Brooks Ghost 12 review

The Ghost 12 offers a well-cushioned neutral ride and a smooth transition. For runners seeking a single shoe “for every occasion,” the Ghost may well be the ideal shoe.

An update to the ever-popular Ghost line from Brooks, the Ghost 12 sees a few minor improvements from the 11. Ultimately, this remains an incredibly versatile and extremely comfortable daily running shoe.

What is Ghost 12 best for?

This shoe could take you from a fast 5k through to a marathon. Those who prefer to mix shoes depending upon the type of run may find that the Ghost 12 is the perfect partner for easy runs and long runs.

The sole will easily cope with a range of non-technical trails, while the upper continues to hold the midfoot effectively.

With relatively few differences in this latest model, runners should also consider the Ghost 11, which is still widely available and heavily discounted.

How I grew fond of Brooks Ghost 

A couple of years ago, the Ghost 10 was the first Brooks shoe I’d worn. I was immediately impressed by its comfort and versatility. I went on to describe it as being “Built for comfort and for speed.”

A year later, the Ghost 11 provided a similar experience through a marathon training cycle, and my review was similarly titled “Everyday comfort with a good turn of speed.”

I was looking forward to trying out the Brooks Ghost 12. It had a lot to live up to.

In the last few weeks, I’ve run around 60 miles in this shoe and had intended to wear it for the Snowdonia Marathon a couple of weeks ago.

Unfortunately, an injury meant I couldn’t compete. I have still had the opportunity to wear the shoe for a variety of runs in order to be able to review it.

Throughout this review, I will inevitably make comparisons with its predecessors. I hope that the review will also stand alone for anyone who hasn’t worn any previous Ghost models.

The visual aspect of Ghost 12

At the time of writing the Brooks, the website has a choice of 16 colourways for the Ghost 12. I’m pretty sure that every runner should be able to find at least one they like!

Having said that, Brooks is not exactly at the front of the line when it comes to innovation in design. Let’s assume, however, as you’re reading this review that you’re planning on running in the shoe rather than wearing it to the pub.

You’ll be happy to know that the Ghost 12 looks and feels like the premium, cushioned shoe that it's designed to be.

It’s in the upper that most of the improvements from the Ghost 11 can be found. In the Ghost 12, dots have given way to lines in the 3D printed overlays around the saddle and rear of the foot.

Similarly, the lace holes are cut from larger strips of overlay rather than individual eyelets being reinforced. To my eye, the Ghost 12 is an improvement on the 11, though it remains very traditional in appearance.

I was pleased to see that Brooks continue to provide reflective detail, a large tab on the back of the shoe, as well as a reflective overlay at the front of the shoe. I often run in the dark on early mornings, and always welcome reflective detail on a shoe. 

Not light but spot-on for its category

The Brooks Ghost 12 is listed at 10.4oz/295g, which is a little lighter than its predecessor (309g).

As an everyday cushioned shoe, this is comparable to similar shoes from other manufacturers and in fact, matches the New Balance 1080 v9, which is listed at an identical 295g.

As expected, my UK 13 (14.0 US) shoe weighed in heavier at 362g, compared to the Ghost 11 at 369g. I don’t have a picture of the shoe sitting on a weighing scale, so please take my word for it

I’ve come to expect a premium cushioned shoe to come in somewhere around the 300g/10.5oz mark in terms of weight. I’m looking for a shoe that provides comfort, and as long as it doesn’t feel heavy while running, I’m happy with that kind of weight. The Ghost 12 fits the bill.

Perfect fit out of the box

For me, the Ghost 12 is true to size. It’s comfortable and holds the foot well without being restrictive. If anything, the Ghost 12 feels slightly more generous than the Ghost 11 in the toe box and the saddle.

I wore a UK 13 (which is what I’d wear in a normal), everyday shoe, and in an ASICS, Under Armour, and Inov-8 shoe.

For comparison purposes, in shoes from New Balance, Hokas, and Salomon, I’d generally need to go for a ½ size larger (UK 13 ½). In all cases, my shoes tend to be a US 14, so I believe that the variation in UK sizes is likely to be down to conversion.

As with my previous Ghost shoes, the 12 felt great right out of the box. No need for breaking the shoe in (and no time for pictures of the shoe before running).

The foot feels secure yet comfortable. There’s no need to tie laces tightly as the shoe will hold the foot.

In all honesty, I laced up the shoe on my first run and have slipped the shoe on and off ever since with no need to adjust the laces, other than to take the photos for this review.

I was pleased to find a slightly roomier toe box as I have a tendency for an ongoing Morton’s Neuroma issue to flare up where toe room is limited.

As I’ve come to expect with the Ghost line of shoes, the tongue and the heel cup are both extremely well-cushioned, making this shoe exceptionally comfortable.

Amazing upper comfort of Brooks Ghost 12 

This is where most differences are made between the Ghost 11 and the 12, and even here, the changes are not huge. The upper is constructed from “engineered mesh and 3D Fit Print.”

The front of the shoe has two layers of mesh, with large holes in the outer layer providing efficient ventilation. The toe bumper is created from a denser, more rigid mesh, and is marginally more flexible than the Ghost 11.

Around the midfoot, the mesh is more tightly woven, and the 3D print overlays offer an element of stability to this neutral shoe. This also contributes to the fantastic lock-down and fit of the shoe. The lace holes are formed from the engineered mesh detail that runs around the opening.

The rear of the shoe is a well-built heel section with a plastic inner cup. This feels more substantial than the Ghost 11, though it does not extend as far forward. As expected, it is well-cushioned and holds the foot well.

The tongue is well-cushioned and works well with the newly printed mesh, which forms the lace eyelets. This closes the shoe with pressure evenly spread across the top of the foot.

So, the upper has been tweaked, but I was really pleased to find that it is, in essence, the same shoe. The Ghost is such a fantastically comfortable shoes to run in, and I guess Brooks has held on to the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

High drop that feels good

The sole of the Brooks Ghost 12 delivers a heel stack height of 31mm with a forefoot height of 19mm and consequently, a drop of 12mm.

I’m aware that this high drop will put off some runners, but if you have the opportunity, I’d recommend trying out this shoe. I run in shoes with a drop ranging from zero to 12mm and have never found the ride in the Ghost to feel markedly different from similar shoes offering a 6-8mm drop.

Balanced cushioning

The midsole of the Ghost 12 is almost identical to that of its predecessor. DNA Loft Foam provides a soft landing-zone on the outer side of the heel.

This will appeal particularly to heel strikers and makes the shoe a good choice for higher mileage runners. The DNA Loft foam is marked by pentagon-shaped indentations in the sidewall, which contribute to the cushioning.

In the Brooks Glycerin, the DNA Loft foam is used throughout the midsole of the shoe. The Glycerin consequently offers greater cushioning than the Ghost 12 (which retains the BioMoGo DNA foam in the midsole).

This firmer foam in the Ghost 12 is designed to provide a better toe-off and responsiveness (though I can’t make a comparison as I haven’t run in the Glycerin).

This mix of cushioning and responsiveness is part of what makes the Ghost such a versatile shoe.

There is a deeper groove separating the lateral crash-pad and the medial section of the shoe than in the Ghost 11. I can only imagine that this is designed to give greater cushioning in the landing phase of the stride.

At the front of the foot, the Ghost 12 has larger, deeper grooves between the segmented outsole, which makes the shoe more flexible than previously.

The BioMoGo foam also feels a little softer than in the Ghost 11.

Outsole gets more aggressive in Ghost 12

The outsole of the Ghost 12 is probably the most aggressive I’ve seen from a Ghost shoe. The depth of the “lugs,” combined with the deeper grooves in the midsole, reminds me of the construction of the Inov-8 Terraultra.

Whilst the Ghost 12 is obviously a road shoe; this outsole means that the shoe is not restricted to the tarmac.

It will handle hard-packed trails with ease, and I’m happy to wear it for a range of off-road running. Once it gets technical or muddy, however, leave the Ghost at home and take the trail shoes!

On the road, the Ghost 12 offers excellent traction in both wet and dry.

Expect high durability from Brooks Ghost 12

Brooks uses a durable carbon rubber under the rear landing zone and their standard blown rubber for the rest of the outsole.

Based on experience, both the Ghost 10 & 11 were the most durable road shoes I have ever worn. I ran in each for over 700 miles before they took semi-retirement into the role of decorating shoe and gardening shoes, respectively.

I have no reason to doubt that the Brooks Ghost 12 will last me just as long, and for someone of my size, that’s a really durable shoe.

Performance shoe that feels like a slipper

My assessment of a shoe’s performance will always reflect my own characteristics. So, just for the record, I’m 48, about 6’2”, approx. 89kg (195lbs), running 50-60 miles per week.

If the training has gone well, I’ll run a road marathon in under 3:15 and a 5k under 19.’ Of course, at my age, these are all injury-dependant!

I loved running in the Ghost 10 and Ghost 11, and so unless Brooks had made some significant changes, I expected to like the Ghost 12 too.

I’ll apologize in advance for the cliché, but the Brooks Ghost 12 is like putting on a favourite slipper at the end of the day. The foot is comfortably held, with enough room for movement where necessary. I’ve never had the hint of a blister or hotspot on any part of the foot.

That’s where the slipper analogy ends, though. The Ghost 12 will accompany you on pretty well any road run you choose (and a few off-road trails too, as mentioned above).

The ride in this shoe is fluid and comfortable. The foot is well cushioned through the landing phase and quickly transitions through to the take-off. There’s no feeling of sinking and wallowing in foam during the transition, but just an easy, fluid movement with each stride.

There is sufficient ground feel with each footfall, but without the pounding feeling that you may get with a firmer or thinner midsole. What’s really important to me is that I have the same feeling towards the end of a long run as I do at the beginning.

I used this shoe for long runs, easy runs, tempo runs, and even a track session, and have really enjoyed wearing it. Admittedly, I have shoes in my rotation that are better for the faster sessions in terms of performance, but none that will look after my feet as well as the Ghost 12.

So who is the Brooks Ghost for?

For those looking for a single shoe to encompass all of your road running, then I’d be hard-pushed to recommend a better one (based on my own experience). The Ghost will provide a balance between cushioning responsiveness and last you longer than the average shoe.

There are those seasoned runners that look down their nose at the Ghost as a “beginners’ shoe.” I’d completely disagree with that.

Even for runners with a choice of shoe for each type of run, there’s a place for the Ghost 12. I often hear it stated that 80% of our runs should be “easy,” and even if you choose the Ghost for just these sessions, I’m sure you won’t regret it.

I should just state for the record that I am not paid by Brooks, nor did they provide me with this pair of shoes.

I am simply offering my own opinion that I have not yet found a shoe that I look forward to putting on to run as much as the Brooks Ghost. I’m really pleased that they haven’t made too many changes for the Ghost 12 and am looking forward to the next 600+ miles in them.

Summary

The latest Ghost shoe is just as impressive as the last, providing a well-cushioned neutral ride and a smooth transition.

There are a huge number of runners for whom the Brooks Ghost 12 will be their only road shoe.

The more aggressive outsole of this shoe means that it is also versatile enough to take onto more trails than the average road shoe. Add this to Ghost’s track-record of exceptional durability; it offers great value for money too.

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Road
Weight: Men 295g / Women 264g
Drop: 12mm
Arch support: Neutral
Update: Brooks Ghost 14
Forefoot height: 19mm
Heel height: 31mm

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Author
Matthew Leonard
Matthew Leonard

Somewhat bigger and heavier than the average runner (6’2”/ 85kg), I’ve been involved in a variety of sports throughout my life before settling on running as I approach the half century. I’m lucky enough to live on the Isle of Anglesey, North Wales as I love running on the coast or in the mountains of Snowdonia, generally averaging around 80-90km per week.