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Brooks Ghost 16 Review
By Matthew Klein and David Salas

The Brooks Ghost is one of the long standing daily trainers that most runners can name off of the top of their head. The shoe has always had a classic ride and profile. The shoe features a high drop heel to toe ratio and a neutral ride. The Ghost 16 receives some updates, with the big update being a new midsole. 



Brooks Ghost 16
Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.8 oz, 278 g (men's size 9), 8.8 oz, 249 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 35.5 mm / 23.5 mm
Drop: 12mm
Shoe Purpose: Neutral Daily Training Shoe

Pros: Durable training shoe, consistent and familiar ride
Cons: Not much to offer in terms of unique geometries, responsiveness, or experience



RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY


The Brooks Ghost 16 is a classic high drop, neutral trainer that is good for mixed use from running to walking and standing. The shoe's main update is an updated DNA Loft v3 midsole which does reduce some weight and add a little airiness to the ride. The Ghost is one of the most popular, most sold shoes in the world due to its consistently durable, predictable ride which remains intact for its 16th version.

SIMILAR SHOES
: Mizuno Wave Rider 27, Nike Pegasus 40 
PAST MODEL: Brooks Ghost 15




FIT
(To learn how a shoe should fit, check out our full podcast on fit by Matt Klein.)

Matt: The Brooks Ghost 16 fits me true to size if slightly short in my men's US size 10. The fit is fairly normal if a tiny bit wide. The forefoot is on the wider side but the toe box tapers quickly. This creates a slightly short fit and the quick taper that in combination with a small forefoot sidewall has caused me quite a bit of blistering on efforts over 5-6 miles on the medial (inner) side of my first MTP joint and first toe. The midfoot fits fairly normal with a moderately thick non-gusseted tongue. While the midfoot fit comfortably, I had to really tie down the laces to stop my foot from sliding forward and eventually had to lace lock the shoe for security. The heel fit is normal in width with moderate to slightly thicker heel collar cushioning and a really stiff counter. Those who like stiff secure counters will love this shoe while those with any heel sensitivity will not do well in this shoe. The inner liner is comfortable but there are several exposed seams. Combined with the challenges of a secure fit, this is a shoe that should not be worn sockless. 

Typical Size: Men's US Size 10
Shoes that have fit Matt well: Saucony Guide 17, ASICS Kayano 30, Hoka Gaviota 5, Saucony Endorphin Elite, Nike Ultrafly
Shoes that have fit snug: Hoka Arahi 7, Saucony Kinvara 14
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2, Altra Timp 5

David: The Brooks Ghost 16 fit true to size in my Men's 9.5. The engineered mesh is decently comfortable and does feel comparable with other training shoes in this price range. The width throughout is normal in the heel and midfoot with a normal to slightly wide forefoot. The volume however is pretty low. The tongue is padded pretty well, but there is not a lot of space under it. I definitely felt like that region of the shoe came off quite tight and I could feel pressure on the top of my foot with bigger mileage. There is a rigid heel counter that has decent padding that I did not find irritating in any way. The upper is pretty decent throughout and will be comfortable for most. The biggest thing for me is the volume in the midfoot. It was just too tight to thoroughly enjoy the shoe. 

David's Typical Size: Men's US Size 9.5
Shoes that have fit David well: Nike Vomero 17, Saucony Ride 16, Puma Velocity Nitro 3

Shoes that have fit snug: HOKA Arahi 7
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon Aero Glide


Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: Yes
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing: Yes
Is the Forefoot Flexible: Yes (for a normal training shoe)
How Flexible is the Shoe: Flexible for a traditional training shoe
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: No
Recommended for Haglunds: No
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Average





PERFORMANCE

Matt: The Brooks Ghost 16 is a high-drop traditional training shoe. Those who like a ton of heel cushioning will do best in this shoe. The new DNA Loft v3 feel cushioned but feels only slightly soft during running. During walking it feels far softer, so know the midsole responds differently between these two forms of gait. The heel is quite cushioned but has a clunky transition. This is partially due to the larger heel drop, which is noticeable and due to the central small heel bevel. Fortunately, there is a large medial crash pad that does break in and smooth out this transition somewhat.

The midfoot has a smooth transition which continues into a surprisingly flexible forefoot. There are deeper flex grooves in the forefoot with a large bevel and a decent amount of toe spring. The flexibility offsets the toe spring slightly, but those wanting their toes in a neutral position may notice some pressure. The forefoot has an easy and somewhat quick roll forward due to all of this, which feels good at easier and uptempo paces. The midsole foam feels best at easier efforts into uptempo paces. The higher heel drop and mildly responsive foam do not as well as other shoes at faster paces. It can handle some mild fartleks but there are plenty of faster options even within the Brooks line.

What the Brooks Ghost 16 does best at is consistent paces and longer mileage ("Workhorse" as David likes to say and says below). Traction-wise, the outsole grips pavement well and can handle some softer surfaces. I have had no trouble on wet pavement and mild trails, but would use a trail-specific shoe for more aggressive terrain. Durability-wise, the outsole is holding up well after 25 miles of use. There is only mild wear/abrasion, so I expect an average to slightly above average number of miles for a daily training shoe out of the Ghost 16. 

David:  The Brooks Ghost 16 has a very traditional and familiar ride. The Ghost has always been a neutral daily training shoe with a bit of a firmer ride and high drop ratio from the heel to the toe. The shoe does have smooth transitions throughout, thanks to a good heel bevel and pretty natural feeling toe off. The weight of the shoe feels pretty comparable with most daily training shoes. Despite the update to DNA Loft V3, the foam does still feel firmer to other midsoles out there. The shoe does have enough cushioning to take it through pretty much any mileage you could ask of it. I will say the shoe feels lower stack than other trainers out there, though I think is more due to the foam. There is protection underfoot, though the foam does not have too much compliance to it. The high heel to toe drop ratio feels right, though not super "slappy" thanks to the well-designed heel. The foam does not have a crazy amount of responsiveness to it and definitely responds better to daily paces.

The traction underfoot is not too bad at all and I have not had any issues in running off road in reasonably runnable conditions. This is definitely a workhorse trainer. If you like the firmer feel, but the Ghost does not feel quite cushioned enough, the Glycerin would be the plush premium trainer up. They both give similar experiences, with the Ghost feeling a little closer to the ground. The ride doesn't feel like anything overly special to write about here, but it is very consistent and can easily be a daily training shoe for miles to come. 




STABILITY

Matt: The Brooks Ghost 16 is a neutral daily training shoe. There are a few methods that create mild guidance but this is primarily a neutral shoe. The heel features some sole flare on both the medial and lateral sides. The midfoot does not narrow too much and there are some sidewalls. The heel features mild sidewalls on the medial and lateral side while the midfoot has a lateral sidewall and the forefoot has a small medial sidewall. The lack of a major bevel, the higher heel drop and slightly more lateral heel flare than medial does create a slightly quicker push medial upon heel contact. This has caused my posterior tibialis muscles to be sore with moderate to longer mileage. This is further combined with a surprisingly flexible sole for a traditional daily trainer, making this a solidly neutral shoe. 

David:  For being a neutral shoe the Ghost 16 did feel pretty stable throughout. The firmer foam and lower feel did give a grounded experience. The outsole traction under foot did feel reliable for most situations as well. Despite some of the fit issues, the upper was secure and did keep your foot on the platform really well. The shoe has some gentle sidewalls that do seem to give some light guidance. 



Thoughts as a DPT: Crash Pads, Heel Bevels and Facilitating Heel Transitions
By Matthew Klein

As a heel striker, the geometry and transition of the rearfoot is particularly important as it is often my first point of contact when running. I often talk about ways to facilitate or smooth this transition, most commonly through heel bevels. The reason for a preference for heel bevels is that this imitates the natural curve of the heel bone or calcaneus. The curved posterior portion of this bone is a natural biomechanical mechanism, called the heel rocker, that reduces the energy required to facilitate forward motion when landing on the heel during walking or running. 

Crash pads are altered cushioning densities usually placed at the posterior-lateral heel. Their goal is to increase cushioning in the area and alter the biomechanics of impact (Heidenfelder et al., 2010). However, recent research has called into question whether they are able to accomplish either thing, suggesting runners do not demonstrate altered lower extremity kinetics and runners are not able to perceive a difference with the addition of a crash pad (Sterzing et al., 2015). There is some evidence that it can impact ankle dorsiflexion angles as wider crash pads tend to cause people to land in a more foot-flat position, likely because they are trying to avoid them (Sterzing et al., 2015).

The challenge with crash pads is that although they may collapse and theoretically facilitate motion, the evidence and perception may suggest otherwise. The other issue is that the heel does not really have a large mechanism like this, although heel fat pads act like this on a minor level. It is for that reason that I would suggest combining them with a decent-sized heel bevel. The geometries of shoes should find influence from mechanisms already present in the foot and emphasize/reinforce them, rather than artificially induce things not present. 

References:

Heidenfelder, J., Sterzing, T., & Milani, T. L. (2010). Systematically modified crash-pad reduces impact shock in running shoes. Footwear science2(2), 85-91.

Sterzing, T., Thomsen, K., Ding, R., & Cheung, J. T. M. (2015). Running shoe crash-pad design alters shoe touchdown angles and ankle stability parameters during heel–toe running. 
Footwear Science7(2), 81-93.



RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The Brooks Ghost 16 continues the lineage as a standard daily training shoe. My biggest suggestions center around the fit and the heel bevel (as usual). I would like to see a less aggressive taper at the forefoot and a bit more midfoot security. I think this would solve the slightly short fit feeling and reduce some of the blistering I've experiencing. The forefoot medial sidewall may need to be longer and better integrated if that is something Brooks is actually going for in regards to forefoot guidance without causing rubbing. The tongue with benefit from gusseting for security without comprising the midfoot fit.

As I have mentioned many times and the Glycerin series has improved with, the heel needs to be more beveled. Especially with such a high heel drop, a smooth heel transition is critical . While the foam does compress decently especially with the crash pad design, the larger better would only improve transitions and reduce the clunkiness of the heel transitions. Outside of that, this is a good, careful Brooks Ghost update. 

David: The Ghost 16 definitely did its job as a training shoe. The big recommendation for me is in the fit. The shoe feels very low in volume and I definitely felt some pressure along the dorsum of my foot and near the ankle crease. Increasing some space through the midfoot would make for a much more pleasurable experience.

VIDEO REVIEW: BROOKS GHOST 16



WHO IS THIS SHOE FOR?

Matt: The Brooks Ghost 16 is a neutral daily training shoe for those wanting a higher drop, slightly softer midsole and a slightly wider fit. Those sensitive to tapered toe boxes should consider a half size up, while those who have worn Ghosts in the past should go true to size. The higher drop and larger heel are still present for those who do not mind a small bevel and highly cushioned heel. The Ghost is on the flexible side, so those who need stiffness and stability may need to look elsewhere. Those wanting that will enjoy this shoe. It is a traditional daily trainer without any bells and whistles, making the Ghost 16 a daily training shoe that continues to be consistent.

David: The Brooks Ghost 16 is a neutral daily training shoe for someone looking to have a classic ride without too many bells and whistles. It is a double plus if you like a tighter fit from the laces. The shoe has a very familiar feel to it, being a high drop neutral training shoe. The shoe reminds me of the Nike Pegasus and Mizuno Wave Rider.


GRADES

Matt
Fit: C+/B- (Slightly wider fit with tapered toe box causing blister and trouble with sliding)
Performance: 
B+ (Average ride best for easy miles and uptempo efforts. Higher heel drop and small bevel make for traditional ride)
Stability: B+ [Neutral] (Solidly neutral. Mild sidewalls add a touch of guidance while a softer sole with a centered heel bevel and lateral sole flare make for a little medial motion)
Value: B+ (Solid daily trainer for $140. Decent durability )
Personal: C+/B- (The higher drop, sliding and clunky heel not a shoe I would reach for. Ghosts fans will continue to love it though)
Overall Design: B-/B

David
Fit: B- (The material has decent comfort but the volume is just too low in the midfoot and can squeeze the top of your foot. Otherwise pretty good and comfortable lockdown elsewhere.)
Performance: A- 
(Nothing overly exciting, but certainly a workhorse training shoe capable of giving you a predictable ride mile after mile.)
Stability: A (Neutral) (Everything lines up pretty well here for a neutral shoe.)
Value: A (For $140 you should get your money's worth in mileage.)
Personal: C (The ride isn't too bad, its the volume. It's just too tight and actually a little uncomfortable for me.)
Overall Design: B+ 

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Brooks Ghost 16
Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse

Shop Men | Shop Women

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FURTHER READING

Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 | Review
The Glycerin GTS gets a little softer and lighter, while preserving its GuideRail support system.












Hoka Mach 6 | Review
A refresh offers a fun, fast ride - but with a narrower fit.












Guide to Brooks Running Shoes
Learn all about Brooks Running and find our recommendations to try.













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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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we 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 for sending us pairs.  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.

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!
Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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Hoka Mach 6

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