Brooks Ghost 12 Review
Cons: Possibly too plush, limited stability for some runners, toebox may be too small for some runners
Our Analysis and Test Results
We spent weeks researching materials, performance, feedback, and every other aspect we could find to inform our testing and views of these kicks. We put in quite a few miles at varying distances and intensities to see where they excelled and where they weren't so great.
To tease out as many details as possible about the shoes we review, we break up performance across six weighted measures, which allows us to evaluate each pair against their peers with objectivity.
Given their malleability, we're surprised at the responsiveness of the Ghost 12. In most cases, firmness is pretty closely correlated with responsiveness. We love that this shoe is able to balance these two qualities so that you have a lot of kickback and return with each step, but you're not fighting against a rigid shoe for an hour. This is achieved by combining BioMoGo DNA under the forefoot and plush DNA LOFT under the heel to cushion your landing and get you transitioned into the next step. Another contributing factor is the Flex Grooves in the forefoot that provide the perfect amount of flexion during the heel-to-toe transition of the gait cycle.
The firmness of the horseshoe-shaped heel pad, coupled with the fact that the Ghost 12 is a neutral, flexible shoe with exceptional responsiveness, illustrates why it's one of our favorite running shoes. It's not just comfy; it's a performer with pop.
These smooth landers received an admirable score for landing comfort, right alongside the best performers in our group. The BioMoGo DNA cushioning and DNA LOFT respond to each person individually, depending on 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.
Forged below this DNA cushion is the caterpillar crash pad. This divided landing pad gives you more mobility and just the right amount of cushioning a neutral shoe needs. Now that the shank is removed from the midfoot, you can expect complete contact with the ground during your gait cycle. Combined, these features create a continuous and fluid ride.
At 22.4 ounces for a size 11, these comfy kicks receive a slightly-below average score for our group, though they're still light so far as the market goes. This version also saves an extra once for the pair, compared to the last version. Despite being much heavier than lightweight racing flats, this contender runs fast, which is yet another reason we were happy to grab them when we're headed out even on short fast runs. Some super comfortable shoes.
Every time we took the Ghost 12 out for a run, we immediately noticed they that they feel almost as fast as much lighter shoes. 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 some of the more fortified shoes we tested, we believe it still maintains the best overall comfort. That said, the only thing that would be nice to improve upon is the weight; we would love to see how it could perform in the sub-20 ounce range, like some of its racing flat sistren and brethren.
With an abrasion-resistant rubber on the heel and a blown rubber forefoot, the Ghost 12 proved to be resilient through our relentless testing. Numerous shoes in our group only use rubber on small high-impact points of the outsole — or even just thicker EVA — but these use it through most of the outsole, which gives it added durability.
Additionally, the smooth and efficient roll from the heel to toe prevents premature wear in the outsole. After logging over 15 miles in this shoe, we noticed almost no degradation, whereas other shoes in our cohort had clear wear. And, when you have finally logged all the miles this shoe can take, happily retire your shoe knowing that Brooks implemented a more eco-friendly biodegradable sole.
We also aren't scared to mix up our runs and take our road shoes on the trails every now and then. Not only is the outsole rubber on the Ghost quite durable, the design of the segmented crash pad actually improves traction because of the separate individually placed nubs.
These trainers are easily our most comfortable shoes. Instead of stitching the overlays in the forefoot, more areas are welded. This trims just a little weight while adding some seamless durability to the forefoot upper, which looks better. Less stitching also means fewer places where chafing can occur. This creates a secure heel fit and gets it right where some models don't quite pass muster.
The Ghost gives 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. The flat laces are generic and lightweight, but we had no issues with them coming loose. For those of you who have issues with the tongue sliding into the shoe, Brooks also made a nice addition of a small eyelet to string one of your laces through.
The upper is also one of the most padded things out there, which we've all come to love and expect from Brooks. That padding fully wraps around the ankle, top of the foot, and down each side, making it one of the best out there.
We found these to have slightly better than average 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. Brooks claims to use a newly engineered mesh in its upper, which adds flexibility while also keeping the weight down.
On the wet days, we noticed the Ghost 12 didn't keep our feet as protected as some of the other shoes we tested and, indeed, made a perfect sponge once fully inundated. If you're sold on this shoe but want the weather protection, you'll be happy to know, as with previous versions, Brooks made a tougher waterproof Gore-Tex version just for you. Otherwise, suck it up, buttercup, you're gonna have squishy shoes when it rains.
This version comes in just a bit steeper than the last model, but we think the premium is worth it. They still run at just about the average cost for a new pair of road running shoes, but they're not average shoes. They're much more comfortable than your run-of-the-mill kicks whether walking, jogging, or sprinting. Beyond that, they're very durable, making them a better investment than many of the other shoes that break down after a single season. It's well worth it and your feet will thank you.
With the updated Ghost 12, Brooks has created yet another excellent comfort model that we loved taking out for a spin. They retain most of their best features from earlier iterations, but include an updated 3D Fit Print upper that hugs the foot even more naturally than in previous models. This, along with the carryovers like plush midsole composition, supple collar padding, and a generous sockliner propel them to the top of our favorites list. They're a really good choice for runners who put in lots of miles and want a good deal of cushioning underfoot but without the bulky overcrowded feel of many comfort models. The one word of caution worth pointing out here is that this is a comfort model, not a stability model. Yes, it has some stability features and can control some degree of motion, but it's not as aggressive as some runners expect with Brooks shoes. We had a great time in them and we think a lot of runners will agree with us.
— Ryan Baham