The Ghost is one of Brooks' most popular daily trainers. Surely adding more of it in the Ghost Max will just make a good thing even better...
Ghost Max – A Double Dose of Daily Goodness
The Ghost model stands out as one of Brooks’ top-selling daily trainers across various brands in the market. Therefore, the decision to introduce a max-cushioned version of the Ghost seems logical and well-timed. The trend of offering highly cushioned trainers is evident across the industry, presenting an apparent opportunity for Brooks to explore this popular demand without exposing itself to excessive risk.
At first glance, the distinctive DNA of the Ghost is immediately recognizable in the Ghost Max. Upon receiving the product, my curiosity was piqued, wondering whether it would simply be a more cushioned iteration of the Ghost or if it would bring forth an entirely novel and unique experience.
Weight in Brooks’ sample size: 283g (10 oz)
Stack height: 39mm heel and 33mm forefoot for a 6mm drop
Brooks Ghost Max Upper – Safe, Secure Comfort
The Brooks Ghost Max features a simple, soft mesh upper crafted from over 56% recycled materials, offering a sustainable and breathable design in the mid/forefoot region. The heel counter is noticeably more built-up, maintaining the tradition of the ‘Ghost,’ known for its sturdy neutral support and well-structured heel counter—qualities seamlessly preserved in this ‘Max’ version. The secure lockdown is heightened by reinforced counter walls in this iteration.
Overall, the upper ensures a comfortable experience, and the fit remains true to size, highlighting Brooks’ consistent excellence in this aspect.
As Ivan says, the lockdown in the Ghost Max is very secure. From the outset, the shoe holds the foot comfortably and the heel counter ensures that there is no slippage. All around the shoe, there is ample padding to keep the foot protected and pampered. The Ghost Max is a very pleasant shoe to put on, it has the cosy feel of a hug from an old friend on foot. In concurrence with Ivan’s findings, the fit of the shoe is excellent and entirely true to size for me.
In fact, my only gripe about the upper of the Ghost Max is with the laces. Perhaps I have a very low volume foot but I found the laces to be almost absurdly long. Even when tied in a double knot, I had enough lace left to drag along the floor. I have yet to test the breathability of the shoe. As the photographs show, temperatures were not high during my initial testing period. I can say that my feet were never cold in the snow.
Midsole – Safe, Stable and Sensible
Several noteworthy features distinguish this Max version from the latest Ghost 15. Firstly, there’s a higher and broader stack, with a 6mm drop compared to the standard 12mm, and a rocker up front. While the DNA Loft v2 midsole persists, the increased stack significantly enhances the cushioning for a more forgiving ride. This isn’t the typical soft and bouncy feel found in many max-cushioned trainers but rather a gentle, dampening sensation.
Despite the elevated platform, the broader and rigid midsole ensures a remarkably stable ride. The standout feature is the 6mm drop, coupled with the Glideroll Rocker, indicating Brooks’ intent to deliver a seamless transition.
In my experience, although not particularly exhilarating, these new features prevented the ride from becoming dull – a concern I initially had with this somewhat bulky shoe. However, there are a few caveats for me. While I appreciated the deep cushioning, the combination of the rather stiff midsole, 6mm drop, and rocker placed excessive strain on my achilles, becoming nearly unbearable during the longest of runs. A full rocker or a higher drop might have made more sense, especially given my somewhat “flattish” midfoot strike. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that this design choice might work better for other types of runners.
Unlike Ivan, I have been a fan of the rocker placement on the Ghost Max. As a very forefoot striker, my landing and push off seems to really gel well with the design of the Glideroll Rocker system. Whilst not a shoe necessarily designed for faster efforts, I have consistently been surprised with my average pace when finishing a run in the Ghost Max. Thankfully, this rocker, coupled with the firmer platform of the midsole works well for me and has given me none of the ill-effects which have sadly impacted Ivan’s enjoyment of the shoe. In this instance, my first run out of the box was about 18 km and I felt fresh and fine afterwards.
I am in complete agreement with Ivan’s point about the stability of the Ghost Max, it does not feel like a shoe which is rubbing against the World Athletics limit for racing shoes. I have never felt a twitch or a roll while running in them which has really given me confidence on dark morning runs. As mentioned above, the ride is not soft, bouncy or wallowy. The DNA Loft v2 is a denser, more shock absorbing material than that found in some of the Ghost Max’s super cushioned rivals. I have found that this has aided my efficiency in the shoe and has helped my slight PF in my left foot gain some relief.
Whilst this won’t be my go to if my legs are feeling particularly trashed and in need of some TLC from a super-soft ride, it has become a very reliable daily trainer for me. The ride is smooth and easy which means that the shoe runs lighter its weight, in my opinion.
Brooks Ghost Max Outsole – Usually Reliable
The grip has proven to be quite satisfactory with the rubber outsole covering almost the entire base, leaving only a few areas of exposed midsole. I have only had a single run in wet conditions but encountered no issues whatsoever. Although the outsole may not be the thickest, its durability seems acceptable thus far, and as is often the case, Brooks outsoles tend to hold up quite well.
Thanks to the wonderful British weather, I have had plenty of opportunity to test the Ghost Max outsole against the wet, slimy and muddy. Frankly, for a shoe designed in Seattle which has a similarly damp reputation as The UK, I would’ve preferred a slightly more wet weather friendly outsole. Whilst it has been fine on moist pavements and roads, when autumn leaves or mud has strayed onto the path, the grip has been less than convincing.
That being said, I am at nearly 90 km in the Ghost Max, at time of writing, and there is almost no outsole wear at all. Consequently, I have no reason to doubt Ivan’s durability predictions.
Conclusion – A Good Start
So, what does this highly cushioned version of the Ghost bring to the table, and does it have a place in the Brooks lineup? Indeed, there is definitely a need for a highly cushioned daily trainer aside from the more traditional Glycerin. I’m pleased to see Brooks taking a plunge into the realm of modern, max-cushioned trainers and am hopeful that they will release a second version with some refinements.
While it delivers ample comfort and cushioning, personally, I find that the geometry of the shoe doesn’t align perfectly with the intended purpose of long and easy runs. Additionally, a touch more responsiveness from the midsole, perhaps with the introduction of DNA Loft v3 in the next iteration, would be appreciated.
The Ghost Max has been a very pleasant surprise for me. When it arrived, my initial impression was that of a thick, clunky and flat shoe (probably not helped by the triple-black colourway I received). However, this evaporated when I had it on foot and out of the door.
On foot, I found it to be incredibly comfortable, protective and surprisingly easy to gain momentum in. Something with my gait cycle and the geometry just clicks and makes the run feel effortless. It is a shoe which will stay in my rotation for those long runs and daily efforts when I want something no nonsense and easy to chew through the distance in.
That being said, I concur with Ivan when he says that some more responsiveness and a bouncier foam next time out might make a good shoe even better. Overall, I am very excited to see where Brooks take the Ghost Max in future versions.