Saturday, January 02, 2021

Brooks Running Divide 2 Review: A Solid $100 Road to Trail Hybrid

Article by Jacob Brady, Jeff Valliere, and Jana Herzgova 

Brooks Divide 2 ($100)


Jacob: The Divide is Brooks’ economical $100), versatile, road/trail hybrid. It is on the heavy side for my preferences at 10.3 oz and leans more towards the trail side than road side as a hybrid. Version 2 of the Divide sees a change to the upper, moving away from the woven material of that version to an air mesh. I did not run the first version of the Divide (RTR Review) nor have I run any Brooks trail shoe before the Divide.

I was excited to try the Divide 2 as it is actually marketed as a road/trail hybrid shoe, and living in the city with many short trail sections nearby I often do a road/trail mix with at least a few miles on pavement.

Jana: I have no experience running in the previous version of Brooks Divide, but my first impression is overall quite good. Designed as a versatile road and trail shoe, it is a good introductory shoe into trail and road running on a low budget. It is rather on a heavier side with a stiffer feel, however it has a good traction, and feels comfortable and roomy.


Jacob/Jeff V/Jana: Great protection and well-cushioned

Jacob/Jeff V: Versatile and full of features at a low price

Jacob/Jeff V: Excellent traction

Jeff V/jana:  Comfort

JeffJana:  Value, fit, comfort, style, accommodates various foot shapes/sizes


Jacob: Dull, joyless ride

Jacob: Insecure fit—too roomy

Jeff V:  A bit stiff, resulting in slight instability in technical terrain.

Jana:  Lack of bounce and energy return

Tester Profiles

Jeff runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He has been running every day for over two years and averages 50-60 miles per week. Jacob has run several marathons and shorter (≤ 50km) ultras and mountain races in the past two seasons, with a PR of 2:51 in the marathon. In addition to running, he surfs, rides (mountain/gravel/road), and nordic skis. He is 25 years old, 6 ft / 182 cm tall and about 155 lbs / 70 kg.

Jana  took up running in 2016 after a back injury. Prior to that she was a speed skater, but due to back pain and doctor's recommendation, she transitioned into running. Since then, starting with shorter ultra distance races she quickly evolved into an avid long distance and unsupported mountain runner. She also loves to take on challenges/races in arctic and subarctic climates, mainly in unsupported and semi-self supported style. She runs about 100 miles per week: 40 miles on road and 60 miles trail mostly at high elevations. She currently lives in Utah/Wyoming.


Weight  Official: men's 10.3 oz / (US9)  /  women's 9.2 oz / (US8)

 Samples: 347 g / 12.2 oz (US M12). 311 g / 11 oz (US M10)

Same weight as v1

Stack Height:

Total Stack Height (Midsole + Outsole + Strobel + sockliner):  24mm Forefoot – 32mm Heel

Midsole + Outsole only: 17mm Forefoot - 25mm Heel.  

8mm drop

Available  Feb 21. $100 

First Impressions and Fit

Jacob: The Divide 2 is a clunky shoe with a firm, rigid midsole. Saving weight was clearly not a factor here. The upper is simple and of good build quality, but not sleek. Often shoes in the hybrid road/trail realm tend to be lighter than full-on trail shoes as they can forego durability and lug depth for road performance. The Divide 2 however looks and feels like a trail shoe with its full coverage outsole and a low-to-moderate lug depth.

On foot it is very roomy and the materials soft. It is comfortable, but I am unable to get my foot adequately locked-in for technical trails. I have an average width foot and there is too much room in the toe box for me. 

My heel also does not snap into place in the heel counter—there is a bit of looseness and imprecision. I went true to size as I am with 95% of shoes I’ve tested and length is perfect, so I’m not sure I’d size down, but the fit is certainly not secure. More on this in the next section.

Jeff V:  I really enjoyed the Divide and the Divide 2 looks to carry over many of the same attributes, including the same value price of $100, midsole and outsole.  The upper has been updated and like the previous, fit is true to size and will accommodate different feet of varying shapes and volumes, though the fit of the Divide 2 has slightly more room in the forefoot.  



Jana:  My first run was on a packed snow trail. I was a bit sceptical as to how they would perform in terms of traction, but they excelled. They felt comfortable over all, however with a floppy feel due to a bit too roomy toe box for me. On a moderately rocky trail as well as on road, the ride felt steady and cushioned. It lacks a bouncy feel and energy return due to the rather stiff rock plate, but as a budget shoe, they perform well overall.


Jacob: The Divide 2 uses a moderately thick soft air mesh upper with overlays for support and protection around the toe and thicker overlays in the midfoot and heel. It doesn’t feel tank-like in protection but is not light or simple either—somewhere in the middle. The heel is reinforced and rigid but there isn’t enough padding around the collar for adequate lock-in. The toe box is roomy and along with the soft mesh it is comfortable, but insecure on uneven terrain, even when laced tightly. It is a fine upper construction-wise and should be durable, but security is inadequate regardless of how tight I lace for the rooted and rocky trails I run.

Jeff V:  The new air mesh upper of the Divide 2 replaces the more woven style of the previous version and has more of a road shoe appearance.  While I had no issues with the upper of the Divide feeling overly warm, the air mesh of the Divide 2 is notably more breezy.  

The toe bumper is slightly reconfigured, but no better or worse so a lateral move and still provides a moderate level of protection.

The heel counter is essentially the same, though the heel collar is more padded.  Despite the increase in padding heel hold is not quite as locked in as the previous version.

The gusseted booty style tongue is a bit thinner, not quite as puffy, although provides equal protection from any potential lace bite (there is none essentially on either).

I find foothold to be good with easy and adequate one and done secure lacing, though there is notably more room than the previous version in the midfoot that requires a bit more cinch and as previously noted, the forefoot is roomier.

While the combination of my thin, low volume foot and my preference for technical trails and off trail require a more precise and secure fit, I still really had no issues with the Divide 2, only having to slow down a little and be a bit more conscious of where/how I am stepping.  For all but the fastest and most technical running, the Divide 2 feels comfortably secure.

Jana: The upper feels light, soft, and overall comfortable. I had zero issues running in them straight out of the box. The negative aspect for me is that it feels a bit too roomy in the toe box and I can not lock my foot in them well enough to feel stable and secure when getting a little speedy on a rocky downhill trail. On the road, no problem at all with fit and security.

I am testing these in winter conditions, so I can not tell whether they will get hot in a warmer weather. However, I could feel a light breeze going through while running, so at least that much I can add about breathability.


Jacob: The Divide 2 midsole is a moderately thick (25mm /17mm), fairly firm slab of Brooks BioMoGo DNA foam. The midsole also uses a small plastic rock plate in the forefoot which adds protection.. and reduces flexibility. There is not much flex while on the run and underfoot the feeling leans towards stiff and brick-like. Certainly uninspiring but well-protected, cushioned, and conducive to the Divide’s ability to cruise over small rocks and roots without feeling them.

Jeff V:  The BioMoGo DNA midsole provides excellent cushioning, although it is not notably neither soft or firm, straddling the line between comfort and support.  

The Divide 2 also features a burly rock plate as was the case in the first version, bolstering underfoot protection, though it does detract from ground feel and can feel a little tippy when running fast on rocky terrain.  While for sure not a race shoe, I find response and performance to be reasonable for the weight and intent of the shoe. 

Jana: The amount of cushioning/padding is solid, without making it feel like a clunky shoe. I don’t have much to add to what Jacob and Jeff mentioned above. I find the midsole rather on a stiffer side while running on road, but appreciate it while running through rocky terrain. 


Jacob: The Divide 2 employs a full coverage rubber outsole using Brooks’ TrailTack material. The rubber is tacky and has great traction in wet and dry conditions. There are some key flex grooves but the shoe is still rigid. The lugs are only moderately deep and well-spaced. Despite not looking aggressive, on trail the traction is surprisingly excellent . The smaller lug design is also conducive to a smoother on-road feel. However, the brick-like midsole and clunky ride limit the performance.

Jeff V:  Jacob describes the midsole well, as the TrailTack outsole performs well on a wide range of surfaces from dry to wet, rock slab, off trail and hardpack.  Even on short stretches of packed but melty snow and some ice, the Divide 2 provides surprisingly good traction.  The tread configuration also lends itself well to door to trail use.  Durability has proven to be average to slightly above in the previous version and I expect the same here.

Jana:  The TrailTack outsole has low profile lugs that are smooth on road and perform well on trail. 

My first run in them was on a packed down snow covered trail. It was a pleasantly steady and secure ride. Considering that they don't have aggressive traction, they perform well on muddy/dry terrain, as well as moderately rocky terrain. I have run about 50 miles in them so far (road and trail combined), but the tread seems to be durable.


Jacob: An unfortunate let-down of the Divide 2 for me is the ride. It is dead-feeling, clunky, and heavy—there is no joy in it at all. It is both uninspiring at slow paces and sluggish at faster paces. It has cushion and protection, but no pop or bounce and is slow to respond. The poor foothold combined with the rigid upper makes my foot not well-held to the midsole and thus not connected to the trails. There are many trails shoes that I run road -to-trail runs in that are much more performant and enjoyable to run on both the road and trail (Inov-8 Terraultra G 270, Saucony Switchback 2, Merrell MTL Skyfire) despite being advertised as just trail shoes, more so than the "hybrid" Divide 2.

Jeff V:  I enjoy the ride of the Divide 2, at least considering its intended purpose, which is more casual running on moderate to easy cruiser terrain at medium to slower paces.  I find it to be smooth, reasonably responsive and pleasurable to cruise in, but it by no means inspires speed or spirited running.

Jana: I find the ride on the rather smooth, comfortable side. It lacks a "fun/speedy" feel for me, but I enjoy it a bit on easy/recovery days. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Jacob: The Divide 2 is a shoe I would hesitate to recommend. It is commendable in its protection, projected durability, traction, and price. However, poor foothold, high weight, and a plain, dull ride overshadow the positives. I am a fan of lighter, softer, bouncier midsoles so that certainly influences my thoughts; runners who like a plain, consistent midsole and don’t frequent technical trails (or have wider feet) would like the Divide 2 more than I did. However, for the same price, I greatly prefer the much lighter Merrell MTL Skyfire as both a road/trail hybrid and a do-it-all trail shoe.

Jacob’s Score: 7.12

Ride: 6 (30%) Fit: 6.5 (30%) Value: 7 (10%) Style: 7.5 (5%) Traction: 9 (15%) Rock Protection: 9.5 (10%)

Jeff V:  The Divide 2 makes a great everyday training shoe for door to trail and for slower to moderate paces on moderate to easy cruiser terrain. It can easily handle higher speeds and rougher terrain (although it struggles a bit when you combine faster speeds ON rougher terrain).  

The Divide 2 is a fine shoe for the $100 price point and can easily and fairly be compared to shoes that are $20-$30 more.  Fit, comfort, cushioning, breathability, protection, versatility, style, traction and overall performance are all excellent .  I do not hesitate to grab the Divide 2 when heading out the door for just about any casual training run on moderate trails or door to trail.

Jeff’s Score:  8.8/10

Ride 8.5 , Fit 8.5, Value 10, Style 9, Traction 9, Rock Protection 9

Jana: As a lower budget shoe, it is a great entry level option for newcomers to trail running, with as a bonus being a decent road shoe as well. It does not have all the bells and whistles of more pricey shoes, but it packs a lot in for its $100 price tag. It is a great every day training shoe, and my choice for easy/recovery days on trails and road. 

Jana’s score: 8.6 /10

Ride 8.5, Value 10, Fit 8, Style 8, Traction 9, Protection 9


Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Merrell MTL Skyfire (RTR Review)

Jacob: The MTL Skyfire is a versatile trail shoe and also at $100. It is a great road-to-trail, “hybrid” shoe. Conceptually like the Divide 2, it takes and delivers a different approach. The MTL Skyfire is nearly two ounces lighter in my US Men’s 12, has a vastly more secure fit, and a more energetic ride. It doesn’t have the protection or durability of the Divide 2, but similarly doesn’t have the clompiness, and as such is much more agile. The MTL Skyfire is my first recommendation for road runners looking for an inexpensive, do it all trail shoe.

Saucony Peregrine 10 (RTR Review)

Jacob: The Divide 2 reminded me a lot of the Peregrine. They are similarly well-protected, have firmer midsoles with rock plates, are comparable in weight, and both have great traction. They both run decently on the road as well. They start to diverge in performance. The Peregrine manages to have all the same pros (protection, durability, traction) as the Divide 2 while excelling where the Divide does not, in ride and performance. The Peregrine is more nimble, secure, and has better snap making it feel quicker and less sluggish on the road. The Peregrine jumps up a bit in price and is narrower, so the Divide would win out if on a tight budget or if you have wide feet.

Jeff V:  Jacob sums up well.  While both are stiff when giving them the hand flex test, the Peregrine 10 has a lower center of gravity and is much more stable and predictable in technical terrain, which is also very much facilitated by it’s more secure and precise upper.

Brooks Caldera 5 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Caldera 5 is more plush, more responsive and has a more cushy maximal feel better suited to longer days.  The upper of the Calera 5 is a little more secure, yet still can accommodate wider feet with a generous toe box.  The outsole of the Caldera 5, while versatile, has smaller lugs than the Divide 2. I find the Divide 2 provides better traction in looser terrain and snow.

Brooks Cascadia 15 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Cascadia 15 ($130) is a higher performance shoe with better response, a more secure foothold for pushing harder on technical terrain, better stability, overall more protection and superior traction.

Salomon Supercross (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Supercross is Salomon’s similarly priced budget shoe at $110, weighing 14g more and with more stack/drop (29mm heel / 19 mm forefoot, 10 mm drop).  The Supercross feels comparatively sluggish, less stable and less ventilated, but does have excellent protection, comfort, accommodating fit and great traction with deep chevron lugs.  Both are wonderfully comfortable shoes that work well on a wide variety of terrain and cross over to casual use (would pick either as a single shoe for an out of town trip).

Saucony Mad River TR 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Yet another budget shoe ($110), the Mad River TR 2 does not have a rock plate, but still offers good protection and response.  The Mad River TR 2 also weighs about the same, is also more stable due to the more secure upper and flexibility.  The Divide 2 is not quite as quick, responsive or agile in technical terrain and the Mad River 2 has a more tacky outsole with better all around grip and a design allowing one to drill in screws for added winter traction, or to drill holes for drainage.

The Divide 2 releases February 2021

Products reviewed were provided at no charge for testing. The opinions herein are the authors'

RTR Team's Best of 2020 Articles
Road Running Shoes HERE
Trail Running Shoes HERE
RTR Contributors Best of Run 2020, Year in Review Articles

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1 comment:

J Mac said...

I disagree on the comparison with the Cascadias; I've ran in 2x Cascadia 14's and one pair of 15's in the last 12 months and whilst they are a fine 'do it all' shoe that doesn't really excel in any one area; they have an almost wooden ride quality over any terrain/conditions and at any pace. They've not caused me any issues and the build quality is very good (better in the 15's) but they lack any spring/zip/sparkle. I lace them up and forget about them but I don't get excited about them. Good and bad, I suppose.

Based on your reviews of the Divide's I took a punt on trying them. Out of the box you can see where Brooks have seemingly cut corners to get the lower price point BUT...this apparent corner cutting doesn't translate to how the Divide's feel/perform.

Firstly the Cascadia's outsole looks much more capable, same material but fewer, more spaced out lugs. In reality they grip exactly the same on wet rock, thick mud, ice, slush, etc. There's no difference.

Fit is massive surprise too; I'm a 2E in the Cascadia's, the regular D fit Divides measure slightly wider at the midfoot and the insoles are the same dimensions. I have a very square toebox and the Divide's don't feel any more or less accommodating. In fact, they are the same from what I can tell.

The biggest difference for me is that the Divides feel a little more plush and springy out of the box; they don't have that wooden, foot slapping sensation of the Cascadias. The Divides feel like a half way house between the Cascadia and something like the Speed Goat 4's (ok, maybe closer to the Cascadias on a sliding scale)

So far the only negative I can find with the Divide is that even with the use of the top eyelets and 'heel lock' lacing pattern I still can't get the right shoe dialled in; some slight movement in the heel. I might fit some wider laces and see if that helps.

Other than that, I think the Divides are a nicer shoe in general. I'll need to get some more miles in them to compare longevity and quality but Brooks are usually very good.

I'm so pleased with the Divide that I've ordered a second pair and with New Years special offers I picked up two pairs for less than one pair of Cascadias. For longer stuff I'm going to give the Calderas a try next....