The Brooks Ghost is now in its 16th iteration and these latest refinements make it more likeable than ever, says running gear tester Mike Sawh.

The Ghost line is arguably Brooks’ most popular running shoe line, largely because it rarely makes sweeping changes to a shoe that’s built to be solid, reliable and fit to soak up plenty of running time. Is that enough to put the Brooks Ghost 16 among the best running shoes?

Men’s Fitness verdict

Brooks’ beginner-friendly, workhorse daily trainer gets new foam that makes it more likeable, yet doesn’t stray too far from that Ghost DNA so loyal fans will still want to lace up for daily runs.
  • Familiar stable and smooth Ghost ride
  • New foam offers plusher feeling underfoot
  • Can comfortably handle slow to moderate paces
  • Toe box feels a touch short
  • More versatile alternatives available
  • Isn’t much of a looker

How we test the best running shoes

Our testers put each shoe through their paces over a mixture of distances and paces to see where they excel, and clocked up significant distances in each one to examine how they wear over time. Each reviewer focused on speed, stability and comfort during test runs, while also assessing the effectiveness of any high-tech features on offer. Their detailed reviews are sure to help you choose the right running shoe for you.

The Brooks Ghost 16’s design is more workmanlike than most

For the Ghost 16, the remit remains the same, with Brooks making changes in both the cushioning and outsole departments that, on paper, could open up the appeal of the Ghost beyond its loyal fanbase.

Could this be the friendliest of all the Ghosts and possibly the best that Brooks has launched? I’ve been putting in the miles with it to find out what the Ghost 16 has to offer.

Brooks Ghost 16 features and fit

At its core, the Ghost 16 doesn’t stray too far away from previous Ghosts. It’s not the most attractive shoe to look at, instead focusing on wrapping your feet up in something that’s comfortable, supportive in the right places and has a suitable level of cushioning to absorb impact when you want to go long.

The engineered mesh upper offers ample padding that runs throughout, bolstering areas like the tongue and heel collar where you might start to feel some pressure over extended runs. Brooks is very accommodating with the fit options too, as the Ghost 16 is available in narrow, medium, wide or extra wide fits. I had a medium fit in my usual UK size 8 and it felt like a good match, aside from the toe box feeling a little shallow and short for my liking. It didn’t cause any discomfort during runs, but I do like having some extra wiggle room for longer runs. If you’re like me, that may be a reason to look at going half a size up.

The outsole of a Brooks running shoe
The RoadTack outsole looks like it will hold up to some serious long-term pounding

The headline news is that Brooks has updated the cushioning technology, moving from its pretty hardy DNA Loft V2 foam to the softer and bouncier nitrogen-infused DNA Loft V3 cushioning technology that features on its latest Glycerin series. That’s set inside a shoe that sticks to the same 12mm drop as the Ghost 15, with stack heights slightly modified. It’s 35.5mm (up from 35mm) at the heel and 23.5mm (up from 23mm) at the forefoot. So while the foam has changed, the shoe silhouette it’s sat in remains familiar.

Brooks has also grabbed the outsole technology from the recently launched Brooks Glycerin 21, which combines rubber and recycled silica to provide plenty of grip and is a clear sign that this is one that’s going to go some distance before you need to think about replacing it.

Brooks Ghost 16 performance

The best way I’d describe the Ghost line is no-nonsense. It’s not one that’s going to stir a lot of excitement when you get out in it, but you know what it’s going to give you each time you step out that door or onto a treadmill. That’s something that’s stable, comfortable and offers a consistent feeling underfoot. It’s absolutely more of the same with the Ghost 16, but I think things have been tuned up to make it a touch more likeable.

I’ve put in more than 50km with the Ghost 16, using it for easy 5km, 10km and hour-plus-long runs and I’ve tried to pick up the tempo in them as well to see if they can handle some pacier miles. The first big tick is that they’re lighter than the previous Ghost, which makes a nice change when similar shoes from its closest rivals have gone heavier.

A pair of Brooks running shoes
The new Loft V3 foam makes the Ghost 16 a more attractive proposition for those who like to run long

The feeling of the DNA Loft V2 foam in the previous Ghosts has been reassuringly protective but also a little dull. So what adding Loft V3 has achieved is to bring a little more bounce and plushness to the Ghost. It’s not sink-your-feet-in soft, but it’s just enough to make the Ghost 16 a more comfortable shoe to run longer in.

Unlike other plush shoes like the Asics Gel-Nimbus 26 or the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13, Brooks tempers that potentially unstable feel with a thick outsole set over a reasonably wide base. That balances things out and ensures it’s still an extremely stable shoe to run in. When I’ve tried to pick the pace up in it, it’s not been awkward to do that at moderate paces. But anything faster is out of this shoe’s remit. You’re not using this for race day that’s for sure. It’s not going to aggressively rock you from heel to toe. Instead it focuses on keeping that ride smooth and consistent. The change in the cushioning does make it a nicer and more memorable Ghost to run in, while still having that familiar feel to it.

You’re going to have that experience for a long time as well. Because the RoadTack outsole that Brooks has dropped on here hasn’t shown the slightest sign of wear after 50km. I’ve mixed up some pavement and road time with lighter trails and the Ghost 16 hasn’t felt out of place on slightly uneven surfaces. This is an outsole that is built to last a long time.

While Brooks has made changes, the essence of the Ghost remains. It can soak up the miles in a stable and protective fashion, with a new foam that injects a bit of life into this reliable performer.

Brooks Ghost 16 technical specs

MaterialsEngineered mesh upper, nitrogen-infused DNA Loft V3 foam, rubber and silica outsole
Weight280g / 9.9oz (UK men’s size 8)
Sizes6 – 14
ColorsSix colors available