Shoe Review: Brooks Beast & Ariel GTS 23
Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Ariel and the Beast! At least, that’s how the classic fairytale song would go if it were written by Brooks. The Brooks Beast GTS 23 is a maximally supportive stability trainer, just like its made-for-females counterpart, the Ariel GTS 23. While the shoes have different names, they’re essentially the same model—one made with men’s sizing and one for women’s.
While we thought we knew how this fairytale went, it’s developed a surprising new chapter. Let’s walk through the major new developments made to the Beast and Ariel since the last update in 2020.
The Beast and Ariel 23 are equipped with softer cushioning and more flexibility for a smoother ride than ever before, while still maintaining a hefty dose of stability. What exactly did this 3-year makeover entail? Read on to find out.
|Weight||10.7 oz (W), 11.9 oz (M)|
|Stack height (heel/forefoot)||26 mm/14 mm|
|Heel-to-toe drop||12 mm|
|Comparable to...||HOKA Gaviota 5, Karhu Synchron 2.0|
New foam, same podiatrist-approved stability
Forget everything you thought you knew about the Brooks Beast and Ariel. While previous versions of the Beast and Ariel were regarded as sturdy, motion-control shoes, the latest versions have been completely redesigned from the ground up, starting with a new midsole compound.
While the previous versions used Brooks’ BioMoGO DNA, an EVA-based foam compound, the latest versions use Brooks’ DNA Loft v3 foam. DNA Loft V3 foam has been injected with nitrogen, making it softer, lighter and more durable than traditional EVA foams.
“The newest version of the Ariel has turned from an ugly duckling into a swan,” Mandy says. “It’s lighter weight, looks great and feels super comfortable when I put it on for a run.”
The latest versions also use Brooks’ Segmented Crash Pad in the forefoot, a series of flex grooves to make landings and takeoffs feel smoother. Running along the lateral and medial sides of the heels are Brook’s signature GuideRail technology.
The GuideRails essentially behave like bumpers along a bowling lane, keeping the bowling ball, or your foot, moving straight forward instead of side to side. This is designed to reduce the effects of overpronation, the excessive inward rolling of a runner’s foot upon landings.
“The Brooks Beast is certainly a beast when it comes to stabilizing my feet, thanks to the wide platform and firm GuideRails,” Max says.
While the Beast and Ariel have undergone some big changes to improve their overall feel, they still remain one of the best choices for runners seeking maximum support. They’ve once again earned the American Podiatric Medical Association (AMPA) seal of approval. According to the AMPA website, the seal of approval is only granted to products that have been evaluated by AMPA podiatrists and found to promote good foot health.
“People have sought out the Ariel for years as a dependable shoe with a lot of stability,” Kate says. “The latest version is lighter and more streamlined, with a pleasantly stiff platform to push off of. It still has lots of support and just enough flexibility to stay comfortable.”
The support doesn’t stop
The supportive feeling of the Brooks Beast and Ariel continues up top with a stretchy yet supportive upper.
“This upper fits and feels like a classic Brooks—not too soft, not too firm, but just right. Not too roomy, not too snug, but just right. I feel like I’m about to chow down on some porridge with the three bears from Goldilocks,” Caroline says.
Brooks uses their 3D Fit Print technology, an innovative screen-printing process that applies engineered structure to the upper material to create a secure fit that hugs your foot from top to bottom.
“The wide width fits perfectly for me and I really like feeling properly anchored down, especially in the heel cup,” says Nate, our resident wide-footed reviewer.
The Brooks Beast and Ariel GTS 23 are available in standard, wide and extra-wide widths, so chances are good you’ll be able to find your perfect fit.
If you’re not 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.
Brooks Beast & Ariel GTS 23 vs Beast & Ariel GTS 20
Beast & Ariel GTS 23
Beast & Ariel GTS 20
10.7 oz (W), 11.9 oz (M)
10.7 oz (W), 11.7 oz (M)
Because the Beast and Ariel are numbered by year and not by version, the last iteration was the 20. While both versions use Brook’s GuideRail technology to provide a stable ride, the latest versions feel smoother and more flexible, thanks to DNA Loft v3 cushioning and flex grooves underfoot.
“The DNA Loft V3 foam is a game-changer for this shoe,” Nate says. “I noticed how it changes based on my speed. It feels softer on walks and slower runs, but it comes to life the faster I go.”
Reviewers initially thought the Beast and Ariel 23 were lighter than the 20, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The lighter feeling is likely due to the softer cushioning and smoother transitions.
“For years, the Brooks Beast and Ariel were suggested for people with foot problems but weren't considered super runnable,” says Mandy. “Now, they’re good for both. They still offer the same level of support, but you don't have to have foot problems in order to enjoy running in them.”
How do the Brooks Beast & Ariel GTS 23 compare?
We took a look at some comparable shoes to see how they stack up against the Brooks Beast and Ariel GTS 23. Here’s what we found.
Brooks Beast & Ariel GTS 23
HOKA Gaviota 5
Karhu Synchron 2.0
10.7 oz (W), 11.9 oz (M)
9.1 oz (W), 10.9 oz (M)
9.9 oz (W), 12.5 oz (M)
26 mm/14 mm
36 mm/30 mm
23 mm/15 mm
While Brooks uses their GuideRail technology, both HOKA and Karhu use H-frame mechanisms in the midsoles to promote forward motion and reduce excessive side-to-side motion.
Nevertheless, reviewers found the underfoot feel to be similar among the three shoes. The weight of the Brooks Beast and Ariel is also comparable to the Karhu Synchron 2.0.
The Brooks Beast and Ariel GTS 23 and the HOKA Gaviota 5 both tout the AMPA seal of approval, so you can rest assured that your feet will be happy.
Who is the Brooks Beast & Ariel GTS 23 best for?
With a hefty dose of cushioning and support, the Brooks Beast and Ariel GTS 23 are best for runners and walking seeking maximum stability and comfort for running, walking or everyday wear.
“I would recommend the Ariel to anyone looking for a comfortable shoe that offers plenty of stability in a roomy package,” Kate says. “If you have flexible arches, which tend to need more support, and you want a shoe to travel, walk or train in, the Ariel is a good one.”
If you aren’t sure what kind of arches you have, remember to head into your local Fleet Feet for an expert outfitting.
Reviewer Max also recommends the Beast and Ariel to people who spend long days on their feet.
“The midsole foam is firm and supportive while providing the plush softness that Brooks is known for, which creates a great yin-yang situation,” Max says.