As most people know, Brooks only makes running shoes. This guide to Brooks running shoes will share there is no best Brooks Running Shoe, but each one serves a different purpose.
I’m not affiliated with Brooks but have worked in the running specialty world for 7 years. I’ve fit over 1000 people for shoes and even published my own ebook Guide to Running Shoes.
First, about Brooks Cushioning:
To understand this Guide to Brooks Running Shoes and figure out what is the best Brooks Running Shoe (for you), you must understand the brand Brooks and their shoe foams and technology.
What makes Brooks Running different from many other brands is that they only make running and walking shoes. When you only do one thing, you need to do a good job. You won’t find cheap, lower quality shoes. Each shoe serves a purpose, and each shoe can be argued as the best “Brooks running shoe”. You can’t make that same argument with brands that make $60 shoes that aren’t designed for running.
The Types of Brooks Cushioning:
BioMoGo was created in 2008 and is found in almost every Brooks shoe. It’s the signature foam. An important fact is bio-degradable. Regular EVA foam can take 1000 years to degrade, where BioMoGo takes about 20 years. Not perfect, but 20 is better than 1000.
DNA Foam was launched in 2010 and is also found in most Brooks Running Shoes. Brooks claims the DNA foam adapts with your foot strike and will deliver more cushioning where you need it. No matter your gait, the DNA foam will adapt to you. (Not true memory foam but the same sort of concept).
Super DNA Foam:
As the name suggests, the Super DNA Foam is Brooks foam, just better. It also has 25% more cushioning without the bulk.
Found in the Brooks Ricochet, Levitate, and Bedlam, DNA AMP is a springy, responsive foam. This is why you feel more responsive in their “Energized” category.
What about Brooks Stable Shoes?
This Guide to Brooks Running Shoes focuses on neutral shoes. In their stable shoes, Brooks has moved away from true stable posting. What do I mean by that? The “stable” shoes now supposedly have support when you need them and don’t when you don’t. So theoretically, anyone can run in the Brooks Adrenaline GTS since it won’t overcorrect anything.
The motto of Brooks Running is: “Run Happy.” Current research shows there is no right or wrong way to run, and Brooks has applied that to their shoes. Brooks now divides all of their shoes into 4 categories, which Brooks calls “experiences.” You still need to get fitted for the right shoe but now can focus more on the experience you want with your running. Different shoes are made for different experiences.
The Four Brooks Running Experiences are:
So Let’s Dive In:
Brooks Cushion Running Shoes:
Cushion means that the shoe has a soft landing and protects the foot. These are the flagship Brooks Shoes designed to withstand the bulk of the training.
The Brooks Cushion Category’s stable options include The Brooks Adrenaline GTS, Transcend, and the Brooks Beast (Ariel).
Brooks Ghost 13:
I wrote a full review of the Brooks Ghost 13 here. It’s also appeared in my best running shoes of 2020. The Brooks Ghost 13 is one of the most versatile running shoes out there. It’s lightweight and responsive. The one downside is it won’t last as long as many of the more cushioned shoes. If you are looking for a consistent “jack of all trades” trainer, the Brooks Ghost 13 is a good option.
The Brooks Glycerin 18 is the highest cushion neutral training shoe from Brooks. If you are looking for that extra soft, plush feeling, consider the Brooks Glycerin 18. It’s a great recovery run, daily or easy run shoe. It happens to be one of my favorites for those recovery run days. It is more substantial and bulky than the Brooks Ghost 13, so if you are looking for a fast shoe, it might not be the best pick.
I’ll never understand why Brooks added the Revel to their cushioned category. The Revel is the best multipurpose shoe if you only want one shoe for both the gym and running. It won’t do well with higher mileage, but it’s lightweight and functional for all types of workouts. I rarely run more than 2-3 miles in the Revel, but it’s a great option for someone who doesn’t want a “long-distance running shoe.” The drawback is durability and cushion, but it’s a cheaper shoe.
Brooks Energize Shoes:
The “Energize” category from Brooks means the shoes are more responsive and “springy.” As I mentioned earlier in this Guide to Brooks Running Shoes, most Brooks Energize shoes use DNA Amp foam. If you like a firmer shoe or a more responsive shoe, this is the category. The Energized Category is designed with speed in mind.
The Energized Category’s stable shoes are the former Revenna (now known as the Launch GTS) and the Brooks Bedlam.
The newest Launch, the Launch 8, recently came out—one of the lightest shoes from Brooks (without a carbon plate). The Brooks Launch is designed for speedy days, whether that means racing or workouts. I’ve used it off and on for longer tempo runs or faster workouts. If you like the Brooks Ghost fit and feel but want a lighter and faster shoe, the Brooks Launch is a good option.
The Brooks Ricochet 3 is a great option for those who like the softer rides of the Brooks Ghost or Glycerin but want a firmer shoe for those faster and more responsive days. It’s great for tempo runs or long runs and, in my opinion, one of the most underrated Brooks Running Shoes out there. Bulkier than the Cushion Category of Brooks.
I’ve struggled with Levitate throughout the years, which I know I’m not the only one. The Brooks Levitate is either loved or hated but runners, rarely anything in between. It’s a fairly heavy and bulky shoe but designed to be more responsive. To me, it feels like I have two bricks under my foot, but it’s a well-loved shoe from Brooks fans. If you are looking for a well-cushioned but responsive shoe, the Brooks Levitate is a great option. Compared to the Brooks Ricochet, it’s better for longer runs and I think it looks slightly less cheap.
The Brooks Connect Running Shoes are the lightest and most natural running shoes. If you want to feel like you’re running barefoot and wearing a shoe, these are the shoes for you. I wouldn’t be surprised if Brooks reworks this category in the future.
Brooks used to have more options in the Connect Running Shoes Category, but sadly the Purecadence has been retired, so there are no stable options.
Brooks Pureflow 7:
It’s been a while since I’ve run consistently enough to merit a review in the Brooks Pureflow. This shoe is designed for those seasoned runners who want a more minimalist approach. These days, the industry is getting away from minimalist running shoes, so the Broos Pureflow has faded over the last few years. That being said, if you are looking for a lightweight or minimalist running shoe, the Brooks Pureflow is a great option.
Brooks Speed Running Shoes:
As the name suggests, these shoes are designed for speed and racing. This is the newest category from Brooks as carbon fiber plates are a newer technology. Many would argue these are the “Best Brooks Running Shoes” because they are the fastest, but you lack the durability.
There are no stable shoes in the Brooks Speed Running shoe Category.
This is the cream of the crop in Brooks racing shoes. It’s used by their pros and designed to run fast. The Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 features a carbon plate and is designed to PR. The downside is cost and durability. It’s not a shoe you can run consistently in, and you’re better off saving it for race day or important workouts.
The partner to the Hyperion Elite 2, the Tempo is designed to run harder efforts and, as the name suggests, tempos to prepare you for race day. It’s a more durable version of the Hyperion Elite 2 and generally a more comfortable shoe all around. It can definitely be used for racing as well, depending on your goals.
There you have it, a lengthy Guide to Brooks Running Shoes in the neutral category.
So finally, what is the best Brooks Running Shoe?
As you can tell, there is the best Brooks Running Shoes for different purposes.
- Best Brooks Running Shoes for Easy Runs and Daily Runs: The Cushion and Energized Category
- Best Brooks Running Shoes for Workouts: The Speed and Energized Category
- Best Brooks Running Shoes for Minimalists: Brooks Connect Category
The best Brooks shoe is the one that works for you but also depends on the experience you want for your run that day. Fast? Cushion? Energized?
You can see more shoe reviews here, or if you are interested in learning more about running shoes, I wrote an Ebook.
Questions for you:
What is your favorite Brooks Running Shoe?
What is your favorite running shoe in general?
I probate badly and found that the Brooks Adrenaline worked for me when I was fitted at a running store. I’ve only had my first pair for a couple of weeks and so far I have run 25 miles in them, so we’ll see how it goes.
Spellcheck said “probate”, of course I meant “pronate”!
Ha no worries Paula!
That is awesome you were able to find something that works. Believe it or not, there are even more stable shoes than the Adrenaline so your feet can’t be “too bad” Paula. How are you liking them now?
I bet you have fit over 2000 pairs of running shoes honestly. You left out the Dyad! Such a classy shoe and you left it out like Tiger King Joe waiting for his pardon from Trump.
I’m really sad I don’t have any Dyads in my rotation right now 🙁
My go to is the ghost. I strayed and tried the glycerin and levitate, but I’ve learned to stick with what works best!
The Ghost is a great shoe Jamie. It’s such a good fit too. Are you training for anything?
I love the Ghosts but need another shoe to rotate in to keep my feet happy. The problem is, I have the Glycerin 17 and the toebox hits my big toe in just the wrong spot. I wonder if the 18 is better? Or, do you think there’s another cushioned option that I could consider? (Wondering about the Ricochet?) I love your gear reviews – thank you for doing them!
Have you tried the Glycerin in wide?
It’s more that it hits the *top* of my big toe – I don’t have issues with the sides of my big or smallest toes rubbing against the shoe. Which makes me wonder… should I adjust the laces to make it looser at the top? Hm.
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