When it comes to running shoes, there are countless brands to choose from. One brand that has been gaining attention in recent years is Brooks. While not as well-known as some of its competitors, Brooks has steadily built a reputation for producing high-quality running shoes that provide excellent value for money. In this article, we will take a closer look at Brooks running shoes and explore whether they live up to the hype.
The Evolution of Brooks Running Shoes
Brooks has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1914 as a manufacturer of thin bathing shoes and ballet slippers. It wasn't until the running boom of the 1970s that Brooks entered the running shoe market with the launch of the popular Villanova model. This was followed by the Vantage, which gained recognition when then-President Jimmy Carter was said to have ordered a pair. The Vantage was the first running shoe to utilize EVA midsole foam, which replaced the slower-rebounding rubber used in older models. This innovation helped put Brooks on par with other leading running shoe brands of the time.
Fast forward to today, and Brooks continues to be at the forefront of performance running shoe innovation. In 2017, they introduced the Hyperion Elite, a super shoe that combined their DNA Flash nitrogen-injected midsole foam with a carbon plate. This winning combination propelled Des Linden to victory in the 2018 Boston Marathon. Building on this success, Brooks developed the Wire 8 prototype spike, which helped British Olympian Josh Kerr secure new Scottish, British, and European indoor mile records.
The Best Brooks Running Shoes
With a wide range of running shoes to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which Brooks model is right for you. To help you make an informed decision, we have compiled a list of our favorite Brooks running shoes based on extensive testing and feedback from our team of gear testers. Whether you're looking for a shoe for road racing, speedwork, everyday training, stability, or trail running, there's a Brooks model that caters to your needs.
Best for Road Racing: Hyperion Elite 3
The Hyperion Elite 3 is Brooks' carbon-plated racing shoe that has seen several key updates from its previous iteration. The upper is made from QuicKnit, an elastic fabric that offers the perfect balance of support and breathability. The addition of new padding in the heel and collar provides extra comfort during long runs. The midsole features the same full-length carbon plate and Rapid Roll Technology, which propels the foot forward and encourages a faster pace. Compared to competitors like Nike's Vaporfly Next%, the Hyperion Elite 3 offers greater stability and comfort, thanks to its wider fit and superior traction. Testers praised its length, stretch, and corrugated material, which kept the shoes secure and prevented slippage.
Best for Speedwork/Tempo Runs: Hyperion Max
For speedwork and tempo runs, the Hyperion Max is an excellent choice. It is part of Brooks' Hyperion speed series and offers a highly cushioned ride. The midsole features DNA Flash foam, which provides a soft and bouncy feel. With an extra 4mm of nitrogen-infused DNA Flash foam, the Hyperion Max offers a springier and more plush ride compared to its predecessor, the Hyperion Tempo Elite. Testers found the Hyperion Max perfect for long runs on Sundays while still maintaining a fast pace. Many testers also considered it a cost-effective alternative to carbon-plate racing shoes. The comfortable stretch woven upper, combined with the excellent grip of the rubber outsole, makes the Hyperion Max a versatile and reliable option for speed enthusiasts.
Best for Everyday Training: Ghost 15
The Ghost 15 has been a bestseller for Brooks since its launch in 2008, and for good reason. It is a dependable everyday trainer that provides a comfortable and enjoyable running experience. The midsole now features Brooks' DNA LOFT v2 cushioning, a compression-molded EVA material that offers a lighter and more plush feel. The enhanced upper provides added structure and breathability, making it a go-to shoe for runners seeking a reliable and comfortable option for their daily training runs. Testers praised the Ghost 15 for its true-to-size fit, roomy toe box, and availability in different width options. Its versatility and durability make it a popular choice among runners of all levels.
Best Stability Shoe: Adrenaline GTS 22
For overpronators in need of stability and support, the Adrenaline GTS 22 is a top pick. This shoe has been a favorite among runners for years and is now in its 22nd iteration. The Adrenaline GTS 22 features Brooks' DNA Loft midsole foam, which offers a soft and cushioned ride. The medial post, previously used to correct overpronation, has been replaced with Brooks' innovative GuideRails. These firm foam pieces on either side of the heel help reduce inward rolling of the foot and promote proper alignment of the knee and ankle. Testers found the Adrenaline GTS 22 to be an excellent stability shoe, providing both cushioning and support. The secure and stable fit, combined with its corrective features, make it a reliable option for overpronators.
Best for Long Runs: Glycerin 20
If you're planning to go the distance, the Glycerin 20 is the shoe for you. Known for its exceptional softness, the Glycerin has been a favorite among runners who prioritize comfort. The 20th version of this shoe features DNA Loft V3 foam, infused with nitrogen for a lighter yet more energy-returning cushioning experience. Testers praised the Glycerin 20 for its comfortable and plush feel, thanks to the soft foam and well-fitting upper. The shoe provides ample room in the toe box and features long lacing that helps secure the foot and lock in the ankle. While it may feel slightly clunky at faster paces, the Glycerin 20 is a reliable workhorse shoe that excels during long, slow runs.
Best for Trail Running: Cascadia
Brooks' Cascadia model is a popular choice among trail runners, thanks to its durability and performance on rugged terrain. The 16th version of the Cascadia offers increased cushioning and a midsole made of Brooks' DNA LOFT V2 foam, which provides a softer and lighter ride compared to its predecessor. The Ballistic Rock Shield in the forefoot offers excellent protection against rocks and roots, while the TrailTack rubber outsole ensures reliable traction on various surfaces. Testers found the Cascadia to be a reliable shoe for long runs on rocky terrain. However, some felt that the shoe was slightly rigid and lacked grip on muddy or technical trails. Overall, the Cascadia is a great choice for fell runners and mountain racers looking for a dependable trail shoe.
Best for Trail Racing: Catamount 2
For those who want to push the pace during trail training and racing, the Catamount 2 is a top contender. This trail version of the Hyperion Tempo features DNA Flash foam for cushioning and responsiveness. Testers praised the Catamount 2 for its just-right midsole, which provided a balance between softness and firmness. The added Ballistic Rock Shield in the midsole offered protection against rocks and roots, while the TrailTack rubber outsole delivered excellent grip on wet and uneven surfaces. With a slightly lower heel drop and lightweight design, the Catamount 2 is an ideal choice for those seeking a fast and responsive trail shoe.
Best for Long Trail Runs: Caldera 6
If you're a fan of maximalist cushioning, the Caldera 6 is the shoe for you. With a large midsole wedge of DNA Loft V3 foam, the Caldera 6 offers a plush and cushioned ride. The low 4mm drop provides a stable platform, while the raised geometric pattern on the outsole offers excellent grip on slick surfaces. Testers praised the Caldera 6 for its cushioning and traction, making it a comfortable and reliable option for long, steady trail runs. While it may be on the heavier side, the Caldera 6 excels at providing a cloud-like feel, even on challenging terrains.
Best for Road to Trail: Divide 3
For runners who enjoy mixing up their running routes with both road and trail surfaces, the Divide 3 is an excellent choice. It offers the perfect balance between cushioning and durability for a variety of terrains. The midsole features Brooks' DNA Loft cushioning, providing ample support for road sections. The raised tread pattern, made of TrailTac rubber, offers reliable traction on light trails and grass. Testers found the Divide 3 to be a great entry-level trail shoe, suitable for runners transitioning from road to trail running. With a secure fit and stable lacing system, the Divide 3 is a versatile option for runners who want to explore different surfaces.
In conclusion, Brooks running shoes have earned their place in the running shoe market for good reason. With a wide range of models designed for different running needs, Brooks offers comfortable and reliable options for runners of all levels. Whether you're looking for a shoe for road racing, speedwork, everyday training, stability, or trail running, there's a Brooks model that will cater to your preferences. So, if you're in search of a high-quality running shoe that provides excellent value for money, it's worth giving Brooks a try. Lace up a pair of Brooks running shoes and experience the comfort, support, and performance they have to offer.