I’m a sucker for a wild shoe. I was running in the Vibram Five Fingers – those ugly toe shoes – for a year before Silicon Valley weirdos started wearing them and I loved those crazy Adidas Springblade shoes. I’ve always been a heavier guy but I never let that stop me from trying either the smallest amount of sole padding or, in this case, the absolute most.

So when I saw the Brooks Aurora, I knew I needed to give them a try.

These things are wild. They look like the egg sac of some highly evolved insect species and they are soft as clouds. The puffy soles are nitrogen-infused and the whole package is only 8 oz, in line with even the lightest of running shoes.

But how does it feel? And is it good for runners?

Let’s talk about that.

How do the Brooks Auroras feel?

The goal of the Auroras is to offer superior cushioning in a package that is as light as most running shoes. Historically, to get this kind of padding you had to have a massive midsole and outsole and an equally thick toe cap. To reduce the weight, the team at Brooks has done away with the traditional hard shank – the part in the middle of the sole – and even reduced the rubber outsole with a few strategically placed rubber pieces.

The shoes, on the whole, feel great. Walking on them is like walking on spongy ground and they have been excellent for both indoor and outdoor runs. I’ve noticed some tightness along the top of my foot which could be caused by tighter laces but it’s nothing I haven’t noticed before.

If you’re looking for some very soft, very cushiony everyday shoes, you’re going to love these. They look wild, they’re crazy light, and I suspect they’ll last you for years given the abundance of padding.

One caveat, however: see that little divot in the middle there? The one that says DNA Loft V3? So that little divot acts as a suction cup and when you walk in these shoes you will notice that you’re making little popping sounds like a sucker dart being pulled off of a piece of glass.

Yeah, really.

It’s hilarious.

You’ll notice this most when you’re walking around in a place with linoleum or concrete floors and it’s honestly really silly. That said, if you’re wearing orange and white running shoes with soles that look like their came out of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man’s closet, a little pop and snap isn’t going to ruin your fun.

Are the Brooks Auroras good for running?

Yes, these shoes are solid, have plenty of padding, and offer some amazing support in a package that’s smaller than most cushion-forward shoes.

I’ve always been a plodder and I weigh in at about 210 right now — down from a high of 280. I didn’t try these at my highest weight but at 210 I’ve been able to run longer and with more comfort than ever before. The shoes don’t “spring” you back up like the Springblades but instead, they take in the force and exert it back out quickly and with minimal impact on your ankles. Brooks writes that their “‘large-cell foaming’ process amplifies the softness & energy return without sacrificing durability.” I’d agree. Those big bulbous cushions are like pillows for your feet.

I’d also note that the padding here is far different than what you’d get from New Balance and Hoka. This is a springier, softer strike and the clever heel design encourages a smoother gait. I love the lightness of these things as well as the amazing breathability — the toe bed is actually see-through so you’d better be wearing Brooks socks with these things because people can see your tootsies through the mesh on top.

Bottom Line

Except for the unintentionally hilarious popping sound these things make in places like Target, I love the Auroras. I used to be a dedicated minimalist shoe wearer and these are anything but, adding more padding than anyone has any right to in a way that is pleasant and very wearable. They’re light, they’re fun, and at $200 they’re not much more than your average pair of runners.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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