Brooks Ghost Max Review

The Brooks Ghost Max

Forget witches and pumpkins, this Halloween is all about the Ghost.

Brooks’ best-selling trainer, the Brooks Ghost, has set the stage for their latest creation: The Brooks Ghost Max. While the Ghost Max is similar to its namesake, it features a lower heel-to-toe drop, a slight rocker shape and, of course, oodles of extra DNA Loft v2 foam, making it worthy of its “Max” status.

Can the Brooks Ghost Max carve a name for itself amongst the rising stack heights in the industry? Or will it be left carving pumpkins alone instead? Read on to find out.

Tech Specs

Brooks Ghost Max

Weight 9 oz (W) 10 oz (M)
Stack height (heel/forefoot) 39 mm/33 mm
Heel-to-toe drop 6 mm
Category Neutral
Surface Road
Comparable to... Karhu Mestari Run 1.0, ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25

Ride

Cushioning

Energy

Brooks reaches new heights with the Ghost Max

The Brooks Ghost Max.

The Brooks Ghost Max is a treat, not a trick. It stays true to its name by offering the tallest stack height out of any of the Brooks shoes we’ve reviewed so far.

Brooks shoe designers packed in 39 millimeters of their proprietary DNA Loft v2 cushioning, an innovative blend of rubber, air, nitrogen and EVA foam. The result? A smooth, cushy underfoot feel that offers plenty of protection from the pavement–even after 28 continuous miles, as one reviewer found out.

“I ran the first 28 miles of my ultramarathon in the Ghost Max and my feet felt comfortable every step of the way,” says Mandy. “The route was a one-mile loop that consisted of road, gravel, grass and pine needles and the Ghost Max performed fantastic on all of them. In previous years, the gravel road was difficult because the rocks started to hurt underfoot, but I didn’t feel them at all in the Ghost Max. The first mile felt as soft and comfortable as the last one.”

Reviewers also appreciated the slight rocker shape, which Brooks calls their GlideRoll Rocker, that gently nudged them forward into their next stride.

“I found the Ghost Max to be a lot smoother than the Ghost, mostly due to the lower heel-to-toe drop and the slight rocker shape,” says Travis.

The Ghost Max’s 6-millimeter heel-to-toe drop is low compared to other Brooks models, and reviewers enjoyed the combination of a high stack height with a low heel drop. That, combined with a wide base, adds inherent stability to a shoe that’s otherwise classified as neutral.

“The Ghost Max excels when it comes to stability, an usual feat when it comes to high stack, max-cushion daily trainers,” says Max, who is of no relation to the Ghost Max. “The DNA Loft V2 midsole straddles that line between soft and firm and, coupled with the wide platform and the supportive upper, really gave me some confidence when turning sharp corners.”

The Brooks Ghost Max is rounded out with a rubber outsole that reviewers found to be shockingly durable.

“The bottoms of the Ghost Max look like they’ve hardly been worn, despite putting over 50 miles on them and being a heavier person. I expect that I will get lots of mileage out of this shoe,” says Mandy.

“The rubber outsole is very durable, and I also love that the channel on the outsole is too shallow for rocks to get stuck in,” says Ashley. “I appreciate this because I go back and forth between gravel and pavement a lot.”

Brooks Ghost Max boasts a spacious interior

The Brooks Ghost Max.

The Brooks Ghost Max is topped off with a mesh upper that boasts breathability and volume. It’s more spacious when compared to other Brooks models, making it a great option for those using insoles, orthotics or for runners who just have high-volume feet.

“The Ghost Max seems to be maxed out in all kinds of ways, including the interior volume of the shoe,” Kate says. “My foot measures at a standard width, but I feel more comfortable in wider platforms. I have flat feet, and the Brooks Max is the perfect shape for my foot.”

However, some reviewers found the fit just a tad too roomy.

“I noticed there was a bit of extra room in these, partly because the material is pretty structured and doesn’t really mold to my feet,” says Caroline. “However, it didn’t affect my run. In fact, the fit and materials seemed to disappear on the run, which is really all you can ask for from a running shoe.”

Regardless of the fit, reviewers all agreed that the materials used were nothing but premium.

“The Brooks Ghost Max feels as luxurious as a soft mattress with bamboo sheets and a down comforter,” says Ashley. “The laces are tubular, stretchy and soft, making them easy to lace up.”

“The moment I slipped my foot into the Ghost Max, it felt like luxury in shoe form,” Mandy says. “The upper is plush, comfortable and hugs me in all of the right places. I really like the heel cup in the back—for someone with narrow heels, it really locks the fit down well.”

Brooks Ghost Max vs Brooks Ghost 15

The Brooks Ghost Max vs Brooks Ghost 15

Tech Specs

Brooks Ghost Max

Brooks Ghost 15

Weight

9 oz (W), 10 oz (M)

8.8 oz (W), 9.8 oz (M)

Stack height

39 mm/33 mm

25 mm/13 mm

Heel-to-toe drop

6 mm

12 mm

Price

$150

$140

You’re likely wondering how the Brooks Ghost Max compares to the latest version of its namesake, the Brooks Ghost 15. While both shoes offer the same DNA Loft v2 midsole, the Ghost Max features an additional four millimeters of stack height, a lower heel-to-toe drop and a gentle rocker shape.

Because of these differences, reviewers found the Ghost Max to run smoother and feel better over longer distances.

“I think Brooks loyalists will love the Ghost Max,” says Max. “It’s a versatile shoe that can be used for long runs and even some speed work.”

How does the Brooks Ghost Max compare?

We took a look at other comparable models to see how the Brooks Ghost Max stacks up. Here’s what we found.

Tech Specs

Brooks Ghost Max

Karhu Mestari Run

ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25

Weight

9 oz (W), 10 oz (M)

9.9 oz (W), 12 oz (M)

9.1 oz (W), 10.3 oz (M)

Heel-to-toe drop

39 mm/33 mm

33 mm/25 mm

41.5 mm/33.5 mm

Stack height

6 mm

8 mm

8 mm

Price

$150

$160

$160

The Brooks Ghost Max, Karhu Mestari Run and ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25 all offer maximum cushioning (when compared to other shoes within their brands’ lineup), moderate heel-to-toe drops and similar weights.

“I found the Karhu Mestari Run to offer a similar experience to the Ghost Max,” says Mandy. “Both shoes have a slight rocker shape, and the cushioning level is comparable.”

The cushioning in the Ghost Max is comparable to the Nimbus, too, although it offers a much more firm underfoot feel.

“On my first run in the Brooks Ghost Max, the phrase I landed on was ‘cush without the smush,’” says Kate. “It’s perfect for folks who enjoy extra cushioning with a somewhat firm feel.”

The Brooks Ghost Max.

Who is the Brooks Ghost Max best for?

Both Brooks loyalists and runners who are new to the brand can find their perfect fit in the Ghost Max. That’s because it offers the same tried-and-true Brooks fit and feel with an accommodating foot shape and a balanced soft-to-firm ratio.

However, the Ghost Max seeks to modernize the brand with new technology like their GlideRoll Rocker which, combined with a lower heel-to-toe drop, boasts a smoother ride than other Brooks models. This, combined with the added cushioning, makes the Ghost Max a great choice for those who weren’t quite satisfied with what the Ghost or Glycerin had to offer.

It’s also a good choice for runners who want plenty of cushioning without a marshmallow-y soft feel underfoot.

“I’d recommend this shoe for someone looking to enter the trend of high stack, max-cushion daily trainers but have concerns about just how soft and squishy some of the shoes on the market are,” says Max.

Because of its roomy volume interior, it’s great for runners with high-volume feet (feet that take up lots of space within the shoe) or those who appreciate some extra wiggle room.

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