Sunday, June 06, 2021

Brooks Revel 5 Multi Tester Review: Performance, Versatility, Value, and Style

Article by Jacob Brady, Michael Ellenberger, and Renee Krusemark

Brooks Revel 5 ($100)

Introduction


Jacob: The Revel is Brooks $100 “fashion-forward” neutral daily trainer. Is a simple design featuring a single slab BioMoGo DNA midsole, a “biodegradable” EVA blend, and single piece engineered knit upper. The Revel is highly versatile. It features a medium-softness, enough cushion for any distance, a mid-range drop of 8mm, and is light and snappy enough to go fast. The RTR team loved previous versions of the Revel praising it as a performant shoe for a variety of runs, regardless of price, and with the Revel 5 there are no major changes, a slight upper tweaks and a slight (0.1 oz / 3g) drop in weight, so I expected the same performance and a fantastic daily trainer. The Revel 5 does not disappoint.


Pros:

Jacob/Renee/Michael: Smooth, cushioned, quick moving, versatile ride.

Jacob/Michael: Simple, attractive design.

Jacob/Renee/Michael: Fantastic do-it-all daily trainer.

Jacob/Renee: No compromises at a great price.


Cons:

Jacob/Michael: Debris and sock “pills” sticks to collar material.

Jacob/Renee: Fit is a bit loose (which is appreciated on some days).

Michael: Not the most exciting midsole on a 2021 trainer



Tester Profiles

Jacob is a runner and general endurance sports enthusiast. He runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He has been running every day for two and a half years and averages around 50 miles per week. Jacob races on road and trail at a variety of distances. In the past two race seasons has done several marathons and shorter (≤ 50km) ultras and mountain races. He has a PR of 2:51 in the marathon and a recent half TT PR of 1:18. In addition to running, he does hiking, biking (mountain/gravel/road), surfing, and nordic skiing. He is 25 years old, 6 ft / 182 cm tall and 155 lbs / 70 kg. You can check out Jacob’s recent activities on Strava here.

Michael is a 2019 graduate of Northwestern University Law School in Chicago and is a patent and intellectual property attorney. Prior to law school, he competed collegiately at Washington University in St. Louis (10,000m PR of 30:21). He recently finished 2nd at the Chicago Half-Marathon in a PR of 67:43, and was the top Illinois finisher in the 2017 Boston Marathon (2:33:03, 82nd overall). He recently secured a 2:31 marathon PR at the Austin Marathon. 

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon


Stats

Official Weight: men's 8.8 oz /  249g women's 8 oz / 227g

  Samples: men’s 10.4 oz / 296 g (US 12) women’s 7.75oz /220g (US 8)

8mm drop

Available July 1, 2021. $100


First Impressions and Fit

Jacob: I have not run in the Revel before and in Brooks road shoes, I only have significant experience in the Ghost 13 and Hyperion Elite 2. Out of the box, the Revel 5 looks great, a sleek, attractive design. The fashion element is there but it does not get in the way of performance with a minimal style without extensive overlays. On foot the Revel is comfortable and open-feeling. It is a bit loose even with plenty of space to accommodate a large range of foot shapes. I felt I had to lace tightly to get a good lockdown, but subsequently loosened the laces for more comfort and had no issues with security. It’s a relaxed fit but not sloppy, and  one I appreciated for easy miles or general wear.



Renee: I ran in the Revel 4, so I had expectations of the Revel 5. Brooks states the upper is updated for  “versatility and style . . . with a comfortably, secure fit.” Honestly, the Revel 4 and Revel 5 are not much different. I recommend reading the RTR review of the Revel 4 too. The knit upper appears to have a different pattern in the design; otherwise, the shoes seem the same to me (I still have my Revel 4). The Revel 5, like the Revel 4, is a surprisingly versatile, comfortable shoe. The fit is true to size, with some looseness to the upper. 


Michael: I’ve skipped generations here, moving from the Revel 3 to 5, and I was immensely pleased with the product in the box; like the Revel 3, the 5 is a handsome trainer with clearly solid construction. The upper is a knit material that doesn’t feel cheap or plasticy, and the outsole, while unassuming, is built to last. A terrific first impression.


Upper

Jacob: The upper is a sleek, distraction-free, single-piece engineered knit that is largely unstructured. For stability, the rear of the shoe has a rigid heel counter and the Brooks logo overlay provides midfoot support. The upper material is slightly stretchy and accommodating. The toe box is open and very comfortable. The materials are all soft and the upper gets out of the way when on foot—it is not noticed and works well. The fit for my medium-width foot is on the looser side with a bit of play in the heel and certainly space for my forefoot to slide around, but neither is problematic when on the run. The upper is adequately breathable and overall is well-done.

Renee: I echo Jacob. The toe box is comfortable, a quality I like. The upper knit is loose, which might appeal to wide-feet runners. Yet the security is not compromised, Like the Revel 4, I found the upper a bit “sloppy” looking, but this does not affect the performance. Stylistically the upper looks like a $100 shoe, which does not matter much to me. The toe box allows for some air. Overall, the breathability of the upper is similar to any knit material. 


Michael: I’m a big knit upper fan, and feel the Rebel 5’s implementation of the mono-piece upper is an extremely good one. Clean, overlay-free, and (in the white/black/neon) quite visually striking, I have basically no qualms about what Brooks has provided here. I didn’t even have issues with excess volume - the forefoot is certainly unstructured and “floppy,” but I don’t think I ever noticed it on the run.


Midsole

Jacob: The Revel 5 midsole is straightforward and not polarizing. It is a piece of Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA foam in a medium durometer and mid-range stack and drop—a versatile, do-it-all design. The midsole is soft but not in the way of many modern foams that have a distinctive super-soft sink-in then bounce back. The Revel 5 is more moderate in feel with a cushioned feel on foot strike followed by a directed roll and surprisingly quick toe-off with light bounce. It is not a dramatic feel but is smooth and easy to run, fast or slow.


BioMoGo DNA has an environmental component as well, being biodegradable—and 50x faster than standard EVA, Brooks says. This initiative is great to see, though I had a hard time finding specifics about what the byproducts of the degrading process are, so I am hoping it is not just microplastics.


Renee: Again, I echo Jacob. The midsole allows for versatility. The midsole is neither soft or hard, which makes it a good choice for any pace.


MIchael: The midsole is really my only “disappointment” on the Revel 5, and I concede it’s a minor one: the material here - Brooks BioMoGo DNA - is thoroughly average. On the Brooks hierarchy, BioMoGo DNA comes in firmer than DNA LOFT, but softer than DNA AMP (for those experienced Brooks gurus). Of course, at this price point and in this category, that’s all fine - and as I’ll cover in the Ride section, below, it wasn’t ultimately much of a problem - but I was not wow’d by the midsole here in any way. 


As Jacob highlights, and as I think our entire RTR team is excited to see, the biodegradability of the midsole is vastly improved over previous technologies. Especially as a shoe-tester who goes through dozens of pairs per year, lessening the environmental impact of a pair of daily trainers is a great step forward.


Outsole

The Revel 5 uses a nearly full coverage rubber outsole composed of a fairly thick layer of HPR Green rubber, which like the midsole is claimed to be “biodegradable”. Though rubber coverage is high, the outsole has a number of flex grooves and variations in thickness to provide traction and a smooth flex and ride. The recessed, exposed midsole in the heel is a common technique to add softness and bounce and it works well in the Revel 5. The rubber is quiet and very smooth on the road and encourages a quick, rolling rebound. The outsole helps the Revel not feel sluggish at all and move along quite well even at fast paces.


As for traction, it is not notably excellent, but is decent and capable, wet or dry. I have run the Revel on moderate singletrack trails several times and had no issues, although I was running at an easy pace. Still it is nice to be able to leave the road which adds to the versatility of the Revel 5.

Renee: Jacob describes the outsole well. Most of my runs with the Revel 5 were off pavement on dirt and gravel roads. I like road shoes with a good amount of rubber coverage on the outsole so I can run them on dry, smooth dirt/gravel. I ran intervals and strides with the Revel 5 on gravel, and the traction is decent. The grooves do their part in helping with traction without being cumbersome on the road. The outsole allows for some minor off-pavement running, which is another added bonus to the versatility. 



Michael: Nothing negative to say here. I took the Revel 5 on asphalt, gravel, and treadmill decks and had no issues. Across about 35 miles of testing, I don’t think there was even a hint of outsole wear. I have since passed on my pair to a mileage-hog friend of mine, and I’m confident this shoe can make it north of 400 miles.



Ride

Jacob: The Revel 5 has a simple, performant ride that is surprisingly versatile and very enjoyable. The ride is smooth, cushioned, friendly, and quick moving at speed. There is no propulsive effect or unique geometry, just a straightforward, connected, cruising feel with moderate snap off the toe. I really like the ride for all runs: long runs, recovery runs, marathon pace blocks, and even short 5k pace reps are all enjoyable and the Revel 5 does not feel out of place. My first run was intended to be an easy 5 miler but I was so inspired by the Revel that after a few miles of warmup I did 10x1min intervals at 5k pace. I am used to plated shoes for speed work and appreciated the ride of the Revel even more in comparison, as it just works without any caveats.



Renee:  We live in a world of super shoes with a shoe for each “type” of run: a shoe for slow days, a shoe for speed work, a race shoe, a tempo shoe, etc. The ride of the Revel 5 might not be the most exciting as compared to shoes designed for a certain purpose. However, it does handle any type of run well. The shoe does not obstruct my natural stride. The drop seems much lower than 8mm, which I found great. Like Jacob, I used the Revel 5 for speed work and found the responsiveness good. 


Michael: The Revel 5 has a vague racing-flat appearance, and truthfully, I think this is a shoe that can handle some legitimate workouts and speedwork without issue. It’s not the lightest option, or the most exciting, but for an approximately 9 oz. trainer, I think the Revel has a wide range of utility. On the run, I found the ride to be enjoyable, if a little one-note. It’s responsive, but it’s not like a Hyperion Elite (or even Tempo) where you notice that exciting energy “return” as you accelerate into a faster cadence. Instead, the Revel is fun at all speeds, but not terribly exciting at any (and at $100, I think that’s plenty okay).


Conclusions and Recommendations

Jacob: The Revel 5 is a fantastic do-it-all daily trainer. It is comfortable, runs well at all paces, and should be amply durable with a lot of rubber underfoot. The design is clean and looks good for daily wear or walking around in addition to running any distance at most paces. It is without a doubt my pick for daily trainer of the year so far. I wore it five days in a row which is the most consecutive days of any shoe I’ve tested in over a year (since the Novablast 1). I also brought it as my only road shoe on a recent trip. It is a great shoe without even considering price, which at $100 leads to incredible value. If you are looking for a daily trainer, I highly recommend the Revel 5.

Jacob’s Score: 9.2 / 10

Ride: 9 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 10 (15%) Style: 10 (5%)


Renee: I agree with Jacob. The Revel 5 is a decent do-it-all-daily trainer, particularly for runners who like lightweight shoes. Like Jacob, I wore the Revel 5 for a few days in a row, literally wearing the shoe for 14 hours. I ran in these shoes, I did yard work in these shoes, I went to my son’s track meet in these shoes . . . you get the point. The shoes are lightweight, with an 8mm drop that feels lower. For runners who do not want 6 pairs of running shoes, the Revel 5 is a good choice as a budget daily trainer. Save your money for a carbon-plated racer and use the Revel 5 for everything else. I did not feel much difference between the Revel 4  and Revel 5, so if you can find the Revel 4 on sale, buy it. I scored the Revel 4 at 8.75/10, and felt the same score was appropriate for the Revel 5. However, the more I ran with the Revel 5, the more I felt it warranted a higher score. 

Renee’s Score: 9/10 (-.25 for excess upper material, -.75 for what seems like a lackluster or non-exciting ride)


Michael: I have no legitimate criticisms of the Revel 5. It’s an enjoyable trainer with a nice little upside as a speedwork shoe, and a very well-crafted upper. It’s a tad boring, I think, especially in the midsole - but at $100 and with a visual appearance I quite like, even that isn’t such a major detriment. Of course, between last year’s models and an influx of lower-priced options, there is some legitimate competition for the Revel 5 - but I think it holds its own in that category.

Michael’s Score: 9.4/10


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Brooks Revel 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Revel 4 and Revel 5 are very similar. My women’s size 8 weighs the same in both editions of the shoes. The upper has slight differences. The Revel 5 has a wider (not thicker) tongue. Side-by-side, the Revel 5 looks slightly wider and rounder in the heel opening. Other than that, the shoes run the same. I scored the Revel 5 slightly higher than the Revel 4. After running more miles in the Revel 5, I gained an appreciation for the simple, versatile ride. 


Brooks Launch 8 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Launch 8 is about .25 oz lighter in my women’s size 8 and has a higher drop at 10mm. The Revel 5 has the “Energize” midsole whereas the Launch 8 has the “Speed” midsole. I do not notice much difference between the feel of the midsoles, but the Launch 8 rides slighter faster for me (probably because of the weight). The upper of the Launch 8 is more refined as compared to the Revel 5, and overall (for casual wear) the Launch 8 is stylistically better looking in my opinion. The grooves in the outsole of the Launch 8 work slightly better for traction on gravel as compared to the Revel 5, but both shoes are similar. For a higher drop and prettier/casual shoe, choose the Launch 8. For a lower drop and more versatile shoe, choose the Revel 5. Both are $100.


Brooks Ghost 13 (RTR Review)

Jacob: The Ghost is a classic daily trainer with a relatively similar fit and ride to the Revel 5, but with less versatility. The Ghost feels more sluggish and overly soft at speed and more bulky with its 12mm drop, higher weight, and more robust upper. The fit and breathability of the Ghost is slightly better—more comfortable and airy—but I prefer the ride of the Revel with slightly less softness and lower drop and heel stack. The Revel is also a sleeker style that I prefer for general wear. Considering the Revel 5 is also $30 less than the Ghost, it’s definitely my pick. 


Atreyu Base Model (RTR Review)

Michael: Another budget entry-level ($65/$55) option is the Atreyu base model. The Brooks feels firmer and more traditional against the more minimalistic Atreyu. I like (and my achilles likes) the unstructured upper of the Atreyu and the slightly lighter platform - but I think for runners who want just a little more underfoot (or a more durable outsole, especially for off-road, the Revel 5 is a great option.



Saucony Freedom 4 (RTR Review)

Jacob: The Freedom 4 is in a similar class being mid-range in cushion, having a fashion/daily-wear element, and being versatile in performance. The Freedom 4 has a more modern midsole, using PEBA, which is both firmer than the Revel 5’s midsole and also bouncier. The Freedom 4 is snappier and feels faster but has a harsher ride that isn’t as effortless and smooth as the Revel 5’s. Both shoes fit well. As a daily trainer considering only performance, it’s a toss up based on ride preferences, but when considering its cost, at $60 less, the Revel 5 is the winner.


New Balance Fresh Foam Beacon (RTR Review)

Jacob: I have not run the latest Beacon, version 3, but I have run 1 and 2 and know from talking to others that the 3 is generally similar enough that this comparison can apply to it as well. The Beacon is a classic simple, lightweight, performant, single-slab EVA daily trainer. It has a lot of overlap in usage to the Revel 5 as a do-it-all shoe. Both are great. I think each shoe has advantages in certain areas and differ a bit in ride, with the Beacon being firmer, less flexible, and springier (no rubber outsole), and the Revel 5 being denser, softer, more flexible, smoother, and snappier. The Beacon is notably lighter which is a huge advantage, but it suffers in outsole durability. Additionally, the flex characteristics and traction of the Beacon lower its performance off-road. The Revel 5 is also $20 less than the Beacon. 


Both are great picks for any day running, so it comes down to preferences. Due to the greater versatility and durability (and sustainability) of the Revel, it is probably my pick overall.


Michael: Unlike Jacob, the Fresh Foam X Beacon 3 was my first and only Beacon experience, and that makes for a close call. The Beacon is a little more peppy and responsive, but has a slightly more lacking outsole and an uncomfortable heel collar. Even so, I think the prices paint the right picture here - the Beacon 3 is probably about 20% better (using my very unscientific processes) than the Revel, and costs as much. For those who are willing to compare the two, I’d recommend trying each and going based on fit and feel - it’s really a choice where you can’t go wrong (even if I’m slightly inclined towards the NB).


Brooks Revel 5 available July 2021. Revel 4 on clearance below.


Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. No other compensation was received by RTR or the authors for this review beyond potential commissions from the shopping links in the article. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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