Monday, July 15, 2019

Brooks Running Revel 3 Multi Tester Review: Lighter, Softer, Do it All, Fun to Run Surprise and Only $100!

Article by Hope Wilkes, Michael Ellenberger and Sam Winebaum

Brooks Running Revel 3 ($100)
Sam: The Revel 3 sees significant changes from its forgettable predecessor which none of us ran.
  • Weight drops 1.4 oz / 39 g!
  • Revel goes from a 12mm to a 8mm drop
  • Softer midsole comparable to Ghost, Revel 2 midsole was comparable to Launch 6's
  • Flat knit upper

Brooks originally said it was targeted at not only running but “ work, working out, and beyond.”  Ignoring the marketing, we think it is one heck of a nice, light and simple performance trainer at a great price with a lively softer ride. It is not the first “budget” shoe of 2019 to woo us, the Reebok Forever Floatride Energy is another great example from this year’s crop. Simple, well executed without extra fancy tech.

Hope: The Revel is a model that I avoided in its first two iterations. It just looked too “lifestyle” for me, not like a serious performance trainer. I’m glad I finally got over my preconceived notions and strapped the Revel 3 on my feet. It’s one of the most fun shoes I’ve tried in a while. If the prospect of a Brooks Launch 1-Saucony Kinvara 7 hybrid priced very fairly at $100 makes you drool, you’re going to flip over these. 

Michael: I hadn’t just avoided the first two Revel offerings - I had never heard of it!  But, like the others, the Revel was a massive surprise, and one of my favorites in 2019 thus far. I don’t know what necessarily makes this a “do-it-all” or non running shoe; while it doesn’t pack Brooks’s newest technologies, it does include a solid BioMoGo DNA midsole and flat knit upper, and looks (to my eyes) like any other trainer from Brooks. But at $100, I think the Revel is a more competitive choice than (what I found to be) a lackluster Ghost update, and a shoe that should appeal to a wide swatch of runners, novice to advanced.

Hope/Sam: Flexible, smooth, spacious toe box, lots of durable outsole
Michael/Sam: Responsive and comfortable; pricepoint ($100!); wide range from recovery days to tempo.

Hope: Colorway is kind of weak, could maybe be a touch lighter but this is a nitpick
Michael: For a "lifestyle"shoe, it’s not a looker.
Sam: Lack of reflectivity, plain look.

Tester Profiles
Michael is his 20’s and is a 1:07 half marathoner. He runs 50-60 miles per week, generally in lightweight trainers or racing flats at around 6:00-6:30 minutes/mile. 
Hope is in her 20’s and after several ultras is now more on the road. She has a marathon PR of 3:47. She trains about 50 miles per week with many of her runs in the (broad) 8:00-10:00/mile range. She is happy to hit 7:30 miles on tempo days.
Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 62 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the 1:35-1:41 range and trains 40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 165 lbs.

  Official: men’s 8.8 oz / 249 g women’s 7.9 oz / 224 g
US M9: 8.5 oz / 241 g  left shoe, 8.9 oz /252 g right shoe
Stack Height
Revel 3  25mm:17mm, 8mm drop
Revel 2 was at 28.5mm:16.5mm, 12mm drop
$100. Available now including Running Warehouse HERE, RoadRunner Sports HERE

Hope: My W9.5 pair sports a kind of gross black and white static pattern. The aesthetics are the only real misstep for me with this shoe. But bear with me. The Revel 3 features an open weave flat knit mesh that is soft, roomy, and downright comfy. Up front there’s plenty of room to stretch my toes. I’d even go so far as to call the feel of the toe area as “slipper-like,” a big buzzword around the Kinvara a few years back. 
Meanwhile I’m comfortably locked down in the midfoot and heel. The hold is secure without being racer-like -- are you starting to see what I mean about the Revel 3 being a cross between the Launch 1 and the Kinvara 7?
Sam: Sam: My test pair was a half size up from my true to size (what Brooks had available) and fits fine with thicker socks. No heel slip, plenty or rear collar padding without under padding (often the case in budget shoes) or over plushing and complicating as in more “premium” shoes. A true to size pair would fit perfectly,
My Crimson Red highlighted by the black full liner showing through the red and a white midsole is “old fashioned classy” in a deep sort of velvety lounge  way but those are Harvard colors and I went to the Big Green, Dartmouth. I’ll get over it.

The fit is easy on the foot very soft and totally secure with as Hope says a nice open toe box with just plenty of hold not much stretch but at the same time the upper is very pliable, so comfortable with a “slipper ike” fit that doesn’t...slip. The flat knit upper is quite dense with a highly variable density of knit. Denser knitting creates the toe bumper, just right with the mid foot saddle also excellent in its hold without overlays and only a partial bootie tongue.  The knit upper is fully lined so Revel 3 is not be the most breathable of shoes but I didn't find it over warm. “Budget” shoes often have a rougher fitting upper and here that is absolutely not the case. Simple and effective all around. I hope Brooks put this knit upper on more of their shoes as not only does it work but varying the thread color as they do here allows some styling, although not enough and not particularly well styled here

Michael: Unlike Sam, Washington University integrates both red and green, so the Revel didn’t run amok of my undergrad allegiance (though I’m yet to find a cool pair of purple shoes anywhere). I think aesthetics are worth some weight here, compared to a “usual” running shoe, since Brooks pushes the Revel line as a hybrid: a shoe for daily miles, cross-training, and general around-town use. I have to say, I think there are shoes far more capable in the looks department than my Revel 3, which looks, to put it plainly, like any other running shoe.

I found the upper and general fit extremely precise. The upper is pitched as a “flat-knit” material - sure, it seemed more mesh-like than knit-like to me, but it was comfortable, with just the right amount of stretch. And, as with Sam, my biggest concern is regarding general breathability of the trainer - even in thin socks, I’d guess these ran a little warmer than the “usual.” We’ll see how the play out in the summer months.

Hope: I wasn’t sure what to expect here given all of the different iterations of DNA foam. The Revel 3 midsole is flexible, smooth riding, and has a nice amount of pop to it without being harsh (more Launch 1 vibes here). It doesn’t necessarily have the “wow factor” of flashier foam tech, but this is a good midsole full stop and an extraordinary midsole in a budget model.

Sam: We know there is 4mm less heel stack (helping with the giant weight drop from the Revel 2) but also a softer DNA foam, comparable to the Ghost’s and thus softer(confirmed by pressing and on the run) than Launch 6 a shoe whose midsole really doesn’t do much for me finding it dull and quite stiff.  The feel is softer and bouncier than typical Brooks with part of that I think attributable to the flexible full coverage and especially well matched (in density) outsole. The Revel 3 is clearly, for example more flexible than the Launch 6, a shoe I find stiff and harder to toe off.

The midsole is a single density slab unlike the Ghost with its softer DNA Loft heel and Brooks pulled this off a very good balance of cushion and some pop here. Eliminating the glue between layers of different foam makes for a more seamless running midsole and can contribute to lower weights. And making the midsole somewhat softer than the Launch (clearly felt by pressing and on the run and for me a dull somewhat dense and hard ride) is a smart move. I do find the heel cushion just right with the forefoot a bit softer than I would ideally like but on balance this is a great midsole outsole combination. 

Michael: Of the three “core” components of a trainer (upper, midsole, outsole), the midsole is perhaps the most critical - and in the case of the Revel 3, by far the most surprising. It’s not a “technological showcase” in the way some Brooks models of late have been, and ultimately I think that benefits the R3. It’s simple - but what it has, it has right. The midsole is a singular material, and thus density, throughout, and strikes a balance somewhere between “firm” and “soft.” Need more description? It really is a happy medium of cushion and responsiveness here; it’s certainly not a stiff shoe (Hoka’s Carbon X being, perhaps, the most stiff, but even for daily trainers, the Nike Pegasus line is continually a firmer and more rigid ride than the Revel) but it’s not marshmallow soft, either. It’s fun, it’s light, and it’s easy to adapt to.


Hope: I have a history of accelerated wear on nearly every Brooks model I’ve tried. Not so with the Revel 3. Grip has been excellent even on rain-slicked pavement. While the extensive rubber application contributes to a bit more weight than I’d ideally like to see in an uptempo shoe, it also extends this shoe’s usable life, making it a great everyday trainer.

Sam: Lots of rubber coverage of moderate thickness with a firmer heel piece on the lateral side for the high wear area. The rest of the outsole is blown rubber. There is a nice fairly rearward distinct  flex point making the Revel 3 distinctly more flexible than the Launch 6 and slightly more flexible than the Ghost 11 .

Michael: Not much to say - and that’s a good thing. Got some really wet runs in these guys (and had no issues. I would expect durability to be good - I’ve taken these out probably 6 or 7 times now (unfortunately my Strava shoe tracking has gotten extremely lazy) and have functionally no wear across the blown rubber. Especially for the price, the outsole here is a good one.


Hope: The Revel 3 is a fun shoe. I found myself (almost) effortlessly cranking out faster-than-expected training miles. It’s smooth, turns over quickly, and generally stays out of the way (far better than the Launch 1 did with its somewhat blocky heel).

Sam: I agree with Hope it is a fun easy to run shoe. The forefoot while fairly soft is well cushioned and decently stable. The heel and now 8mm drop had me transitioning smoothly and easily. The forefoot is not particularly responsive or snappy but has a more easy going smooth feel to it. The heel is cushioned just about right for me with plenty of cushion but not that high and dense feeling of higher stack Brooks. 

Michael: The R3 is a trainer that really can do it all - and for a huge swatch of runners. Recently we reviewed Hoka’s illustrious Carbon Rocket, with it’s high-end springlike Carbon plating and racing-inspired upper. Is that a great shoe, for a lot of different paces? Yes. Is that a great shoe for a lot of different runners? No! 

Something like the Revel 3 will do exceedingly well as a lace-up-and-go trainer, and its backbone is its terrifically smooth ride. That easy day turns into a tempo? You’ve got it. Tempo turns into a slog? You’re covered there, too. The Revel 3 is adaptable and ready for basically anything.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Hope: I’m fortunate to have access to a lot of different running shoes. This means that I never wear the same pair two days in a row unless I really, really love it. I have been turning to the Revel 3 a lot because it’s just a delight to run in. I recently tacked extra miles on to what my coach had assigned because I was enjoying the Revel 3 so much. This is a shoe that’s going to please a lot of runners who thrive in neutral shoes. Don’t dismiss it because it’s budget-friendly -- you don’t always need fancy tech to have a great run.
Hope’s Score: 9.8/10
-.1 for unattractive colorway
-.1 for lack of reflectivity

Michael: Somehow, the Revel 3 is my favorite Brooks shoe of the past 2+ years, and one of my top-5s of 2019 thus far. It’s just so simple - and priced so simply - that it is easy to fall in love with. I can’t speak necessarily to its gym or wear-around capabilities, but as a running shoe, the Revel punches well above its price point and is absolutely a must-try for those who were sour on the recent Ghost or Launch updates.
Michael’s Score: 9.8/10
-.2 for aesthetics alone; it’s quite unattractive (and for a shoe targeting non-athletic wear, that’s a minus).

Sam: Brooks has finally launched some fun to run. Softer and bouncier than Launch, lighter by 0.5 oz and with a 8mm drop vs.10 mm for the Launch, the marketing may lean “lifestyle” shoe but I say it's a performance trainer that shines at all paces with a lively ride and a more than adequate upper. For $100 it is a bargain, a bundle of fun to run and one of 2019’s best and certainly one of the best updates of the year so far. I would like to see some reflective elements. 
Sam’s Score: 9.2 / 10


New Balance Zante Pursuit (RTR Review)
Michael: Fits here are similar; the New Balance runs slightly more narrow throughout. While the upper of the Pursuit is slightly more refined than that of the Revel 3 (though both are shockingly red), the Pursuit is a significantly stiffer shoe than the Revel. In my mind, the Revel is a better all-around trainer for most runs, though those looking for a tempo or race-oriented shoe should look to the New Balance. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR Review)
Hope: The Beacon is lighter, probably because it has less rubber underfoot, but otherwise I think of these shoes as fairly similar. If you want a more traditional feel that you’ll recognize (high drop, nearly full-coverage rubber outsole), go for the Revel 3. The Revel 3’s upper is a lot more breathable for hot weather running. Otherwise I’d lean towards the even faster, even snappier Beacon. . 

Nike Zoom Pegasus 35 & 36  (RTR Review)
Michael: Both the Revel and the Pegasus function as workhouse, big-mile trainers and should attract wide audiences. Note that while the Brooks is not a wide shoe, the Nike is a narrow shoe, so anyone needing a trainer that fits anything wider than the strictest definition of “standard” may default into the Brooks. Underfoot, the Pegasus is considerably firmer than the Revel. I prefer it, but those seeking a plush platform will be plenty happy in the Brooks.
Sam: Choice is clear for me, Revel 3. The Pegasus is all firm workout work with, although improved in the 36 a narrower lower volume upper. Not as dialed and locked down, the Revel 3 says  comforrable run fun at any pace

Reebok Forever Floatride Energy (RTR Review)
Sam: In a sense replacing the Sweet Road 2 as Reebok’s $100 trainer, the Forever is slightly firmer and more springy as opposed to bouncy which the Revel 3 is. Its engineered upper is somewhat crude and rough but more performance oriented than the Revel’s more relaxed approach. The Forever is a “true” performance trainer, more taut, springy, and firm in ride and fit whereas the Revel 3 leans more casual in fit and bouncier, Wider feet likely will be happier in the Revel 3.

Reebok Sweet Road 2 (RTR Review)
Hope: Another shoe that seems to be retired, but a great comp in terms of price and weight. The SR2 is more flexible and has more heel-loaded cushioning. Both are very fun shoes. I might give the SR2 the slight edge for its thinner forefoot that feels just a bit readier for fast stuff. 
Sam: Hope has it just right. One of my favorite shoes of 2018. I give it a slight edge over the Revel 3 for its superior upper and more distinct stable heel withflexible forefoot something i prefer

Brooks Ghost 12 (RTR Review)
Hope: So far I’m having kind of a meh time in my pair. There’s not enough carving/siping of the midsole to allow for sufficient flex, at least for my comfort. If you’re in the market for the Ghost 12, I recommend ponying up more cash for the superlative Glycerin 17. The Ghost 12 is far stiffer and heavier than the Revel 3. If the choice is between those two, Revel 3 all the way.
Sam: I see the Ghost 12 as more of a pairing with the Revel than a comparison. Also on the soft side the Ghost 12, can be the easy runs companion to the Revel 3 for those days you are looking for more cushion.

Brooks Glycerin 17 (RTR Review)
Hope: The Glycerin 17 is freaky good. My favorite Brooks model in a long time. However, the bootie construction runs very, very hot in summer temperatures. If you can spend $150 on a shoe, I’d recommend the heavier Glycerin 17 to just about anybody, but the Revel 3 is better than a consolation prize -- it’s a very fine shoe in its own right.

Skechers GoRun 7 Hyper  (RTR Review)
Michael: The R3 and GR7H are both 2019 shoes, but you wouldn’t necessarily know from comparing the feature set - the GR7H is flush with “new” trends, including a next-generation midsole and knit upper, whereas the Brooks is thoroughly old-school in its construction. That in itself isn’t enough to set one apart; while I enjoyed the bounce of the Skechers, I (and most others) felt the upper was oddly-shaped and often uncomfortable. Not so with the smooth ride of the Revel. If you want to try something new, the Skechers is worth a go - but if you want something dependable, the Revel is a great choice (at a great price).

Nike Epic React Flyknit 2 (RTR Review)
Hope: Another high(ish)-drop, modestly lightweight uptempo trainer. The ER2 garnered rave reviews from the RTR crew (myself included), but I think I’d recommend most people save $50 and pick the Revel 3. The more relaxed upper of the Revel 3 can’t match the sleek looks of the ER2, but I think it’s friendlier for more foot types. 
Sam: I agree with Hope.  I thought the Epic React 2 while relaxing its upper in v2 still retains a dull flat at mid foot ride and while it may be touch more supportive top to bottom the Revel 3 is close and is much more fun to run, 

Brooks Launch 6 (RTR Review)
Sam: The Launch is a half ounce heavier with a 10mm drop vs. 8 mm for the Revel 3. It is clearly stiffer and firmer. Outfitted with a thin but not particularly soft ( \in comparison to Revel) engineered mesh upper it is more boring workhorse ( a la Pegasus) than fun to run all arounder as Revel is. Put the Launch upper on the Revel and jettison the Launch from the line is what i say.

Hoka One One Rincon (RTR Review)
The Rincon is a big 1.7 oz lighter with 8mm more forefoot stack and 3mm more heel so a more cushioned shoe It does not have nearly the rubber coverage of the Revel and as a result of all that stack and minimal rubber likely will be less stable and durable. The Revel is more traditional in feel given its 5mm higher drop, denser and also bouncier foam. Both have fairly easy fitting uppers with the Rincon far thinner and more breathable but with a narrower fit especially upfront. The Revel 3 is a more practical day in day out light trainer. 

Hoka One One Hupana (RTR Review Hupana 1)
Hope: I don’t know why the Hupana doesn’t get more shine. It’s a Hoka that feels like a more traditional running shoe. Moreover, it’s sneaky fast. Based on weight and price I think it’s a good comp for the Revel 3. The Revel 3 is a touch more flexible, but I’m really impressed by the smooth feel, durability, and grip of the Hupana's RMAT outsole. Grab the Hupana if you can find it, otherwise get the Revel 3.
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Jim said...

Hoka One One Rincon comparison? Thanks!

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Jim,
The Rincon is almost 2 oz lighter with 8mm more forefoot stack and 3mm more heel so a more cushioned shoe It does not have nearly the rubber coverage of the Revel and as a result of all that stack and minimal rubber likely will be less stable and durable. The Revel is more traditional in feel given its 5mm higher drop, denser and also bouncier foam. Both have fairly easy fitting uppers with the Rincon far thinner and more breathable but with a narrower fit especially upfront. Rincon review is at the link below.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
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Anonymous said...

New Balance Propel comparison thanks :)

Michel said...

Hi Guys,

Great review once again !

I currently run with the reebok floatride energy, and I am looking for a second pair to have a rotation and not always run with the same shoe. Do you think this one could be complimentary or is it too similar? I'm hesitating also with the rincon..... what's your thoughts? any advice?

Thanks for your feedback and cheers from France :)

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Michel,
Energy vs. Revel 3 fairly similar levels of cushioning with Energy somewhat springy in feel and Revel more bouncy. Rincon has more cushion than either and lighter but less stable with less outsole rubber and lower drop. Given you like Energy right? you might consider a more trainer focused shoe such as Reebok Harmony Road 3 which also has Forever Energy foam?
Sam, Editor

Michel said...

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated ! Your site and advices are truly helpful, i'm a huge fan.

I indeed thought about the Harmony Road 3, but wanted to go with something different... I was also thinking of a door to trail such as the peg 36 trail or the sense ride 2, as I run a lot in the dirt (forrest etc), do you think this could be a good option ? I also plan to start doing some trail in the future (beginner level), one of these could be good in a rotation with the floatride energy... How that sounds to you ?

Thanks again in advance for your help !

Harkawal said...

Ride comparison with NB propel

Michael said...

Hi Harkawal,

They're actually reasonably similar shoes that get there in different ways. Propel is a little springier, and the upper is more premium. Revel (I suspect) will be slightly more durable, and has a more traditional feel - is also a little more stable underfoot. Even though I do love the Revel, I'd suggest checking out the Propel.


DH said...

Just tried these today - way too soft and squishy for me.

Vaad said...

Sizing the same as Caldera 3s, Launch 6? I just thought of this because on they suggest to size 1/2 up from other brooks. Would this be accurate compared to Caldera 3s, Launch 6s? Thanks you!

Sam Winebaum said...

I was true to size and given quite unstructured soft upper I think true to size of your other Brooks is the right call

Unknown said...

Which new balance or saucony could be compared to revel 3?