Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: The most balanced shoe we tested, extremely comfortable and efficient ride
Cons: Low stability, cushioning can feel too soft for some
Best Uses: Road running, light trail running
The Brooks Ghost 6 is the one road shoe to rule them all, and earns our Editors’ Choice Award. Isn’t balance something we all need? Brooks created the perfect balance of comfort, weight, durability, flexibility, and responsiveness in the Ghost 6 to make it an unrivaled shoe. Brooks revamped the Ghost 6 from the previous award winning Ghost 5 by making a few refined changes to the structure of the midsole and the upper. Brooks decided to nix the old midfoot trusstic completely, which now creates full contact with the ground during landing, a more natural heel to toe transition, and an even smoother ride. This might sound like a drastic change to faithful Ghost users, but trust us, don’t fear this updated model. After researching feedback from users who logged miles in both the Ghost 5 and 6, they frequently stated this change is only slightly noticeable and is only for the better. If you’re an over-pronator and need more support than the Ghost 6 offers, but have good luck using Brooks, take a look at our review of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 which now features a comfy Caterpillar Crash Pad like the Ghost 6.
Now, let’s go back to how remarkably smooth the ride is in the Ghost 6. Brooks uses an innovative Caterpillar Crash Pad for the midsole. This segmented landing pad is unique in the way that it distributes the weight and landing pattern of each person independently. The perfectly cushy crash pad is polished off by nubs on the outsole that offer plenty of traction in all road conditions. Also, we think the Ghost 6 is a great starter shoe for over-pronators who want to make the transition towards a more minimal shoe. We just recommend you start slowly and alternate between your current shoe and the neutral Ghost 6.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Our favorite feature in the neutral Brooks Ghost 6 is the Caterpillar Crash Pad. This “full ground contact” design creates a shockingly smooth landing from the moment your heel touches the ground through toe-off.
For how flexible the Ghost 6 is, we are surprised at the amount of responsiveness it has. In most cases we find that firmness has a direct positive correlation with responsiveness. Though, we still feel the ride of the Ghost 6 has a nice balance of responsiveness and flexibility. This could be due in part by the Omega Flex Grooves Brooks designed into the forefoot of the midsole. These grooves provide the perfect amount of forefoot flexion during the heel to toe transition in your gait cycle. Coupled with the stability of the horseshoe shaped heel pad, Brooks created a neutral, flexible shoe with decent responsiveness. If high responsiveness is the most important factor in your shoe buying process, give the propulsive Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3 a look.
The Ghost 6 receives our highest score in comfort. Our favorite feature of the Ghost 6 is how Brooks designed the midsole system with Anatomical Brooks DNA and the Caterpillar Crash Pad. The Brooks DNA cushioning responds to each person individually, depending on their size and landing pattern. When pressure is placed on the DNA cushion, it instantly reacts by dispersing the cushion throughout the midsole, creating the perfect amount of comfort specific to each runner. Below this DNA cushion Brooks forged in the Caterpillar Crash Pad. This divided landing pad gives you more mobility and just the right amount of cushion a neutral shoe needs. Now that the midfoot shank is removed from this new version of the Ghost, you can expect complete contact with the ground during your gait cycle. Combined, we feel these features create a continuous and fluid ride unlike any other shoe we tested. So fluid in fact, we suggest you take caution running up behind people on the roads. The Ghost 6 is so silent they’ll likely see you before they hear you.
The other small change Brooks made is to the upper. Instead of stitching the overlays in the forefoot, they are now welded. This trims just a little weight while adding some seamless durability to the forefoot upper. Less stitching also means less places where chafing can occur. The Ghost 6 has a secure heel fit and plenty of wiggle room for toes in forefoot. Runners with average to slightly wide feet will fit nicely in this shoe.
For those of you who have issues with the tongue sliding into the shoe, Brooks also made a nice addition to the tongue with a small eyelet to string one of your laces through. The laces are generic and lightweight, but we have no issues with them coming untied.
This is the only category where the Ghost 6 fell to the back of the pack, and it earned the second lowest score in stability. The new Ghost 6 lost the little support provided by the Ghost 5 due to the removal of the plastic mid-foot support shank. We don’t think this plastic piece in the Ghost 5 provides much support to begin with, though. If you’re a neutral runner, then this is obviously good news for you.
We found the Ghost 6 to have good breathability compared to the rest of the shoes in our test group. Lighter shoes tend to have more minimal uppers which is nice to cut some weight, but also means less protection from the elements. On the wet and cold days we noticed the Ghost 6 didn’t keep our feet as warm as some of the other shoes we tested, such as the New Balance 990. If you’re sold on the Ghost 6 but want the weather protection, be happy to know Brooks teamed up with Gore-Tex and made a waterproof version just for you.
At 10.7 ounces in a size 9, the Ghost 6 is the lightest shoe we tested if you remove the outlier in the group, the feather-weight Saucony Kinvara 4, which is a whole three ounces lighter at 7.7oz. Every time we take the Ghost 6 for a run we notice it feels much lighter than shoes only a few tenths of an ounce heavier. The Ghost 6 runs fast! Often times a shoe will sacrifice comfort and support to reach a light weight, but that is not the case with the Ghost 6. Though it runs lighter than most of the shoes we tested, we believe the Ghost 6 still has the best overall comfort.
With an abrasion resistant rubber outsole and blown rubber forefoot, the Ghost 6 proves to be resilient through our stringent testing of miles. We noticed that the smooth and efficient roll the Ghost 6 gives you from the heel to toe prevents premature wear in the outsole. After logging over 60 miles in the Ghost 6, we noticed almost no degradation. When you have finally logged all the miles your Ghost 6 can take, happily retire your shoe knowing that Brooks implemented an eco-friendly biodegradable sole in the shoe.
The Brooks Ghost 6 is a perfectly balanced road shoe for neutral runners that feels extremely comfortable and responsive mile after mile.
At $90-$110 the Ghost 6 is the average cost for a new road running shoe. It’s well worth it and your feet will thank you.
Everyone knows how shoe companies drastically change things in your favorite shoe, and Brooks is guilty of that from the changes in the Ghost 5 to 6. The thing is, Brooks might have created perfection with the Ghost 6. After this model we can’t image them doing much to make it any better for neutral runners wanting the perfect balance of comfort and responsiveness. We absolutely love this shoe.
The Brooks Ghost 6 GTX comes with a breathable Gore-Tex membrane. Spend a few extra bucks to keep your feet warm and cozy in even the harshest conditions. There are also wider versions available.
— Jimmy Elam
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Most recent review: March 8, 2014
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