Brooks Ghost 16 Review: Goldilocks Would Be Proud!

Brooks have one of the best reputations for fit and comfort on the market. Their shoes are best sellers in speciality running stores for a reason. Does the Brooks Ghost 16 live up to its lineage?

Brooks Ghost 16 Introduction:

Hits the Spot

Silke: On paper I might be the archetypal user of the Brooks Ghost. If I’d walk into a small sports shop, every sales consultant would try to convince me to buy a pair. Are you a long term user of the Ghost series or new to them? What can you expect from the Ghost in its 16th iteration?

For decades, Brooks has been one of the best selling brands in the world. Furthermore, their slogan #runhappy has become one of the most recognizable running slogans going. 

The shoes themselves are renowned for their uppers and fit. Endless comfort and a shape which suits most feet help them to be some of the best selling shoes in the world. 

Specs: 

Stack height: 36mm

Midsole drop: 12mm

Weight: 9.5oz | 269g (Men’s) 8.5oz | 241.0g  (Women’s) 

Retail price: $140 | €150

Brooks Ghost 16 (14 of 20)

Brooks Ghost 16 Upper:

Just Right

Silke: My initial reaction to the Brooks Ghost 16 was to travel back through time. I found myself at my sports store job 15 years ago. The look and feel of the 16th version feels so familiar. It made me question what has actually changed in all that time?

 

The step in feel is classic, if you have run in Brooks shoes, you will know the instant comfort. It is a Goldilocks shoe. Plush, but not too plush. The engineered mesh upper and lacing system work together to create a very traditional running shoe feel. Again, like Goldilocks, I found the padding to be just right.

 

Overall, with the padding, lacing and sturdy heel counter, the Ghost 16 locks you in like a ski boot. Heel slip should be almost impossible.

Masters Of The Art

Ivan: Brooks never disappoints when it comes to the fit and feel of their daily trainers. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why Brooks is one of the best-selling brands in running specialty stores. The Brooks Ghost 16 is no exception. It features an incredibly comfortable upper with just the right amount of padding for a daily trainer. The upper is nicely balanced. Neither too thin nor too thick, and it has a slight stretch that helps it conform well to the foot. 

 

The heel counter is thick and sturdy. Furthermore, the midfoot wrap is excellent with an adequately padded tongue, and it fits true to size. Brooks’ “formulation” in the fit department seems to have hit the mark years ago, working well for the vast majority of runners. If it isn’t broken, why fix it?

Brooks Ghost 16 (3 of 20)

Midsole:

Unfavourable First Impressions

Silke: What is the function of a daily trainer? 

 

For some runners it is the only shoe they will wear until they buy another. Other runners have a rotation with a tempo shoe, a deeply cushioned one and of course a race day model. For me, a daily trainer has the function to simply keep me running and protect my legs from impact between tempo or interval sessions and long runs. And I do run a lot. 

 

The new midsole foam in the Ghost 16 is the nitrogen infused DNA Loft v3 which Brooks also uses for their Glycerin 21I love a cushioned ride and a rocker geometry. If I am honest, when I went out for my first run in the Ghost 16, it felt terrible. I had too high expectations from the new foam I knew from the Glycerin and for my tempo run it just didn’t work. Moreover, I have to say that I am not used to a high drop of 12mm so I got that slapping feeling under my feet. But it would have been too easy to put the shoes away and say they just don’t work for me. 

 

After about 30 km I have an idea of how the Ghost 16  feels under my feet. The ride is on the firmer side, yes. However, when I land with a more pronounced heel strike I get more of the midsole cushion.

Balanced and Responsive

Ivan: As a midfoot striker, I tend to prefer rockered running shoes for a smoother transition. The Brooks Ghost 16, however, features a more traditional flat profile with a relatively high 12mm drop. While it doesn’t perfectly align with my stride, I appreciate that higher drops in daily trainers help reduce the load on the lower legs, which is often beneficial after harder workouts.

 

Earlier iterations of the Ghost were known for being some of the most stable neutral daily trainers. The use of the softer DNA Loft v3 in the Ghost 16 makes the ride less harsh, though it can feel a bit thin under the forefoot at times. Furthermore, the combination of horizontal outsole grooves and softer foam results in a more flexible forefoot. This leads to a ride that can be more fatiguing and less stable than its predecessor.

 

That being said, I find the ride quite enjoyable, balanced, and responsive. It is also more nimble and agile than its big brother, the Glycerin. Recreational runners who typically do 2-4 short to medium-distance runs per week and are looking for a versatile shoe to handle most needs will likely be very pleased with what the new Brooks Ghost 16 has to offer.

Brooks Ghost 16 (6 of 20)

Brooks Ghost 16 Outsole:

Big Time Durability

Silke: Durability of outsole and traction, this is what the Ghost stands for. The 16th version does this job as well as its predecessors. In fact, I see no chance for me to wear down these outsole patterns. I think they will last for 2000 km.

Ivan: Brooks’ RoadTrack rubber never disappoints, and once again, there’s plenty of it. It handles slick conditions perfectly, and even light trails shouldn’t pose any issues. The softness of the rubber ensures it never sounds or feels clunky. Its durability is expected to be excellent, as always.

Brooks Ghost 16 (16 of 20)
Brooks Ghost 16 (18 of 20)

Brooks Ghost 16 Conclusion:

Give It A Go

Silke: Having run approximately 55k with the Ghost 16, I have to be fair. I enjoy the ride of the Glycerin much more.  However, every runner has different needs. To me, the Brooks Ghost 16 is an ideal companion for recreational runners searching for a durable shoe without bells and whistles. It may not be the most exciting shoe on the market and that’s ok.

 

If you never tried the Brooks Ghost series, ask yourself why. Maybe you tried them in a shop and didn’t like the firmer ride, then you should have a look at other options on the market. If you like the fit and have run in the Ghost series why not try the Ghost Max for a bit more bounce and cushion? If you are a 1-2  a week, 5-10k, slightly heavier runner searching for a durable option, the Ghost should be on your list!

Perfectly Simple

Ivan: Running doesn’t have to be complex. For most people, it’s about getting out there a few times a week and enjoying 30-60 minutes of hassle-free running. Maybe picking up the pace slightly, maybe not. In the Brooks Ghost 16, it doesn’t really matter that much. While this is not the ideal daily trainer for those needing significant stability and deep cushioning, it should work nicely for most other runners. It offers a superb “universal” fit and a well balanced ride for everyday runs. Simplicity at its best.

Silke 

50 years old

167cm (5’4″) – 55kg (121lbs)

Midfoot strike 

@schlossstadtlaeuferin

Ivan

Ivan

48 years old

180cm (5’9″) – 63kg (138lbs)

Midfoot striker – Cadence runner

Mild pronator

@runnersgrit

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