By Paul Freary
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 is Brooks’ most popular support category model. In terms of cushioning, Brooks places the shoe in the middle of their offerings, as they do with it in terms of support.
I’ll talk more about the support the Adrenaline provides later, as the shoe provides a unique solution to control and pronation that I feel sets it apart from other shoes in this category.
First impressions of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 are, for me positive. I know many running shoe reviewers are critical of the Adrenaline and the neutral cushioned version, the Ghost, for being a little boring. This is perhaps because they are showered with range-topping models daily. It’s easy to look at a mid-priced model and be quite dismissive of it, but the Adrenaline really shouldn’t be overlooked.
The shoe is available (when I last checked) in 13 different colour combinations for women and 12 for men, so, cosmetically there’s something for everyone, whatever you taste in colour. It even comes in a plain black colour should you want a plain-looking shoe.
Adrenaline GTS 23 vs Adrenaline GTS 22 Comparison
The Adrenaline GTS is, along with the Ghost, Brooks’ biggest-selling shoes. That’s thanks to their overall performance as well as the great value for money that they offer.
But what’s the difference between the latest version, the 23 and the previous model, the Adrenaline GTS 22?
Aside from some small cosmetic updates to the colours and upper design, most people would find it hard to tell the two models apart. In fact, the look of the midsole, where the update has taken place, is also, almost identical in both the 22 and 23.
That midsole now uses the brand’s DNA Loft v2 cushioning foam. The cushioning is now a little softer, more responsive and a little more durable.
It must be said that the difference in overall feel is very slight and I think, even being a regular user of the shoe for several years, I could only feel a very slight improvement. I guess the most important thing is that it is an improvement and if a shoe is going to be changed or updated, then we want to see positive changes.
The upper is a very neat, engineered mesh construction. It’s lightly padded throughout, with additional padding around the ankle collar and tongue and with a seamless internal construction it welcomes the foot and is a very accommodating fit.
Available in a range of widths, even the standard width versions of both the men’s and women’s shoes offer a generous fit in the toe box and with a stretch-like quality to the upper the shoes adapt to movement and remain comfortable regardless of the shape of your foot.
The women’s Adrenaline is available in a regular width, B fit, a narrow A width and a D, wider fit.
The men’s Adrenaline is available in the regular D width, a narrow B width, a wide, 2E width and even a 4E, extra wide fit. So, both men’s and women’s shoes cater for every foot length and width.
Cushioning comes from the DNA Loft v2 midsole, a combination of CM-EVA (compression-moulded Ethylene Vinyl Acetate), rubber and air. This combination of materials creates a soft cushioned feel that also offers a touch of response on toe-off in a durable unit.
Outsole traction is perfect for the roads with a flexible feel and added durability in key areas of higher friction. I also find the sole suitable for light trails and sometimes prefer the feel of the Adrenaline on my local trails over a trail-specific shoe.
Adrenaline GTS 23 Support: GuideRails
For many years Brooks used a traditional dual-density medial post to provide control for over pronators. In fact in the more recent models, before the introduction of the GuideRail system, the shoe featured a triple-density posting. While the method of control is effective, it is more of an on-or-off type of support.
Brooks describes the effect of the GuideRails as similar to that of the lane guards at a bowling alley. Should the ball move off the lane, it will hit either of the guards and stay within the lane. So, should the foot roll, either laterally or medially, then the GuideRail will help keep it in a more neutral position within the centre of the shoe.
When first introduced, I, like many other running specialist retailers, was a little sceptical of the effectiveness of the system. After all, we’d been selling the shoe with the previous support system very well for several years.
As soon as the GuideRail version of the shoe was launched it only took a few days of seeing the shoe in action to realise the system was sound and proved an effective method of providing stability. Also, runners loved it. They found the system unintrusive, smooth riding and comfortable from the word go.
I run in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 myself at least twice a week. I’m fortunate enough to have a wide range of shoes at my disposal, but the Adrenaline is a bread-and-butter option that’s always ready to go.
In my running store, the Adrenaline GTS 23 remains a go-to shoe when making recommendations to those needing support. It works well in a variety of situations and is a reliable choice. From mild pronators to those needing a significant amount of control, it’s always a port of call when making recommendations.
Running With the Adrenaline GTS 23
Running in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 is a pretty easy-going affair. The shoe has relatively soft and smooth cushioning with a nice feel at the toe-off. It’s not a springy shoe by any means, but it doesn’t need to be. After all the shoe is primarily about providing a good level of support or control.
It’s comfortable from the moment you first place your feet inside and the overall construction of the shoe is great. It’s well made, plush feeling and hard-wearing.
I use the Adrenaline primarily for my easy day running, runs of around 5 to 10 miles at around 7 minutes to 7 minutes 30 seconds per mile. That said, I find the shoe quite capable of being able to cope with 6-minute mile efforts without it feeling too cumbersome. Bear in mind that speed and pace are always relative. (For perspective, my marathon race pace is around 6 minutes per mile)
I continue to recommend the shoe daily to my customers and find it's one of the best shoes in the medium support category.