The Brooks running shoe assortment is reasonably edited and tiered to begin with. Most runners are familiar with its established models which represent certain categories and price points. The Glycerin is the plush neutral trainer, with the lower-priced Ghost below it.
The Beast, the Adrenaline, and the Ravenna are the highlights of the stability/support category. Among others, the ‘Pure’ series (Pureflow and Cadence) is a remnant from the heydays of minimalist/barefoot running. And the Brooks Launch 4 is stand-alone shoe which offers a firm and lightweight ride experience suited for tempo runs.
So far, so good. But then you realize that there are several models which are more of the same. For example, the Dyad 9 is sold as a ‘supportive’ neutral shoe. Wait, that sounds like the Transcend.
Or take the Addiction 13. Why do you need another stability shoe when you have the Beast and the Adrenaline? And you certainly have to question the need for the Defyance 9 – an Adrenaline GTS minus the medial post – when you have the tried-and-tested Glycerin and Ghost available.
Then there’s the Pureflow and PureCadence. If you ask solereview, it’s time to let them go. The Pure models are nothing but nostalgia from the minimalist era. And besides – you have the $85 Anthem now, a new model which is seemingly based on the Pure series.
If the excuse for keeping them is to address demand from loyal runners, it would make a lot more sense to introduce an updated Green Silence instead. Peter Larson from Runblogger has a detailed review of the 2010 Green Silence if you’re interested in knowing more about the shoe.
Trimming some of the flab would allow greater leeway to fill other segments. For instance, Brooks lacks a credible lightweight trainer and a road racer. Brands like adidas, Asics, and New Balance have cornered this market with the adizero Boston, Dynaflyte/DS Trainer, and the Zante respectively.
In the past, Brooks had the excellent combination of the lightweight T7 racer and the ST5 trainer. Today, you have the Hyperion and the Asteria, but for Brooks, this category is nowhere as strong as it should be.
If the new DNA AMP material on the new Levitate (full review coming soon) delivers what it promises, then it would make sense to build speed trainers and racers based on the same platform.
And what of the Brooks Neuro? Please. Nobody knows who or what the shoe is meant for, not even Brooks. The first Neuro seemed like a Nike Shox Total knockoff, only a couple of decades too late. The 2017 Neuro tones down the visual hideousness, but it is still a confusing product.
After excluding the filler models, here’s our pick of the best Brooks running shoes you should buy:
|Cushioned Neutral||Brooks Glycerin 15||Roadrunnersports.com|
|Cushioned Neutral||Brooks Ghost 10||Roadrunnersports.com|
|Lightweight and firm Neutral||Brooks Launch 4||Roadrunnersports.com|
|Lightweight Racer||Brooks Hyperion||Roadrunnersports.com|
|Max Stability||Brooks Beast 16||Roadrunnersports.com|
|Cushioned Support||Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17||Roadrunnersports.com|
|Cushioned Mild-support||Brooks Ravenna 8||Roadrunnersports.com|
|All-around Trail Running||Brooks Cascadia 12||Roadrunnersports.com|
1) Cushioned Neutral: Brooks Glycerin 15
There’s plenty of plushness packed into the Glycerin. All the upper components have a luxe feel either in the form of soft fabrics or foam-filled areas.
The midsole doesn’t have a springy feel, but the ride experience is smooth, cushioned, and supportive. The soft outsole grips well and helps deliver consistent transitions.
The amount of interior space is just right. The soft forefoot mesh with its high-density printing shapes itself around the foot, and the inner sleeve keeps the midfoot locked down.
If you like the Glycerin’s material package but want something more supportive, then the Transcend 4 is worth trying.
2) Cushioned Neutral: Brooks Ghost 10
The Ghost is a nimbler version of the Glycerin. Slightly lighter and firmer, it has just the right amount of cushioning and support you need.
The upper might not be as plush as the Glycerin, but it is comfortable and fits well. Between the two, the Ghost is a more popular choice due to its lower retail price.
3) Lightweight and firm Neutral: Brooks Launch 4
We gave high marks to the Launch in our review for its firm and fast ride. Don’t treat this shoe as a lighter Ghost. Rather, use the Launch’s firm ride manners to speed up your pace during training runs.
Its entry-level price doesn’t come with any cost-cutting. The Launch uses premium materials, and the result is a smooth fitting upper and a comfortable ride.
4) Lightweight racer: Brooks Hyperion
There aren’t many lightweight trainers/racers in Brooks’s current line-up; the other one is the Asteria. But to be honest, the Hyperion falls short of the standards set by the ST5 and the T7.
Within Brooks, is it the best lightweight trainer/racer at the moment? Yes. But your needs are better served by shoes from other brands. Buy the adidas adios 3 or the New Balance 1400V5 if you do not have to stick to Brooks.
5) Maximum stability: Brooks Beast 16
The Beast 16 isn’t the stability gold-standard the Beast 14 was, but it is still an extremely stable shoe.
Stability is delivered by the multi-density midsole which has a humongous medial post along with a plastic half-shank. The ultra-wide outsole footprint also creates a supportive foundation for the foot to rest on.
The removable insole resembles an aftermarket orthoses and provides best-in-class cushioning over the dense midsole.
The upper is very comfortable but has a noticeably narrow fit. On the bright side, the tight upper contributes to the Beast’s stable character by keeping the foot locked in.
6) Cushioned support: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
Every brand has its mid-priced support shoe. For Brooks, the Adrenaline GTS 17 is that shoe. The firmer foam wedge makes the inner midsole more supportive than the outer side while offering a cushioned ride experience.
There’s plenty of detailing over the comfortable upper. The thin metallic strips over the midfoot add aesthetic depth and functional support at the same time.
The Adrenaline GTS 18 is out now, so watch this space. We’ll update this guide as soon as we have a full review.
7) Cushioned mild-support: Brooks Ravenna 8
Not everyone likes the idea of a large medial post, and that’s where the Ravenna comes in. Its cushioned midsole only has a hint of support on the medial side.
The Ravenna also offers a lot for its $110 MSRP. If a smooth fitting upper with quality materials and a multi-density midsole isn’t value for money, what is?
8) Trail running: Brooks Cascadia 12
The Cascade is a well-built trail shoe with a superior grip and versatility. The heavy-duty upper made of thick mesh and multiple overlays keep the debris out. There’s also a gusseted tongue.
The removable insole is similar to what’s found on the Glycerin and Ghost. It is a thick compression molded foam type which adds a cushioned touch over the firm midsole.
And if you want your Cascadia 12 to be waterproof, there’s a GTX (Gore-Tex) version available at an $30 upcharge.