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Shoe Review: Brooks Glycerin 18

A pair of men's Brooks Glycerin 18 running shoes on a brick stair

In an industry full of world-record-shattering technology, the Brooks Glycerin 18 prizes simplicity and comfort above all else.

Brooks reconfigured the DNA Loft midsole for a better ride and shaved weight to make it easier on your legs. But the Glycerin 18 remains true to its identity: It’s still a soft and easy everyday trainer—just with some welcome upgrades.

Fleet Feet runners laced up the Brooks Glycerin 18 to see how the newly reconfigured midsole felt and to see how it stacks up to Glycerins of the past. Here’s what they thought.

Tech specs

Brooks Glycerin 18

Price

$150

Weight

9 oz (women’s), 10.2 oz (men’s)

Drop

10 mm

Cushioning

DNA Loft

Category

Neutral, max cushion

Use

Everyday training

Surface

Road, track

Brooks Glycerin 18 Fit and Material

A woman wearing the Brooks Glycerin 18 running shoes

Like going on a blind date, Brooks pays attention to first impressions.

Slip into the Glycerin 18, and you’re immediately greeted with a plush step-in feel. Designers draped the padded heel collar and heel cup in a silky fabric to maximize comfort, and the padded tongue sewed into an internal bootie gives it a snug and soft fit.

The plushness then extends to the full-length DNA Loft midsole.

While the DNA Loft is the same foam used in the Glycerin 17, Brooks says it reconfigured the midsole-to-outsole ratio for an even softer feel. What that really means is Brooks shrunk the flex grooves on the outsole to prioritize cushioning.

So, the Brooks Glycerin 18 has more DNA Loft foam than ever before—there’s more dough there, as Brooks puts it—and Fleet Feet testers felt it.

“Everything about the Glycerin 18 is soft right when you step in,” one tester says. “I love the structure of the heel and the height of the collar. It’s tall enough to lock in my foot but not so tall that it rubs my skin above my socks.”

Even with the smaller grooves, though, Brooks says there wasn’t any perceived loss of smoothness in the ride.

Adding to the softness, Brooks fitted the Glycerin with an OrthoLite sockliner for an extra layer of comfort.

The double-jacquard mesh upper is slightly stretchy, which adapts to how your foot moves and splays. Plus, the internal bootie gives your foot smooth entry and exit.

Looking past the technical parts, though, the Brooks Glycerin 18 is a simple running shoe. The mesh upper features a mellow pattern and streamlined silhouette, and the six-hole lacing system with an empty seventh hole is standard for most running shoes.

That means it’s easy to lace up and hit the road.

“I love how straightforward the Glycerin is,” one tester says. “There’s no guessing at laces or fit, and it’s not trying too hard. It’s simple, and it works.”

Testers found the Glycerin fit true to length and width, and an internal heel counter at the back of the shoe creates an excellent structure and fit. None of our testers had any problems with their heels slipping while running.

Brooks Glycerin 18 Ride and Performance

A man and a woman run together while wearing the Brooks Glycerin 18 running shoes

The Glycerin 18 is soft and smooth thanks in part to the forgiving DNA Loft cushioning underfoot.

Brooks says DNA Loft is a foam compound made from a mix of EVA foam, rubber and air. The EVA provides the softness; the rubber increases the midsole’s durability; and the air keeps the shoe as light as it can be.

Even with the plush feel, though, the DNA Loft doesn’t dampen the spring in your step. One tester says the ride feels pleasantly energetic, giving just enough bounce to avoid the sinking-into-sand feeling of other super-soft shoes.

The Glycerin also shines in transition. Heel strikers and midfoot strikes alike will find an easy transition from landing to toe off thanks to the smooth-ride foam and flexible feel.

“The Glycerin 18 is a really well-rounded running shoe,” he says. “I didn’t have to think about the cushioning or my footstrike. It just turned over naturally from step to step.”

The generous coating of outsole rubber gives the Glycerin confident traction, even on wet pavement, but it’s not so thick that it weighs down the shoe.

Brooks Glycerin 17 vs Brooks Glycerin 18

If you compare the Brooks Glycerin 17 and Glycerin 18 side by side, there are some noticeable aesthetic differences.

The redesigned mesh upper sports fewer overlays, and the sidewall pattern of the midsole is slightly different. Neither of those changes affect the overall ride.

Both models use the same six-hole lacing system plus a seventh hole at the top if you need to use a different shoe lacing technique.

A big difference between the two shoes is the flex grooves carved into the outsole. The grooves on the Glycerin 17 created channels that ran horizontally across most of the forefoot. But the Glycerin 18 shortened the channels and reduced the number of them from six to five.

It’s unclear exactly how that affects the ride, but the Glycerin 18 delivers such a smooth transition and such good flexibility that the change doesn’t seem to matter.

Designers also lightened the load from 17 to 18. Brooks says the men’s Brooks Glycerin 18 drops almost half an ounce from the previous version, and the women’s Brooks Glycerin 18 is down about .2 ounces.

Tech comparison

Brooks Glycerin 17

Brooks Glycerin 18

Weight

9.2 oz (W), 10.6 oz (M)

9 oz (W), 10.2 oz (M)

Drop

10 mm

10 mm

Category

Neutral

Neutral

Midsole

DNA Loft

DNA Loft

Upper

Double jacquard mesh

Double jacquard mesh

Conclusion

The Brooks Glycerin 18 is a dependable, easy riding running shoe that we think is perfect for the bulk of your training miles.

A comfortable bed of DNA Loft foam cushions the ride, and a straightforward fit makes it easy to lace up and go. It’s a mid-weight trainer that won’t smoke your hardest track workouts, but it will make for hundreds of pleasant miles on pavement.

Bottom line: The updated Brooks Glycerin 18 deserves a spot in your closet or shoe rotation.


Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.

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