Brooks Running is one of the oldest and best sportswear companies out there. Being around for well over a century and now producing only running shoes, their name is there in the list of the most innovative brands. Best known for their bold venture into cushioning of running shoes has led to their great success over the years with the most well-known lines being the Adrenaline, Ghost, and Beast.
Being a pioneer in many sectors in the running shoe industries, Brooks was the first to use EVA foam—revolutionary technology at the time as it was both lighter and softer than other available cushioning options. They also, in 2017, introduced a soft, bouncy foam called DNA AMP in the Levitate line. This was a polyurethane-based foam encased in a TPU that allowed the foam to expand only vertically, thus harnessing the polyurethane’s natural tendency to expand after impact to create more energy return as you run. Other innovations in the industry included DNA Loft and the GuideRails system.
Well, now that you've had a little history on one of the greatest running shoe brands on the planet, it's time for us to dive into our top picks of the Brooks line. This is a simple review of our personal best choices from the Brooks brand.
The Brooks Levitate 2 is the newest version in the new Levitate line and one of the best Brooks running shoes out there. This pair is updated noticeably from the first iteration. The lacing system, heel collar design, and upper are the more noticeable updates and are designed primarily for short tempo runs, recovery runs, and long runs. Doubling as a neutral shoe is cushioned but it is firmer than your traditional cushion. It is this firmness that contributes to its great responsiveness and comfortable feel, which in my opinion Brooks was going for.
The heel is lightly padded some and some runners find it difficult to get a snug fit. The new lacing system is primarily to be blamed for this mishap and Brooks I believe is aware of this. During running, there have been complaints of slipping heels and an uncomfortable feeling brought about by that. The heel collar itself is unappealing both aesthetically and from the complaints also in function.
The DNA Amp midsole, found in most Brooks running shoes, was designed for energy efficiency, helping to give energy back to cushion the foot and you after each foot strike and impact. This together with the crash pad, gives a result of a cushiony invigorating sensation, which will keep you going for long distances better than before but will also shorten recovery from long runs or efforts.
The sock liner might irritate some, but we guess that most people will get used to it by mile 10. This responsive running shoe runs true to size and is considered to be an exceptionally comfortable one. It has a wider forefoot with enough space, regardless of the upper’s snug midfoot fit, and features an anatomical foot shape. The shoe is heavy, noticeably so. Running in hot and humid weather I also found it gets heavier as it soaks up sweat. The upper soaks up and retains moisture.
The Brooks Levitate 2 is neutral and firmly cushioned and is intended to be versatile enough for short and long runs and responsive enough for picking up the pace. This pair is great for overpronators with flat feet. It’s also perfect for runners who love neutral shoes with lots of ridiculously, luxuriously comfortable cushioning.
Though Brooks has a reputation with their brand, this is not the first pair that would pop into your mind when asked for a recommendation and would be better off as a neutral shoe.
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Often, the personality of a brand is reflected in the shoes they make. So if you were to run in a pair of Ghost 12 without the logo, there’s a high probability that you would have successfully guessed it to be a pair of Brooks. If you are a demanding, long-distance runner that requires a high portion of cushioning and good support for your feet, then this pair of Brooks should belong to your running arsenal. Compared to a close Brooks variant, the Brooks Ravenna, being less of a neutral shoe, aims more towards stability whereas this pair focuses most on the cushioning aspect during running.
Brooks running shoes are known for their plush uppers and interiors, and you’ll find this pair to be no different. In fact, for this year, Ghost 12 gets a new upper which looks and feels better than the Ghost 11. So while the ride quality feels remarkably familiar due to a similar (not identical though) sole set-up, the new upper is a strong reason to upgrade from your regular Brooks trainers.
The midsole of the Ghost 12 is identical to the previous version of the shoe. The new model continues to employ Brooks’ signature DNA Loft and BioMoGo DNA foam to provide a cloud-like experience with every footstrike. The ride is soft, but not squishy. It’s not the shoe I would choose for a tempo run or intervals, but it won’t let you down if you want to pick up the pace mid-run. The outsole pattern of the shoe differs slightly from Ghost 11, but the structural components remain the same. Highly-durable blown rubber covers almost the entire outsole (contributing to the weight) for maximum grip and foot support.
Other than that, these Brooks runners feel very comfortable. It is a bit narrower at the forefront but nothing which couldn’t be solved by getting the shoe half a size larger. Just to point out, yes, in this regard, be careful when buying them online! But in general, softness and comfort are created by the fact that the shoe is cushioned at every part and light roughly around 300 grams. Not too light, not too heavy. Ideal and expected weight from a shoe that is meant to be used for marathons, ultra-marathons or any long run in general.
These Brooks are reliable as ever as a daily trainer and long-run shoe that will deliver a plush, smooth ride mile after mile. Ghost loyalists will be pleased to discover that the 12th edition is substantially similar to the Ghost 11 with only a couple of updates. Perhaps the most noticeable difference is an aesthetic update to the shoe’s neutral upper which uses 3D printed overlays on an engineered mesh to provide the soft, but secure fit that Brooks is known for.
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The newest Brooks Ghost 11 combined the old with the new by keeping the BioMoGo foam in the midsole for a customized experience and adding the new DNA Loft midsole insert for enhanced cushioned responsiveness. The upper features a dual-layer mesh material with strategically placed overlays for stability, that customers appreciated.
The new upper on these Brooks features an engineered dual-layer mesh upper, which is even more lightweight and breathable than its predecessor, yet structured enough to provide ample support. It features a set of pores in the toe box area that fade into smaller ones toward the midfoot and rear, making the upper super breathable.
The Brooks Ghost 11 is more of a neutral pair of road running shoes, so it is best suited for paved roads, tracks or treadmills, and light trails. Having said that, some customers reported the shoes performed well on rougher trails as well as making the run worth it. This, we believe, is due to the responsiveness provided by the Brooks DNA Loft foam and DNA amp, which in addition delivers comfortable cushioning throughout the ride and is especially responsive in the midfoot and forefoot areas of the shoe. This is also to be credited for the great support and comfortable cushioning while running.
When it comes to traction, these running shoes have made a name for themselves as being regarded as having one of the best tractions in this category of Brooks running shoes. The deep treading in the outsole further improves the overall traction this shoe has to offer and overall making them a great choice for your run. It should, however, be noted that this version of the Ghost features less grip than the previous model giving it somewhat of a neutral feel. With a firmer DNA Loft crash pad plugged into the rear, there’s a slight compression bias towards the lateral side which you may notice if you've been running in Brooks shoes for a while. This behaviour is the result of an intentional design which makes the medial side more supportive.
Being a neutral running shoe, these shoes best suited for runners with normal to high arches. The cushioning provided by the sole unit gives ample support, especially in the midfoot to forefoot areas, which is great for toe-offs.
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The Brooks Adrenaline line seems to be the most popular Brooks running shoes, simply because it looks great while offering everything an athlete needs to reach their goals. Their footwear was designed by athletes for athletes, and you will have every need covered. The GTS 20 is the newest model of this line, with slight differences when compared to its predecessor, the GTS 19. But these differences make these shoes much better.
Mesh tends to wrap around the wearer's feet, creating an excellent, supportive fit. Mesh is also very breathable, so you won't have to worry about feeling moist in the GTS 20 especially when running long distances. The upper of these Brooks is made out of engineered mesh and rubber overlays which Brooks pride themselves heavily in, and runners appreciate. If you ever had the honour to feel engineered mesh wrapped around your skin, you will know just how comfortable and freeing that feeling is and Brooks knows this all too well.
(WEIGHT)The Adrenaline GTS 20 has special elements that stabilize the foot and protect it, which is something a lightweight sneaker may not be able to offer. These running shoes are much lighter when compared to their neutral predecessor, but users reported that they didn't feel the difference.
The GTS line was always a good looking one. With blue being their primary choice, other colour variants are available. The design of the sneakers hasn't changed much throughout the years, but we believe that the GTS 20 didn't need to change that much. The running shoes look streamlined and urban, with the mesh offering good looks together with the rubber overlays.
The GTS 20 even though described as a neutral shoe by some, is made for daily running on the roads and sidewalks and works best in the city or on the treadmill, so make sure you keep it there to help it remain functional. The tread pattern of the outsoles is designed to improve traction and grip on solid, flat ground, so taking the GTS 20 out for a spin on the trail might prove to be a problem. The deep grooves and chevron patterns give runners the foot room to flex while protecting it from wet surfaces. Also, it is worth noting that these grooves play a great role in improving the overall stability of these shoes.
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For those who haven’t heard of the Beast 18, it’s a motion control running shoe that provides more support than any of the Brooks running shoes, biomechanically engineered to allow for progressive pronation control and creates a smoother transition from the midstance phase into the propulsion phase all the while giving maximum support and stability. I guess that's a pretty decent introduction.
If you're a runner or just a fan of the previous iteration of the Brooks Beast, you will enjoy the Maximum support provided by the shoe's Extended Progressive Roll Bar (PDRB) that guides the body back into its natural motion path. Often recommended for runners and walkers who have suffered through the chronic knee, foot, and/or back pain.
The updated upper of the Beast 18 is much more breathable, wicks away moisture, and has a roomy toe area. This was a major issue raised by runners in the previous edition, glad it's been sorted out. It also has a structured saddle so you can tighten or loosen the support as necessary making your run more worth the while. Also, the external heel counter provides extra stability and support for an even longer run if you may. A lot of the older users are the most to benefit from this.
The outsole on the Beast 18 is made of HPR Green, which works well in wet or dry conditions. Durability improvement is a recurrent theme from what we see. The rest of the outsole is made of rubber to increase the durability and lightweight parameters of these shoes. Furthermore, native to Brooks, the Omega Flex Grooves enhance the flexibility of the shoe allow your feet to move more naturally. The Brooks Beast 18 sole had minimal changes to the latest version of this shoe. Being a stability shoe continues to have a high abrasion sole for increased durability and traction which is something most runners look for when picking out running shoes. I would recommend running in these shoes on roads or light trails.
It’s a powerful shoe that’s priced accordingly – it is far from cheap, but the price isn’t that outrageous given the plethora of features you’ll get with it and the overall exquisite performance. The only thing to be mindful of is the narrower fit and the fact that the shoe isn’t as visually appealing as some neutral running shoes are.
With the plethora of premium, high-quality materials, it’s hard to imagine the Brooks Beast 18 ever experiencing significant wear and tear. The shoe is so sturdy, thick and well-built that it would require some extra effort to make it last less than at least 3 running seasons.
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Designed to be visually appealing, the Revel 2 is the newest edition in the Brooks series of cushioned shoes, after the Glycerin and the popular Ghost. It looks much better than the previous version enabling runners to wear the shoe at work, the gym and on jogging sprees. This version has a seamless looking upper which uses one colour thread throughout, unlike the Brooks Revel that features two colours. People have criticized it as having the look Adidas was going for in their Ultraboost, but this shoe combines the outer knit and inner bootie into one more flattened-knit sheath.
The Revel can be compared to the Brooks Ghost which is a clunky and beefed-out trainer while the Revel 2 is scaled back. The shoe is very visually appealing with the raised texture of the forefoot switching to a close-knit midfoot and then a wider weave in the heel. This adds to the stability feature and offers great foot support.
Weighing in at around 285 grams, the absence of many overlays help the upper remain light without compromising breathability. The Knit material in the upper combines the benefits of being light, airy and comfort comparable to a pair of socks. These Brooks shoes do fairly well-absorbing moisture and don’t add on to the weight. Pretty much a case of "you get what you see". The DNA sock liner inside the shoe also helps to keep your foot feeling fresh and not too sweaty during your run.
The segmented crash pad on the heel of the Revel 2 makes your landing smooth, and the shoe is also known to be way quieter than many other running shoe models. The shoe provides excellent traction and stability on muddy trails and even in the rain. However, it may not be the best option for you on way too slippery or muddy paths.
Comfort is perhaps the highlight of the Revel 2. The shoe feels great and comfortable right out of the box; in fact, it requires very little break-in period, which means you can start wearing it for your runs almost immediately. The flat-knit fabric on the upper is capable of adapting to any foot shape and thus provides a customized running feel. The use of BioMoGo also contributes to comfort and ease.
There are a few elements that bring adequate protection to the there runners. The rubber outsole with a light tread pattern can protect the feet from debris and small rocks that one is bound to bump into during runs. The stretchable knit upper help fit the shape of the foot and give a secure fit and to a great extent, contributes to the lightweight feature of the shoes. When it comes to the midsole, the BioMogo works to bring cushioning while the sock liner contours to the shape of the foot and wrap the foot securely in these shoes. However, one complaint is that there are very few overlays on the upper so the protection is a bit compromised, but an overall improvement in stability and support.
Though these shoes are designed and produced to deliver great performance and comfort, you cannot deny the fact that they also look cool, more like a lifestyle sneaker, enabling you to wear them even beyond the trail. The flat-knit upper not only adds a new look to the shoes but is also durable.
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Designers made minor aesthetic tweaks when they released this version, so the new Brooks Launch 6 looks and feels very much like the shoe we know and love. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to get excited about. This is one of the running shoes that doesn’t try to hard to be noticeable and relies on its quality and performance to do all the convincing – and they do. Given its great price, the quality build and the durability, finding a better runner for runs ranging from 5k to a marathon would be hard.
The Brooks Launch 6, in a nutshell, is a great compact running shoe with a myriad of features packed in a 9-ounce (approx. 255g) shoe. Boasting of versatility, this is a neutral trainer with a firm ride, and it excels at being a shoe for speedier tempo runs – but without being hard on the foot as many in this category do.
Not only is this shoe lightweight, but it also packs enough cushioning of a softer kind for long-distance runs. Also, the forefoot received another foam layer, to make the ride softer and more protective. The BioMoGo DNA cushioning, which offers a bouncy, energized ride, shock absorption, and high energy return, works in tune with the Midfoot Transition Zone, which is also visible on the outsole because due to its ribbon shape. The same midsole technology is used in the Brooks Ravenna which is a great stability shoe known for the great support it offers.
What differentiates the Brooks Launch 6 from these similar shoes is the plush heel, the midsole cushioning, and the flat yet durable outsole design. The term ‘cushioning’ has many parallels. In this context, it co-relates to a firm yet thick midsole which pads the foot from the landing forces. The Launch 6 does so without offering the midsole softness of models like the Ghost or Glycerin.
The engineered mesh upper underwent the most noticeable change from old to new. Engineers changed the pattern of the mesh from dozens of oval-shaped holes covering the toe box and midfoot to the main vent over the forefoot surrounded by smaller perforations around the sides and up toward the collar. A noticeable change in the upper of this shoe is that the tongue that is now thinner, although still padded enough to disperse any pressure from the laces. The breezy upper ensures that no matter the length of your run, your feet stay cool and well ventilated.
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This article has been a compilation of our personal best Brooks running shoes. Some well know lines of the Brooks brand have not been included as we focus primarily on shoes by Brooks meant for runners. We hope it has given you some insight into what to look for for the next time you're looking for running shoes. Brooks would be a great choice!