The Brooks Glycerin 19 is an excellent choice for those spending prolonged periods of time on their feet. They do take a few runs or walks to break in, so don’t be surprised if your heels are a little sore to begin with. But other than this, they’re an extremely comfortable and supportive trainer that have earned their reputation.
Lightweight (9 oz women/10.2 oz men)
Ideal for running, walking and everyday wear
Size runs slightly small
Some achilles irritation the first few wears
Not great for rough terrains
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The Brooks Glycerin 19 is a highly cushioned and lightweight trainer. It’s available in two different types, the ‘neutral’ Glycerin 19 or the ‘support’ Glycerin 19 GTS (‘go-to-support’), the latter of which provides bonus support through GuideRails technology.
The Glycerin has always been one of Brooks’ most cushioned shoes, designed for easy or longer runs. Having run my fifth marathon in these, I can confirm they withstand several miles and keep your feet feeling nicely supported the whole way. Yet despite being a running shoe first and foremost, I consider the Glycerin 19 one of the best shoes for walking based on its high-cushioned support. Some healthcare workers and those who spend prolonged periods of time on their feet also favor the Glycerin 19 for everyday wear.
In this review, we’ll look in-depth at the design, technology, fit and feel of this popular trainer to see if it’s the right choice for you when it comes to walking. Looking for more footwear recommendations? Have a scroll through our best running shoe for women guide, or gear up with some of the best cross training shoes.
Design and technology
The Glycerin 19 is part of the Brooks Cushion series, which also includes the Ghost 14, Adrenaline GTS and Trace. The Glycerin 19 is actually available in two models: neutral and support. Both contain the brand’s signature ‘DNA Loft’ cushioning throughout the full length of the midsole. First introduced by Brooks in 2018, this is designed to provide a soft experience from heel to toe. Compared to previous models, like the 17 and 18, the 19 packs in more DNA Loft, providing a heightened level of cushioning. The idea behind ‘DNA’ is that the foam cushioning adapts to your individual stride. In theory, this should keep injuries at bay. There’s also extra air in the midsole compared to previous Glycerin models, so that the extra cushioning doesn’t feel heavy.
In the Glycerin 19 GTS there’s added ‘GuideRails technology’ in the midsole. This means denser sections of foam are added to the sides of the shoe to prevent the foot from collapsing inwards when you run. On the outside of the heel, the foam is both firmer and higher, reducing the shifting of the heel in the outward direction. As a result, this offers better ankle, knee, and hip support.
For the upper, an engineered mesh molds around your foot for a comfortable fit. It’s 3D printed too, allowing for a stretchy fit that still feels breathable. The collar and tongue are extra padded to avoid any rubbing on the top of your foot, and an internal heel counter locks you into place so you don’t slip inside the shoe.
The Glycerin 19 also comes with about a 10mm heel-to-toe drop. Despite all the padding, it’s incredibly lightweight, weighing in at around 9 oz for the women’s trainer, and 10 oz for the men’s.
Fit, feel and comfort
The Glycerin 19 is available in eight attractive colors. Design wise, it’s not the most glamorous shoe, but it’s certainly not the worst either. Having said this, I did get a couple of compliments for the black/ombre/metallic design I tried out, so perhaps Brooks are upping their game in terms of colorways. In the US, sizes range from a 5-13 in the women’s, with narrow, medium and wide fit available. In the men’s, sizes range from 5-16, available in medium and wide fit.
I’m a UK size 8 normally, so I opted for a UK 8.5 as I normally do with running shoes. However, I think you could get away with going a whole size up in the Glycerin 19s. My toes weren’t necessarily cramped (I didn’t lose any toenails during my marathon which was a nice surprise) but I’d definitely say these are on the snug side. I also have quite wide feet, so opted for the wide fit version of the shoe. I didn’t experience any pins and needles around the midfoot (which I get when a shoe is too tight), but I definitely think a UK size 9 would have provided a better fit overall.
Without a doubt, this is an incredibly springy shoe, and the Glycerin 19 is clearly designed for comfort. Whether you’re pounding the pavements or using these as an everyday walking shoe, the impressive level of support and DNA Loft cushioning really does make you feel like you’re walking on air.
While I did run with the Glycerin 19s straight out of the box, I’d say they take a couple of uses to break in. I experienced some chafing on my right achilles during the first couple of uses, which did turn into a blister. However, after about three or four runs, I found this stopped completely and the shoes had molded to my feet as promised. My heels felt nicely supported too. It sounds odd to describe laces as ‘premium’ but they’re a really lovely material, and long enough to loop through the extra shoelace loops if you do want to increase the ankle support.
The outsole uses Brooks’ IDEAL pressure zones to make sure that striking pressure is distributed across the whole foot. The outsole also uses soft, blown rubber to soften landings and increase the ground feel. Although I have to say, I found the Glycerin 19 so cushioned that I couldn’t really feel the ground beneath my feet much at all. In fact, I ran the Paris marathon in them and could hardly feel the difference between the cobblestones and the flat tarmac.
In terms of grip, I’m not sure I’d trust the Glycerin 19 on tougher terrains – especially if there is loose ground underfoot. They also feel less grippy in wet conditions, which is probably why they aren’t designed for speed work when it comes to running.
User reviews for the Brooks Glycerin 19 are very positive, with the shoe consistently scoring above 4.5 stars on multiple retailers’ websites. Many users note that, compared to previous models, the 19s are extremely well cushioned from toe to heel. In line with my experience, lots of users enjoy the Glycerins for multiple activities. One person wrote, “I am using these for gym cardio workouts, jogging and walking. I highly recommend this shoe. I have a bit of a wide foot and these fit perfectly.”
More negative reviews note that the trainer does come up small, with many people finding that you need to size up an entire shoe size, rather than just half. Achilles chafing seems to be common to begin with too, with one user noting, “I wore them for a small 1.25 mile walk and the backs were rubbing the back of my feet raw”. Another said, “They were uncomfortable for the first three of four runs. However since breaking them in they have been amazing and I noticed an improvement in my pace very quickly. Have run about 150 road miles in them now, approx 20 a week and love them.”
Overall, I would definitely recommend the Brooks Glycerin 19 to anyone looking for an everyday walking shoe that they can also use for running. They’re certainly not the cheapest trainer on the market, but they’re not the most expensive either. Plus, for the level of support you’re getting and the springy, lightweight feel, I’d say the price is entirely justified. Other than the fact that they took a few wears for the Achilles discomfort to subside, there’s really not much to fault with the Brooks Glycerin 19. But I would say if you’re looking for a slightly tougher walking shoe that can withstand tough terrains, then this might not be the best option for you based on the outsole.
New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6
These trail running and hiking shoes are great if you want a slightly tougher sneaker for off-road routes. With the brand's classic fresh foam midsole, they feel light and springy while you're on the move. Toe Protect technology and a tough mesh upper mean that your foot will be protected from brambles and debris, while the sturdy Vibram outsoles are excellent for gripping on different terrain.
Nike Revolution 5
For a more budget friendly option, try the Nike Revolution 5. Available in a variety of colorways, the soft foam for the midsole provides cushioning and support, while the rubber outsole offers both traction and durability.
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Alice Ball is the Health Editor for Future Plc. With more than five years of experience working in health journalism, she's covered everything from why we should 'kill' the calorie, to destigmatizing the menopause. Alice also specializes in nutrition and supplements. She's a self-confessed running fanatic, currently in training for her fifth marathon. She enjoys documenting her progress on her Instagram account, @aligoesrunning. Alice works across a number of Future's sites, including LiveScience and Fit&Well.
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