, versatility, and beginners just making the transition from sidewalk to off-road.

Having had the chance to run many miles in the Divide, I’ve put them through all the conditions I could find: smooth road running, dirt tracks, roots, and rocks, uphill and downhill alike. Although I usually prefer dedicated trail shoes for different terrains and workout sessions, I tried these ones on tempo runs and on easy days, as well. Read on to find out how they held up.

Grip

Brooks Divide 4 rubber outsole

Brooks’ trail running shoes feature a TrailTack rubber outsole which offers very good traction on most surfaces. The Divide 4 is also covered in high surface area lugs, which makes it pretty good on softer trails. I have found, however, that they are not as grippy on muddy or wet ground – possibly since they are only around 2.7 mm deep (which is not that deep compared to other trail shoes designed for more technical terrain, such as the Saucony Peregrine 13 which has 4.5 mm deep lugs).

On the other hand, the Divide 4 is suitable for light trails and pavement running, making it a multitasking shoe in ways that grippier ones couldn’t be. I would say it has the necessary grip for beginners and for more advanced runners that have a good portion of road running to do before they get on moderately challenging trails from their doorstep.

Terrains

runner wearing Brooks Divide 4 on a trail

The Brooks Divide 4 performs well on hard-packed trails and less technical terrain while also feeling comfortable on the road. It wouldn’t be a trail running shoe of choice for very muddy or wet days, but I found it gave me enough confidence to navigate dry, rocky, and uneven terrain. It’s just maybe not as lively and flexible as a seasoned trail runner would want it to be on that sort of underfoot conditions.

Cushioning

Brooks Divide 4 cushioning foam

The Divide 4 features a DNA Loft midsole which provides protective cushioning on a variety of surfaces. During test runs, the shoes felt cushioned enough to be comfortable for many miles in a row. Coupled with the solid platform and the relatively sturdy structure of the shoe, this should make beginner trail runners confident enough to go off road. At the same time, the cushioning isn’t very dynamic – there’s little return of energy and the Divide 4 feels slightly dull and slow when picking up the pace.

Some testers have noticed that the midsole stiffness doesn’t increase significantly in the cold. This made me think that you could use the same shoe for winter and summer runs, getting similar levels of underfoot support, which is definitely an advantage for the Divide 4. I ran in them early in the morning when temperatures were close to freezing, as well as in the middle of the day in hot weather, and noticed the same solid performance with no difference in comfort.

Brooks Divide 4 DNA Loft midsole

I measured the stack height of the Divide 4 at c. 32 mm under the heel and 24 mm under the forefoot, in line with the declared drop of 8 mm. This offers enough protection from underfoot obstacles while giving the shoe adequate stability on anything from gravel to the sidewalk. On balance, these shoes make you feel protected and ready to take on the outdoors any time.

The one thing that’s not so great about the Divide 4 is the weight, but you would expect a sturdy, medium cushion shoe to be a bit bulkier. It weighs in at 8.9 oz / 253 g for women’s size 40 and 9.8 oz / 278 g for men’s size 42. It’s nothing to rave about: not lightweight, but not too heavy, either.

Energy return

reviewer Alecsa Stewart testing Brooks Divide 4

While I find the relative softness and supportive structure of the Brooks Divide 4 reassuring enough to run a trail marathon or even ultra in, it’s fair to say that the cushioning lacks bounce.

The outsole is pretty flat, as well, without a built-in rocker to make it easier to push off the ground and move fast, although transitions aren’t bad. This is why I think they’re a great option for beginners who are looking for stability over speed on trails.

Foot Lockdown

Brooks Divide 4 engineered mesh upper

When it comes to the upper, Brooks has made some improvements from the previous version to increase the breathability of the mesh material. Several reviews commend them on the road-inspired mesh upper change. I will agree that it feels comfortable and breathable, with my feet also finding plenty of room during the run.

The heel counter has some soft padding all around, as does the tongue, which feels comfortable and reassuring. I found the upper and tongue combination well designed for keeping out debris as well as the occasional splash of water from puddles. You can also opt for a Gore-Tex version of the Divide 4 to enhance waterproofness, but the regular version is excellent on its own.

Brooks Divide 4 toe bumper

The toe box offers ample room, and the TPU mudguard and protective toe bumper made me happy going off-road. All while providing a rather secure fit, although I did have to try different levels of tightness to get the lacing just right.

Note: this model also has a Gore-Tex (GTX) version if you need waterproof protection.

Fit and sizing

I found the size 38 women’s Divide 4 to be true to size and an overall good, relatively snug fit. The combination of thin flat laces with a padded tongue should fit most at the top of the foot, although I find the tongue to be overly padded for my liking.

Brooks Divide 4 lacing system

For less advanced runners, the padding around the heel collar and on the tongue gusset will be welcome features, especially when transitioning from a plush road running shoe. The moderate arch support also makes the Divide 4 a “vanilla” trail shoe that will suit most styles and experience levels.

With regards to how it fits wider footed runners, the consensus is that the Divide 4 is tighter than the prior version. This would indicate that you’ll have to size up for a good fit, but as I have narrow feet, they felt just fine to me.

Use

Divide Brooks Running shoes

This new Divide has been designed to combine comfort and cushioning for running on the pavement with enough trail traction and foot protection to help those new to trail running. It certainly provides stability with a sturdy structure, padded tongue and heel collar, and a good level of support all around. I also found the shoes to be nimble enough on moderately technical terrain without feeling dynamic, however.

That’s where the Brooks Divide 4 will divide (pun intended!) opinions depending on your confidence and experience levels. For less advanced runners just getting onto the trails or for those just looking for a trail shoe that can do it all at a fair price point, the $100 (or less, depending on deals!) pair of Divide 4 will tick pretty much all the boxes without getting you too excited. For those looking for more cushioning for long-distance running (e.g. ultras), I’d suggest investing in an equally sturdy but more plush New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v7 for just a bit more money.

I also think the Divide 4 won’t do as well on trickier terrain or in muddy, rainy conditions, where the Hierro’s Vibram outsole and deep lugs save the day.

Value and Sustainability

Divide 4 trail shoes made of recycled materials

Brooks has been making solid progress in using recycled content in their manufacturing, as well as being mindful of their environmental footprint. Beyond often donating gear to communities, they’ve also switched to using just under 60% recycled materials in the Divide 4’s upper (an increase from the last version).

There’s also good news when it comes to the durability of the Divide 4. Its sturdier structure suggests it should last hundreds of miles, especially on lighter trails. However, the relatively shallow lugs make me think the outsole will wear out quite soon, especially with too much friction on roads – something to be tested over the long haul and depending on the road vs trail proportion of your running. That said, version 3 of the Divide was hailed as reasonably long-lasting, so let’s hope the same is the case for the 4. It’s certainly excellent value for money at $100 for a multitasking shoe that looks and feels more expensive.

The shoes are also vegan, making them a top pick for anyone concerned with animal welfare (yes, many running shoes contain animal products).

Conclusion

trail runner on mountain trails in the Pyrenees

While I was instantly won over by the looks and relative comfort of the Brooks Divide 4, the less exciting cushioning and lack of “pop” somewhat reduced my enthusiasm. However, for a very good price point, these shoes offer unbeatable value for money in the hybrid category. A breathable upper that seems to last well and repel water, an okay level of comfort and support underfoot, and decent protection for toes and ankles on easier trails… all added to a pretty smooth ride on the road – what’s not to like?

The Divide 4 will be an excellent choice for beginners on the trail and for those who want a multitasker while traveling or combining road and trail. They’re good value, and they don’t look too bad, either. They just won’t give you that pep in your step that so many other fun shoes have these days.

Facts

Divide 4 Brooks

Technical Specs

TerrainTrail
Pronation typeNeutral
Drop8 mm
Heel height32 mm
Forefoot height24 mm
Lugs2.7 mm
Weight (men)278 g/9.8 oz
Weight (women)253 g/8.9 oz
FeaturesVegan, Recycled materials
Athletes
Release year2023

Cushioning

SoftnessBalanced
ResponsivenessMedium

Technologies

OutsoleTrailTack Rubber
MidsoleDNA LOFT
UpperEngineered Mesh

Use

SpeedSlow, Moderate
DistanceShort, Mid
WorkoutDaily running

Comparisons

Brooks Divide 3

Compared to the Divide 3, the new version has been made with more recycled materials, reducing its environmental impact. The redesigned upper on the Divide 4 enhances breathability, while the midsole is softer than before for increased versatility. Otherwise, the Divide 4 doesn’t change a huge amount from the 3, retaining an excellently low price at $100 – don’t switch until you wear out your old pair since the benefit isn’t quite big enough.

Alecsa Stewart

Alecsa Stewart

Alecsa is an ultra-trailer, mountain guide, and freelance writer living in the Pyrenees-Orientales (France). She is passionate about the mountains and life in the wilderness and also practices cycling, climbing, and skiing from time to time. Her passion is to share her adventures with others and inspire them to spend more time outdoors. This year, she has her sights set on the Tarawera, Snowdonia, and Lavaredo UTMB ultra-trail races.

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