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Brooks Glycerin 21 - Women's Review

This revamped shoe provides extra cushioning but falls short for speed, making it suitable for leisurely walks rather than high-paced runs
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Brooks Glycerin 21 - Women's Review (While not our top pick for runners, the Glycerin is a comfortable wear all day shoe when comfort is your top priority.)
While not our top pick for runners, the Glycerin is a comfortable wear all day shoe when comfort is your top priority.
Credit: Natalie Kafader
Price:  $160 List
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Manufacturer:   Brooks
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 28, 2024
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#16 of 19
  • Cushioning and Landing Comfort - 25% 6.5
  • Responsiveness - 25% 4.0
  • Stability - 20% 8.0
  • Upper Comfort - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 15% 7.2

Our Verdict

The updated Brooks Glycerin 21 rides differently than versions past in ways that will appeal to some and repel others. With its 10mm drop, additional cushion, and lack of breathability, this shoe ultimately fell from our good graces this time around. It's got a solid and semi-supportive lateral feel, but it's a bit on the chunky side, which makes it feel a bit sloppy to run in. Suitable for taking it easy on your feet during long walks and plodding excursions, the refurbished Glycerin is not a speed demon. If you are a die-hard Brooks fanatic and want a warm winter shoe that will keep you company on your long runs, the Glycerin might be worth your while. If a supportive and traditional-feeling piece of gear is on your radar, the Glycerin will do the trick, but it does not top our list of recommendations.
REASONS TO BUY
Stable
Suitable for cool weather running
Reliable
REASONS TO AVOID
Clunky-feeling outsole
Lacks breathability
Not responsive

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Bottom Line This reconfigured classic offers extra cushioning, but is more geared towards leisurely walks than high-speed runsThis running shoe offers the performance technology and comfort needed to be your go-to shoe, no matter your running goalsWith strong responsive bounce and enough comfort for long runs, this shoe will suit marathon hopefuls and speed demons alikeThe structure and comfort of this shoe make it a highly recommended option for long distance runners who want a reliable road running steedWhile not a race-focused shoe, this affordable and bouncy option will keep your legs turning over quickly and easily
Rating Categories Brooks Glycerin 21... Asics Novablast 4 -... Puma Deviate Nitro... Brooks Adrenaline G... Saucony Kinvara 14...
Cushioning and Landing Comfort (25%)
6.5
9.0
7.0
8.0
7.5
Responsiveness (25%)
4.0
7.5
9.5
6.5
7.5
Stability (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
Upper Comfort (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Weight (15%)
7.2
6.9
7.4
5.8
9.3
Specs Brooks Glycerin 21... Asics Novablast 4 -... Puma Deviate Nitro... Brooks Adrenaline G... Saucony Kinvara 14...
Weight (per shoe, size 6.5) 7.86 oz 7.36 oz 7.02 oz 8.21 oz 5.55 oz
Style Neutral Neutral Neutral/race Supportive Neutral
Sizes Available 5 - 12 US 5 - 12 US 5.5 - 11 US 5 - 13 US 5 - 12 US
Measured Heel-to-Toe Drop 10 mm 9 mm 8 mm 12 mm 5 mm
Measured Heel Stack Height 28 mm 40 mm 34 mm 34 mm 30 mm
Measured Forefoot Stack Height 18 mm 31 mm 26 mm 22 mm 25 mm
Claimed Heel-to-Toe Drop 10mm 8 mm 6 mm 12 mm 4 mm
Claimed Heel Stack Height Not stated 40.5 mm Not stated Not stated 31 mm
Claimed Forefoot Stack Height Not stated 32.5 mm Not stated Not stated 27 mm
Measured Outsole Length 10.50 in 10.65 in 10.31 in 10.50 in 10.13 in
Measured Outsole Width 4.30 in 4.32 in 4.00 in 4.25 in 3.96 in
Upper Synthetic mesh (59.7% recycled) Engineered knit mesh Mesh Engineered air mesh Mesh
Midsole DNA Loft v3 FF Blast Plus Eco Nitro/Nitro-Elite DNA Loft v2 PWRRUN, PWRRUN+
Outsole Rubber AHAR outsole PumaGrip ATR Rubber Rubber XT-900 rubber
Measured Outsole Hardness 50 HA at toe, 70 HA rest of shoe 59 HA 65 HA 47 HA 63 HA at inner toe/outer heel, 35 HA rest of shoe
Heel Tab Type None Finger loop None None Finger loop
Width Options Regular, wide Regular Regular Narrow, medium, wide, extra wide Regular, wide
Heel Compression Stiffness 48 lbf 44 lbf 35 lbf 52 lbf 40 lbf
Toe Compression Stiffness 51 lbf 38 lbf 40 lbf 56 lbf 42 lbf
Toe Box Volume 6.4 in^3 6.2 in^3 6.7 in^3 6.5 in^3 6.7 in^3
Rocker Angle 24.0 deg 22.0 deg 12.5 deg 26.5 deg 26.0 deg

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Glycerin 21 was released with an additional 2mm of DNA Loft v3 midsole cushioning, pushing into maximalist runner territory. It lacks the inherent comfort of many maximally padded runners on the market, resulting in a somewhat loose and heavy underfoot feel.

brooks glycerin 21 for women - if a reliable, stable, and traditionally-shaped shoe is what you are...
If a reliable, stable, and traditionally-shaped shoe is what you are looking for, the updated Glycerin is likely going to be a good fit for you.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Landing Comfort and Cushioning


With a heel that stands tall at 28mm and a front stack of 18mm, the updated Glycerin boasts an additional 2mm layer of DNA Loft v3 foam in its midsole for added comfort. However, the Glycerin rides like Brooks may have gone a tad overboard with their maximalist ambitions. The cushioning is chunky and rather rigid, detracting from its landing comfort and cushioning score. The Glycerin 21 seems to have been designed to keep up with other maximalist trends, but it lacks the delectable comfort and energy return of some of the higher-scoring options. The Glycerin is worth a try if you are in the market for a road running shoe that feels chunky and protective underfoot. Compared to its predecessors, all of which have softer but less midfoot loft, this version dropped the ball on landing comfort.

brooks glycerin 21 for women - with an additional 2mm of underfoot cushion, the newest glycerin...
With an additional 2mm of underfoot cushion, the newest Glycerin provides more protection than previous versions.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Responsiveness


Brooks took a shoe that has had varying levels of responsiveness over the years and made it into a real clod-hopper. We would venture to assume that no one is hitting their top speeds in the updated Glycerin - we certainly aren't. The width of the platform on the Glycerin is notable, and the toebox feels almost slappy, inhibiting any bouncy energy return. The Glycerin is not the worst for a rigid and protective walk-jog experience, but we have quite a few other recommendations for runners who want a responsive road running shoe.

brooks glycerin 21 for women - while this version of the glycerin doesn't have the level of...
While this version of the Glycerin doesn't have the level of responsiveness that we recommend in a racing shoe, it is comfortable and reliable enough to get the job done.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Stability


Prior models of the Glycerin lacked the lateral stability that Brooks is so skilled at executing but in a neutral and comfortable way. With this version, Brooks leaned into a bit of lateral rigidity to counteract the additional stack. The result is a neutral running shoe with an extra dose of stability. The lateral walls and heel cup are comfortable and firm, providing strong durability and preventing heel slippage. If a true stability shoe is what your heart desires, we struggle to recommend the Glycerin 21 since Brooks has a higher-scoring lineup of stability-focused shoes. If you are in the market for a shoe with some stability with thick and firm cushion that provides some stability, the Glycerin could hit the mark.

brooks glycerin 21 for women - though not marketed as a stability shoe, the glycerin offers plenty...
Though not marketed as a stability shoe, the Glycerin offers plenty of support for runners who like firm-feeling side walls and heel cups.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Upper Comfort


We must start by saying that the Glycerin 21 runs hot. Brooks created a new, engineered warp-knit upper, and while it definitely hits the tactile comfort portion of the equation, the weave is tight and lacks breathability. There are pros and cons to consider with a tighter fabric weave. Our testers appreciated that their socks did not feel wet after crossing a grassy field on a few testing runs, but a warm shoe is only sometimes a good choice, especially if you live in a warmer climate or do most of your running on nice days.

The Brooks Glycerin 21 is not as breathable as many other road shoes in our testing. This works well for cold weather runs, but on warmer days the shoes feel stuffy.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

If you are contemplating the Glycerin, think first about the running conditions your local climate offers. If you experience cold winters and want a beefier shoe to keep you cozy outside, this is a great place to start looking. Superficially, the weave of the upper feels comfortable. The toe box is on the wider side, and a wide version is available, making the Glycerin suitable for runners who enjoy the extra real estate.

brooks glycerin 21 for women - the plush tongue provides an extra does of comfort, but the thicker...
The plush tongue provides an extra does of comfort, but the thicker weave decreases this shoe's breathability.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Weight


The additional cushion on this new version of the Glycerin adds a clunky underfoot feel that we are not especially fond of. The chunkiness of the heel and 10mm drop make this shoe feel heavier and more imbalanced than most, making its actual weight almost irrelevant. Each women's size 6.5 shoe weighs 7.86 ounces, allowing it to sit comfortably in the middle of the pack. The heel of the Glycerin rides thick and wide, making this shoe feel heavier than it is.

brooks glycerin 21 for women - each women's size 6.5 weighs in under 8 ounces, but its weigh...
Each women's size 6.5 weighs in under 8 ounces, but its weigh distribution doesn't feel svelte or agile.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Should You Buy the Brooks Glycerin 21?


In the past, we have wholeheartedly recommended the Glycerin, but this iteration gives us pause. That is not to say that it is a terrible shoe across the board, but it has some unique features that won't be universally appealing. Better stability options exist, as do better highly-cushioned options. If you are a diehard Glycerin fan, be prepared for a departure from the norm. If you love the shape and fit of traditional Brooks running shoes, you might like the Glycerin after all.

brooks glycerin 21 for women - while not our favorite shoe this time around, it has plenty of...
While not our favorite shoe this time around, it has plenty of qualities that might make it a worthy contender when you decide to purchase your next road running BFF.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

What Other Running Shoes Should You Consider?


If you are looking for an alternative to the Glycerin 21, the most obvious recommendation is the high scoring Brooks Adrenaline 23. With built-in GuideRails, the Adrenaline rides like a traditional and stable running shoe should. Equipped with correcting architecture for overpronators, the Adrenaline is our go-to recommendation for support-seeking runners. If you like the idea of a well-cushioned shoe, we encourage you to check out one of our current favorites, the responsive and plush Asics Novablast 4. With 40mm of soft underfoot cushion and a bouncy energy return, the Novablast is the shoe that has it all.

Ally Arcuri