10 Best Brooks Running Shoes in 2021

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
10 Best Brooks Running Shoes in 2021

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.

Our top picks come from five different categories to cover various runners’ needs.

How we review Brooks running shoes

We pick the best Brooks running shoes based on our proprietary CoreScore - a rating from 0 to 100.

This seemingly simple ranking system is backed up by hundreds of hours of testing. Here is what stays behind the curtains:

  • Our independent shoe testing lab literally cuts each shoe into pieces to measure every imaginable aspect including softness, breathability, durability, etc.
  • A team of running shoe fanatics runs 30-50 miles weekly to test every Brooks shoe in a variety of conditions.
  • Thousands of external user and expert reviews are taken into account for a more comprehensive overview.
  • We purchase all Brooks shoes with our own funds to minimize bias.

The cream of the crop makes it here.

Best overall

It’s hard to deny that the Brooks Ghost 14 is a favorite among runners. In fact, it’s ours too! 

It’s a workhorse whose agenda is to keep the runner’s feet comfortable at all times. And it sure didn’t disappoint us. 

It’s got loads of padding. As in top to bottom. So, if you want a luxurious couch for your feet, this is THE shoe. 

We took it out on a couple of test runs and it gave us the best flex for daily runs. After some nerdy lab tests, we have found that it only takes 19.2N to bend while the average shoes take about 40.2N. In simpler words, it’s damn SOFT.  

Although it took our breath away in recovery paces, the Ghost also showed some serious performance when we decided to pick up the pace. Even better, in all our runs, it remained stable. 

It’s SUPERBLY stable, we don’t mind taking it out for some trail runs! 

If there was one thing we weren’t a fan of in this shoe, it’s the hefty weight. We just couldn’t write it off. At 10.1 ounces, it’s just WAY up there on the scales. For context, average shoes only weigh in at 9.3 ounces.

See our full review and facts

It’s dubbed as Brooks' softest running shoe to date, and we couldn’t agree more. The Brooks Glycerin 19 is very padded, it’s roomy, and it’s got the flex. Our feet felt right at home. 

Even its tongue got so much cushion. It's 8.4mm thick and it’s paired with a 14.4mm collar. Together, it makes the shoe a fluffy heaven to the feet! 

And of course, it has to be just as soft in the midsole. It’s so full of cush that in our lab testing, we have gathered that it’s 37.2HA soft in the forefoot and 39HA in the heel. In a non-geeky translation: It’s marshmallowy soft! 

And don’t worry, this doesn’t make the ride unstable. If anything, it’s one of the most surefooted rides we’ve experienced, and that’s owed to the shoe’s very wide base. 

True to its Brooks lineage, the Glycerin 19 is a tank! It’s built to last and after putting it through some rough wear testing, the shoe came out looking like it’s untouched. Yes, it’s CRAZY sturdy. 

And for a road shoe, it’s extremely grippy. We had ZERO issues with instability on uneven surfaces. 

The only letdown? It’s a dull ride. It’s the price to pay with all the spa-day comfort you get from the Brooks Glycerin 19.

See our full review and facts

Best for race

We are far from being an elite runner, but the Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 made us feel like we were one of the all-stars! 

It paced us, and it did so excellently, we felt like we were just zooming through the blocks. It’s insanely bouncy and propulsive, it’s like it's made of springs underfoot. 

We didn’t have to push this shoe, IT pushed us. The rocker made us roll through our strides fast, encouraging us to go to the next step.  

If you’ve been around long enough in the carbon-plated shoe scene, it’s also important to note that this road racing shoe WOWED us in the comfort department. Most racers just don’t give one bit of attention when it comes to this. And here’s this shoe - breathable and cushy. And a huge plus, the carbon plate does not punish the feet! 

And surprisingly, for a race day shoe, the Hyperion Elite is very stable, thanks to its wide base and carbon-fiber plate. 

It wouldn’t be a total race-day package, if not for the shoe’s fantastic midfoot lockdown! Nope, wobbling is not part of this shoe’s vocabulary. 

But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, this shoe also has its downsides. And one that we can’t move past is its weight. It’s heavier (8.6 oz) than its precursor (7.6 oz) and it’s even heavier than other plated racing shoes like the Vaporfly (6.6 oz) and FuelCell RC Elite (7.3 oz).

See our full review and facts

Finally, a worthy contender to the Swoosh! After all the Brooks running shoes we’ve tried, the Hyperion Tempo is easily among the best of the best. 

From the bottom up, this shoe works and it works impeccably. After putting it through the paces, we can confidently say that this shoe gives you all the energy return you could dream of! It’s bouncy and responsive, it will just send you flying to your next PB. 

It’s also very supportive, you won’t feel any instability, nay-nay. The DNA Flash foam not only made us feel like we were as fast as lightning flash, but it’s also firm enough to give the foot the support it needs. 

If there’s anything this shoe ISN’T, it’s being bulky. All the goods it brings, it does so without loading it up on your strides. 

Even better, it's unlike other race-day shoes. It’s not the type of fast that will keep everything efficient without comfort. Nope. It’s one hell of a comfortable shoe! It’s so well-cushioned, setting new records doesn’t have to come with blisters and pain.

And after logging 60 miles, take us as witness to this shoe’s INSANE durability. It looks pristine, it’s like we just took it out of the box. 

Dang, we pride ourselves as the kings of nitpicking, but it’s just so hard to find some deal-breaking flaws in this shoe! 

See our full review and facts

Best for trail

A bruiser that can take the hammering from the trails, the Brooks Cascadia 16 is a no-brainer! We put it to the test, and it aced everything from mile 1 down to the last. Seriously, it can’t get better than this. 

The real superstar in this shoe is its traction. Hands down, the best of the best! With 4.3mm lugs, it’s just fantastic. Other trail shoes we’ve tested have an average of 3.4mm lugs. And it’s just not the numbers that make it exceptional, it’s how it translates on the run. 

The outsole is just INSANE. It crushes everything underfoot. And hey, it’s built tough too. With 85.5HC stiffness, it’s more than ready to take a beating! 

From top to bottom, this shoe just screams protection. The upper is very padded and so is the midsole (even better, it’s stiff!) In our flex test, we found out that this shoe, at 51.1N, is in the ranks of the carbon-plated shoes. 

What does this mean? It’s not uber comfortable, but it’s PLENTY stable. Even on the rugged terrain, it’s going to keep you upright and confident! 

Taking everything to a whole new level, the Cascadia 16 has got a very supportive fit. As in, no slips nor wobbling in this shoe. 

See our full review and facts

If there’s a trail beast from Brooks, we’d say the Brooks Catamount any day. It’s plenty durable and it’s got all the protection our feet could ever imagine. Easily, it’s the best of its kind on the market today! 

Not only is this shoe a trail monster, but it’s an EXCEPTIONAL one. Unlike other trail shoes, it’s not boring and stiff. It gives off loads of energy, running in it was the peppiest ride of all the trail runs we’ve done in our lives. 

So much so that we were running in it like a cat! Its ride is just agile and quick, blazing through the trails was an easy feat. 

All the pop we got didn’t render our run unstable either. The shoe’s grip was there to make it confidence-inspiring. Be it on rocky, highly technical terrain, this shoe just bits its way through the trails.

Worried about the gnarly and jagged rocks and roots underfoot? Nah, they’re nothing against the Catamount! This shoe doesn't just mute them, it CRUSHES them! 

For this same reason, we’d take this shoe for almost everything off-road. May they be training day, race day, or the ultras, we’d place our bet on the Catamount! 

See our full review and facts

Best for flat feet

After making it to our list for the best running shoes, it’s not a mystery why the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is a standout among other Brooks shoes on our roster. It’s a no-brainer, it’s THE stability shoe of its day. 

It’s been around for 2 decades and more, and the hype around it is just crazy, we had to see for ourselves why. And a couple of miles later, we’re gladly hopping in!

It’s cozy and it’s supportive. Probably something that most stability running shoes can’t do, but the Adrenaline does so flawlessly. 

The upper hugs the foot with pillowy cushion, while keeping it locked in place. Even more, it flexes, and has enough give, you won’t feel constricted.

And it just gets more comfortable.

In the midsole, the foot is welcomed with softness and some responsiveness. Take note: It’s not unbelievably peppy, but don’t take it as a sin from this shoe. It’s made to run easy, and the pop you get is just a bonus. 

And of course, it won’t make it to this list without its signature stability. Now, this is where the magic happens! It’s not a support shoe that’s obtrusive or harsh. It only makes its presence known when you roll too far to the sides. 

This makes it a stability shoe that’s equally enjoyable for both flat-footed and neutral runners. 

If there’s one hitch to it, it’s the weight. Although it’s much lighter than its predecessors (hats off to Brooks), it’s still heavy on our scales. In our lab testing results, the average shoes are 9.4 oz, and the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is 10.2 oz.

See our full review and facts

If there’s one thing that the Glycerin GTS 19 and the Adrenaline GTS 21 have in common, it’s their unobtrusive ride. 

Our feet didn’t feel like they were slapping against a rigid platform, nor was it a controlling kind of sensation. Rather, the shoe was there to keep our strides steady and supported. 

And true to how it’s billed, the Glycerin is Brooks’ softest ride yet among their stability shoe offerings. It’s very cushy but it doesn't make the ride unstable because it’s got none of that sink-in feeling.

Comfort is NOT confined only to the midsole. We also found it in the shoe’s upper. The toe box is roomy, it’s breathable, and it hugs the foot with luxurious comfort! We had ZERO concerns for blisters nor hot spots. 

And mile after mile, this shoe just continued to astound us. When you think the upper and midsole are great, wait for the outsole. It’s got all the grip a road shoe has to offer! 

We took the Brooks Glycerin GTS 19 out for some spin on dry, wet, and snowy pavements, and this shoe just rode through them with sheer confidence. 

See our full review and facts

Best budget shoe

A shoe that really lives up to its name, the Brooks Launch 8 is a shoe that literally launched us forward. And hey, it doesn’t break the wallet too! 

If there’s a superlative for a great-value running shoe, it’s THIS shoe. It’s built for speed work, and running in it was everything fast. 

It’s not the most advanced tempo shoe we’ve tested. In fact, it’s a no-frills, no-fuss speed trainer that EXCELS in its job. It can even go head to head against its more expensive counterparts. 

What makes it shine is its lightness and speed. It’s not crazy bouncy, but it has enough response to get you to your next stride fast.  

Even better, it’s not a rigid speed-day shoe. It’s anything but that. In our lab tests, we have found that it’s 18.7N flexible compared to our average 23.8N (for all the running shoes we’ve tested. That’s A LOT of flex! 

For a budget shoe, it’s strikingly durable too. There’s 3.7mm rubber covering the outsole, and that’s a serious amount to keep it free from ride-damaging wear and tear.

It’s very sturdy and well-protected, we expect the Brooks Launch 8 to last 300-500 miles. 

See our full review and facts

To revel means to enjoy oneself, and that’s exactly what we got running in the Brooks Revel 5! 

It’s a do-it-all running shoe that’s not only comfy, but also bouncy, it’s simply a JOY to run in! We put it through a series of running tests, and the Revel impressed in everything we threw at it. 

In our daily runs, it kept our feet nice and cushioned. And when we took it out for some high-mileage stretches, it gave us all the protection and comfort we could ever ask for.

When upping the pace, it’s a surefire winner too. It’s got the bounce and the lightness to make the run fast and nimble! 

It’s SO light, it weighs only 8.7 oz, which is WAY less than the average 9.3 oz (in our lab testing results). 

Yes, it’s a shoe for the runners who don’t want to break their wallets. But it’s got the makings of its more expensive contemporaries. Even more, it’s in the same ranks as the top-tier shoes we've tried in terms of durability. 

After putting it to the (lab) test, we have gathered that the outsole is 79HC tough while the average shoes (at a much higher price point) sit at 79.2HC. 

Now, that’s what you call a great value shoe!

See our full review and facts

Road or trail? Choose the right Brooks shoe

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:

Road vs trail.png

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:

Recommended road running shoe according to arch type.png

Brooks treats arch support seriously, offering a wide range of stability and motion control running shoes.

And if you never experienced issues with flat feet or overpronation, most likely you will be happy with a pair of neutral Brooks shoes.

brooks-adrenaline-guide-rails.jpg

Brooks uses GuideRails on its stability shoes (like Brooks Adrenaline). They act as supportive bumpers that prevent the foot from excessively rolling inwards without feeling intrusive.

Distance: how far will your Brooks shoes go?

Brooks running shoes are also classified according to distance. Depending on your goal, here’s a quick guide on what type of shoe to wear:

5K/10K Race 

Half Marathon

Marathon

Daily Training/ Easy Jogs

- lightweight shoes

- snug fit

- beginner: look for extra cushioning

- cushioned running shoes

- forefoot striker: look for added forefoot support

- heel striker: look for extra heel padding

- durable solid rubber outsole

- breathable

- durable solid rubber outsole

- trail: look for a grippy outsole and extra foot protection

- cushioned shoes

- snug in the heel and midfoot

- roomy toe-box

- durable rubber outsole

See: list of Brooks lightweight running shoes

See: list of Brooks long-distance running shoes

See: list of Brooks marathon running shoes

See: list of Brooks daily running shoes

Shoe feel and experience

Brooks categorized their running shoes into four categories - Cushion, Energy, Connect, and Speed. These categories deliver different experiences or feel when you put them on.

Experience.png

Brooks shoe collections based on the Experience type:

"Cushion": Brooks Ghost (road)Brooks Glycerin (road), Brooks Adrenaline (road)Brooks Cascadia (trail)

"Energize": Brooks Levitate (road), Brooks Ricochet (road), Brooks Revel (road), Brooks Caldera (trail)

"Connect": Brooks PureFlow (road)

"Speed": Brooks Hyperion Elite (road, carbon plate), Brooks Hyperion Tempo (road), Brooks Launch (road), Brooks Catamount (trail)

Brooks shoe widths

To ensure that you get the best possible fit, Brooks offers their running shoes several width options - narrow, medium, wide, extra wide.

 

Men’s

Women’s

Narrow

B

2A

Medium/Normal

D

B

Wide

2E

D

Extra Wide

4E

2E

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:

 

Technology

Description

Support

GuideRails 

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.

Upper

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. 

Ariaprene Mesh 

Foam-core technology designed to deliver second-skin and quick-drying coverage.

Engineered Mesh

A woven mesh that provides a balance of structure and stretch.

Fit Knit

It is designed to provide a more sock-like fit.

Ultimate Sockliner

A PU insert with an OrthoLite® memory foam designed to deliver added comfort. 

GTX

A waterproof membrane that keeps the feet dry and warm on extreme running conditions.

Midsole

BioMoGo DNA

It provides long-lasting dynamic cushioning in environmentally-friendly design. 

DNA AMP

It delivers maximum responsiveness by placing a polyurethane-based foam inside thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) skin.

DAN LOFT

It is a Brooks cushioning that offers the softest feel without compromising durability and responsiveness.

DAN Midsole

A proprietary midsole foam that delivers impact protection unique to every runner.

Super DNA

A DNA midsole designed to deliver 25% more cushioning for runners looking for super soft and protective running experience.

DNA ZERO

A new midsole technology that offers light, consistent cushioning from start to finish.

DNA FLASH

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. 

Outsole

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.

TrailTrack Rubber

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.

HPR Plus

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.

brooks-hyperion-elite-2-heel-design.jpg

Hyperion Elite 2 is Brook’s take on elite, carbon-plated race shoes

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.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

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.