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Hands-on Gear Review
Brooks Ghost 8 Review
Cons: Cushioning might feel a little soft for some
The Brooks Ghost 8 is the one road shoe to rule them all, and earns our Editors' Choice Award. Balance is something we all need, and Brooks accomplishes just that with this near flawless neutral running shoe.
Brooks forged the perfect balance of comfort, weight, durability, flexibility, and responsiveness to make this a continually unrivaled shoe. Brooks mildly revamped the current version from the previous award winning Ghost by making a few refined changes to the structure of the upper. The upgrades now have more synthetic welded overlays, shedding some weight. The outsole now uses all "caterpillar" nubs which makes for a more responsive ride, though we have yet to feel a significant difference. Just like in versions 6 and 7, Brooks continues to negate the midfoot trusstic, which keeps the wonderful full contact with the ground during landing, creates 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 the updated version. After spending time logging miles in the three most current versions, we assure you these changes are only slightly noticeable and only for the better. If you're an over-pronator and need more support than this shoe offers but have good luck using Brooks, take a look at our review of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15 which now features a comfy Caterpillar Crash Pad just like the one found on this.
Now, let's go back to how remarkably smooth the ride is. 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 it 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 8.
To compare all of the running shoes that were tested, check out the Best Running Shoes for Men review.
RELATED: Our complete review of running shoes - men's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
Our favorite feature in this neutral road shoe 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 8 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 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 the gait cycle. Coupled with the firmness of the horseshoe shaped heel pad, Brooks created a neutral, flexible shoe with a reasonable amount of responsiveness that is similar to the super light and fast Saucony Kinvara 6. If highest responsiveness is the most important factor in your shoe buying process, give the propulsive Mizuno Wave Rider 18 a look.
The Ghost 8 receives our highest score in comfort. Our hands down favorite feature is the design of the midsole system created with Anatomical Brooks DNA and the Caterpillar Crash Pad. The Brooks DNA cushioning responds to each person individually, depending on his 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 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 8 is so silent they'll likely see you before they hear you.
One slight change Brooks makes from the 7 to the 8 is a facelift to the upper. There is now a sleek, modern look to the outsole which is full of nicely cut overlays. We don't notice any change in comfort and the Ghost 8 still earns an average score on this metric. Instead of stitching the overlays in the forefoot, more areas are now welded. This trims just a little weight while adding some seamless durability to the forefoot upper which not only just looks better but we believe adds durability. Less stitching also means less places where chafing can occur. The Ghost 8 has a secure heel fit, though not as nice as the Mizuno Wave Rider, and a reasonable amount of wiggle room for the toes in the forefoot. Runners with average to slightly wide feet should have no trouble fitting 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 loose.
We found the Ghost 8 to have better than average breathability compared to the rest of the shoes in our test group. The lighter shoes tend to have more minimal uppers which is nice to cut some weight, but also means less protection from the elements. Brooks claims to use a newly engineer upper on the shoe called 3D Fit Print, which adds flexibility to the upper while also keeping the weight down. With this change, we can't say we notice any difference in upper feel when compared to the previous version. On the wet and cold days we noticed it doesn't keep our feet as warm as some of the other shoes we tested, such as the Skechers Go Run Ultra 2. If you're sold on this shoe but want the weather protection, be happy to know the Brooks team utilized a more expensive waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex lining and made a waterproof version just for you.
At 10.3 ounces in a size 9, the Brooks Ghost 8 receives an average score on the weight metric. It falls about one ounce behind three other shoes in our group, and 2.5 ounces behind the lightest shoe we tested, the Saucony Kinvara 6. This shoe runs fast! Every time we take it for a run we immediately notice it feels even faster than the shoes that are a whole ounce lighter, such as the Altra Torin 2.0. Often times a shoe will sacrifice comfort and durability to reach a light weight, but that is not the case here. Though it runs lighter than most of the shoes we tested, we believe it still maintains the best overall comfort. That being said, the only thing that we feel would be nice to improve upon is the weight and would die to see how it could perform at 9.5 ounces.
With an abrasion resistant rubber on the heel and blown rubber forefoot, the Brooks Ghost 8 proves to be resilient through our relentless testing of miles. Numerous shoes in our group only use rubber on small points of the outsole, such as the Altra Torin 2.0, but the Ghost 8 uses it through the whole outsole which gives it that added durability. We also notice that the smooth and efficient roll it provides us from the heel to toe prevents premature wear in the outsole. After logging over 50 miles in this shoe, we notice almost no degradation. And, when you have finally logged all the miles this shoe can take, happily retire your shoe knowing that Brooks implemented an eco-friendly biodegradable sole in the shoe.
We also aren't scared to mix up our runs and take this road shoe on the trails every now and then. Not only is the outsole rubber quite durable, the design of the Caterpillar Crash Pad actually improves traction because of the separate individually placed nubs.
The Brooks Ghost 8 is a perfectly balanced road shoe for neutral runners that feels extremely comfortable and responsive mile after mile.
At $120, it's about the average cost for a new road running shoe. It's well worth it and your feet will thank you.
We have now logged significant miles in the three most current versions of the Ghost and are pleasantly surprised by the consistency across the board. Everyone knows how often running shoe companies drastically change parts of your favorite shoe. Brooks has managed to only make some very small and insignificant changes over the last few versions, continuing to use all our favorite features. Brooks might have created perfection with this shoe. 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.
Ghost 8 - Women's
Brooks Ghost 8 GTX
— Jimmy Elam
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: August 17, 2015
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