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Brooks Ghost vs Glycerin [March 2019 Update]: Which Running Shoe is Best?

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For many running enthusiasts, the undisputed leader of running shoes is Brooks. Brooks was formed in 1914 while focusing on ice skates and cleated sports shoes. However, like many running companies, they got caught up in the running boom of the 1970s and soon became one of the top three running shoe companies in the United States.

With the exception of a few hiccups, Brooks has been an industry mainstay since the mid-1990s. Today, Brooks Running continuously produces high-quality running shoes for advanced and novice runners of varying degrees of ability. As a result, many running shoe stores continuously recommend Brooks Running shoes as a primary daily trainer.

Two of Brooks’ undisputed leaders in running shoes is the Ghost and the Glycerin. Both of these shoes continuously pop up in best running shoe lists and Brooks continues to provide ample technological updates to both indicating their respective places in the brand’s stable. Both are neutral based runners that focus on comfort, speed, and performance. In any given marathon or community 5k, both of these shoes make heavy appearances.

In this article, we compare the Brooks Ghost vs Glycerin to evaluate which is right for which consumer and which we feel is the better buy.

Our Pick

Slightly less comfortable and more bulky

More responsive, but less cushioning.

Solid gripping.

Our Pick
Upper
Cushioning
Traction
Our Pick

Trimmed down, single mesh, more comfortable

Noticeably more plush, felt better standing, walking AND running.

Better gripping with additional grooves and rubber deployment.

Because both of these shoes have multiple iterations, for the purposes of this review, we will directly compare the Brooks Ghost 11 versus the Brooks Glycerin 16. We specifically look at:

  • Upper
  • Cushioning Technology
  • Traction
  • Pricing

Bottom Line Up Front: I strongly prefer the Brooks Glycerin available here, as it is a more comfortable and does all the same things as the Ghost line.

Upper

Ghost 11

The Brooks Ghost 11 is one of the leaders in the neutral running space. It is consistently one of the highest rated running shoes winning high praise from seasoned to novice runners alike.

The Brooks Ghost 11 features an engineered mesh upper. The engineered mesh is a popular option for Brooks having been featured on numerous offerings. The engineered mesh on the Brooks Ghost is extremely breathable and airy. It closely wraps the runner’s foot without being uncomfortable or suffocating. While some engineered mesh uppers tend to be a tad bit too thin, the mesh used on the Brooks Ghost 11 is equally flexible and durable. We found that runners were able to enjoy high-mileage use of the Brooks Ghost without any immediate issues of durability.

The flexibility of the engineered mesh upper also allows the runner to flexibly move their foot throughout the run without feeling constricted. Some running shoes tend to be overly rigid affecting the stride and gait of the runner. The flexible mesh of the Brooks Ghost allows runners to easily move throughout their run and it also fits a variety of foot shapes as well.

The engineered mesh upper of the Brooks Ghost 11 is also seamless allowing the runner to go sock-less as well. We found that this added benefit made the Ghost 11 a highly popular running shoe in warmer climates and during summer months. However, because of the breathable upper, some runners also commented noticing the upper was extremely porous during running in damp or wet conditions.

The Brooks Ghost 11 features a traditional lock-in design. The midfoot cage adorning the Brooks logo also provides security during runs and we found that runners commented on how flexible the upper was and how it tended to break-in more with sustained wear. This is achieved by Brooks’ use of what they term “Stretch Print.” While traditional running shoes will slap a plastic logo on the midfoot, the Brooks Ghost 10 uses a printed design that flows more seamlessly with the rest of the shoe during the run.

Due to the use of stretch print and engineered mesh, the Brooks Ghost 11 is an extremely light shoe. The Brooks Ghost 11 weighs in at about 10.4oz making it an enjoyable shoe to both wear and carry as well. We also found that some runners commented that the lightweight of the shoe allowed for faster transitions and turnover during faster runs.

The close fit of the Brooks Ghost 11 on the runner’s foot along with the use of flexible materials fits most runners’ feet seamlessly. We found that the Brooks Ghost 10 fit true to size and we found that many runners commented that the Brooks Ghost 10 fit quite well. However, we also advise most runners to be properly fit by a professional as well.

Glycerin 16

The Brooks Glycerin is another one of the leaders in the neutral running space. It is also consistently one of the highest rated running shoes with a loyal following and consistent best-in-class praise from numerous running publications and magazines. It is also one of the most seen shoes on both hardcore runners and casual weekend warriors as well.

Unlike other shoes, including Brooks’ own Ghost 11, that features an engineered mesh upper, the Brooks Glycerin 16 features an engineered mesh upper. Instead, the Brooks Glycerin uses a single piece of mesh across the entire shoe. As a result, the entire upper operates as a single piece which makes it both amazingly comfortable and flexible as well.

Similar to the Brooks Ghost, the Brooks Glycerin 16 uses the 3D stretch print material. This allows the Brooks Glycerin to forgo traditional structural overlays and instead opt for overlays that are printed and elastic. This allows the runner to flexibly move within the shoe without the worry of rigid structural overlays on the midfoot. Similar to the Brooks Ghost, the Brooks Glycerin features the Brooks logo across the shoe in a printed design as well. However, even the logo and stretch print is sleeker and less voluminous than the Brooks Ghost. The slimmed-down profile of the Brooks Glycerin continues throughout the shoe including the tongue, laces, and the overall silhouette of the shoe.

The only true structural components of the Brooks Glycerin are on the toe and heel counter, but even those were negligible. We found that runners compared the upper wear of the Brooks Glycerin to knit uppers as well.

Similar to the Ghost, the material in the Brooks Glycerin 16 is also extremely airy and breathable. We do worry that the thinner materials meant to slim down the Brooks Glycerin 16 would be susceptible to wear holes after high wear. However, we found no real mention of this issue amongst runners.

More than the engineered mesh upper of the Brooks Ghost 11, the Brooks Glycerin 16 is even more appropriate for sockless running in warmer climates. However, the Brooks Glycerin is also more susceptible to being porous making it difficult to use in rain or other wet conditions. We also found runners needed thicker socks to run in the Brooks Glycerin during winter months.

Oddly, we found that the Brooks Glycerin was a tad bit heavier than the Brooks Ghost. The Brooks Glycerin weighed in at 10.6oz compared to the 10.4oz of the Brooks Ghost. However, we found that the difference in weight was largely negligible and many found the slimmer profile actually made the Brooks Glycerin feel lighter.

Similar to the fit of the Brooks Ghost, the Brooks Glycerin closely hugs the runner’s foot throughout the run. We found that this encouraged runners to go sockless more on the Brooks Glycerin 16 as a result.

Winner – Brooks Glycerin. While most of the upper is the same in both, we felt that the trimmed down upper, single piece mesh, and slimmer profile made for a more comfortable experience. The difference is not enough to completely dismiss the Ghost 11 and quite frankly, most will not notice a difference. But the perceived difference was enough to vote the Brooks Glycerin ahead of the Ghost.

Cushioning

Ghost 11

The cushioning of the Brooks Ghost series has always been one of their standout features. On the Brooks Ghost 11, we found that this to be consistently the case. The Brooks Ghost  is a plush neutral running shoe that leans more toward comfort than overall speed. The Brooks Ghost uses Brooks’ signature BioMoGo DNA foam in their midsole. BioMoGo DNA is a proprietary cushioning system that adapts to the runner’s stride, gait, and weight to provide a customized running experience. It is essentially two cushioning systems in one.

As a result, the cushioning on the Brooks Ghost is extremely plush and comfortable fit. We found that runners found the Brooks Ghost 10 to be comfortable for both running and casual walking as well. The midsole is not overly squishy and does not promote a sinking feeling. While it does not have the responsiveness of minimalist shoes or those with firmer midsoles, we found the Brooks Ghost 10 to be adequately responsive and well-cushioned.

We found that numerous runners praised the Brooks Ghost 11 for being comfortable for long distances and did not promote a jarring feeling during impact. The midsole of the Brooks Ghost 10 is also quite flexible which allows for a more comfortable running experience. We found that runners found the combination of responsiveness and cushioning to be extremely comfortable and versatile for numerous distances, short speed runs, and casual wear as well. While we recognize that the Brooks Ghost is normally marketed as a long distance neutral shoe, we found that it performed well in shorter distances as well.

However, being still a foam based midsole, we found that the Brooks Ghost 11 does take a little time to break-in and will be susceptible to breakdown over longer periods of time. We found that the breakdown was marginal even in high-mileage usage, but still evident. However, for the environmental conscious runners, the Brooks Ghost 11’s midsole also biodegrades faster than traditional EVA foam midsoles as well.

Glycerin 16

The Brooks Glycerin continues the tradition of excellent cushioning expected of Brooks footwear. Instead of using the BioMoGo cushioning, the Brooks Glycerin uses what Brooks calls Super DNA. Super DNA is also an adaptable foam based system. In Super DNA, the foam is connected in a more sophisticated pattern than other foam carriers.

As a result, the cushioning on the Brooks Glycerin 16 is plusher than the Ghost 10 and feels better overall. We found that runners reported that the cushioning on the Brooks Glycerin felt smoother and provided a more complete impact protected feeling. However, we found that difference was not as noticeable for casual walkers or wearers. Even with the additional cushioning in the Brooks Glycerin, we still found that the stability of the shoe was not compromised.

Similar to the Ghost, we found that many highlighted the Brooks Glycerin 16’s ability to handle both long and short distances. The Brooks Glycerin 16 did an amazing job of providing a soft landing while encouraging enough turnover for speedier runs. We found that most runners felt that the Ghost 11 was a bit more responsive overall, but that was to be expected given the additional cushioning in the Glycerin.

We found that, like the Brooks Ghost, the Brooks Glycerin did take a little time to break in. We also expect the compression to be marginally more noticeable in the Brooks Glycerin given the extra foam material. However, we anticipate this experience to be marginal.

Winner: Glycerin 16, but for certain audiences. The additional plushness of the cushioning is noticeable. It felt better standing, walking, and running. As a result, we feel that the Glycerin offered a better overall running experience. However, for those looking for a bit more responsiveness, we feel that the Ghost 11 is actually a better choice. It is slightly firmer and will provide just a tad bit more road feel as a result.

Traction

Ghost 11

The Brooks Ghost uses a dual rubber compound to provide traction. First, the Brooks Ghost uses a carbon rubber compound on the heel of the outsole. On the forefoot, the Brooks Ghost uses a normal blown rubber compound as well. The resulting traction allows the Brooks Ghost to be versatile in high-impact wear areas such as the forefoot and the heel, while also differentiating their durability and wear.

The carbon rubber used in the heel for the Brooks Ghost 11 is well designed and has amazing durability and stickiness. The carbon rubber heel allows the Brooks Ghost 11 to be appropriate in numerous conditions from the trail to road running and wet to dry conditions. We found that runners had little issue with the carbon rubber used in the heel of the Brooks Ghost. The blown rubber in the forefoot is equally tacky and sticky. We found that runners reported little slippage when landing with forefoot strikes.

Runners also commented that the overall makeup of the Brooks Ghost 11’s traction is extremely flexible and allows for easy heel-to-toe transition well. This allowed runners to maintain secure grip while also enjoying good speed performance.

The carbon rubber used in the heel of the Brooks Ghost is extremely durable. This is encouraging for those who tend to heel-strike or heel drag during longer runs. We found that many commented that the traction on the heel of the Brooks Ghost was highly durable even after high-mileage use due to the carbon rubber compound.

However, we found that the durability of the forefoot of the Brooks Ghost tended to be less durable than the heel. Much of this is due to two primary reasons. First, the rubber of the forefoot is highly tacky and does an extremely great job of gripping all types of surfaces. Secondly, the type of blown rubber in the forefoot is flexible and agile, but not overly thick or resistant. These two factors cause the forefoot to wear more quickly than the heel. The rate of wear is even higher for forefoot only strikers as well. We found that runners were still able to enjoy high mileage usage in the Brooks Ghost 10, but probably not as long as other high mileage shoes.

Glycerin 16

The Brooks Glycerin also continues Brooks’ reputation of providing amazing traction throughout the sole of the shoe. Similar to the Brooks Ghost, the Brooks Glycerin uses a dual rubber compound to provide traction. However, the Brooks Glycerin 16 differentiates from the Ghost 11 in that the midsole of the Brooks Glycerin also provides more surface area contact than the Ghost.

Additionally, the Brooks Glycerin also features more flex grooves throughout the forefoot of the shoe than the Ghost 11. This results in a more flexible feel than in the Ghost. Runners also commented that the overall makeup of the Brooks Ghost 16’s traction is extremely flexible and allows for easy heel-to-toe transition well. This allowed runners to maintain secure grip while also enjoying good speed performance.

The heel rubber is still a carbon rubber compound, but it is employed more seamlessly than in the Ghost. On the forefoot, the Brooks Glycerin similarly uses a tacky, flexible blown rubber material that really grips multiple surfaces.

The entire sole of the Brooks Glycerin has amazing tackiness and really sticks to almost any surface. The extended midsole also makes it comfortably soft throughout the running motion as it reduced the amount of inflexible rubber on the bottom of the shoe. Similar to the Ghost, heel strikers will sincerely enjoy the protection and comfort of the Brooks Glycerin 16 and will notice little slippage when landing.

The only negative is that similar to the Brooks Ghost, the forefoot of the Brooks Glycerin also has questionable durability concerns. Because of the tackiness and material utilized, we found that some runners mentioned noticing some considerable thinning of the forefoot around 150 miles. This is completely dependent on running conditions, weight, and a number of other factors, but it is still worth noticing.

Winner – Glycerin 16. Both the Ghost and the Glycerin feature a tacky flexible outsole. Both do well in gripping a variety of surfaces and providing a comfortable overall running experience. However, we found that the additional grooves and rubber deployment in the Glycerin 16 was enough to have a marginal difference in terms of running quality. We found that the Glycerin was more flexible and did a better job of providing a comfortable running experience overall.

Price

Ghost 11

While being one of the leaders in running shoes, Brooks is always reasonable when it comes to pricing their footwear. The Brooks Ghost 11 is listed as one of the brand’s signature running shoes and Brooks prices them aggressively to compete with other brands such as Saucony, Nike, and Adidas. The Brooks Ghost 11 retails for 119.95. For both hardcore and casual runners, many will find this price more than adequate for one of the highest reviewed running shoes in recent years. We found that many felt that this price point was more than reasonable given the amount of tech thrown into the shoe along with the long-established reputation of Brooks.

For those looking for neutral runners, we would highly recommend any offering from Brooks but particularly the Brooks Ghost. It is a well-designed neutral runner with supportive tendencies that will serve as a comfortable long distance, short mileage, and even casual runner. While other brands have offerings such as the Nike Pegasus or the Mizuno Wave line, we feel that the running experience in the Brooks Ghost is second to none.

The carbon rubber outsole on the heel will prove durable for long periods of time and high mileage of usage. We do caution those who tend to strike forefoot heavy during runs that the durability of the rubber outsole may be compromised over time. However, the tackiness and grip of the entire outsole outweigh the negatives in our opinion.

At the time of writing, we found deals for the Brooks Ghost for as low as 99 to 111 dollars. At these price points, we feel that the Brooks Ghost 10 is a must-try for neutral runners looking for a cushioned, yet responsive running shoe by one of the leaders in the running industry. Check out the latest price here!

Glycerin 16

The Brooks Glycerin is listed as a bit more of a premium running shoe than the Ghost. It is priced more in line with technologically advanced shoes such as Nike’s Lunarepic. This makes sense given the focus Brooks paid to develop and differentiating the Glycerin from the Ghost. The Brooks Glycerin 16 retails for 149.95.

This is comparable to other premium running shoes such as the Mizuno Wave and a bit cheaper than shoes such as the Hoka One One Vanquish 3. Runners of all abilities will find this price attractive given the comfort and cushion Brooks placed in the Glycerin.

While other neutral runners such as the Nike Pegasus is cheaper than the Brooks Glycerin, we feel that the Brooks brand outweighs a potential 20-30 cost difference. The smooth cushioning and flexible outsole is enough to make the Brooks Glycerin a more attractive option. However, the seamless and flexible upper is even more reason to take a close look at the Brooks Glycerin.

At the time of writing, we found the Brooks Glycerin 16 could be had for as low as 119 dollars. We anticipate this price to only further drop as Brooks just released the 16th iteration of the Glycerin series. At these price points, we feel that the Brooks Glycerin is an absolute must for those looking for a comfortable running shoe or even everyday shoe.

Winner – Ghost 11, at retail. The premium materials on the Glycerin 16 are absolutely worth the price difference. But we feel that most runners may not really notice a large difference between two. However, at discounts, we feel that the Glycerin is an absolute better buy. The upper alone is worth the additional cost and at reduced prices, it would be hard to recommend another shoe from any other running company.

Overall: Brooks Ghost vs Glycerin

Winner – Glycerin 16. The Brooks Ghost is an amazing neutral running shoe that demonstrates some of the best things about Brooks. It features comfortable cushioning, a well-designed upper, and the added reputation of Brooks. Additionally, at discounts the Brooks Ghost is an extremely affordable runner for both advanced and novice runners alike.

However, the Brooks Glycerin 16 does all of the things that the Brooks Ghost 11 does, but in a better overall package.

It is sleeker, plusher, and overall more comfortable. It is a premium running shoe that outperforms running shoes more expensive than the Glycerin 16. While the Glycerin 16 is more expensive, we feel that the additional features warrant the price. However, at the discounts, we felt that the Glycerin was a smart-buy.

Bottom Line: For these reasons, I much prefer the Glycerin 16 available here as it’s the more complete running shoe.

Further read,

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