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Why trust us
With a "Run Happy" motto, Brooks believes that there is no good or bad running shoe. Each runner picks the right shoe for them based on their preferences and the running experience they want to achieve.
We have performed wear tests and lab tests on over 40 running shoes from Brooks to help you find the best one. As much as possible, we want to offer the greatest running shoe for every kind of runner.
So, we provided top picks from different categories, so we can cover your needs related to running, whatever that may be!
Selecting the best overall shoe for a particular brand is no easy feat on our end, but when it comes to the Glycerin 20; the decision was a no-brainer. This comfy workhorse of a shoe is easily the highlight from the current Brooks line up that shows us what a versatile daily trainer should do. Whether we took it for easy recovery days or tested our limits over long distances, we enjoyed a month and protective ride that will fit the needs of runners of any experience level.
Using our caliper, we measured the Glycerin 20’s stack to be 37.1 mm at the heel. This is not only thicker than our current lab average, but is also 3.1 mm more foam than stated by Brooks, making it a mammoth of a midsole. This amount of plush foam underfoot is especially beneficial during long distance efforts as fatigue tends to make us plod our feet down more heavily and put more pressure on the heel, even as forefoot strikers.
Having such a high stack usually comes at the expense of stability, especially with a midsole that’s softer than average like we found with this shoe. This, however, isn’t the case with the Glycerin 20 which we found to feel extremely well-planted and steady on the ground. This is thanks in part to the shoe sporting a wider than average midsole both at the forefoot and heel, measuring 117.4 mm and 94.2 mm respectively according to our caliper. This broad base allowed for stable landings and confident toe-offs during our runs, and without feeling overly blocky when taking corners.
While the Glycerin 20 is an undeniably comfortable shoe in and out, runners with wide feet will find the toebox less than accommodating. At only 94.2 mm at its widest point based on our caliper measurement, the Glycerin 20 is much less roomy than the average road shoe. This means that those with broad feet will most certainly experience hotspots after some time running in this shoe, with blisters inevitably to follow.
The downside of having such a high stack? More foam usually means more weight, and this shoe is no exception. Tipping our scale at 10.48 Oz (297g), the Glycerin 20 is quite a bit heavier than the average shoe. While it definitely feels a little lighter than that underfoot, thanks in part to the soft and reactive midsole, that extra heft does preclude it from being an efficient tempo trainer.
We crowned Ghost 15 as the best daily trainer among the Brooks lineup. We felt it gave an incredible amount of comfort and support compared to other Brooks models. It can handle various distances and has a very reliable outsole.
Our runs felt easy in this no-fuss pair. It’s a reliable and consistent shoe that can handle daily training. Our 90º bend test with a force gauge reveals it's 40.5% more flexible than average, meaning it focuses on comfort and gives a natural feel. We had to rely more on our leg power than the shoe’s technology which is a great way to build strength and endurance.
Built for comfort, its midsole felt perfectly soft without feeling mushy. In the lab, our durometer confirmed this to be 35.5% softer than average. Our feet were hugged with pillowy goodness with its 5.5-mm tongue padding.
The outsole felt tough and we predict it will last for many miles ahead. Our dremel in the lab measured it to be 5.6% harder than average. Harder rubber means the outsole is very durable.
We do not recommend the Ghost 15 to runners who tend to damage uppers with their toes since the toebox durability scored only 1/5 in our lab dremel test.
The Brooks Hyperion proves that a shoe doesn’t need to rely on a maximal midsole or a stiff carbon plate to be a formidable speed demon. Its old school stack geometry gives us enough energetic DNA Flash foam underfoot to deliver a ride that is peppy and smooth while feeling incredibly flexible and forgiving on our feet. With an accommodating toebox to boot, the Hyperion is by far Brooks best speed trainer that won’t mangle your feet before race day, and can easily serve as a pair of light and nimble racing flats.
Apart from the low stack which gives us a good amount of ground feel during our runs, the flexibility of the Hyperion plays a great part in the shoe’s natural and comfy ride. With a mere 13.6N of force required to bend the shoe 90-degrees in our stiffness test; the Hyperion is incredibly flexible compared to the average road shoe, which allows it to conform to the shape of our foot during landings and toe-offs with almost no resistance. This means that our feet didn’t feel beat up or overly sore by the end of our test runs not matter how hard we pounded the pavement.
We measured the Hyperion’s toebox with our caliper to be 80.3 mm wide at the area around the big toe. This is much roomier than the average road shoe, especially those meant for speed which tend to squeeze the toes together in an unnatural and uncomfortable manner for the sake of achieving an aerodynamic silhouette. In contrast, we have plenty of room to splay out naturally in the Hyperion which had us zooming confidently through our test runs without fear of niggling hotspots developing into painful blisters over time or when race day comes around.
While stated to have medium drop height of 8 mm according to the official specs by Brooks, the difference in our accurate stack measurements leaves the Hyperion with an actual heel drop of 12.3 mm. This high drop makes the Hyperion much more suited to runners with a heel striking stride as compared to their forefoot striking counterparts as it promotes well cushioned landings and smooth transitions. Forefoot strikers who prefer low to mid drop shoes will definitely notice this disparity.
Despite the name, this Brooks Hyperion is not “max”. In a good way. With a relatively low stack and a firm feel, it is more of a traditional up-tempo trainer for speed work and racing, and it delivers a light, fast, and exceptionally stable ride that reviewers just loved. There’s also an outstanding rubber outsole that further dispels any doubt about its great qualities.
Let’s be honest, corrective shoes for pronating strides just aren’t that sexy; but the Adrenaline GTS 23 subverts our expectations with a sleek and comfortable designed daily trainer that even neutral runners will be happy to have in their rotation, making it our favorite Brooks stability shoe.
Stability shoes tend to be quite stiff with the aim of correcting a pronating stride by limiting lateral foot movement. The Adrenaline GTS 23 achieves this when it comes to torsional rigidity, earning a 4 out of 5 in our manual test. In terms of longitudinal stiffness, however, the Adrenaline GTS 23 is remarkably flexible; requiring only 17.7N of force to bend the shoe 90-degrees in our test, making it significantly more flexible than the average shoe. This combination gives us a healthy mix between stability and comfort as the shoe is able to easily bend with our foot while also correcting any excessive foot rolling.
Further contributing to the shoe’s stable ride is its behemoth of a platform. Using our caliper, we measured the Adrenaline GTS 23’s midsole to be 117.3 mm and 96.9 mm wide at the forefoot and heel respectively. This means that we have a much broader than average platform that keeps us feeling sure-footed during landings and toe offs, while also not feeling overly blocky when taking corners.
Although heel strikers have lots of plush foam underfoot for well cushioned landings, the Adrenaline GTS 23 isn’t as generous to their forefoot striking counterparts. At only 21.5 mm, the Adrenaline GTS 23’s forefoot stack isn’t just shorter than average, but 2.5 mm shy of their official spec of 24 mm. This is enough cushioning for most easy to moderate runs, but we recommend a shoe that offers better impact protection at the forefoot for those long and difficult efforts.
With sixteen previous models to learn from, it’s no surprise that the latest shoe in the Cascadia series takes the top spot as our pick for Brooks’ best trail running shoe. It’s a versatile beast of a shoe that easily tackles any terrain we tested it on; whether gravelly, slick or muddy. From its reactive and propulsive ride to its wide base and grippy outsole, the Cascadia 17 had us scampering confidently and sure-footedly over the most unforgiving of trails.
The Cascadia 17’s lugs are easily the shoe’s star feature. Although they’re only ever-so slightly thicker than our current lab average, measuring 3.9 mm according to our caliper, it’s their unique configuration that sets them apart. Three distinct shapes of lug pattern the shoe’s outsole, each with its own intended purpose. The sharp penetration lugs at the heel that bite into most surfaces with ease and provide us with surefooted and stable landings, while the wedge-like lugs at the forefoot kept us feeling agile and steady during toe-offs and turns. Finally, the plain lugs at the midfoot prevent mud clumping, ensuring we had good traction even in sludgy conditions.
When it comes to breathability; we’ve come to not expect much from trail shoes due to their often reinforced uppers and added protective elements. The Cascadia 17, however, gave us a pleasant surprise during our smoke test where we came to find that it is actually an extremely well ventilated shoe. Its highly porous upper mesh allows heat to dissipate quickly and evenly throughout the shoe, leading us to give it a perfect breathability score. As such, we especially recommend it for toasty summer runs or to runners living in warmer climates.
Weighing in at 11.61 Oz (329g) makes the Cascadia 17 significantly heavier than the average trail shoe. Fans of the shoe’s previous iteration probably won’t notice the 0.68 Oz (19g) increase in weight, but the Cascadia 17 is definitely chunky monkey. This means that we don’t recommend it for those speedy or extra long efforts.
At $100, Revel 6 is on the lower end of the Brooks spectrum averaging $134. We crowned this the best budget running shoe from Brooks not only because it’s cheaper but because it gave us a little bit of everything — comfort for runs, energy on speed workouts and support for daily activities.
We’re surprised at how soft the midsole was, measuring 18.0% softer than average across lab-tested shoes. The shoe moved naturally with us in our runs and the lab result confirmed this. It took only a force of 19.2N to bend these to 90°, emerging 37.3% more flexible than average. This better explains the comfort we experienced.
When we picked up the pace, it gave enough spring and rebound effect. With a torsional rigidity of 4/5, the pair provides a stiffness that can be used for stability in speed training.
Running with this pair was a treat — light on the feet and in the pocket. At 9.2 oz (261g), it’s 0.24 oz (7g) lighter than average. Its upper provided us with fresh and breezy runs, scoring a 4/5 on our breathability test.
This pair may feel harsh on longer efforts. We recommend checking options with thicker cushioning for long runs.
As the name suggests, road and trail running shoes are made for different surfaces. But aside from the outsole design, here’s what else makes these shoes more suitable for certain conditions:
Note: The ratings are based on how these shoe categories perform in general. This does not apply to a specific model that exists.
Types of arch support in Brooks running shoes
In choosing the best Brooks running shoe, consider your arch type (high, medium, flat) and the level of support (neutral, stability, motion control) you need. Aside from overall comfort, wearing the right shoe will also help prevent injuries. Here’s the quick guide for you:
To ensure that you get the best possible fit, Brooks offers their running shoes several width options - narrow, medium, wide, extra wide.
Note: The availability of width options varies by shoe model and color.
The usual width is medium/normal. If you are not particular with width options when buying a shoe, then it is more likely the right fit for you.
If you experienced squeezing and earlier wear at the sides of your shoes then your feet may not be a typical width. It is highly advisable to visit a shop for a professional fitting.
For more show sizing and fit tips from Brooks, read this general guide.
Brooks running shoe technologies
Brooks is one of the leading innovators when it comes to shoe technologies. Here are some technologies used in the best Brooks running shoes:
An innovative support system that allows the knees, joints, and hips to move naturally while you run, helping the body find its natural path.
Pivot Posting System
It is a support technology designed for trail shoes, delivering a stabilizing suspension on both sides of the forefoot and heel.
Progressive Diagonal Rollbar
A tri-density midsole that delivers essential stability feature, allowing the foot to move naturally from heel to toe.
3D Fit Print
Uses a screen-print technology to add engineered structure to the upper without compromising flexibility and weight.
3D Rubber Print
An advanced screen-printing process that makes use of rubber to add durability and protection to Brooks trail running shoes.
Foam-core technology designed to deliver second-skin and quick-drying coverage.
A woven mesh that provides a balance of structure and stretch.
It is designed to provide a more sock-like fit.
A PU insert with an OrthoLite® memory foam designed to deliver added comfort.
A waterproof membrane that keeps the feet dry and warm on extreme running conditions.
It provides long-lasting dynamic cushioning in environmentally-friendly design.
It delivers maximum responsiveness by placing a polyurethane-based foam inside thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) skin.
It is a Brooks cushioning that offers the softest feel without compromising durability and responsiveness.
A proprietary midsole foam that delivers impact protection unique to every runner.
A DNA midsole designed to deliver 25% more cushioning for runners looking for super soft and protective running experience.
A new midsole technology that offers light, consistent cushioning from start to finish.
It offers a combination of lightweight, soft cushioning and responsive ride helping runners to recover faster.
Segmented Crash Pad
A caterpillar-shaped technology designed to deliver shock-absorbing cushioning and encouraging a smoother heel-to-toe transition.
Dual Stability Arch Pod
A passive support system designed to deliver stability without the use of a post.
Ballistic Rock Shield
A durable thermoplastic EVA material placed in between the midsole and outsole, delivering foot protection against trail debris and sharp objects.
A durable material designed to provide extra grip on wet and dry surfaces.
Arrow Point Outsole
An outsole pattern that helps the feet move quickly from heel to toe.
A rubber material that provides added traction and protection to the midsole from abrasive running surfaces.
Brooks’ inspiring athletes
Brooks sponsors professional athletes to inspire runners everywhere. One of the significant athletes is Desiree Linden, an American long-distance runner who won the 2018 Boston Marathon despite the grueling weather condition.
She was wearing the prototype of the Brooks Hyperion during the race and sets history as the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years. It is also the first win for the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project team.
How we test running shoes
We spend hundreds of hours of testing on Brooks running shoes to make sure that the review and guide we deliver are far from being ill-conceived. Here is what we do:
In our independent shoe testing lab, we literally cut each shoe into pieces to measure every imaginable aspect including softness, breathability, durability, etc.
As a team of running shoe fanatics, we run 30-50 miles weekly to test every Brooks shoe in a variety of conditions.
Most importantly, before we all do these kinds of testing, we purchase all Brooks shoes with our own funds to eradicate any bias.
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.