The Brooks Launch 8 is a neutral (but inherently stable) lightweight cushioned trainer. The Launch 8 can either be a fast-workout speed shoe or an everyday trainer for all of your running needs.
With a clean, sleek design and exceptional cushioning, it serves up an ideal mix of comfort, energy, versatility and consistency at a very affordable price.
With as good as this shoe has become, it’s hard to believe it was temporarily discontinued several years ago.
Brooks Launch 8 has received two key updates from last year’s model. A new, engineered mesh upper that enhances the fit and improves breathability. Also, the addition of more blown rubber in the outsole to increase durability and faster transitions. The new version is also a tad bit lighter, and that’s never a bad thing.
The single-layer midsole has a “happy medium” feel. The feel is not spongy or bouncy, but it’s not rigid and firm, either. It’s somewhere perfectly in between — soft enough to be comfortable, but firm enough to be fast. BioMoGo midsole foam and the brand’s proprietary DNA cushioning technology are fused for a responsive, nearly custom ride that adapts to your individual gait characteristics.
The new upper is durable, breathable and helps bolster the secure fit. It tends to give the shoe a low-volume interior feel, especially in the forefoot where there’s just enough wiggle room for your piggies. The new upper is consistent with the snug fit and athletic vibe that has always been inherent to the Launch.
FIT, FEEL, RIDE
The Launch 8 continues to have a snug, true-to-size athletic fit that feels locked-down in the heel and midfoot with a touch of extra room in the toe box. (It is available in two widths for men and women.)
The step-in feel is soft, comfortable and accommodating, but not luxuriously plush. When running in it, you get the idea that your foot is anchored to a lightweight shoe ready for quick-cadence running.
The ride gives off an energetic and exciting aura, with a sensation that is slightly softer and accommodating in the heel and slightly more rigid in the forefoot. That makes for comfortable foot strikes and electric toe-offs.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Given its multi-faceted makeup, the Launch has always been a bit of a multipurpose ‘tweener of a shoe. It falls between lightweight performance trainers and high-mileage workhorses that are an ounce or two heavier.
It can roll as a as a twice-a-week fast workout shoe, but it can also hold its own as a versatile, do-everything shoe and everyday trainer. It’s also a good consideration as a race-day shoe for 5K to the marathon.
PROS: BROOKS LAUNCH 8
The updated outsole has full-coverage rubber from heel to toe. A thin, durable compound in the rear and a thicker and more resilient blown rubber in the forefoot. It also features four flex grooves that contribute to the pliable and energetic feeling just before toe-off.
The tongue is no longer secured by a partially gusseted interior bootie but it doesn’t seem to wander once you lace it up. It has medium padding that provides a tinge of comfort and protection on the top of your foot where the laces crisscross, but it otherwise just does its job without getting in the way.
Is a shoe with a $100 price tag really worth it? Yes, this is an exceptional shoe for the price with loads of value and upside for frugal runners. Few shoes come close to the versatility, lightweight, well-cushioned performance of the Launch. And it’s only a hundred bucks!
CONS: BROOKS LAUNCH 8
There’s really not much not to like about the Launch 8.
Compared to higher-priced shoes in the performance trainer or premium cushioned trainer categories, the Launch 8 isn’t quite as light, doesn’t offer as much energy return, doesn’t feel as plush and doesn’t have as bouncy of a ride.
But it’s a pretty darn good shoe overall.