Brooks Glycerin 20 - a daily trainer that delivers no matter what
Alex: Because I got the shoe a couple of weeks later than Ivan and Tim, I haven’t run enough in it yet. And what a bummer. From the first feelings I got, I think this could be the next daily trainer in my personal rotation. And when a running shoe reviewer actually integrates a shoe in their own rotation…well I think that means a lot! I should update my parts of the review after 50kms or so in the shoe to confirm the above.
Brooks Glycerin 20 – Specs
Weight: 326g (11.4oz) in size US11 / EU45
Stack height (forefoot/heel): 34/24mm
Durometer score (0 to 100, soft to hard): 31.8 for the DNA Loft v3 midsole
The platform is wide, especially in the midfoot and heel. For specific values, please check the Shoe Comparator in which you can compare the width for the forefoot, midfoot and heel against other shoes.
Upper: surprisingly breathable with a great fit on top
Tim: Nothing very specific to say about the upper. I would say that everything works well for me without anything very amazing. While the mesh feels a bit thick I don’t experience overheating even when I run with a temperature over 30°Cee (86°F).
I feel comfortable in this shoe from the forefoot – where the space is large enough to avoid unpleasant contact – to the heel where I enjoy the softness of the heel collar added to maintain the heel. Nevertheless I know that I have quite a narrow heel and that if I feel myself comfortable and well maintained I would warn people with above-average heel size who could find this area not large enough. Keep in mind that Brooks offers a 2E width.
Ivan: I find the so-called ‘engineered air mesh’ upper very plush and pliable. Despite being on the thicker side, my feet did not feel too warm during any of the hot summer days around here. Usually I am not a fan of rather padded tongues and heel collars, but in this case it didn’t bother me and the padding felt both light and reasonably breathable.
The Glycerin 20 has a generous fit overall. Compared to other classic Brooks models, such as the Ghost and Adrenaline, I think it is a tad wider around the midfoot and personally I prefer a tighter lockdown. Those with higher arches will probably appreciate the generous fit around the midfoot though. Despite the roomy fit I did not experience heel slipping and the soft upper ensured a comfortable experience at any time.
Alex: I always heard a lot about Brooks’ fits. People like those fits because they are no-brainers and most of the time very comfortable and plush feelings come with them. Wasn’t Brooks even rated like the company with best fitting shoes overall a few years ago? This rings a bell but I cannot remember where I read about it now. Anyways! Like Tim and Ivan said, the upper looks and feels thick but it runs lighter and while not mega breathable, it does not become an oven in there either.
Midsole and ride – the Glycerin is a consistent and reassuring shoe…with a catch
Tim: Let’s be honest, this model is not made for competition. For that Brooks proposed some other models like for instance Hyperion Elite 2 or Hyperion Tempo. Therefore we will not speak here about energy return which is quite inexistant in the Glycerin 20 compared to pure racing shoes.
The midsole is made of the new foam developed last year by brooks and that you may have had the chance to test if you have an Aurora BL – DNA LOFT v3. According to the brand, this foam is much softer than the previous version as well as lighter and more resistant. Does the testing confirm it? I would answer that it depends. It depends on what type of runner you are. First thing first, if you are looking for a shoe as soft as a Nike ZoomX invincible for instance, then you can skip this model. Here we are discussing more about cushion rather than softness. Nevertheless if like myself – and 80% of runners – you are a heel to midfoot striker the answer will be yes. And the more heel striker you are the more you will have this feeling of cushion. If you add to this the fact that the platform is quite huge which offers a stable run, and that the heel to toe transition is ok, it becomes an interesting easy / daily trainer.
However if you are a midfoot/forefoot striker the answer will be no in my opinion. In the area where you will land you will not feel a lot of softness. Rather, when I try to run without heel striking I found the shoe quite harsh and I really feel at the same time his non-negligible weight. Therefore I would definitely not recommend this shoe to all kinds of runners and especially midfoot/forefoot striker.
Regarding the outsole, the grip of the shoe, composed of 3-4mm of rubber, works well for the surfaces I ran on (hills as well as some pavement and some packed gravel routes). The rubber coverage is very good, which gives me confidence regarding the durability of the shoe and at the time I am writing this review I don’t see any specific wear.
Ivan: As Tim has already mentioned, the Glycerin is not meant to be Brooks fastest and most responsive shoe in the lineup. It is the high mileage cruiser offering lots of comfort and cushion and this redesigned midsole does just that. The new nitrogen injected DNA Loft v3 foam is definitely lighter and more responsive than earlier versions. I agree with Tim that the DNA Loft v3 does not feel that soft. I do however feel a bit of bounce. But more the ‘springy’ kind of bounce than a ‘squishy’ one.
Despite the new and more dynamic midsole, I have to admit that I still wished for a smoother transition at times. The ride feels a bit clunky to me. Especially at recovery paces or faster runs. It was definitely working best for me at those easy or mid-range paces, which I guess is also the intended purpose of the shoe. However, having more of a midfoot strike around those paces still made the ride feel somewhat unnatural. I also believe that the shoe is best suited for pure heel strikers and since most runners are just that, I can’t really fault the shoe. I think this has mostly to do with the geometry of the shoe – which I find both rather wide and flat – and not that much with the level of cushion. The width of the platform combined with a sturdy heel counter and solid outsole creates a lot of stability, but my biomechanics just seem to benefit from a slimmer and more rockered shape. What makes for a natural transition is very individual and often something that takes some experience with various shoes to figure out eventually.
The outsole of the Glycerin is fairly standard and covers most of the platform. It is reasonably thick and should hold up well, which is usually the case with Brooks high mileage models. The forefoot grooves in this version are no longer sideways but follow the shoe length wise. This makes the sole feel stiffer but also contributes to a bit snappier toe-off. I took the shoe out in some heavy rain on one of my first runs and I was surprised that it actually found the ride a bit slippery. It is not that unusual for me, running a lot on the paved sidewalk of Copenhagen. Still, it is only something I have experienced in Brooks lighter tempo/race models such as the Hyperion Elite 2.
Alex: There is something very natural about the ride of the Glycerin 20. Again like I wrote above, the shoe is a no-brainer and that feeling comes mostly from the ride. The level of cushioning is nothing outstanding and the softness isn’t very special either. I’m writing this as many brands these days tend to try going in the extremes for both the stack height and the foam density. The Glycerin tends to be more on the dampening rather than on the cushioning side of things. The balanced ride comes from that damping and from a very homogeneous and consistent experience throughout the gait cycle. No matter the footstrike or pace, the shoe responds to the runner’s needs. Well the pace does matter as nothing above endurance pace is really what this shoe is made for.
If you know the Brooks Hyperion tempo (if you don’t…go to your local store and try it out!), you can certainly imagine how the Glycerin 20 rides. It’s essentially a very similar midsole experience but coming with a much denser feel to it. The Hyperion tempo has much more flex in the forefoot and feels more “wild”. The Glycerin’s midsole – the nitrogen infused DNA Loft v3 – feels like a more serious and secure version of the DNA midsole on the Tempo. The upper provides a nice (and comfortable) lockdown which secures the rides. If I were to use one word to describe the ride of the Glycerin, it would be something like “consistent”. That consistency also speaks for the stability, which is not a feature so to speak but something that mild pronators will nevertheless appreciate for longer runs.
Conclusion – the Brooks Glycerin 20 is a reliable safe bet but a touch pricey
Tim : Do I like the pair ? Yes. I will maybe introduce it in my weekly rotation but only for my easy jogs (~5’00min/km or 8’30min/miles). I will not do any tempo work with the Glycerin 20 though.
Nevertheless there is a last thing I didn’t mention yet and that’s the price. Am I ready to put in 180€ (180$) for an easy day shoe? Not yet and I will wait for a discount if I have to buy it again.
Ivan: Overall, I think that Brooks has achieved what they set out to accomplish with the latest Glycerin despite my few personal complaints. As a neutral shoe it is quite stable and works very well for those long runs at easy to medium paces.The vast majority of heel strikers in particular will probably enjoy the structure of the shoe having a sturdy heel counter and in general a great stability in the ride. I don’t think that the new DNA Loft v3 is quite as soft as advertised, but the Glycerin still has enough of the deep cushion that most runners prefer for those longer runs. Something especially appreciated by heavier runners. My own issues with the wide midfoot wrap and unnatural transition will definitely not apply to most runners. We all have different anatomy and biomechanics. With that in mind it is hard for me to really criticise anything in particular with this update. I do prefer it over last year’s version but a lot has happened lately in the high mileage segment. I must admit that I have become accustomed to those very rockered and energetic rides. I know it is not for all and probably shouldn’t be. But I can’t help missing a bit of that ‘oomph’ during my runs in the Brooks Glycerin 20. That being said it is a sturdy, reliable and well cushioned workhorse that will get the job done no matter the distance.
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