The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Brooks Glycerin 17 Review

Best choice for a comfortable, stable distance shoe.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $150 List | $149.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stable, super comfortable upper, breathable, stylish
Cons:  Clunky, may wear down quickly, pricey
Manufacturer:   Brooks
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 30, 2019
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 17
  • Responsiveness - 25% 8
  • Landing comfort - 25% 9
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Durability - 10% 6
  • Upper comfort - 10% 9
  • Breathability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

In the borderline maximalist Glycerin 17, Brooks has once again topped our expectations with another masterfully crafted running shoe. Their extra-thick DNA LOFT midsole substantially reduces road percussion while their pillowy upper perfectly hugs the foot to eliminate chafe and hot spots, making them our Top Pick for Comfort. We tested them across all sorts of terrain and in many different conditions to see where they did their best. We found that they're just generally great shoes for putting in the miles, irrespective of the particular pursuit, but they excel on the longer distances in cooler early- or late-season weather.


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This Product
Brooks Glycerin 17
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price $149.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$84.98 at Backcountry
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$89.95 at Amazon$139.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Stable, super comfortable upper, breathable, stylishFlashy, fast, extra comfortable upper and landingAffordable racing flats, more comfortable updated design, lightResponsive, supportive fit, roomy toebox, flashy, lightweight, springyLanding is well cushioned, but feels natural, upper padding feels plush, fair price
Cons Clunky, may wear down quickly, priceyOn the heavier side, can feel too stiff, premium priceLimited durability, less attractive, less responsiveOutsole picks up rocks and gravel, toebox can be too flexible, tongue can rubLimited responsiveness, loose heel, tight toebox
Bottom Line Best choice for a comfortable, stable distance shoe.It doesn’t get much better than these plush speedsters.Fast racing flats that will get you across the line in comfort.A fast, high performance shoe best suited to mid-distance.A sweet, no-nonsense racing flat with great cushion and padding.
Rating Categories Brooks Glycerin 17 Nike Air Zoom Vomero 14 Brooks PureFlow 7 On Cloud X Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35
Responsiveness (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
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6
Landing Comfort (25%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Weight (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
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9
10
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7
Durability (10%)
10
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6
10
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6
10
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6
10
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5
10
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7
Upper Comfort (10%)
10
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9
10
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8
10
0
9
10
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9
10
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9
Breathability (10%)
10
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6
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8
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8
10
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9
10
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7
Specs Brooks Glycerin 17 Nike Air Zoom... Brooks PureFlow 7 On Cloud X Nike Air Zoom...
Weight (oz per pair for size 11) 23.2 oz 22.3 oz 20.8 oz 17.8 oz 20.8 oz
Toe to Heel Drop 10 mm 10 mm 4 mm 6 mm 10 mm
Width Options Regular, Wide Regular, Wide, Extra Wide Regular Regular Narrow, Regular, Wide, Extra Wide
Style (Traditional, Minimalist, etc.) Neutral Traditional Neutral Neutral Neutral
Sizes Available 7 - 15 6 - 15 7 - 14 7-13 6 - 15
Upper Material Synethetic Mesh Stretch weave Synthetic Mesh
Midsole Material DNA Loft Nike React BioMoGo DNA EVA CushIon
Sole Rubber Rubber Rubber Blown carbon Rubber Rubber

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Brooks Glycerin 17 is hands-down one of the best landers out there. It's extremely popular with mid to long-distance runners for that reason. Whether you're putting in 1 mile or 10, it's a steady performer. The same goes for upper comfort too. The only difference is that the upper comfort is virtually unmatched in other shoes and that pairing is why they picked up our Top Pick for Comfort Award. We spend the rest of the review going into greater detail for each of our performance measures and compare the Glycerin 17s to the other shoes in our lineup with comparative analyses and suggested applications.

Performance Comparison


We spent many hours researching material and performance while testing these shoes across our performance measures to give you the best review possible. We looked at their performance across seven categories and compared them to other top models to how they stack up.

Responsiveness


The Glycerin 17 uses DNA LOFT, which is a proprietary mix of EVA foam, rubber, and air. This mix makes for an excellent cushion with lots of energy return, and it feels great underfoot, one of the primary reasons it earned our Top Pick for Comfort. On top of that, the midsole features IDEAL Pressure Zones to make its plush, but snappy by helping to reduce percussion and disperse energy that would otherwise be absorbed by your joints and bones.

Meanwhile, its upper uses an internal stretch bootie and engineered mesh with 3D Fit Print tech for a tighter, more adherent fit. That's something we really appreciated because sometimes these bigger comfort shoes can be a bit clunky or feel like running in boxes lined with pillows. You don't get that with these. They fit to your foot, and your foot is snug inside.


Another thing we really like about this shoe is that it has some of the same stability features as the Brooks Adrenaline GT 19, our Top Pick for Stability, but it's a little more forgiving and has a bit more bounce to it, which is one of the major reasons the Glycerin won our Top Pick for Comfort. Not only is it stable, supportive, and responsive, but it's also incredibly comfortable. If structured and comfy is your style, these are for you.

The plush bounce of the Glycerin 17s is hard to beat. They're among the best landers available.
The plush bounce of the Glycerin 17s is hard to beat. They're among the best landers available.

Landing Comfort


The Glycerin 17 earned its Top Pick for Comfort Award partially based on the excellent underfoot feet of the DNA LOFT cushioning. It blends Brooks proprietary EVA with rubber and air to come up with a unique material that's super soft and cushy while improving durability over standard EVA. Its Ideal Pressure Zones and Omni Flex grooves also work to reduce the impact of each step while fostering a more natural gait. The Ideal Pressure Zones seem to do their job, but we're not too sure we can substantiate the Omni Flex grooves. Running in these was something like running on clouds stuffed in slippers on a marshmallow road - remix that any way you see fit, the point is, they're cushy and feel great underfoot.


Because of their uber plush heel cushioning, these are especially great for runners who are heavy landers or heel planters, whether they're marathoners or just guys who are trying to get down to the end of the block and back. They're also ideal for runners who need a little more stability, but don't want to feel or fight with the stability structures when they run.

It's no wonder the Glycerins are among the most comfortable shoes to land in after seeing that fat stack of DNA LOFT.
It's no wonder the Glycerins are among the most comfortable shoes to land in after seeing that fat stack of DNA LOFT.

Weight


Surprisingly, these only come in at 23.1 ounces per pair of men's 11. Husky comfort shoes are almost always heavier. It's especially surprising given their thick slab of DNA LOFT foam cushioning across the midsole. They also use lots of pillowy padding in the upper, which adds a bit of weight and that's covered by a supple sockliner and double jacquard mesh. It's a little surprising that they weigh as little as they do. That's not to say that you don't feel their heaviness - you do. But you'll get a heavy shoe with any stability or comfort model. If you want a lighter shoe, you should expect to reduce one or both of those qualities in proportion to the weight reduction.


23.1 ounces of pure cushion.
23.1 ounces of pure cushion.

Durability


We didn't have any serious concerns over durability with this model, but there are some areas where it can improve. We like that their DNA LOFT blends in rubber to improve its longevity. A handful of other companies have started mixing in rubber and other materials into their base (typically EVA) to improve longevity, and it's extending the performance and useful life of midsoles. Still, EVA foam tends to wear down over time. That seems to be the case with this model, though it doesn't tend to happen before about 200 miles, which is a season or two for most of us.


It's also worth noting that the rubber outsole tends to wear down a little faster than we'd like. The tradeoff in these is pretty clear. In return for remarkable comfort and stability, you might not have a shoe that will last three or four years.

The Glycerin's outsole could use a little more protection.
The Glycerin's outsole could use a little more protection.

Upper Comfort


This is really where the Glycerin 17s shine. Remember when we said they feel like they're slippers stuffed with clouds? Supple just doesn't do the upper justice. Brooks has a way of creating the perfect little pillows to line the entire inside of the heel, collar, and tongue to achieve optimum comfort. They feel nice enough to wear to bed. Really.


Covering the padding is a soft Ortholite sockliner that's not unlike satin sheets if we're going to keep this bedtime theme going. Helping to keep the foot snug and held in place is an internal stretch bootie, which works with the engineered mesh upper to allow your foot to more naturally move within the shoe. That makes a huge difference out on the road, especially if you have elevation or speed changes because it means your foot is allowed to drift around the shoe without allowing it to bunch up in the front or even start to run over the front edge of the midsole.

Massive amounts of cushion covered in a silky sockliner makes for one of the most comfortable uppers on the market.
Massive amounts of cushion covered in a silky sockliner makes for one of the most comfortable uppers on the market.

Breathability


As you might expect, this heavy comfort model isn't the most breathable shoe in our review. The felt-like Ortholite sockliner does a lot to reduce friction and hug the foot, but it also does a lot to insulate and hold moisture. Multiple layers of thick mesh also act to insulate and retain moisture, though they drastically improve comfort. And the thick padding throughout the upper also insulate and hold moisture.


But don't be discouraged - they're still reasonably breathable. Just wear a thinner sock or spend more time training at cooler times of the day or parts of the year. Plus, they're still pretty breathable compared to average shoes. They're just not as breathable as shoes with zero padding and a thinner, less supportive upper.

Value


These are reasonably priced. They have a good deal of diversity, so they can be comfortably used on all sorts of terrain, climate, and pursuits. And they're crazy comfortable, so you can stay out there longer and go harder. The one caveat here is that their laser-focus on comfort and plushness has a bit of a tradeoff with durability, so compression and wear might reduce the comfort and performance after a few seasons.

Conclusion


The Glycerins were among the highest scorers in our lineup. They're one of the more diverse running shoes we tested, lending themselves just about equally to short and long, road and trails, and speedwork and slow jogs. But where they stood out was in their comfort. Their thick DNA LOFT midsole made landing almost like running on a moon bounce while their supple, richly padded upper removed any chafe and almost completely removed the road noise. This is why they earned our Top Pick for Comfort. But they're not all puppies and rainbows. They're necessarily heavy and clunky. Plus all that padding translates into spongy insulation, so they're a little warmer than is ideal, and once you start sweating, you're just going to have wet feet, and that's how you have to live your life for the rest of the run. The one saving grace is that the ventilation over the toes does a good job of keeping them aerated.

This really comes down to stylistic preference. As tough as runners are, not everyone wants to run in some austere sandal designed in ancient Sparta or Copper Canyon in Mexico's Chihuahua state. It can be pretty nice to roll in comfort - and it could help you push the mileage and be your own kind of tough. Whether you're out trying to improve endurance or just get out and do a little work, the Glycerin 17 has the cushion and padding to get you on your way.

No matter what kind of running you do and where you do it  it's hard to argue with comfort like this.
No matter what kind of running you do and where you do it, it's hard to argue with comfort like this.


Ryan Baham