Hands-on Gear Review

Brooks Glycerin 14 Review

The most comfortable thing you've ever put your foot inside, but lacks in overall performance. It should still last for a few running seasons.
Brooks Glycerin 14
By: Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2016
Price:  $150 List
Pros:  Incredibly comfortable upper, well protected, warm
Cons:  Heavy, not breathable, uncomfortable landing
Manufacturer:   Brooks
61
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Responsiveness - 25% 6
  • Landing comfort - 25% 5
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 6
  • Upper comfort - 10% 10
  • Breathability - 10% 5
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Our Verdict

The Brooks Glycerin 14 is a well-cushioned neutral road running shoe with an extremely comfortable upper. This shoe is worth a serious look for those in the market for a cushioned road running shoe who value comfort over performance. That isn't to say that this isn't a great shoe, but its greatest asset is its top-of-the-line, plush heel wraparound and upper. There were only a few models in our lineup that had comparably comfortable uppers, including the Nike Flex Fury 2 with its equally as plush upper and the Saucony Kinvara 8 with its second skin feel. Overall, we believe the Glycerin 14 is a running shoe worth your consideration for its comfort as a cushioned neutral shoe, but if you are more interested in performance we suggest the Saucony Kinvara 8.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Brooks Glycerin 14 is a decent stability shoe with good stack cushion and an upper that feels like pillowy heaven.

The author in the Pearl Izumi EM Road N3 (left) and marathoner John Stephens in the Brooks Glycerin 14 (right).
The author in the Pearl Izumi EM Road N3 (left) and marathoner John Stephens in the Brooks Glycerin 14 (right).

Performance Comparison



Responsiveness


This shoe's Super DNA universal platform makes for a cushy ride, but the thin, flexible forefoot does not have sufficient stability features connecting it to the rest of shoe to give it the sort of responsiveness of Brooks models.

The flexible sole of the Brooks Glycerin 14 makes for a nice ride  but limits its responsiveness.
The flexible sole of the Brooks Glycerin 14 makes for a nice ride, but limits its responsiveness.

Landing Comfort


Despite its impressive upper comfort and use of both IDEAL pressure zones and Forefoot Cush Pods, we felt that the Glycerin 14 had an unremarkable landing. While the segmented caterpillar crash pad does its job of absorbing and dispersing shock, the high level of heel cushioning and relatively thin forefoot cushioning seem to combine to make an uneven-feeling shoe. Though less padded and comfortable, the Brooks Ghost 9 gives a more even ride while retaining many of the same features of the Glycerin 14 like a high heel-to-toe discrepancy (10mm in the Glycerin 14 and 12mm in the Ghost 9). If total landing comfort and cushion are your goal, we suggest looking at our highest scoring shoes for this category, the extremely comfortable Brooks PureFlow 6 and the heavily cushioned HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 3.

The highly cushioned heel stack and segmented crash pad with IDEAL pressure zones help the Glycerin 14 absorb and disperse shock.
The highly cushioned heel stack and segmented crash pad with IDEAL pressure zones help the Glycerin 14 absorb and disperse shock.

Upper Comfort


The Glycerin 14's best asset is far and away its plush upper. It feels like putting your foot into a foam pillow made of silk. It is an extremely comfortable upper that makes up for many of the other comparatively lackluster qualities of this shoe. The upper is lined with a snug, seamless, 3D printed mesh that is secured by a TPU saddle, but allows for extra room in the heel and toe box. If comfort is your motivation, this shoe will more than meet your expectation.

A plush heel collar and well designed inner lining contribute to the high upper comfort score of the Brooks Glycerin 14.
A plush heel collar and well designed inner lining contribute to the high upper comfort score of the Brooks Glycerin 14.

We also scored the Saucony Kinvara 8 in the same realm as the Glycerin 14, but the upper of the Kinvara has much less padding. We felt that it earned its comfort by perfectly hugging the foot and provided something like a slightly padded second skin that just felt more natural than the other shoes. For those looking for a comfortable shoe, but don't want to be marauded with pillows, the Kinvara 8 may be a better choice. One rung down the comfort category is the Brooks PureFlow 6, with its extremely padded collar and more natural, thin mesh mid and forefoot that gave a less snug fit than the constraining feel of the Glycerin 14. As with most top-scoring fields, this comes down to a personal choice. If a snug, pillowy shoe is your preference, you will be happy with the Glycerin 14. If a looser shoe with a pillowy heel and ankle are important, the PureFlow 6 will serve you well. If you are more interested in moderate padding, but a very natural-feeling shoe, the Kinvara 8 is your friend.

Breathability


One of the drawbacks of having such a comfortable, padded shoe is that it lacks breathability. The Glycerin 14 is equipped with a moisture-managing Element Mesh upper and lining, but we did not find it to be a very breathable shoe. It seemed to hold in moisture, but on the upside, this is a warm, insulated shoe for chilly days. We found that the Kinvara 8 and PureFlow 6 were both more breathable shoes that also scored well on the Glycerin 14's strongest asset, its incredible comfort. Each of these models has less padding than the Glycerin 14, which means less moisture is retained in the padding itself, but each also has lighter, thinner mesh, allowing for more breathability. Both are good, breathable alternatives, but the more heavily padded shoe is the PureFlow 6.

Weight


The Glycerin 14 is on the heavier side of this lineup with a pair of men's size 11 coming in at 24.2 ounces, about an ounce more than the next heaviest neutral shoe, the Brooks Ghost 9, around four ounces heavier than the Brooks PureFlow 6 and Altra Torin 2.5, seven ounces heavier than Nike Flex Fury 2, and 7.3 ounces heavier than the Saucony Kinvara 8. If padding and weight are what drive you, we suggest the Kinvara, but keep in mind the Glycerin 14 maintains the traditional design with a 10mm heel-to-toe discrepancy while the Kinvara 8 only had a 4mm drop.

Durability


As with other models on the heavy side, the Glycerin 14 uses heavier, sturdier materials to make a longer-lasting shoe that makes up in longevity what it lacks in elegance. Often with these heavier shoes, stronger, higher quality materials like the Super DNA midsole and HPR rubber outsole are used to make a sturdier shoe. We felt that this was a very durable shoe that should give its owner a lot of miles without excessive degradation.

Runners might also consider the comparable Brooks Ghost 9, a slightly sturdier model with its engineered mesh and carbon rubber outsole, though it is less comfortable and has a higher heel-to-toe discrepancy. If the goal is a shoe that will not need to be replaced for a long time, the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 5, our most durable shoe, is worth a look, though it is more of a stability shoe than neutral like the Glycerin 14. Its carbon rubber outsole and strong AIRmesh and composite upper will easily last a few seasons.

Best Applications


The Glycerin 14 are primarily road shoes, but they have the versatility to take out on easy to moderate trails.

Value


At $150 a pair, there are other alternatives that might be better buys for neutral and cushioned shoes, like the Ghost 9 and HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 3, respectively. Because this shoe mostly stands out for its remarkable padding, we feel that most runners would be happier with a slightly less padded shoe that performs better at a lower price. While the Brooks Ghost 9 is slightly less comfortable, it is a great neutral shoe that usually runs around $30 less. The HOKA ONE ONE typically runs $20 lower and is only slightly less comfortable, though it is more of a stability shoe than a neutral shoe.

Conclusion


The Glycerin 14 is not a bad shoe, but we do not feel that it is the best shoe for performance. A better performing shoe with a comparable heel-to-toe drop would be the Ghost 9 while a better performing cushioned shoe is the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 3. But the Glycerin greatly outweighs the other two in upper comfort, which should be the primary motivation for looking at this shoe out of our lineup.

Ryan Baham

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