Brooks Ghost 16 Review

The Brooks Ghost 16.

All shoes are reviewed by the Fleet Feet tester team, which represents a wide variety of goals, foot shapes, running locations and terrains. Reviewers pound the pavement, climb the hills, tackle the trails, then come together to compare notes. Debates ensue over the feel of the cushioning, the purpose of the shoe, and how it compares to last year’s model. While each reviewer has their own individual preferences, we hope that capturing our debates will help you make an informed decision.

Year after year, runners flock to the Brooks Ghost to provide comfort and support for training runs. It’s been one of our bestselling shoes at Fleet Feet for a while, and it’s easy to see why. While it may not be the most exciting shoe on the market today, it offers a safe and familiar feel–like your childhood bedroom, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The latest version of the Ghost has been upgraded with Brooks’ nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3 foam. So, instead of a bowl of traditional vanilla ice cream, it’s now more like that trendy, nitrogen-infused ice cream we keep hearing about. It’s still vanilla, though, since it’s a simple shoe that can be enjoyed by all.

Will the Brooks Ghost 16 make us as giddy as kids in an ice cream shop? Or will it leave us as disappointed as the child who’s scoop just fell smack down on the ground? Read on to find out.

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Tech Specs

Brooks Ghost 16

Weight 8.8 oz (W), 9.8 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 24 mm/12 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 12 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Price $140
Comparable to… Karhu Ikoni 2.5, New Balance 880 v14

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

The Brooks Ghost 16

DNA Loft v3 foam falls flat in the Ghost 16

The Brooks Ghost 16 has been upgraded from a DNA Loft v2 midsole to DNA Loft v3, an innovative foam that’s injected with nitrogen, which then turns from a liquid to a gas.

While we enjoyed the ride of the DNA Loft v3 midsole in the Brooks Glycerin 21, we all agreed that the Ghost 16 felt a bit flat. This could be due to the lower stack height. The Ghost has always had less cushioning than the Glycerin, but the latest version of the Ghost has also dropped a millimeter of stack height from the previous version.

“While the DNA LOFT v3 midsole is much better than the previous foam, the midsole fails to deliver the fun and peppy feeling I enjoy in a running shoe,” says Brandon, a high-stack height lover whose goal is to get back on track for another marathon training cycle. “While the v3 foam was softer, I certainly felt much lower to the ground. However, the shoe certainly gets the job done and I had no issues when running easy, steady paces in it.”

I agree with Brandon, although I’m not sure if it’s my personal preferences speaking. After wear-testing shoes for the past three years, I’ve become a bit of a cushioning snob. I like my cushioning to be soft, but also bouncy–and there needs to be a lot of it underfoot. I didn’t notice any of those characteristics during my easy test run in these shoes. However, I did appreciate the flexibility in the forefoot that made for easy transitions.

For beginner runners who aren’t sure yet what they like and dislike in a running shoe (and haven’t been spoiled by wear-testing hundreds of shoes), the Ghost 16 is a great entry-level option. In fact, we even listed its predecessor in Our Top 6 Running Shoes for Beginners in 2023.

The Ghost 16 is rounded out with RoadTack rubber, a new outsole material from Brooks made of rubber and recycled silica. I can’t say that I’ve ever run on silica before, but the Ghost 16 definitely feels grippy and durable. In fact, the Ghost 16 is one of the more durable daily trainers we’ve tested in recent years thanks to the amount of rubber on the outsole. Some brands shy away from using a lot of rubber in order to save weight, but the Ghost offers the coverage you need to log some serious miles.

Brooks knows how to make an upper

The men's Brooks Ghost 16.

To me, the midsole of the Ghost 16 felt a little plain or, dare I say boring. The upper felt plain too, in the best way possible. The last thing I want to be thinking about on a run is the fit of my shoes, and the Ghost 16 delivered –no blisters, no hot spots, no rubbing.

Brooks shoes always seem to offer a tried-and-true fit. When I worked as a Fleet Feet Outfitter in 2019, the Brooks Ghost was always a safe bet to pull for customers with all different foot shapes. I have no idea how one model could fit so many different foot shapes, but it’s true. It’s kind of like that scene in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants where all four girls find the perfect fit in the same pair of jeans.

If you need wide or narrow sizing, the Brooks Ghost 16 is available in narrow, wide and extra wide widths. If you aren’t sure about the width of your feet, be sure to head into your local Fleet Feet for an expert one-on-one outfitting. Fleet Feet outfitters use 3D fit id® foot scanning technology to gather information about your feet and the support they need by taking precise measurements of your foot length, width and arch height.

Longtime Ghost fans will be happy to hear that the fit of the Ghost 16 remains largely unchanged. The upper is made of an engineered air mesh that offers breathability and a touch of structure. The heel collar and tongue are plush and padded, and the midfoot and toe box seem to perfectly contour to the shape of my feet.

“Year after year Brooks offers one of the most comfortable uppers on the market, and they certainly have achieved that again in the Ghost 16,” Brandon agrees.

Brooks Ghost 16 vs Ghost 15

Tech Specs

Brooks Ghost 16

Brooks Ghost 15

Weight

8.8 oz (W), 9.8 oz (M)

8.8 oz (W), 9.8 oz (M)

Stack height

24 mm/12 mm

25 mm/13 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

12 mm

12 mm

Price

$140

$140

The Ghost 16 has largely remained unchanged from the previous version, minus the DNA Loft v3 upgrade, which is both a bad and good thing. While the Fleet Feet wear-testers would have loved to see something a little more exciting to run in, we have to assume that Brooks knows what they’re doing with the Ghost. It has remained a bestselling shoe for over a decade, and Ghost loyalists would likely be upset with a change significant enough to warrant any excitement on our end.

“The last time I regularly wore the Ghost was probably the Ghost 8 or 9 and the shoe was pretty much as I remembered it, so there is something to be said for consistency through the years,” says Heather.

The Brooks Ghost 16.

How does the Brooks Ghost 16 compare?

Tech Specs

Brooks Ghost 16

Karhu Ikoni 2.5

New Balance 880 v14

Weight

8.8 oz (W), 9.8 oz (M)

8 oz (W), 9.6 oz (M)

7.4 oz (W), 9.5 oz (M)

Stack height

24 mm/12 mm

26 mm/18 mm

29 mm/21 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

12 mm

8 mm

8 mm

Price

$140

$140

$140

The Brooks Ghost 16, Karhu Ikoni 2.5 and New Balance 880 v14 are all their respective brand’s moderately cushioned, neutral daily trainer. They’re all similar in terms of price, weight and stack height. The Ghost feels decidedly more firm than the 880, but more flexible than the Ikoni.

All three shoes offer a balanced soft-to-firm ratio and enough flexibility in the forefoot that make heel-to-toe transitions a breeze.

Who is the Brooks Ghost 16 best for?

The Brooks Ghost 16 is best for runners seeking neutral cushioning and a low stack height. Because it feels relatively firm, I wouldn’t recommend it to runners who like a soft, squishy feel.

The Ghost is a great choice for beginner runners, as mentioned above. It offers all the features you need in a running shoe, like a decent level of cushioning and a well-constructed upper, without any of the bells and whistles newer runners might not know how to navigate yet.

Lastly, the Ghost 16 has an extremely durable rubber outsole. For runners who are tired of their shoes wearing down quickly from the lack of outsole coverage in other competitor brands, the Ghost is an excellent option as long as you don’t mind a bit of extra weight in the name of durability.

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