The Brooks Ghost 13 is an excellent everyday road running shoe that will deliver with comfort, smoothness and support for most people. A great training shoe, but you may want something faster for race day.
Soft, smooth and comfortable
Brooks Ghost range is tried and trusted
Great design, plenty of support, breathable upper
Not the quickest shoe
Can lead to overpronation
By Chris Smith
The Brooks Ghost 13 are the newest release in the brand's Ghost series, a consistent presence in the annals of the best-selling running shoes and a flagship shoe for a company who’s entire focus is running.
The latest incarnation earns a place in our best running shoes roundup, for its smooth ride, overall comfort, durable construction and great cushioning, and energy return in the heel. Now comes the full review of this beloved everyday classic, which continues to inspire loyalty among its army of devotees.
Brooks Ghost 13: Price and Features
The Brooks Ghost 13 shoe retails for $130/£120, placing it in similar territory to rival flagship shoes from the likes of Nike, On Running and Inov-8. They’re widely available online from Brooks US and Brooks UK (31 other shipping locations are also available), as well as independent retailers. A host of colorways are available; I tested the Tomato/Navy/Nightlight design in a US size 13 (UK 12), with rope-like bright laces that didn’t fail me a single time.
They’re designed for a neutral gait, have a relatively large midsole drop of 12m and they weigh in at 286g, which is slightly heavier than your average running shoe, but far from restrictive. The main selling points for the shoes are the smooth transitions from heel to toe, thanks to the DNA Loft technology. They also an extremely soft and cushioned ride, while providing ample whole foot support in the majority of cases.
Brooks Ghost 13: Design and Technology
The main upgrade for the Brooks Ghost 13 is the expansion of the DNA Loft technology first introduced with the Ghost 11. The cushioning tech, which is comprised of EVA foam, rubber and air has been further expanded beyond the heel, through the midsole, right into the forefoot. The injected air manages to keep what is admittedly a quite bulky shoe reasonably light at 10.1oz / 286.3g, despite quite a pronounced heel section. The midsole drop is 12mm, which is at the higher end of the spectrum, so the balance of cushion is still very much in the heel.
Brooks says the expansion of DNA Loft is designed to ensure an even smoother transition from heel to toe and a more balanced cushioning experience. This is augmented by a segmented crashpad for a smoother ride.
In terms of design, there’s a huge range of colorways available – eighteen to be precise – so there’s certainly something for everyone. Whether it’s pristine all-white for mud-free treadmill running, or the flashy tomato/navy/nightlife design I sported during this review you’re sure to find a colour to suit.
The attractive upper is comprised of an engineered air mesh, which certainly aids breathability, while providing a snug, supportive fit. It almost feels like a hug for your tired feet, so a big plus overall.
The use of rubber in the outer and midsole means durability won’t be too much of a problem, although I did find the toe guard was starting to come away slightly after a few runs.
Brooks Ghost 13: Fit, feel and comfort
First off, these runners are super comfortable to walk in, so if you like to transition between running and jogging these are a great option. The engineered mesh upper moulds to the foot and offers support in all the right places.
In my experience, the Brooks Ghost 13 ran just a tiny bit snug. I’m a size 12UK (size 13US) and an extra half size wouldn’t have gone amiss in the toe box, especially on my slightly larger right foot. I would certainly advise trying both your regular size and a half-size above before buying, if you can.
Beyond that, the shoe is really comfortable to wear. As well as the expansion of the DNA Loft technology offers reassuring support in the upper of the shoe. The support is in all the right places, especially around the heel and ankle area, while the forefoot feels nicely cradled. The collar around the heel is thick, continuing the focus on comfort and support, while the tongue also rocks plenty of padding.
The support is consistent and appears like it will be durable in the long term. This support is buoyed by a lightweight engineered mesh upper, which I found to be very breathable – a bonus with the temperatures already (mid-April 2021) ticking-up into the 80s here in south Florida.
Brooks bills the Ghost as its softest shoe, so the focus is rightly on the cushion rather than the ability to propel runners forward. The energy return felt passable, without providing a true uptick in spring we’ve seen from rival shoes like the Adidas Ultraboost or the New Balance Fresh Foam in recent years. To max out energy return while sticking with Brooks, you could give the Brooks Levitate 4 a go.
Brooks Ghost 13: Support
The ride, although smooth and relatively fast (I was a few seconds per mile faster than in my past-it Nike Pegasus 37), but I didn’t feel like I was being propelled forward.
During my tests, my big toe and forefoot collapsed inwards a little too much for my enjoyment. I have a neutral gait, which in theory, meant these shoes would be a perfect fit, but while wearing the Brooks Ghost 13, I personally, struggled with overpronation with my foot rolling inwards a little too much. Things felt less stable, especially when I started to tire on longer runs, when the additional pressure on the big toes began to tell.
Naturally, this observation won’t ring true for all runners with neutral gait. I don’t feel this is a reason to mark down the shoe. Obviously, as one of the most enduringly popular shoes on Earth, it has fans coming back again and again. However, but it’s something to think if you’re prone to overpronation. I’m going to try the Brooks Adrenaline 21 range after this, which is famed for its stability. If you’re prone to slight overpronation, then this may be the right solution for you.
Brooks Ghost 13: Verdict
The Brooks Ghost 13 delivers on all of its promises for an oh-so-soft and smooth road running shoe that’s a great option for everyday runners. It is a well-constructed trainer delivering great support in most of the key areas. The larger construction, weight and cushion means it isn’t the shoe to go to if you’re seeking to boost your race day times – the spring just isn’t there. However, the Brooks Ghost 13 is an excellent option if your goal is getting the miles in at a steady pace. I felt it left me slightly prone to overpronation – dumping weight into my big toe area – but that won’t be a problem for most.
- BROOKS LEVITATE 4
Brooks Levitate 4 is the way to go if you’re seeking a little more spring in your step. They offer DNA AMP cushion that’s 20% lighter and offers superior energy return. If you’re feel you need more support, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 might be an option.
- NIKE PEGASUS 37 AIR ZOOM
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 is another excellent option for an every day running shoe that can handle a little bit of everything. The Pegasus brand is tried and tested and now features the revolutionary Zoom foam tech in the forefoot.
Chris is a freelance contributor to Fit & Well. He's from Shropshire, England originally, but currently lives in the United States near Miami, FL. Chris has written about health and fitness technology for a decade, including as an in-depth feature writer and product reviewer for Wareable.com, tackling emerging wearable tech trends in the sports and fitness industries. When not on the beat for Fit & Well, Chris writes about technology for Trusted Reviews and WIRED, sports for The Guardian and just about everything else for Shortlist, Pellicle, Digital Spy and a selection of other publications. He also pens books on technology use for Flametree Publishing.
Chris stays fit through hot yoga (studio not always necessary in the Florida humidity) and hopes to complete teacher training in 2021. He enjoys cycling, tennis, running and, ever-more-infrequently, playing football (or soccer, to his American friends). Those old injuries he 'ran off' as a teenager have finally caught up.
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