Brooks’s marketing pitch: Designed to offer a perfect balance of support and softness.
Upper: Engineered spacer mesh, inner gusset, high-density printing.
Midsole: EVA blend foam with ‘Guiderails’. 12 mm heel-to-toe offset.
Outsole: Softer rubber under the forefoot, harder rubber under the heel.
Weight: 295 gms/ 10.4 Oz for a half pair of Men's US 9/UK 8/EUR 42.5/CM 27
Widths available: B-narrow, D - regular (reviewed), 2E - wide, 4E - extra wide.
Previous model: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21.
The Adrenaline GTS series is one of the important pillars of the Brooks running assortment.
On the neutral running side, most runners are familiar with the Ghost and Glycerin. Those two are cushioned trainers with a please-all ride quality; the Glycerin is a premium and plusher version of the Ghost – a daily neutral trainer.
Most popular neutral trainers have a ‘stability’ version. Every Nike Pegasus has its Structure, and the Saucony Ride is paired with the firmer Guide.
For Brooks, the Adrenaline GTS is the stability version of the Ghost. However, things are different today than they were 5 years ago. Medial posts – once the defining feature of a stability running shoe – are no longer in vogue.
In their place are ‘supportive neutral’ running shoes. This not-so-new breed of stability running shoes do not have a firmer wedge, but instead rely on a supportive midsole.
The Adrenaline GTS abandoned the medial post nearly three years ago. In its place are the ‘Guiderails’ – raised midsole edges that claim to support the foot.
And to a certain extent, they work – just like any other midsole with elevated sidewalls. Many adidas running shoes have them, and so do some Nike models like the Structure 24.
Having said that, the claims about the ‘Guiderails’ supporting the knees, hips, and feet are dubious at best. The Adrenaline GTS 22’s midsole is firm and inherently supportive, so the role of these tiny foam barriers is negligible.
Just like the medial post that was once sold as the solution to ‘overpronation’, the Brooks Guiderail is yet another marketing gimmick.
They are not perfect either. The GTS 22 has a firmer midsole than the 21, and that includes a stiffer inner Guiderail.
Making the Guiderails firmer increases the chances of a pressure hot spot under the arch – particularly for wide-footed runners who tend to roll inwards. This wasn’t so noticeable on the GTS 21 because of the softer midsole.
As we’ve said countless times elsewhere, the design process for the footwear industry is extremely primitive.
The annual update of a running shoe doesn’t necessarily make it better. It’s almost as if the designers return to the drawing board with each iteration, rather than discarding all the unwanted bits and focusing just on the improvements.
Six years ago, we called out the firm Guiderails of the Transcend 3 poking into the arch. It’s 2022, and here we are again.
The firm Guiderails shouldn’t be a concern if you land forefoot or a heel striker who doesn’t load the midfoot. For a lot of runners, the Adrenaline GTS 22 will prove to be a versatile trainer with excellent ride stability.
The fit is comfortable and accommodating. The spongy spacer mesh adds a lot of interior comfort, and key areas like the toe-box and heel secure the foot without unwanted tightness.
The GTS’s price has been bumped up by $10 to $140. Supply chain issues and all that, you know.
THE RIDE EXPERIENCE
The marketing literature of shoe brands should always be consumed with a large grain of salt. On the product description page of the Adrenaline GTS 22, Brooks claims that the shoe has ‘soft cushioning’.
We’re not sure what Brooks uses as a benchmark, but the Adrenaline GTS 22 is anything but soft. Its midsole cushioning is firm – and that’s what makes the shoe supportive.
Sure, the midsole is made of ‘DNA Loft’ – an EVA foam blend that also features on the softer Glycerin. But like any cushioning material, the DNA Loft is manufactured in different densities. It so happens that GTS uses a firmer foam with a flat ride character.
The GTS 21 had a softer midsole, so it was closer to the Ghost 14 in cushioning feel. The GTS 22 is a firmer shoe, so there’s a larger degree of functional separation between the Ghost and GTS.
Whereas the GTS 21 felt like a Ghost with Guiderails, the Adrenaline GTS 22 truly feels like a much stabler version of the Ghost. The removable insole is the only soft component of the midsole; the rest of the foam stack is firm as it gets. It’s not Saucony Guide level of firm, but on a scale that’s relative to the GTS 21 and Ghost 14.
The firmness is also what makes the cushioning neutral. Though the midsole is designed for a higher level of stability on the inner side, the end product is a neutral ride quality.
For example, the medial midsole lacks a groove, whereas the outer sidewall has one. The exposed area of foam under the heel is also slanted to favor the medial side.
If this evokes a sense of Deja Vu, that’s because the Nike Structure 23 and 24 are designed similarly.
The firm midsole is covered with a dual-density rubber outsole. The heel area has harder-wearing rubber, whereas the midfoot and forefoot are shod with soft rubber.
For some reason, a small section under the midfoot doesn’t have outsole rubber and is not flush with the rest of the outsole. Our best guess is that Brooks intended for the medial outsole to be more supportive during the gait cycle. But that’s an odd way to do it; by making the lateral side uneven?
Whatever the reason, the gap isn’t noticeable at all during runs. The firm midsole makes the transitions smooth while providing sufficient cushioning (not softness, though) for long-distance runs.
The ride firmness imparts the Adrenaline with a surprisingly high level of versatility.
At over 10-ounces, the GTS isn’t exactly a lightweight shoe. However, the stiffness makes the transitions efficient and dare we say, speed-friendly. Even the Ghost struggles a bit at faster speeds, but the Adrenaline GTS 22 is comfortable doing 4:30 min/km (7 min/mile) as it is cruising at 6 min/km (10 min/mile).
Unlike the softer Ghost 14 or Launch 8, the Adrenaline’s firm midsole takes a few runs to fully break in.
It feels a bit odd to say this, but the Adrenaline can also fill in as the occasional shoe for tempo runs. On the other hand, going slow doesn’t punish the feet. The midsole is firm, yet it offers sufficient padding. It’s not soft, that’s all.
Besides the open roads, we tested the Adrenaline indoors as well; the midsole is also stable enough for gym and treadmill use.
Even though the heel-to-toe offset is in the vicinity of 10-12 mm, the Adrenaline isn’t just a heel striker’s running shoe. Sure, while it’s an excellent rearfoot striking shoe because of the segmented crash pad and thicker heel stack, forefoot landing feels natural.
The design of the midsole heel is one of the important things that makes a shoe suitable for forefoot strikers. The Adrenaline’s midsole doesn’t extend behind the heel, and the edges are beveled. The compact form factor allows runners to land forefoot or midfoot without catching the heel.
It also helps the outsole under the forefoot is made of soft rubber; that makes the landings less jarring.
The outsole grip is great on dry roads, and average on wet. While the outsole doesn’t slip on wet roads, it lacks the tenacious grip of other compounds. Even the Hyperion Tempo gripped better on the wet.
The firmer Guiderails of the GTS 22 is the shoe’s biggest issue on an otherwise excellent midsole.
It’s worth underscoring that only the Guiderail on the arch side is a concern. That’s because the outer Guiderail is a part of the midsole, and thus softer. The inner Guiderail is a firmer piece of foam that’s co-molded with the midsole.
Ironically, a runner with a higher extent of pronation will find the Adrenaline more uncomfortable than someone who does not.
Because the greater the inwards foot roll, the greater the pressure from the Guiderails is. The footbed has contoured arch support that forms a barrier between the stiff Guiderail edge and the foot, but it can only do so much.
For the next version of the GTS, Brooks should stop co-molding a firmer Guiderail to a softer midsole. Instead, the Guiderail on both sides should have the same density as the midsole.
The Adrenaline GTS doesn’t struggle at tempo speeds, but a Brooks shoe like the Hyperion Tempo is better suited for such runs. The DNA Flash midsole is incredibly lightweight and transition-friendly, and the outsole traction is excellent. Here’s our review for your reading pleasure.
Outside of Brooks, the adidas Adios 6 offers an excellent balance between speed and comfort. The redesigned adios 6 packs a lot more cushioning than before, so it doesn’t feel as minimal as the earlier adios. The dual-density midsole is easy on the feet, but loves to go fast.
The Saucony Endorphin Speed 2 will scratch your itch for a contemporary racing shoe with a plate and obligatory PEBA foam midsole.
For long runs at cruising speeds, the Brooks Glycerin 19 has what it takes. It’s not a fast shoe at all, but delivers a smooth and cushioned ride with a plush upper to match. The New Balance 1080V11 also fulfills the same need, except that it’s slightly peppier than the Glycerin.
IS THE BROOKS ADRENALINE GTS 22 DURABLE?
Brooks has reformulated its outsole rubber over the years, so the sole isn’t quick to shred. The Adrenaline GTS 22’s durability is at par with the industry mean, so getting 400 miles out of the shoe should be easy.
The upper is solidly cobbled together, so we expect no unpleasant surprises. Even the eyelets are reinforced with a fabric backer for tear resistance.
THE UPPER DESIGN AND FIT
There’s not much to say about the Adrenaline GTS 22’s fit except that it’s excellent.
By using a combination of comfort-oriented materials and a versatile last profile, the GTS 22 offers an accommodating and soft interior fit. The molded toe-box is broad enough to let the toes wriggle and splay; the gusseted midfoot helps achieve a smooth and secure lock-down.
Though we’re reviewing the standard (D width), Brooks also sells the GTS in B (narrow), along with 2E and 4E (wide and extra-wide) sizes.
The heel is generously padded and supportive. A stiff internal counter prevents the foot from sliding, and the plush collar adds a lot of comfort. The foam-quilted tongue is soft and filters the pressure from the cinched laces.
The GTS 22’s tongue flap has been redesigned to include a fused layer on top that reduces the lacing pressure without biting into the instep.
Though the lace length is slightly shorter than the norm, we did not find that to cause any cinching issues. Unlike the round laces of the earlier Adrenalines, the GTS 22’s laces are flat and semi-elastic.
No other brand loads their running shoe with a myriad of trims like Brooks does. The forefoot has a set of reflective bits, as does the heel.
The molded details on the outer heel are a great touch; they make the Adrenaline appear superior to comparable products.
The high-density print also adds design depth to the clean upper lines, and so does the decorative printing on the lacing eye-stay.
We’ve saved the best for the last. Unseen to the naked eye, the upper uses a spongy spacer mesh that significantly elevates the fit comfort. Here’s a magnified image of the mesh; yarn filaments connect the top and bottom of the mesh layer, thus creating a sponge-like effect.
The open structure of the yarn allows the air to circulate, so the Adrenaline GTS 22 is adequately ventilated. It’s not super breezy like the Launch 8, but that’s good in a way – it’s not freezing during the colder months.
PROS AND CONS
The infographic says it all. Except for the potentially problematic Guiderail and average outsole traction on wet roads, there are no flaws worth mentioning.
Some runners will point out the short laces, but in our view, the stretchy nature of the laces compensates for the change in dimension.
Like most Brooks running shoes that are priced above $100, the Adrenaline GTS 22 is extremely well put together. The spacer mesh and nicely-proportioned last create a comfortable and spacious interior with no hot spots.
Brooks markets the GTS as a stability shoe, and it doesn’t disappoint in that aspect. The dual-density midsole is very supportive and versatile enough for various kinds of runs.
SHOES SIMILAR TO THE BROOKS ADRENALINE GTS 22
Several ‘support’ running shoes compete with the Adrenaline GTS 22. The stability shoe landscape has evolved, so none of these have a medial post. Ok, the Asics GT 2000 10 has it in a co-molded form but Asics makes no mention of it.
Not only is the Nike Zoom Structure 24 the closest match to the Adrenaline, but it’s also a better shoe. The midsole is supportive and more comfortable than the GTS, and there’re no Guiderails to worry about. The fully-sleeved upper runs a bit warm, but very secure.
The Saucony Guide 14 has a stiffer ride than the GTS, in case that’s what you’re looking for. The Mizuno Inspire 17 has a unique ride character because of its Wave plate; it’s a cushioned and supportive shoe nonetheless.
Within Brooks, there are other running shoes with Guiderails worth exploring. The Addiction GTS 15 is priced the same as the Adrenaline and features a wider midsole and softer ride. It’s also 2-ounces heavier.
The Brooks Launch GTS 8 is the Guiderail variant of the Launch 8. It’s softer, lighter, and quicker than the Adrenaline.