Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Brooks Running Divide 4 Multi Tester Review: A $100 No Compromises, Trails and Door to Trails Performer 4 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark and Jeff Valliere

Brooks Divide 4 ($100)


Diverse uses for the $100 cost: Renee/Jeff V

Secure upper: Renee/Jeff V

Comfort: Jeff V

Loft DNA V1 cushion is consistent and just right for a training shoe:  Jeff V

Neutral, stable landing base without being overly wide: Jeff V

Quality seems much, much higher than price point: Jeff V


Lacks dynamic ride: Renee

Harsh forefoot landing: Renee

As with the last version, I can’t come up with any complaints given the intent of this shoe and the still at $100 price point:  Jeff V


Weight: men's 10.4 oz  / 295g (US9)  /  women's 9.3 oz / 264g (US8)

  Samples: men’s 10.5 oz  / 297g (US10) | women’s 8.87 oz / 252g (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 30mm heel / 22mm forefoot ( drop spec) 

$100  Available now

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: As with the previous version, the Divide maintains its no-nonsense $100 pricing. 

My only complaint about version 3 was the fit of the upper around the forefoot, which was a bit too wide and insecure for my feet. The Divide 4 upper is more secure, especially around the forefoot and toebox. For me, this is a positive because it helps with a nimble, quick landing on uneven terrain. Runners with a wide forefoot might disagree, but overall the upper change is an improvement for me. Length is true to size. While some $100 shoes have a “cheap looking” upper, the Divide 4 upper could easily be on a $120-$140 trail shoe. I don’t have the GTX option, which will retail at a mere $130. 

The shoe is not light, but it didn't run as heavy as I expected. 

Jeff V:  My first impression of the Divide 4 is that they are essentially the same shoe as the 3, though with a slightly redesigned upper.  Sliding my foot into them confirmed that the upper has indeed been refined and dialed in a bit for a more precise foothold.  The mesh upper of the 4 is a “tighter” weave, so does a little bit better job keeping dust and dirt out although it is not quite as breathable.  That said, I find breathability to still be good and is really only slightly noticeable on the hottest days (upper 80’s into the 90’s).  

The materials are flexible and comfortable and otherwise much of the upper of the 4 is similar to, or the same as the 3, including the heel counter, heel collar, secure lacing, well padded/gusseted tongue and overall protection.  

Back to fit, fit is true to size and while I never had an issue with the roominess of the 3, the 4 is for sure more snug and secure.  I think this change can either be viewed as an asset or a liability depending on your use and foot shape and I go back and forth on it.  

While I have a narrow, low volume foot and prefer technical terrain, I still appreciated the more roomy, relaxed fit of the 3 since I will only reach for the Divide for more casual runs and hiking where I am not looking for the utmost performance.  The 4 definitely holds the foot and particularly the forefoot much more securely than before, so if run  in more technical terrain, I felt more secure, stable and confident, although I might not be as comfortable in them all day as I would be in the 3.


Renee: The midsole works well for a diverse trail shoe capable of pretty much anything. The ground feel is decent while having enough stack height for long efforts. The drop is 8mm, but feels very stable on uneven terrain landings. My first run with the Divide 4 was two hours on a mix of terrain. In the flat sections, the forefoot landing was a bit harsh.

The midsole starts to break-in after 20 miles or so, and that “harsh” forefoot landing becomes more forgiving. 

The midsole doesn’t have a “niche” as it’s not a fast shoe or a max cushion shoe. I’d prefer a bit more “pop” from the midsole, but the Divide 4 can eat-up training miles while runners save the fancy, expensive shoes for racing. 

While Brooks advertises the shoe for “light trails . . . over a mix of paved and unpaved terrain,” I preferred the shoes on trails much more than I did on packed gravel.

Jeff V:  The DNA Loft midsole is the same as the previous version. I find that it has a reasonably lively, light and energetic feel to it.  While not a shoe that I look to to go fast in, I have found that like version 3, the 4 has enough response and energy return to rise to the task and go fast if you are having a good day.  

As also mentioned for the previous version, dampening is very good on long downhills and paved miles, as my legs feel reasonably fresh after running in them.  I would classify cushioning as medium firm in a most positive way, where they feel well cushioned enough for a full day out, and also firm enough to feel supportive over long distances while also predictable/protective when running rocky, technical trails.  Flexibility is appropriate and I find stability to be very good no matter the terrain. Rock protection is excellent with no surprise jabs.


Renee: The outsole features 3mm lugs, which feel smooth enough on packed surfaces while giving just enough grip on trails. I can’t say the shoe delivers what Brooks calls a “smooth ride” but that’s more because of the midsole than the lugs of the outsole. 

Brooks’ TrailTack rubber usually delivers a decent outsole on any of their trail shoes, and that’s the case with the Divide 4. I ran on gravel, dirt, and some rock, and never had issues with the grip or stability. 

Jeff V:  Again, no changes here and as I found with the previous version, the TrailTak outsole strikes a perfect balance of all around road versatility to rough trail/off trail capability.  I found traction to be very good through a wide variety of terrain and conditions and only experienced their limitations on the steepest, most loose off trail and occasionally on loose gravelly corners at higher speeds. That said all but the most aggressively lugged shoes may waver under the same circumstances.  

The grooves help with the flexibility of the shoe, with one bifurcating lengthwise with an anatomical curve, one crossing under midfoot and another running across the forefoot.

Several other smaller flex grooves ring the perimeter of the outsole for added conformation.  Durability has proven to be very good with version 3 and I expect the same of version 4.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: The Divide 4 is a great buy at $100. The shoe can handle pretty much anything, and I would recommend it for anyone who is seeking a low-cost option trail shoe. If a runner doesn’t really know what type of trail shoe they might like, the Divide 4 is a safe bet. The shoe is not the best shoe in any category, but at the cost, it’s hard to argue that you won’t get your money’s worth. I found the front foot ride to be a bit harsh when running fast on flat, firm or rolling terrain, which takes away from the hybrid, road-to-trail usage for me. 
The GTX option will cost $130, and while I don’t have it, they should be a good shoe/price to eat up winter miles without destroying your $200 fancy trail shoes in the process. 

Renee’s Score: 9.2/10 

(-.40 firm/harsh forefoot, -.30 not the most dynamic ride, -.10 weight)


Jeff V:  The ride of the Divide 4 is not the most dynamic, energetic or exciting, but I do find the ride to be pleasingly predictable, stable and responsive enough to provide enough performance if you are having a good day and want to bump up the pace.  

As with 3, Brooks has taken no shortcuts with this shoe and I have found that the Divide 3, and now the Divide 4 can hold its own against just about any door to trail daily trainer, or even trail shoes that cost $30-$50 more .  

The updated upper will be seen as an improvement for those with narrow feet and/or those looking for better foothold, although those with wider feet and/or a preference for a more spacious fit will want to stock up on the 3 on closeout discount.  

Road manners are very good, with a smooth feel, but it's once on the trail that they really shine.  

I think the sweet spot for the Divide 4 is medium distances on smoother to more moderate trails at more casual paces and for hiking, but they can easily handle quicker paces and handle rough terrain, rocky technical trails and even off trail without much compromise.  This is a shoe that would be great to keep in your car that would cover just about any run given their versatility. 

I would highly recommend them for new runners and veterans alike looking for a solid trainer at an irresistible price.  In fact, the Divide 3 is the shoe that I just went out and bought for my wife and daughter and will do the same with the 4.  

Jeff V’s Score:  9.5/10

Ride: 9.5 Fit: 9.5 Value: 10 Style: 9 Traction: 9 Rock Protection: 9.5


4  Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Brooks Divide 3 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Divide 3 upper was a bit too sloppy/voluminous in the forefoot while the Divide 4 has a better lockdown. Wide footed runners (especially in the forefoot) might prefer the Divide 3 over the 4. 

Jeff: Compared throughout.  While I have a narrow, low volume foot, I never had any trouble with the 3 and appreciated the more relaxed fit, especially because I use the 3 for more relaxed running.  The 4 however has a more dialed in fit and now handles better in technical terrain.

Brooks Cascadia 17 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Cascadia is a heavy shoe , better for technical terrain and long efforts that mix in hiking. For the price and diversity, the Divide 4 is the better option. Sizing is comparable, with the Cascadia having a bit more room in the toebox length. 

Jeff V:  Agree with Renee, the Cascadia is a bit more heavy duty and better suited for more technical terrain with superior traction and overall protection.

Hoka Challenger 7 (RTR Review)

Renee: Both are good options for hybrid, road-to-trail or light trails. The midsole of both shoes is firm, while the Challenger 7 offers a lighter, faster ride. For racing and fast efforts, I’d prefer the Challenger 7. I wore a 7.5 in the Challenger 7 as compared to a size 8 in the Divide 4. 

Jeff V:  Agreed with Renee as well here, the Challenger 7 is lighter, faster and more responsive than the Divide, but if the trails are slightly more technical (on the higher end of moderate), then the Divide is a more solid pick.

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: Another road-to-trail option, the Trail 4 is a lighter shoe with a slightly higher drop that feels much higher. The Trail 4 is faster and more nimble from a forefoot landing. The midsole has more pop too. I can wear a 7.5 or 8 in the Trail 4 (I have the non-GTX in a 7.5 and an 8 in the GTX), while a size 8 in the Divide 8 works best for me. 

Jeff V:  Same opinions as Renee and will note that the Peg Trail 4 is the most comfortable shoe ever for me!  If the trails are more technical and especially rocky, I would opt for the Divide as they feel more protective and have slightly better traction.

The Brooks Divide is available now at our partners



Tester Profiles

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.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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