By Paul Freary
When it comes to running shoes, Brooks are one of the most popular and biggest-selling shoe brands around the world in speciality running shoe stores.
Today they remain one of the best-selling specialist running shoe brands largely thanks to their great range of shoes that cater for the needs of everyday runners.
Best Brooks Running Shoes
1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 - Best Support/Stability Training Shoe
As the 23rd generation of this model, the Adrenaline GTS 23 is a tried and tested support category running shoe that’s stood the test of time.
The Adrenaline originally featured a dual-density medial post to help prevent overpronation. The type of posting situated on the medial side of the shoe, beneath the arch was a popular method of controlling pronation used by many brands.
Whilst effective, the medial post presented an either ‘on or off’ level of support, all or nothing. Brooks reinvented their support method with the introduction of their GuideRail support system and in doing so, the GTS part of the shoe's name became known as ‘go-to-support’.
Before the introduction of GuideRails, the GTS was referred to as the ‘go-to-shoe’ such was the popularity of the models it was attached to.
The GuideRail system acts like the children's rails at a bowling alley. Should the ball want to roll out of the lane, the rails help keep it in. The GuideRails in the brand's running shoes provide general stability on both the lateral and medial sides of the shoe.
In providing this all-around level of stability, I find that the Adrenaline GTS 23 (and indeed any of the brands ‘GTS models) works very well for a wide range of runners with any level of rearfoot instability.
I’ve found that the Adrenaline works well in a variety of scenarios for runners and as such, it’s become one of my favourite shoes to recommend. The dynamic nature of the support is effective without being intrusive and hundreds of my customers have been very pleased with the shoe.
For those with injuries such as plantar fasciitis, the Adrenaline GTS 23 provides arch support and elevates the heel, proving to be a great option. The dynamic level of the control offered also helps those suffering from other lower leg aches, pains and injuries such as runner's knee and IT band issues.
The shoes used the brand's DNA Loft v2 midsole foam, a compression-moulded EVA-based material that provides great cushioning in a lightweight package and a generally responsive feel for day-to-day training.
As with all of Brooks’ shoes, the upper construction features great materials and a high-quality construction. The fit is great from the first step into the shoes.
2. Brooks Ghost 15 - Best Neutral Cushioned Training Shoe
Another one of Brooks’ best-selling shoes and best-selling shoes in specialist running retail, as well as my own running store, is the Brooks Ghost 15.
From the moment you step inside the shoe, the Ghost 15 feels light, soft, plush and simply a very welcoming environment in which to place your feet.
The stable, neutral cushioning provides a great, balanced ride for both runners and walkers, with the soft yet durable cushioning remaining consistent throughout the life of the shoe.
A 12mm drop from the heel to the forefoot can help reduce the strain on the Achilles tendon as well as the soleus and calf muscles, so can be useful for those with lower leg injuries and strains.
Like the Adrenaline GTS 23, the Ghost 15 uses the brand’s DNA Loft v2 cushioning. This compression moulded EVA-based foam is both light and flexible and provides a good combination of durability and comfort throughout the life of the shoe.
One of the major factors that I feel makes the Brooks Ghost 15 such a popular shoe is its versatility. This versatility comes from the variations in which the shoe is available.
As well as standard B and D widths for women and men respectively, there are narrow, wide and extra-wide versions available. Unlike some brands, the Brooks width fitting options offer a genuinely wider base to the shoe, not simply more fabric in the upper!
As well as width fittings, there is a wide range of colours available in both the men's and women’s versions of the shoe, including an all-black option. For those who want a comfortable work shoe but need it to be all-black, the Ghost 15 is a great option. I find that I’ll often be recommending the Brooks Ghost to people who require a plain black shoe for work but also want great comfort.
A water-proof, Gore-Tex version of the Ghost 15 is also available and one pair of shoes that I always have available in my personal rotation of shoes, making this one of the most versatile running shoes on the market today. The Gore-Tex is the latest, lightweight version of the famous water-proof membrane, meaning it doesn't add extra bulk or weight to the shoe. You’ll hardly notice it’s there!
3. Brooks Glycerin 20 - Most Cushioned Training Shoe
Before the launch of the Glycerin 20, Brooks trialled a prototype shoe, the Aurora BL. The ‘BL’ stands for Blue Line, the brand's innovation department. The Aurora BL featured a new midsole foam, a nitrogen-infused material that’s now known as simply Nitro-foam.
Running in that shoe was an amazing experience and, at the time like nothing I’d experienced previously. The ride of the shoe was soft and springy. After several months of wear, perhaps the most noticeable thing about the cushioning stuck with me. That was how incredibly durable this material was!
I’m fortunate, owning a running store and being a writer on the subject of running shoes, to get to try hundreds of different shoes. The Aurora BL just kept on going. It was a shoe I kept reaching for week after week, month after month and mile after mile. The cushioning feeling was every bit as good after several hundred miles as it did in the first few runs.
This cushioning was what we now find in the Glycerin 20 (and Glycerin GTS 20). In the years since its launch, there have several new cushioning foams from other brands that have come to the market, but from Brooks, the DNA Loft v3 Nitro-infused cushioning is the brand's best.
The shoe itself could be described as a ‘pumped-up’ version of the Ghost, it rides with a similar feel, smooth and balanced, but with a more responsive toe-off and slight spring to the overall feel. For daily training it’s great.
I find the fit of the Glycerin is a little roomier than other models from the brand, perhaps due to the more forgiving nature of its premium engineered mesh upper. As always it has generous, soft plush padding in the tongue, ankle collar and heel and feels very welcoming from the moment you slide your foot inside.
4. Brooks Cascadia 17 - Best Trail Running Shoe
The Cascadia is one of the more established trail running shoes on the market. Now in its 17th generation, it provides the same combination of cushioning, traction and durability that has made it such a household name with trail runners over the years.
The latest version uses the brand’s ‘trail adapt system’, Brooks’ combination of cushioning, protection and traction.
Cushioning comes from the DNA Loft v2 foam, similar to that used on the most popular road running models from the brand. It works well here and provides a good balance of comfort and natural stability.
Within the midsole is a protective plate. This acts as both a stone guard, to prevent sharp rocks from penetrating the sole and also in providing general stability in a manner that can also adapt to the general contours of the trails.
While I tend to run mainly of light trail, gravel paths and forest tracks, I don’t really require anything too serious when it comes to off-road shoes. I much prefer shoes like the Cascadia simply due to it naturally adaptable nature.
The midsole features flex grooves cut into its bottom surface. These divide the sole both longitudinally and laterally and allow it a little ‘flex’ on particularly uneven terrain.
A TrailTack Green rubber outsole uses some recycled content and is designed to provide traction in any weather conditions.
As you’d expect, the upper is typical of Brooks, well made and relatively plush (for a trail shoe), with neat ankle collar padding and reinforced toe bumpers to aid durability and protection. A Gore-Tex option is also available for those who like the extra protection offered by a waterproof shoe.
5. Brooks Hyperion Max - Best Road Racing Shoe
While Brooks does have a dedicated road racing model that keeps in line with the current trend for carbon-plated racers with the Hyperion Elite, it’s this, the Hyperion Max that I feel offers the best, all-round racing experience.
While the Elite includes a carbon plate, it does tend to stiffen the shoe a little too much. I think it feels okay over shorter distances but for me, 5k was about the limit. The Hyperion Max does without the carbon plate and maximises the stack of the DNA Flash, nitrogen-infused foam.
Brooks is now using nitrogen-infused foams in several of their models and here, it has a softer, lighter and more energised feel than in the training models of the Glycerin and Glycerin GTS.
Along with a scooped heel and rocker forefoot, the shoe encourages a faster gait and the DNA Flash gives a great toe-off with an almost spring-like sensation.
The shoe’s price is also very competitive, being up to 100 dollars less expensive than some carbon-plated racers. Pricing (not just for the Brooks) is a real area of concern, as there is no way that the addition of a carbon plate costing a few dollars should be adding a hundred to the retail price of a shoe, but that’s a question for another day!
The Hyperion Max is quite capable of regular use as well as racing. The nitrogen midsole has demonstrated great durability and the sole has extensive rubber coverage to again provide a longer life.
A lightweight, breathable upper completes the package and works well with the shoe making it a great all-around speed shoe.
6. Brooks Launch 10 / Launch GTS 10 - Best Support/Stability Training Shoe
For me, the Launch 10, a neutral running shoe and its twin, the Launch GTS 10, a supportive version, offer great value for money options in the Brooks range of shoes.
Launch GTS 10
Of course, the option of both a neutral and support category allows the shoes to appeal to a wider range of runners, but at this price, there’s not that much else on the market from competitor brands that offer as much.
The Launch is a lightweight version of the Adrenaline, a more racer-trainer-type version offering a trimmed-down fit and feel. I remember the advent of such racer-trainer shoes in the 1990’s. These shoes offered the lightweight of a racer but the performance of a trainer. I like most of runners at the time grabbed a pair.
Of course, nowadays, with carbon racers and very lightweight daily training shoes, racer-trainer type models are less common, but for myself and many other runners, they can still play a great part of our weekly rotation of footwear.
Cushioning is the brand’s DNA material, a compression moulded EVA foam. In the brand’s line-up, it is the bottom of the three levels available, DNA, DNA Loft v2 and DNA Loft v3. That said, it’s the same type of cushioning you can find in many much more expensive models from competitors.
The cushioning offers a perfectly acceptable feel and for those who have been running for more than, say 5 years, it’s reminiscent of road racing shoes from the mid-2010’s. In this type of faster-paced trainer, it does a great job.
The GTS version features the GuideRail technology, so it’s a tried and tested method of providing support and control. Here, in a lighter-weight shoe, the control is, of course, a little less effective than the other models in the range, but when running at a faster pace it suits the shoe well.
At the price, the Launch and Launch GTS 10 offer great value for money in a versatile package that will suit a wide range of runners from beginners to more experienced athletes wanting a second shoe for faster-paced runs without spending carbon-plate type money.
Brooks Shoe Comparison Chart
Everyday running, Support
286g / 10.1oz
258g / 9.1oz
DNA Loft v2 cushioning
Great value, Best selling, Neutral cushioning
286g / 10.1oz
258g / 9.1oz
DNA Loft v2 cushioning
286g / 10.1oz
258g / 9.1oz
DNA Loft v3 - Nitro foam cushioning
311g / 11oz
278g / 9.8oz
DNA Loft v2 cushiong, Rock plate
Lightweight respoonsive cushioning, Racing
211g / 7.8oz
190g / 6.7oz
DNA Flash Nitrogen infused
General, Lightweight, Support
27 / 17mm
244g / 8.6oz
221g / 7.8oz