Brooks Levitate 5 Review Analysis (2021)
Last update : December, 2021
The Brooks Levitate 5 is a shoe with a sleek knit upper and firm cushioning for fans of the brand.
Should you get it? We’ve analyzed many reviews from expert and amateur athletes to help you decide.
The Brooks Levitate 5 is a traditional running shoe that’s improved but is more about style than performance. It comes in two support versions, neutral and overpronation (GTS). Here we focus on the first.
The midsole still uses DNA AMP foam. The cushioning remains relatively firm with a slight bounce. It received mixed reviews from runners for its rigidity and weight. It does effectively dampens shocks and vibrations, though, and testers were unanimous on this point.
One of the main qualities of the Brooks Levitate 5 is its excellent stability (even in the universal version), provided by the firm rubber covering most of the outsole. The full coverage also ensures the shoe’s good durability. However, according to some runners, it also results in a lack of flexibility that can affect running comfort.
The upper comes in 2 versions: a standard circular knit that is soft, thick, and roomy, and a StealthFit knit upper made with a softer, lighter, stretchy mesh. It’s a matter of taste! Overall, the new upper has the merit of being better suited to wide feet than previous versions.
Finally, the runners were impressed with the sleek design of the shoe, especially the StealthFit version.
All in all, the Brooks Levitate 5 is a good choice if you’re a runner looking for classic running shoes with a firm underfoot feel for your daily low-volume training or slow runs.
Please read our full review of the Brooks Levitate 5 for more information.
- Firm cushioning (for those who like it)
- Good shock absorption
- Stable platform
- Perfectly fitting upper
- Decent bounce
- Good quality
- Elegant, almost lifestyle look
- Firm cushioning (for those who don’t like it)
- Too heavy
- Rigid and uninspiring platform
- A little expensive
Brooks Levitate 5 Complete Review Analysis
The Brooks Levitate is part of the Brooks Energize collection, and as such, it’s supposed to absorb energy and release it with a springy ride. Does the 5th version live up to this?
While model 4 was okay (despite some notable weaknesses) and straightforward, the American brand decided to complicate things a bit by presenting four versions of the Levitate 5: 2 types of support (neutral and GTS for overpronation) and two kinds of knit (standard/circular and StealthFit).
Here we will present the neutral version of the Brooks Levitate 5 (the GTS version would need a complete analysis on its own, and we’re not fans of stability shoes, as you may know, if you’ve been browsing RL regularly). The improvements over version 4 are mainly in the foothold and aesthetics. The StealthFit upper is so stylish that it’s tempting to wear the shoes for social occasions (a wedding, perhaps?).
But is the Levitate 5 all style and no performance? Let’s find out!
It’s the most polarizing part of the shoe. Brooks has renewed its DNA AMP foam on this 5th opus of the Levitate. This polyurethane outsole with a TPU layer is a mid-range foam that is dense, firm, and relatively heavy compared to other more modern foams. Like the runners who tested the shoe, we are surprised by the brand’s persistence to use this older technology while it recently came up with much better ones like its supercritical DNA Loft v3.
However, runners did have a few good things to say about the midsole. It offers a great shock and vibration absorption (especially under the heel) and a surprisingly good rebound for a shoe of this caliber.
As for the rest, reviewers are divided. Subtly bouncy and responsive for some, the midsole sorely lacks energy return for others. The experience depends mainly on the profile of the runner. The DNA AMP seems to require rather heavy or fast runners to activate the midsole’s energy return potential. So you will hardly be able to appreciate the responsive nature of this shoe if you are a lightweight runner taking a stroll.
The shoe has a medium stack (29 mm heel height, 21 mm under the toes, 3 mm more than last year). The heel-to-toe drop of 8 mm remains the same as the previous model.
It is, therefore, a midsole that’s not for everyone, which is never the mark of an outstanding shoe.
Foot lockdown (upper)
The Brooks Levitate 5 is available in two upper options.
The standard version comes with a classic circular knit, soft, thick, and roomy (or at least roomier than on the Levitate 4).
The StealthFit version is a new soft and flexible knit upper that is lighter and more stretchy than the standard Levitate 5. It feels like a sock with its bootie construction, though runners report that the fit is a bit tighter than with the regular knit.
Common features include:
- An integrated tongue
- A double layer in the forefoot
- A tighter mesh bumper (without being too stiff like the Levitate 4)
- Padding on the inside of the shoe.
Regardless of the version, the Levitate 5 is a warm shoe. The majority of runners who tested the shoe noted a lack of breathability in hot weather. It makes it more comfortable to wear during fall than in the middle of summer.
The toe box is comfortable and is a regular size. The toes are comfortable and, at the same time, well supported. The fit of the StealthFit version is narrower, however, and therefore better suited to smaller feet.
At the rear, the heel counter has reinforcement for a better foot lockdown.
Again, like with the midsole, runners’ reviews are not unanimous. Some feel it offers a good foothold with just enough pressure for a secure fit, while others think the upper’s stretchy nature hinders performance and makes transitions more difficult.
Still, there’s some improvement as the Brooks Levitate 4 itself was relatively narrow. So the 5 version has the merit of remedying that.
Finally, all runners agree that the shoe is way too heavy (311 g/11 oz for men and 266 g/9.4 oz for women).
Some testers also questioned Brooks’ reasoning for using a thick upper for its DNA AMP shoes, while other models come with a more breathable mesh at no cost to the lockdown. Perhaps it’s intended to give these shoes a lifestyle emphasis instead of focusing on performance.
Grip and durability
The outsole remains the same as on the Levitate 4. The brand’s engineers didn’t skimp on rubber to cover their platform: it’s firm and covers the entire sole. It extends from the toe to the heel, with few flex grooves built into the midsole. Also, an arrow-point pattern and a cut in the back give an edge to the overall conception.
The result is positive regarding the shoe’s durability, stability, and traction, all three of which are excellent. The grip is very good on the road, even with a bit of gravel. However, the testers did find the outsole slippery on wet surfaces—so better watch out!
All in all, testers reported that the full rubber coverage combined with the DNA AMP foam didn’t allow much flexibility: the result is stiff and firm. Of course, this directly impacts the ride, as we’re going to see in the next section.
In conclusion, the outsole can and should do better in the subsequent iterations!
Based on the above comments from the runners, we can see that Levitate 5 doesn’t deliver an awe-inspiring ride. The shortcomings of the shoe (sole stiffness, weight) overshadow its great qualities (rebound, shock absorption, stability).
The ride’s responsiveness is traditional, with no gimmicks (no bells and whistles—and certainly no carbon). Overall, runners felt that slower runs were slower, and conversely, that faster runs were faster. Energy return seemed to be proportional to the intensity of the effort.
As a result, testers recommend the Brooks Levitate 5 for easy to moderately-paced runs over short distances, avoiding hot weather.
Finally, some people regret the athleisure take of Brooks on the Levitate instead of turning it into a full-fledged performance running shoe.
The Brooks Levitate 5 is not for everyone, and while it has a few supporters, many runners were quick to point out its shortcomings.
Runners who are a bit heavy or beginners, who tend to hit the pavement, will appreciate the stability of the shoe, the excellent cushioning of vibrations, especially in the heel, as well as the bounce delivered by the DNA AMP foam. On the other hand, it will be more difficult for lighter and faster runners to appreciate these shoes.
It’s an excellent choice for low-volume training, slower runs, or recovery sessions. Runners also liked the sleek look, though in this case, it seems to be at the expanse of performance.
So there you have it—a mixed bag. Not sure it’s the right shoes for you? Please take a look at our comparisons to find some exciting alternatives.
|Heel stack height||29 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||21 mm|
|Weight (men)||311 g/10.9 oz|
|Weight (women)||265 g/9.3 oz|
|Softness (1-5)||2 – Firm|
|Bounce (1-5)||3 – Moderate|
|Upper||Engineered Mesh, StealthFit|
|Distance||Short, mid, 5k, 10k, half marathon|
|Workout||Daily runs, recovery|
Comparisons – Brooks Levitate 5 vs.:
Brooks Glycerin 19
See the side-by-side comparison with our comments.
Brooks Ghost 14
See the side-by-side comparison with our comments.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This shoe runs true to size. The classic knit version is best suited if you have wide feet. Runners note that the StealthFit upper is stretchy but still a bit tight for wider feet.
It’s a stable shoe overall. The GTS (Go To Support) version aims explicitly to prevent overpronation. However, it’s a bit heavier.
Check out the Levitate 5 on Brooks’ official site.
Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner’s Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He’s also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.