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Brooks Ghost Max: Your Modern, Ortho-Friendly Trainer
By Matthew Klein, Andrea Myers, and Bach Pham

When it comes to maximal shoes, Brooks has been a bit quiet. While the heels of the majority of their shoes easily reach into upper 30s, the forefoot heights usually do not given their more traditional heel-toe offsets. The Hyperion Max and Hyperion Elite do have higher stack heights but a training shoe within their traditional line has been missing. Of all the shoes to bring into this realm, Brooks decided to evolve their Dyad series, an orthotic-friendly shoe, into the Ghost Max. While it shares the friendly, easy-entry feel of the Ghost, it is a completely different shoe. A lower drop, soft, wider soled design brings some elements of a stable neutral shoe with a comfortable, orthotic-friendly ride in a surprising maximal training shoe, one of the first for Brooks.

Brooks Running Ghost Max
Price: $149.95 (releases October)
Weight: 10 oz, 283 g (men's size 9), 9 oz, 255 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 39 mm / 33 mm
Drop: 6 mm
Classification: Max Cushion, Straight Lasted Orthotic Friendly Daily Trainer


Matt: The Brooks Ghost Max is a maximal stack height, orthotic-friendly daily trainer for those who want the classic and reliable Brooks fit/ride with a taller stack height. A slightly wider and more comfortable fit runs throughout the length of the shoe with room for an orthotic. A large amount of DNA Loft V2 sits in the midsole, providing a soft and compliant ride underneath. A wide, straight last sits underneath with a filled-in midfoot that provides mild guidance without getting in the way. A great option for those wanting a maximalist, lower-drop Brooks shoe, the Brooks Ghost Max fills a unique and much needed niche in this company's line up.

Bach: One thing that Brooks has fairly good about is filling niches. They have a shoe for just about every price point, whether neutral or stability. From low stack trainers like the Launch, Launch GTS, and new Hyperion series to the steady moderately cushioned Ghost and Adrenaline GTS to the high stacked Glycerin and Glycerin GTS, there's an option for any runner that's fairly clear and simple. There's also even the nuanced choices inbetween, like Trace and Revel if you prefer slightly different characteristics of the Launch.

One role Brooks hasn't really filled though is the modern high stacked, rockered shoe that almost every shoe seems to be today. The Brooks Ghost Max is their first stab (outside of the experimental Brooks Aurora BL) at the modern classical trainer. Featuring a high quality fit, stable elements that help balance the mildly soft DNA Loft V2 midsole and a lower drop than normal for the brand, the Ghost Max is going to be a very popular choice for new and old runners alike.

Andrea: The Brooks Ghost Max is a high stack, stable neutral daily trainer with a 6mm drop and a classic Brooks fit. The higher volume upper and straight last will easily accommodate an orthotic, and the thick DNA Loft v2 midsole provides ample protection from the ground. The shoe has many features that put it squarely in the stable neutral category. This shoe will be a great option for those looking for a stable neutral, high stack shoe that is not overly soft.

: Saucony Echelon 9, New Balance Fresh Foam More v4 (in terms of fit and higher stack)


Matt: The Brooks Ghost Max fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. I thought this shoe felt a tiny short at first, but realized the toe box tapers a little quick at first, then opens. This is a similar feeling I got in the Adrenaline GTS 23 that went away quickly. Unlike the Adrenaline, the forefoot and the rest of the shoe fit slightly wider. I had plenty of room up front and the mesh provides both breathability and a little stretch. The midfoot also fits a little wider and I had to tighten the laces to get a secure fit. The tongue is thicker and non-gusseted. Despite this, I did not have to lace lock the shoe for security and tightening the laces solved any security issues. The heel also fits slightly wider with a mildly flexible heel counter and moderate heel collar padding. Those sensitive to heel counters may have some issues, but the rounded nature of it did not bother me. The mesh material is quite comfortable and plush throughout the length of the shoe. I have worn these sockless and not had any issues. Despite the slight taper, I would consider this one of the best Brooks uppers I have experienced.

Slipping on the Brooks Ghost Max feels excellent. The shoe fit true to size for me in my men's US size 9.5. I felt a comfortable amount of room in the toebox and the midfoot is secure without feeling snug. The laces do a good job of locking down and I had no heel slippage. This has become my favorite errands shoe for how comfortable the fit is. I did choose to lace lock the shoe to try and etch out a little more performance, but it did not need it. The heel is padded and comfortable without feeling bulky. The shoe was breathable enough for me (with thin socks) and I had found no issues in hot and humid weather after my longest efforts in the shoe.

The Brooks Ghost Max fits true to size in my usual women's 9.5. While I wear the men's version of the Hyperion Max and Tempo to get more width in the forefoot, the women's version of Ghost Max provided ample room in the forefoot. The midfoot and rearfoot are normal width, and I had no issues achieving lockdown in the shoe without needing to heel lock. The upper material is plush and definitely felt warm on hot summer days. The tongue is highly padded and comfortable, and stays securely in place even though it is not gusseted thanks to a lace loop on the mid-portion of the tongue. There is rigid external heel counter and the heel collar is well padded. Overall, I found high step-in comfort in the Ghost Max and think this is one of the best fitting Brooks shoes I have tested.


Matt: The Brooks Ghost Max is a maximal daily training shoe for easy and recovery miles. As one of the first truly maximal daily training offerings from Brooks, it fits the mold of a maximal shoe well. The ride is rockered, especially in the forefoot. This provides a smooth and easy transition forward with a mild bit of flexibility up front. The heel is rockered with a posterior lateral bevel, making for easy transitions at heel strike. The DNA Loft v2 foam is protective and soft with a noticeably large amount of cushion underfoot. The foam is compliant but not responsive, making for a ride that rolls and shock absorbs easily but does not bounce. This makes the 6mm drop feel slightly lower than advertised although the rocker takes the edge off of this. The highly rockered ride, moderate weight (10 oz men's size 9) and compliant cushioning make this shoe best for easy miles. I have tried to pick up the pace in this shoe and found myself naturally going back to comfortable easy paces. The geometry and foam work best during relaxed paces and while the shoe isn't slow, it likes to chill.

The outsole has extensive coverage that provided good traction on both wet and dry road. I did not take this on trail as I was concerned about puncturing the soft exposed foam. Mild dirt trails will be fine with this shoe but it is meant for road surfaces. The outsole durability has been extremely good for me. I have 82 miles in my pair with only mild wear more toward the posterior midfoot. The ride has softened a little with additional miles but has mostly been consistent. Thus, between the extra midsole foam and outsole rubber, I would expect an above average number of miles out of the Ghost Max.

The Ghost Max is a shoe that stays somewhat in the middle, and I don't think mean that in a bad way by any means. The DNA Loft v2 midsole feels protective, neither firm or soft. It is a stiff sole with a very mildly flexible forefoot. The standout part of the Ghost Max ride for me is that it is very fluid. Transitions feel good, especially at easy paces. In some ways it reminded me of the first several versions of the Reebok Floatride Energy where the shoe maybe didn't have the most exciting foam, but ran effortlessly. I felt that here with the Ghost Max as well. The shoe did a good job in every road situation I had, including tackling hills. The weight of the shoe also feels just on the verge of light, which helps with turning over the shoe fluidly.

You can pace a bit in the Ghost Max and it's not a bad feeling per se, but it definitely runs best when you are just cruising through daily mileage. I took the shoe for a longer effort and the cushioning felt protective. I did have some fatigue on the medial side at the end of the run. I have been testing stability shoes prominently for the past few months though, so I do believe some of that is on me and where my feet are at. I had no issues with the Ghost Max on runs under 60 minutes and really enjoyed logging miles day-to-day during testing. The 6mm drop felt spot on and feels good here.

The outsole looks durable likely will last tons of miles. I found the shoe did pretty well on wet surfaces. The wider base helps add a little more traction.

I found the Ghost Max to be an excellent walking shoe. Between the comfortable fit and fluid ride, it was great for errands and daily activities. I think this model looks a lot nicer than some of their recent offerings as well and had no hesitation to throw it on for work and daily activities.

Andrea: The Brooks Ghost Max is ideal for easy daily miles. The DNA Loft v2 midsole feels similar to New Balance's Fresh Foam X, in that it is protective as opposed to soft. Despite the high 39mm/33mm drop, this is not a marshmallow shoe by any means. It feels slightly firmer than the New Balance More v4. The 6mm drop is welcome change from most of the Brooks line, and I found the geometry to work well for me as a midfoot striker, even without a significant heel bevel. While the shoe does have a forefoot rocker (GlideRoll), it is not particularly noticeable when running. The ride is overall quite neutral and transitions feel pretty mellow, as opposed to the rocker quickening push off. The shoe has high longitudinal bending stiffness, which in combination with the thick midsole, provides a high amount of underfoot protection and a low amount of ground feel. The stiffness and weight of the shoe make it most suited to easy miles. I could see this being a nice easy long run shoe for some runners as well. Like almost every Brooks shoe, the extensive rubber coverage of the outsole should result in excellent durability. I have 30 miles on my pair and there is minimal wear, even on the small areas of exposed midsole.

My one complaint about the Ghost Max is that the straight last and stiff sole made it feel like my feet were forced into even more rearfoot inversion than is normal for me. I tend to land on my lateral midfoot, and I felt like the shoe was making it harder for me to pronate sufficiently for push off. This resulted in some pain in my posterior tibialis both during and after my test runs. Straight lasted shoes typically work better for those who pronate too early or too quickly, so those who have the opposite issue like myself may find the Ghost Max too stable for their mechanics.


Matt: The Brooks Ghost Max is a stable neutral shoe due to its straight last, wide base, mild sidewalls, rocker geometry and guidance line. The shape is wide throughout the length of the shoe with a filled in midfoot. With the width also comes sole flare on both the lateral and medial sides of this shoe (slightly more lateral than medial). Small sidewalls sit in the heel and posterior forefoot and are small enough not to cause blisters but large enough to keep things gently centered. The rockered sole is noticeable especially in the front of the shoe. This does a great job of keep forward momentum. The last part that I noticed most was the guidance line/deep flex groove in the bottom of the shoe. The line is centered at the heel then pitches lateral along the outside of the shoe. This is noticeable to me and keep me on the outside of my forefoot, making it a great option for those that need lateral guidance up front. For me it was a little too much as my Fibularis Longus origin (Fibular head. Fibularis Longus everts the forefoot and can be strained with excessive forefoot inversion) got a little sensitive with longer miles but was fine if I reminded my self to push through my big toe. So overall a stable neutral shoe with some mild lateral bias at the forefoot. 

Bach: For my flat feet, I found the Brooks Ghost Max to work fairly well for my needs as a stable everyday cruiser. The wider base and stiffness works well together for providing a stable base. While not a soft sole, I felt the Ghost Max was just soft enough that the medially part of my arch did fatigue slightly over the later stages of my long run (1 hr, 30 min+). I had no issues for everyday runs and felt like it was more than supportive for most daily to moderate distance efforts. Neutral runners will likely do more than fine in this over a long run, while mild to full stability users may want to consider a more complete stability shoe for the longer efforts over the Ghost Max.

The Ghost Max is a solid example of a stable neutral shoe. It has a wide base, sidewalls in the medial and lateral rearfoot and forefoot, and mild rocker geometry; all of which potentially help center the foot in the shoe, regardless of where a person lands. The straight last may be better for those who need more medial support and control, and be too much for those like myself who land too far laterally. The shoe will also work well for those who use orthotics, thanks to the higher volume upper and thicker, removable sock liner.

Thoughts as a DPT: Orthotic Friendly Running Shoes
By Andrea Myers

The Brooks Ghost Max is the successor of the Dyad line, which is Brooks' orthotic friendly running shoe. What characteristics make a shoe orthotic friendly, and who actually needs to use an orthotic in their running shoes? First, an orthotic-friendly shoe should be a neutral shoe. If you have custom orthotics that were designed to help a specific biomechanical issue, you do not want to pair that orthotic with a motion control shoe that may interact negatively with the correction of your orthotic. Secondly, the shoe should have a removable sock liner (the insert that comes with the shoe), and the shoe should have enough volume in the upper to accommodate the orthotic. The Ghost Max does a great job of this in both ways: the removable sock liner is on the thicker side and the upper has extra volume to account for a potentially thicker custom or off the shelf orthotic.

Who actually needs to use an off the shelf or custom orthotic in their running shoe? If you believed many local running stores or the internet, you would think everyone needs to toss the sock liner and buy "upgraded" inserts. Some stores will even scan your feet and make you a semi custom orthotic for even more money. Unfortunately for those who sell orthotics, research has found that most runners do not need anything more than the sock liner of a running shoe. The exception to this are people who are currently experiencing heel pain, particularly those who respond well to taping of their medial longitudinal arch. Those people may benefit from short term use of a custom or pre-fabricated (off the shelf) orthotic, but research has not found a benefit to using them longer than one year. Overall shoe comfort is an important factor to consider in running shoe and insert selection. If you have been running with orthotics for years and find them to be more comfortable than running without them, you should continue using them. Shoe comfort has been found to be an important factor in running related injuries, so if you prefer using your off the shelf or custom orthotics in your running shoes, there is no reason to stop doing so.


Landorf, B., & Menz, B. (2008). Plantar heel pain and fasciitis. BMJ Clinical Evidence, 2008.

Lee, S. Y., McKeon, P., & Hertel, J. (2009). Does the use of orthoses improve self-reported pain and function measures in patients with plantar fasciitis? A meta-analysis. Physical Therapy in Sport, 10(1), 12-18.

Nigg, B. M., Baltich, J., Hoerzer, S., & Enders, H. (2015). Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: 'preferred movement path' and 'comfort filter'. British journal of sports medicine, 49(20), 1290–1294.


Matt: The smoothness of the Brooks Ghost Max reminds me of the Brooks Pureflow. A great rolling shoe that lets you focus on your run. It does have one of the best-fitting Brooks uppers I have experienced. My suggestions however are to make the sidewalls run through the midfoot, consider centering the guidance line in the forefoot and add more resilience to the foam. Maximal shoes tend to need full-length sidewalls due to the taller stack heights and softer foams. For continuity I would recommend filling in the missing midfoot sidewalls. The lateral running guidance line in the forefoot took me a little too far lateral. To be a true stable neutral shoe that does not interfere with forefoot transitions, I would suggest centering the guidance line up front. Finally, I would love to see this midsole have a little more bounce. I found the foam to be compliant, but not resilient. It rolled really well but did not have much pop off the ground. While I know this is not a racing shoe, I would love to experience a little more bounce with this shoe just to give it a hint of versatility. 

Bach: I really enjoyed my miles in the Ghost Max and feel like this is a shoe I'd be happy to pick up for daily runs any time and will likely do so inbetween testing. I love a great fitting shoe and a simple ride, and this delivers both well. I would love to see weight steadily decrease as the series continues. Pitching the shoe into the next weight range would give the shoe a lot of versatility which could be exciting.

Andrea: Despite the discomfort I experience in my posterior tibialis due to the straight last, I still overall enjoyed testing this shoe. The fit is excellent and I think this shoe will work well for runners with varying levels of stability needs, just not those who land too far laterally. One minor recommendation would be to refine the upper, which would make the shoe more breathable for summer months and shave off a little weight.


Matt: The Brooks Ghost Max is a shoe for those who want to try a maximal Brooks running shoe, are looking for an orthotic-friendly stable neutral, maximal stack height daily trainer or those who want some lateral bias at the forefoot. The Ghost Max is a rare maximal and lower-drop daily trainer in the Brooks line that fills a gap that, in traditional Brooks fashion, they waited to fill until they could put out something unique. The forefoot does have a little lateral bias, so those who need it will do well but those who need help pronating off the first toe will need to focus on keeping themselves medial.

This is a welcome shoe that is not just another maximal trainer but one that has the versatility for those who need to add an orthotic. It compares nicely with the Saucony Echelon 9, which will work better for those who want a more centered ride with higher sidewalls. The Brooks Ghost Max on the other hand will work better for those who just want a straight last without large sidewalls with a little lateral bias at the forefoot, providing more options for the unique variability of the human body. 

Bach: The Ghost Max is a shoe that longtime Brooks fans can get excited about. Offering a maximal trainer with a modern ride, fluid rockered ride, it's easily a top trainer for the brand this year and thanks to an excellent fit, one that will accommodate many runners right off the bat. This along with the Brooks Launch GTS 10 and Hyperion GTS has help build a solid year for the Run Happy team as far as trainers. It is easy to see why Brooks is a run retail favorite for their ability to make really simple, solid footwear that fits well and works for everyday runners. The Ghost Max only continues that tradition.

The shoe will pair well with performance trainers for workouts or a super shoe for both workouts and long efforts. Mild medial stability runners may want to consider pairing this - which is fairly stable enough for most daily efforts - with the Brooks Hyperion GTS for speed days and for some a potential racing shoe if you prefer a traditional flat over a carbon plated racer.

Andrea: The Brooks Ghost Max is a stable neutral, orthotic friendly, max stack daily trainer. It will be a nice option for those looking for a highly protective shoe that is not overly soft. This is a welcome addition to the small list of shoes that are orthotic friendly. At $150, it is comparable in price to other max stack daily trainers such as the New Balance More v4 and the Nike InfinityRN 4.


Fit: A- (Slightly wider fit throughout with slight taper at distal end of toebox. Plush and comfortable upper that is one of the most comfortable I have tested from Brooks)
B+ (Rockered rolling, high stack ride best for easy miles)
Stability: A- [Stable Neutral] (Wide base, heel/posterior forefoot sidewalls, rocker geometry and guidance line. Posterior lateral bevel and lateral guidance line do bias the shoe laterally mildly)
DPT/Footwear Science: A-/B+ (Solid integration of stable neutral principles for orthotic intervention. Be cautious with driving people too far lateral in the forefoot with guidance line
Personal: B+/A- (The fit has made this shoe a great option for recovery days and casual use. I wish there was a little more bounce to the midsole and the forefoot did not send me lateral, but a great maximal option from Brooks.... finally)
Overall: B+/A-

Fit: A (A comfortable fitting shoe all-around that is accommodating)
B+ (A mildly rolling ride suitable for easy, everyday miles. Not huge versatility, but will be enough for runners who just want a shoe that's consistent for simple everyday runs)
Stability: B+ (Stable mechanics for daily efforts, but did provide some medial fatigue on longer runs)
DPT/Footwear Science: B+ (Not revolutionary, but a positive step forward for Brooks footwear)
Personal: B+ (For everyday runs and walking, I found the Ghost Max to be a really solid, comfortable shoe I'd be happy to grab on most average days)
Overall: B+
Fit: (One of the best fitting Brooks shoes I have tested, particularly due to additional width in forefoot)
Performance: A-/B+ 
(Protective and mildly cushioned ride that is great for easy miles. Straight last caused posterior tibialis pain due to my mechanics.)
Stability (stable neutral): A- (Wide base, balanced sidewalls, mild rocker geometry make this a stable neutral shoe. Straight last does bias the ride towards those who need more medial control.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Nice use of stable neutral features to create a more modern orthotic friendly running shoe)
Personal: B+ (Love the fit, and mostly loved the ride except for posterior tibialis pain)
Overall: B+ 


Brooks Ghost Max
Price: $149.95 (coming in October)

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FURTHER READING: Max Cushion Trainers

Adidas Ultraboost Light - The 23rd ultraboost features Light Boost to help cut 2 oz from the trainer
Asics Gel-Nimbus 25 [Supermax Trainer] - Now a super maximal stacked shoe over 40mm!
Brooks Aurora BL - Brooks experimental project offers a look into the future
New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2 - Shoe reduces stack to make a nimble max ride
Nike InfinityRN 4 - ReactX highlights a big change to the shoe, along with deconstructing past models
Nike Invincible 3 - Updated to improve stability, this max cushion trainer evolves for v3
Puma Magnify Nitro 2 - A higher stack of NITRO and a flatter geometry highlight this max trainer
Salomon Aero Glide - Salomon brings max stack to their lineup with this new offering
Saucony Triumph 21- The excellent Triumph from last year gets a new upper that dials in the fit for an excellent overall ride
Saucony Triumph RFG - Triumph's sustainable sibling sacrifices almost nothing in the process
Skechers GORun Max Road 6 - A totally new redesign for this max cushion shoes

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Brooks Running for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer v2

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