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Brooks is one of the most popular running shoe brands on the market—and for good reason. Top to bottom, the brand produces some of the best running shoes for most people. While critics worry Brooks has fallen behind in the “super-shoe” category, many runners, well, don’t really need a super-shoe.
Beyond Brooks' popularity, the consistent quality of their shoes, from entry-level trainers to carbon-plated racers, is what makes this particular brand stand out. Our best overall pick, the Glycerin 21, isn’t just the best Brooks shoe—it might be the best running shoe released this year.
Related: The Best Running Shoes of 2023
Best Overall Brooks Running Shoe: Brooks Glycerin 21
Brooks Glycerin 21
One of Brooks newest shoes is also this year’s best. I had absolutely loved the Glycerin 20 (as did multiple Men’s Journal testers) for recovery runs and easy efforts. The 21st iteration takes the extremely comfortable midsole, made of DNA Loft v3 foam, and adds pep to each step. Out of the box, it's one of the plushest shoes money can buy, and unlike many well-cushioned or soft-feeling trainers, the Glycerin doesn’t feel clompy or plodding. Rather, the construction and silhouette makes for a stable, yet smooth, ride. While the knit upper can get hot in warmer temps, it provides a secure and unobtrusive fit for a variety of foot shapes.
My biggest qualm with the new Brooks Glycerin 21 is that they look, well, a bit homely compared to the previous version. I really admired the simple, sharp looks of the 20. But Brooks went with a louder, more retro style for the 21. If that doesn't bother you, this shoe makes an excellent everyday trainer, as it provides a smooth and soft ride, including plenty of liveliness for those who run faster.
- Extremely comfortable out of the box.
- Soft, stable cushioning without feeling clompy.
- Durable outsole and overall build.
- Many options to dial in fit and feel (GuideRail, Stealthfit, and width).
- Doesn’t look as good as the previous model.
WEIGHT: 9.8 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 10 mm
Best Brooks Running Shoe for Everyday Training: Brooks Ghost 15
Brooks Ghost 15
The Brooks Ghost remains extremely popular because each iteration consistently upholds its reputation. The Ghost 15 isn’t flashy, and Brooks doesn’t change it much year to year. It is, however, a solid everyday running shoe. As soon as you slip them on, you feel the appeal. Like the Glycerin, they have an accommodating, easy-to-dial-in fit. The midsole foam, DNA Loft v2, is plush and responsive. For most runners, the Ghost 15 is a neutral choice that suits their needs. It has a durable, smooth-rolling outsole and classic knit upper. And like the Glycerin, it comes in variety of widths, or even with Gore-Tex upper for wet days.
The Brooks website boasts 32 (32!) colorways for the Ghost 15, which means anyone can find a style that suits them. I even know a few runners who wear these as a casual sneaker. And at $140, this long-lasting shoe is a solid value.
- Suits many different runners and abilities.
- Comfortable out of the box.
- Lots of colorways to choose from.
- Well-priced for a durable, everyday trainer.
- t versatile enough for more competitive runners.
- Heavier than the Glycerin or Ghost Max.
- Doesn’t feature the latest Brooks foam.
WEIGHT: 10.1 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 12 mm
Related: The Best Running Shoes for Races
Best Value Brooks Running Shoe: Brooks Revel 6
Brooks Revel 6
Brooks doesn’t make a “cheap” shoe—rather, they offer great value for your money. The Revel 6 is no exception. At just $100, it's my favorite running shoes for the price. While the Revel 6 doesn’t feature Brooks' latest, greatest foam, the classic DNA foam is still a quality, comfortable ride. The upper doesn’t feel significantly different than pricier shoes like the Glycerin or Ghost. And my favorite part of the Revel is its fantastic outsole. It's super durable and provides a ton of grip on both pavement and light gravel. I actually wish more Brooks shoes had this outsole—it performs better during wet weather or uneven terrain than most other models. Additionally, if you like more ground-feel in your stride or a more minimal ride, the Revel has lower-profile cushioning and weighs less than most others on this list.
- Superb outsole that performs well on variety of surfaces and in wet weather.
- Quality upper feels similar to more premium Brooks shoes.
- Inexpensive compared to other models.
- Features older version of DNA foam.
- Less cushioning isn't for everyone.
WEIGHT: 8.8 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 10 mm
Best Brooks Running Shoe for Racing: Brooks Hyperion Elite 4
Brooks Hyperion Elite 4
In the age of stiff, bouncy shoes that cover every foot at major marathons, some runners complain that the current Brooks Hyperion Elite features outdated tech. The upcoming Hyperion Elite 4 still uses an EVA foam (many high-end racers use the more-recently developed PEBA), albeit a much improved version of their DNA Flash v2. Brooks claims the new foam is lighter, and layered for more propulsion. When I asked Lee Sackett, product manager for Brooks' racing and innovation footwear division, how the EVA foam matches up agains newer PEBA-based foams, he was unbothered. "Foam is nothing without a geometry that complements the plate geometry and the natural movement of the foot when running at speed,” he said.
At 7.8 ounces, the Elite 4 rivals the weights of other top racers. And you know what? For average runners as well as elites, these shoes are excellent. I’ve tried pretty much every top racing shoe out there, and as far as immediate comfort and fit goes, the newest Hyperion Elite is among the top. Many plated super-shoes like the Adidas Adios Pro or Nike AlphaFly feel weird for the uninitiated, but I found this Brooks model to be an easy transition from standard running shoes. The fit is accommodating, and both the upper and laces were comfortable.
I logged both long, slower runs and short speedy workouts in the Hyperion Elite and found them comfortable and fun for both. Super-shoe opinions abound, but here’s the bottom line: If you like running in Brooks shoes and are looking for an elite racing option, then you will love the Hyperion Elite 4.
- Very accommodating for a super shoe.
- Breathable upper feels more pliable and soft than competitors.
- Midsole foam is more comfortable out of the box than competitors.
- Doesn’t feature a super foam; subsequently not as peppy feeling as segment leaders.
- May have shorter lifespan than competitors, because EVA foams break down faster.
WEIGHT: 7.8 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 8 mm
Best Brooks Running Shoe for Long Distance Training: Brooks Hyperion Max
Brooks Hyperion Max
Early this winter I donned the Hyperion Max in an attempt to keep up with my sister during one of her college track workouts. Needless to say, I did not keep up. But, as she bolted past me on her way to finish nearly twice as many miles as me, I was able to catch a burst of energy and sprint out my final mile with her, holding around 6:00 mile pace late in my run.
That may not sound like much, but the Brooks Hyperion Max felt so bouncy and comfortable late in my workout that I felt empowered to turn on my comparably slow version of “the jets.” Since then, I’ve done both slow long runs and short speedy runs and admired the versatility of this trainer. The Hyperion lineup is certainly geared toward more competitive runners, but of the three (Hyperion, Max, and Elite), the Max feels like it has the widest appeal for most runners.
My only complaint is that there is no carbon plate in this shoe. It feels like a natural choice. A comparable New Balance shoe, the SC Trainer 2, has one. When running in Hyperion Max, I missed the additional pep the New Balance's plate provided. Sackett says that Brooks is adding a pebax plate, which is less expensive and more rigid than carbon, to the next version of the Hyperion Max, which releases later this year.
That said, for a double-duty marathon training and racing race, the Hyperion Max and Hyperion Elite 4 make an excellent team, with very similar fit and feel.
- Exceedingly comfortable, no matter the distance.
- Super lightweight for a max-cushion trainer.
- Versatile enough to do speed workouts and long runs.
- Plenty fast enough to race in.
- midsole shank or plate.
- Stack height and narrow sole make it somewhat tippy or unstable when turning corners.
WEIGHT: 7.8 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 8 mm
Best Brooks Trail Running Shoe: Brooks Cascadia 17
Brooks Cascadia 17
Since receiving the Brooks Cascadia 17 to test, I’ve done just about everything in them. I completed trail runs varying in distance, hiked many miles, worn them all day in Saguaro National Park and even wore them to golf a couple of times. From the thru-hiking crowd to the everyday trail running crowd, I’ve always heard positive feedback on the Cascadia, and I really like what Brooks does with the latest version.
These shoes feel a lot more durable and grippy than some competitors, who are steering away from ruggedness for the sake of speed and flexibility. The Cascadia has a ton of durable outsole rubber, which Brooks calls "pods," but is still very flexible. The midsole plate and durable upper make this shoe feel super protective too. It’s not the most nimble or fast trail runner, but they feel long-wearing and solid. I also found them to have good moisture protection in the standard version, though Brooks offers a GTX version for better wet weather wear.
- Durable outsole, upper and lacing are built to last.
- Midsole plate feels protective and propulsive.
- Gaiter securement points.
- Good for hiking or running.
- Heavier than many trail shoes.
- Upper is somewhat stiff.
WEIGHT: 11 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 8 mm
Best Brooks Stability Running Shoe: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23
The Adrenaline GTS suits a variety of runners and walkers. Two fellow shoe testers recommend this model for wide feet, as even the medium width version has a very accommodating fit (the Adrenaline can also be purchased in Wide and Extra-Wide). I received great feedback from bigger runners on the Adrenaline, and testers found this to be supportive and comfortable for walking and running. With a similar feel and fit to the Ghost, I liked this shoe for everyday runs and all-day comfort.
As Brooks' mainstay stability shoe, the Adrenaline GTS is an excellent choice if you overpronate. As far as the best Brooks walking shoe or more casual running shoe, the latest Adrenaline is the top option.
- Ideal for wide feet.
- Best Brooks shoe for walking.
- Signature stability shoe for overpronators.
- Similar to Ghost, but with added stability.
- t lightweight.
- High heel-toe drop will not suit some runners.
WEIGHT: 10.1 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 12mm
Related: We Tested Every Hoka Running Shoe—These Are the Best
Best Max Cushion Brooks Running Shoe: Brooks Ghost Max
Brooks Ghost Max
Of all the Brooks shoes I've tested recently, the Ghost Max surprised me the most. I expected the Max to feel like a beefed up Ghost 15. Yet, to my pleasant surprise, the Ghost Max has a very different ride and feel. Much of that is due to a shorter heel-toe drop—6 mm compared to the standard Ghost's 12 mm. I really liked this distinction, as I land on my midfoot when running.
While it's a chonky shoe, the Brooks Ghost Max is more versatile than you'd expect. Because of its lower drop and propulsive geometry, it's easier to run fast in this shoe than the standard Ghost. Additionally, on long efforts, the max stack provided plenty of support and stability late in the run. If you’re a max cushion runner or a mid-foot striker then this is an excellent option—especially because it's only 10 bucks more than the standard Ghost.
- Max stack cushioning feels forgiving, stable, and propulsive.
- Lighter than the standard Ghost.
- Lower drop suits midfoot strikers.
- Available in three widths.
- Minimal arch support.
WEIGHT: 10 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 6mm
Best Brooks Running Shoe for Trail Racing: Brooks Catamount 2
Brooks Catamount 2
The Catamount 2 is a seriously fun shoe. Although the latest model just dropped, I heartily recommend this iteration, especially at its reduced price point. It's more minimal than the Cascadia and features the same peppy foam as Brooks racing shoes, called DNA Flash. It features an additional plate underfoot, called SkyVault, to help propel runners uphill, which I found to be super effective. Some other useful features include gaiter securement points and comfortable laces. However, these fit long and narrow, and they're only available in one width.
- Lightweight for a protective trail shoe.
- Propulsive SkyVault plate helps uphill efforts.
- Tacky outsole.
- Nimble on trails.
- Narrow and long fit.
- Less stability than the Cascadia.
WEIGHT: 9.7 ounces
HEEL-TOE DROP: 6 mm
Why You Should Trust Me
Last year was my biggest shoe testing year yet. I logged hundreds of miles in over 60 different pairs of running shoes. I tested nearly every Brooks running shoe in their men’s lineup. In addition to my individual testing, I worked with a team of testers over a variety of reviews and gleaned insight from all types of runners, from heavier men looking for maximum support to sub-4:00 minute milers.
My specific running abilities pair perfectly with Brooks running shoes. I’m not particularly fast—nor do I plan to be. I just love to run, and do so most days. I schedule a few races per year when I feel like I’m in good shape. I seek out shoes that don’t have long break-in periods and last a long time.
I also consulted experts such as Dr. Paul Nasri, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, who is a New York state-licensed physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic specialist in physical therapy. Nasri has helped our team decode what to look for in running shoes in order to prevent injury and help you log your miles.
I tried numerous pairs of Brooks to find the very best the brand offers.
What We Look for in a Great Running Shoe
My three go-to questions when testing running shoes are as follows:
- Do I want to wear it again?
- Is it holding up to frequent wear?
- Does it serve its intended purpose?
Indeed, our testing team at Men’s Journal is concerned with recommending comfortable, durable shoes that properly perform their job. That means a racing shoe should be lightweight, speedy, and comfortable for races; an everyday trainer should be durable, well-fitting, and supportive; and a trail shoe should provide rugged tread and enhanced protection.
As I started working on this article, I considered why I love Brooks as a running shoe brand—after all, they are one of the first companies I recommend to folks looking for a new running shoe. I boiled it down to two key points:
- Accessibility: Brooks makes shoes for the masses, but in a good way. They seem to understand that most runners aren’t elite (sorry dreamers), and most of us just want to enjoy our time out on the road or trail. In practice that means comfortable, versatile running shoes that tend to be extremely durable.
- Options: Perhaps the best thing you can say about Brooks is that they provide a plethora of running shoe options. t only do many of their shoes come in up to four widths (narrow to extra-wide), but if you overpronate and need more support, you can purchase a shoe with their GuideRail support system. That’s all in addition to their Stealthfit upper, which is a pared down sock-like upper for those who like a minimalist, lightweight fit. And with the addition of shoes like the Hyperion Max and Ghost Max, there are now max cushion options for those who like it extra plush.
Related: The Best Nike Running Shoes of 2023