Brooks Ghost vs Glycerin

This is our comparison of the Brooks Glycerin vs the Brooks Ghost running shoes.

Brooks classifies the Glycerin as a max cushion daily trainer, while they classify the Ghost as a medium cushioned daily trainer. It sounds simple enough, but what does it mean once the shoe is actually on your foot logging the miles? In theory, you’d expect a soft ride from the max cushion shoe and a bit of a firmer ride, but still comfortable over many miles from the daily trainer.

This is exactly the way it used to be up until the Glycerin 19 and the Ghost 13.

When I started doing zone 2 heart rate training, I developed an appreciation for cushioned shoes. To really get the benefit from low heart rate training, you have to put in the time. I went from 30-40 minute runs to 90 minutes minimum, but often did 2-3 hour runs. My regular daily trainers just didn’t cut it.

This was when I got my first Glycerin, my lazy shoe I used to call it. The Glycerin offered lots of plush cushion, especially in the heel, but it was on the heavy side and sacrificed responsiveness for all that cushion. It didn’t matter though because, with zone 2 training, I was not exactly in a hurry.

Once in a while, I wanted to throw a tempo run into the mix but instantly realized that the Glycerin simply wasn’t built for it. This is when I first tried the Ghost. At the time, I opted for a different shoe (Salomon Sonic Pro) and it had everything to do with weight and responsiveness.

For all intents and purposes, the Ghost has been the budget version of the Glycerin. So what changed?

Quick View

Brooks Glycerin 20Brooks Ghost 14
FeaturesNitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3
Breathable engineered mesh upper with 3D print fit
Neutral everyday trainer
DNA LOFT v2
Breathable engineered mesh upper with 3D print fit
Neutral everyday trainer
ProsPlush cushioning
High-quality upper
Responsive
Versatile
Firm cushioning
High-quality upper
Well priced
ConsPricey
A little heavy
Not ideal for long distances
Also a little heavy
Weight10.1 oz. (286 g.) for a US M9
8.9 oz. (252 g.) for a US W7.5
9.9 oz. (280 g) for a US M9
9 oz. (255 g) for a US W8
Drop10mm12mm
Available in stability model (GTS)


Here’s a Closer Look at the Brooks Ghost vs Glycerin

I’ve mentioned in a previous review that when I first put the Glycerin 20 on, it did not impress me. I looked down at my feet and I didn’t like the way the new DNA LOFT midsole looked. It’s wider than on any previous version of the Glycerin and forms a clearly visible white wave around the shoe when looking down. It also looked plastic. I felt it detracted from the previous luxury look and feel the shoe had.

Then I started moving, and all that was soon forgotten. That new white wave has brought responsiveness that I didn’t expect from a max cushioned shoe. Brooks has managed to keep the luxurious upper and cushion and got rid of the laziness in the Glycerin.

With the Ghost 14, the first impression was very different. It made a great first impression with an updated upper that makes it look a little more like the Glycerin of old. Very confusing, I know, that’s exactly what I thought. It’s still super comfortable on foot. I like the new flat laces much better, and it just seemed like an upgraded model of the Ghost 13, as it should be.

As with the Glycerin, it’s not till you move, that you notice the real change. Once again it’s in the midsole. Unfortunately for most Ghost lovers, this isn’t a welcome change, at least not for me. I’m not sure if it was an attempt to make the Ghost more responsive, but runners are finding the midsole on the Ghost 14 hard and unyielding.

Upper – Glycerin 20 vs Ghost 14

Both shoes feature an engineered mesh upper that is stretchy. It gives you the feeling that it relaxes around your foot, as you get into your run without losing the snug fit. To me, it felt like it took 200-300 meters to relax just enough that I forget about the upper being there. The fit in the Glycerin stays a little more snug. Neither has a gusseted tongue, which would have been a nice addition, but the tongue doesn’t seem to move around too much.

The heel counters are padded on both shoes and provide a secure lockdown. Unfortunately, all that padding, though breathable, can get a little hot.

A purely aesthetic difference is the lack of synthetic overlays on the Glycerin which is present on the Ghost. It is of no structural significance.

I like the Brooks colorways. They are practical, and running on a mix of asphalt and dirt roads, white or other really light colors are an absolute no. Some people find them boring and unimaginative, for me, they work.

One big difference is that the Ghost comes in 4 widths, narrow, regular, wide, and extra-wide, which makes shopping easier when you have quirky feet. The Glycerin 20 comes in regular and wide only.

The laces on both shoes are flat and I think this is all about personal preference because while I prefer the flat laces, some runners absolutely hate them. I find that the flat laces cause less pressure across the bridge of my foot as I have high bridges.

These new laces on both the Glycerin and the Ghost seem a little smoother than the flat laces on my old Glycerins and might need double knots to stay tied.

Midsole – Glycerin 20 vs Ghost 14

The Glycerin 20 features the all-new full-length, nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 midsole which is pleasantly responsive without compromising its plush cushioning. It appears to require some breaking in, with the initial run feeling a little hard under the forefoot.

Brooks has been experimenting with nitrogen-infused foam for about 3 years now but this is the first time the technology is making an appearance in the Glycerin. It’s called the supercritical fluid foaming process and the nitrogen is bonded to the foam and not placed in pockets like with Nike Air. Quite a mouthful.

This is the same material that’s used in the Aurora BL but it’s less bouncy in the Glycerin which is a good thing. Bouncy is great for short runs but very bouncy shoes tend to cause leg fatigue and aches when used too often or over longer distances.

That wave of white seen from the top means a wider platform which adds to the stability of the shoe.

In the Ghost 14, we also have a full-length DNA LOFT midsole but without the nitrogen. According to Brooks, the G14 runs softer than the G13 but most runners don’t feel it, and have been complaining about the shoe being harder than the G12 and G13 and even causing foot and knee pain in some cases.

Outsole – Glycerin 20 vs Ghost 14

As far as the outsole goes, they look almost identical, with a thick layer of durable rubber covering most of the foam. They both have flex grooves and about the same level of flexibility. You can probably expect around 500 miles out of both these outsoles. A reasonable amount of grip seems fairly consistent between the two as well.

Weight – Glycerin 20 vs Ghost 14

Neither shoe is light, and the weight difference is insignificant.

Glycerin 20      
10.1 oz. (286 g.) for a US M9 / 8.9 oz. (252 g.) for a US W7.5

Ghost 14    
9.9 oz. (280 g) for a US M9 / 9 oz. (255 g) for a US W8

Ride – Glycerin 20 vs Ghost 14

These shoes are both classified as neutral daily trainers, but the Glycerin is also available in a stability model (Glycerin GTS 20)

Both shoes offer a smooth ride, but the Brooks Glycerin no doubt offers the more cushioned ride of the two. The Glycerin also does better over longer distances.

Stack height and Drop  – Glycerin 20 vs Ghost 14

The heel of the Glycerin 20 measures 34mm in height and 24mm in the forefoot for a drop of 10mm. I can still transition between heel and forefoot striking in this shoe.

On the Ghost 14, we have a 35mm height in the heel with 23mm in the forefoot for a 12mm drop. Most running shoe manufacturers have moved away from high drop shoes, but Brooks is holding firm on this one. It’s great for heel striking but less than ideal for forefoot striking.

Brooks Ghost 14
Brooks Glycerin 20

FAQ on Brooks Running Shoes

Do they run true to size?

I have a wide foot, and I find that I have enough room in the regular width model, so runners with very narrow feet might find them a little wide. Consider the Ghost 14 which comes in a narrow width.

Which is more versatile the Glycerine 20 or the Ghost 14?

In previous models, I would have said the Ghost, but with these two specific models, I feel the Glycerin is the more versatile shoe in that it can handle both short and long distances. It’s meant for easier paces but the new responsive midsole will be forgiving if you decided to pick up the pace a little.

Are either of these shoes waterproof?

The Brooks Glycerin 20 is not available in a waterproof model, but the Ghost 14 has a model that is waterproof.

The Ghost 14 GTX features a lightweight GORE-TEX® Invisible Fit membrane that’s bonded directly to the upper for a light, flexible fit, keeping your feet dry in wet conditions.

Which of these shoes have removable inner soles?

Both the Glycerin and the Ghost have removable inner soles that can you can replace with gel inner soles or custom orthotics. Custom orthotics are a prescription orthotic made specifically for you from a 3D impression of your own feet.

Which shoe would be best if I’m struggling with plantar fasciitis?

The softer cushioning on the Brooks Glycerin is better suited for someone who struggles with plantar fasciitis. Ideally, you need to give your feet time to rest and recover if you are injured. When you’ve recovered enough to get back to running, the plush cushioning of the Glycerin is designed to protect your feet and prevent further injuries.

Final Thoughts

I find it interesting that most expert reviewers really like the Ghost 14, while some like the Glycerin 20 and others find it bland. Most everyday user reviews report an intense dislike for the Ghost 14 and an appreciation for the updates in the Glycerin 20. Runners who have owned every Ghost since the 10 or 11 hate the 14. Does it mean that it’s a bad shoe? No. It simply means that Brooks has managed to significantly change the character of the shoe, and old fans don’t like it.

I really like the performance of the Glycerin 20, so much so that I can be forgiving, for what I deem to be a really ugly-looking midsole.

I really like the look of the Ghost 14 but it doesn’t make up for a midsole that I find harder than its predecessors, despite what Brooks claims. If you prefer a midsole that is a little more stiff in your everyday trainer, the Ghost is still a super reliable workhorse that won’t disappoint.

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