By Kieran Alger
It might share a name with the Brooks Ghost 15 but the Brooks Ghost Max is a very different shoe. With a bigger stack, lower drop, more responsive ride and arguably much more versatility, it almost has more in common with the Nimbus 25 than its own namesake. There’s the same attention to the plush comfort fit as the Nimbus, virtually the same stack and only 01.oz difference in weight. So is the Brook’s first max-stack shoe a genuine rival for the best cushioned trainers? Jump into my Brooks Ghost Max review to find out.
Stack Height, Drop, Weight and Price
The Ghost Max stack height comes in at 39mm in the heel and 33mm in the forefoot, for a 6mm drop. That’s half the 12mm drop you’ll find on the Ghost 15. It’s not quite packing the 40mm plus stack of the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25 or the Nike Invincible 3 but it’s up there among the bigger platform shoes, close to the New Balance 1080v13.
The Brooks Ghost Max tips the scales at 10.3oz or 293g in my UK test size 8.5. That’s almost exactly the same weight as the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25, slightly heavier than the New Balance 1080v13 but lighter than the Nike Invincible 3.
At launch, the Brooks Ghost Maax price was set at $150. While it’s not the cheapest big-stack daily trainer, it’s also not the most expensive either. It is, however, interestingly $10 cheaper than the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25.
39mm heel / 33mm forefoot
10.3oz / 293g
Suggested Retail Price
True to size
The Brooks Ghost Max is another max stack, big cushioned neutral running shoe that shoots for soft landings and plush comfort. It serves up some of the classic Brooks design DNA but it’s the brand’s first shoe to go all out with a maximal midsole.
Let’s be honest, it looks a lot like an ASICS Gel Nimbus 25, follows largely the same design blueprint and hopes to appeal to the same audience.
You get a big stack of soft DNA Loft V2 foam with a rocker to smooth transitions but there’s a 2mm lower drop than the Nimbus and a 6mm lower drop than the 12mm Ghost 15.
Like ASICS’ plush daily, the Ghost Max’s high stack is balanced by a big, broad wide cushioned platform that creates a stable to run off.
Up top, you get engineered mesh uppers that are fairly dense with highly padded heel collars and a traditional non-gusseted tongue. There’s also a very rigid heel counter and external heel-clip overlays that reinforce the heels even more.
Flip them over and the Ghost Max outsole has a liberal covering of quite thick rubber that really boosts the grip and durability.
In testing I ran in my regular running shoes size – a UK 8.5. The Ghost Max fit well true to size for me. The fit is quite snug and I found it hugging rather than roomy, particularly in the toe box around the little pinkies. But I have quite high-volume feet and there’s enough flex in the uppers across the top of the toe box, to avoid the snugness becoming restrictive.
I got good lockdown across the midfoot, reliable heel hold and I’d recommend going true to size.
In my tests I covered 30 miles in the Brooks Ghost Max. I tested across a range of paces, including an easy 10 miler with about 90 mins on feet and a marathon pace interval sandwich. I’ve taken them on road and some light off road.
Fresh out of the box the Ghost Max step-in comfort is great. From the heel hold with the big padded collars, through to the midfoot into the toe box, these are mildly snug.
But if you don’t mind a heavier shoe there’s a decent disappearing feel on the foot and the feel lighter on the foot than the scales suggest.
When it comes to the ride, the way I’d sum it up is reliable steady comfort designed for cruising. Despite that big stack of Brooks DNA Loft V2 foam, this isn’t a particularly bouncy or springy shoe. Though it’s not dead or dull either. It strikes a happy balance between cushioned and responsive and the GlideRoll rocker makes for smooth transitions.
It looks like Brooks set out to make a Nimbus rival and if you like those, you’ll like these. They get very close to the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25 and the New Balance 1080v13 for that type of plush, comfort, cushioned ride with a softer edge.
Most shoes run better on fresh legs but when I was tired, I found the Ghost Max a little soft for my tastes. I’m not a huge fan of shoes that sink and make you almost wait or work for that return. When my form dropped a bit and I was running heavier, I had to work a bit harder to get through that transition. I’m being picky here because it wasn’t hugely problematic but I felt a bit more anchored.
Overall, the weight of the shoe and that slightly softer midsole edge means I’d be more inclined to use this for any runs up to marathon pace. Anything faster than that I’d personally want something lighter, punchier and more agile.
The other thing I noticed was the grip. I ran on wet roads and chopped up sloppy river paths and they felt very reliable underfoot. It’s always a job to know without putting 300 miles into a shoe but my early tests and the build of the shoe suggests it’ll pack good durability too.
Even when I’m running slow, I’m normally not the biggest fan of big, heavier max, pillowy shoes. The feeling of having a lot of shoe on your foot isn’t quite my thing. I tend to reach for something cushioned but more sprightly like the Cloudsurfer 7.
But I have to say, I’m impressed with the Ghost Max. Despite being a max-stack shoe, it felt reasonably balanced.
The Brooks Ghost Max are 100% the kind of shoe you can happily use to eat long runs and cover easy low-heart rate miles. There’s enough response here to cover some of the faster efforts, too but they wouldn’t be first choice for the fastest miles.
Some runners, particularly beginners, might actually enjoy the cushioned but responsive ride for marathons. If you need more protection when you’re spending longer time on your feet, the Ghost Max definitely offers that.
Brooks has done a really good job of creating a max cushioned shoe and when you look at the price – £140 or $150 – a chunk cheaper than its close rivals, it’s definitely one to look at as a serious alternative to the New Balance 1080v13 and the ASICS Gel Nimbus 25. Plus if you liked the Ghost 15 but wanted something protection but more response, the Ghost Max delivers.