brooks aurora-bl running shoe
Photo credit: Sean McCoy

Hype or Holy Grail? Brooks ‘Gravity Defying’ Aurora-BL Running Shoes

With its latest road running shoe, Brooks promises a ‘weightless and effortless run.’ We tested this wild-looking Aurora-BL for some first impressions.

Perhaps no industry innovates — and imagines — new product ideas like the footwear industry does. Once upon a time, an air pump on the tongue promised better vertical. Then lights in the heels became all the rage until wheels in the soles stole the limelight.

And then minimalist, no-cushion running shoes, then foot-shaped “Five Fingers,” and then back to ultracushion running shoes … The list. Goes. On.

Today, Brooks stakes its own claim in the world of running shoe tech: nitrogen-infused foam. By doing this, the century-old running brand claims its latest product, the Aurora-BL, is lighter and “more responsive than ever.”

We put in a quick 10 miles to see how running on nitrogen felt for this First Look Review.

In short: Nitrogen, shmitrogen — unless you run in the most expensive shoes on the planet more than 50 miles a week, you won’t feel lighter than air (which, by the way, is mostly nitrogen). But that doesn’t mean Brooks didn’t create a solid running shoe.

Unique construction works hard to keep pace with the bold design, and the result is a shoe that inspires confidence and bolder, faster strides. Just don’t expect to crush records that aren’t your own.

brooks aurora-bl running shoe
Photo credit: Sean McCoy

Speed Sells

As footwear is concerned, we are in the era of speed. After Nike’s VaporFly 4% helped Eliud Kipchoge break the 2-hour marathon barrier (along with a fleet of pace runners and a carefully planned course), brands like HOKA and ASICS have entered challengers of their own for the speed crown.

But where those brands pinned their title hopes to carbon, Brooks eyed a different element.

“We injected the Aurora’s cushion with nitrogen for euphoric strides,” the brand said. By pumping the most abundant gas in Earth’s atmosphere into the midsole, Brooks aimed to make landings lighter and more responsive.

But that’s not the only tech that Brooks built into the shoe. Heck, from our tests, it’s not the most noteworthy aspect of the Aurora. The Aurora also boasts a decoupled sole, so from the mid to the outsole, both the heel and forefoot are more free to move independently.

The entire build is designed to promote natural foot movement, combined with a more forgiving impact and lively takeoff.

Brooks Aurora-BL Running Shoe First Look Review

We received our shoe sample just 4 days ahead of this launch, so we’ve only logged about 10 miles of road running.

But to be honest, it only took about 5 seconds to know we had to review this shoe, because that’s how long it took to get into the box. While these aren’t the most bizarre-looking shoes we’ve ever seen, they’re farther on the “outrageous” side of the spectrum than many shoes you’ll see at the running store.

Brooks Aurora-BL Running Shoe

  • Purpose: Road running
  • Weight (sample size): 8.5 oz. (men’s) / 7.6 oz. (women’s)
  • Drop: 6 mm
  • Price: $200

Lacing

First, the lacing. The Aurora comes with pleasantly tacky, soft laces that bite well when tied. And the tongue has a very clever offset eyelet on the tongue to that helps prevent slippage (a common annoyance in some shoes).

Fit & Feel

We haven’t logged enough miles to know how breathable these uppers are. But they are, like everything else on the Aurora, unorthodox. While knit uppers have made a big splash in modern running shoe uppers, the Aurora has a translucent, plasticine construction.

In fact, you can even see your feet through the toebox when you’re wearing them! This material offers moderate, but not substantial support. In our 10 miles, we didn’t experience any excess foot sweat.

We also did not stomp through puddles — so take note: the Auroras are not marketed as waterproof or water-resistant.

Running Review: Overall Impressions

brooks aurora-bl running shoe
Photo credit: Sean McCoy

Strictly speaking, the Brooks Aurora doesn’t provide a mind-blowing running experience. The nitrogen-infused midsole does not feel markedly lighter or softer than other modern running shoes.

But do they make you feel faster? Actually, yes — a little. The most noticeable tech in this shoe, from our test, was the decoupled sole. This really did create a more fluid, natural feel in running stride and footfall/takeoff.

It wasn’t all great, though. We did experience some foot numbness, even after relacing midrun. We also noticed some instability, especially for supinating runners, that presented as a slight “folding-over” feeling with the upper over the outer edge of the midsole.

Still, this was a first run, and we haven’t broken them in. So we can’t pin any issues strictly to the shoes; we will continue to log miles and update as we get better acquainted.

Perhaps the biggest boost the Auroras offer is just knowing how they look. They look fast. They look high-tech. And when running, that knowledge has a little power. There’s an old saying that goes, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Similarly, the Brooks Aurora-BL feels like a shoe for the runner you want to be, not just the runner you are. Lace ‘em up and look down; you will want to take off at a record clip.

You can buy the Brooks Aurora-BL beginning on June 10, 2021 — in women’s and men’s — for $200.


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Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.