Best Brooks Running Shoes of 2024

We take a look at some of the top road, trail, and racing shoe models from Brooks.

By on May 22, 2024 | Comments
Best Brooks Running Shoe - Testing the Brooks Ghost

Brooks makes great all-around shoes that are accessible to a variety of runners. Photo: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Initially founded in 1914 to make ballet and bath slippers, Brooks has developed into a modern-day company with a reputation for making durable and reliable running shoes that fit the needs of many types of runners. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Brooks made an array of athletic shoes ranging from roller skates to football, baseball, and softball cleats. When Frank Shorter won the 1972 Olympic marathon, people suddenly became interested in running, and the jogging craze of the 1970s was off. The brand pivoted and limited its focus to running innovation in order to take advantage of the world’s newfound fascination with running. During the following decades, the brand continued improving its shoe technology and created a loyal fan base. Brooks shoes are known for being great all-around shoes that are ready to perform under any conditions.

We tapped into the iRunFar network to create this guide based on our experience testing current and previous shoe models. We chose the Brooks Ghost 16 as our overall favorite road shoe. When it comes to trail running, we turn to the Brooks Cascadia 17, and when we want as much cushion as possible for long miles, the Brooks Caldera 7 is our go-to shoe.

To learn more about how we settled on this list of favorites and how to choose the best Brooks shoe for you, scroll down below our recommendations and check out our frequently asked questions. Finally, learn more about our testing and methodology.

Best Brooks Running Shoe - Running in Brooks Divide 4

Lexi Miller took the Brooks Divide 4 on various surfaces for testing. Photo: iRunFar/Lexi Miller

Best Brooks Running Shoes

Best Overall Road Shoe: Brooks Ghost 16 ($140)

Best Brooks Running Shoe - Brooks Ghost 16 - product photoPros:

  • Lots of cushioning without sacrificing movement
  • Comfortable meshy upper


  • Slightly heavier than other options

If you are looking for a daily trainer or intermediate marathon shoe, the Brooks Ghost 16 has a lot going for it. Coming from a long line of well-loved shoes, this version only has minor updates from the Brooks Ghost 15, which we included in our best running shoes for women guide due to its reliability, accessibility for a variety of foot shapes, and comfort. We covered around 50 miles of terrain with this updated shoe, including asphalt roads, concrete sidewalks and paths, and crushed gravel bike paths. We took them out both on runs that ranged into double-digit mileage and for shorter and faster outings, and we can attest that they’re just as good, if not better, than the previous version we loved so much.

The biggest upgrade to this shoe is the nitrogen-infused DNA Loft v3 foam used in the midsole. This relatively soft foam provides plenty of cushion without feeling excessively soggy and is also lighter than the previous version.

This shoe has a significant 12-millimeter drop, which is on the upper end of the range for all shoes. Some people like this level drop, and it could benefit those dealing with Achilles or tight calf issues. People who run with a heel-strike gait may also appreciate the high drop, but it might be difficult to adjust to if you’re used to running in lower-drop shoes.

Brooks has also updated the outsole to their RoadTrack rubber. Made of rubber and recycled silica, it provides plenty of grip on pavement. The outsole cutouts help save more weight and allow for a more flexible shoe.

Overall, the Brooks Ghost 16 isn’t going to be the flashiest, lightest, or bounciest shoe at your local group run, but it’s a great day-to-day workhorse option that will cover the miles comfortably and reliably.

Claimed Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 9.5 ounces (269 grams) | Drop: 12 millimeters | Stack Height: 24/12 millimeters (heel/toe)

Shop the Men's Brooks Ghost 16Shop the Women's Brooks Ghost 16

Best Overall Trail Shoe: Brooks Cascadia 17 ($140)

Best Brooks Running Shoe - Brooks Cascadia 17 - product photoPros:

  • Stable
  • Good traction
  • Protective toe guard and rock plate
  • Moderate cushioning and drop for those who want a neutral shoe


  • Narrow
  • Relatively heavy

The Brooks Cascadia 17 remains a trusted option for trail runners looking for a do-it-all shoe that can handle nearly any type of terrain. As with many Brooks shoes, this one is accessible to many types of runners. It has a moderate level of cushion and an 8-millimeter drop.

This shoe’s most significant upgrade over the previous edition is the addition of the Brooks Trail Adapt System. This setup integrates the midsole, a rock plate, and the outsole into one unit, increasing the shoe’s stability and providing a higher level of control. Brooks also upgraded the outsole using its TrailTack Green Rubber, which features 25% recycled materials. The rubber is sticky, and with relatively deep 4.5-millimeter lugs designed to look like nimble goat hooves, this shoe can handle many trail conditions, including mud and snow.

The toebox is roomy, and this version’s midfoot has become a smidge wider. The upper features a single-layer mesh with a toe cap and mudguard. As part of her testing, our tester took the Cascadias on a multi-day running trip on California’s Lost Coast Trail, which stays pretty damp. Our tester was impressed by the shoe’s ability to drain water while running and completely dry overnight under the protection of a tent vestibule, and she was happy to report no blisters.

When it comes to a trail shoe that you can trust to cover the miles regardless of the conditions you encounter, this shoe will let you move with confidence. It has earned a place in our best trail running shoes guide. And at a very reasonable price, they are a great value.

You can read more in our in-depth Brooks Cascadia 17 review.

Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 11.5 ounces (325 grams) | Drop: 8 millimeters | Stack Height: 20/12 millimeters (heel/toe)

Shop the Men's Brooks Cascadia 17Shop the Women's Brooks Cascadia 17

Best Overall Trail Shoe — Runner-Up: Brooks Catamount 3 ($170)

Best Brooks Running Shoes - Brooks Catamount 3 - Product Photo


  • Lightweight and fast
  • Secure, snug fit
  • Surprisingly durable outsole


  • Feels more stiff than responsive
  • Some foot soreness during longer runs

The Brooks Catamount 3 is an excellent all-around trail running shoe. It’s a good mid-range option for anyone looking for a lighter and faster-feeling experience, especially compared to the Cascadia 17. It’s a fairly teched-out shoe from Brooks’ carbon-neutral trail running shoe line, so it’s a tad more expensive than the Cascadia 17.

To improve the upper, Brooks ditched the dual-layer fabric for a single-layer TPEE mesh. Our tester felt the new upper provided a snug, comfortable, and durable fit and feel, noting they felt a “sense of security” with the foot in the shoe. They said there was no movement or slippage, even on technical trails. The upgraded laces also helped secure the feet without creating any soreness or hotspots.

Brooks employs its nitrogen-infused DNA Flash technology to create a lightweight and responsive midsole. While our testers found this shoe lighter and more responsive than previous versions, they noted that sometimes the shoe felt stiffer rather than responsive.

Brooks uses its SkyVault Trail Plate, which it claims will improve uphill efficiency. Our tester didn’t notice significantly improved uphill performance but noted that the shoe’s overall lightness helped it pop a bit on uphill efforts. The stack height of 22 millimeters at the heel, 16 millimeters at the forefoot, and 6-millimeter drop are mild and approachable. Likewise, the 3.5-millimeter lugs on the TrailTack Green rubber outsole are good for most surfaces and conditions.

Overall, you can’t really go wrong with the Catamount 3. It’s a solidly built shoe that excels in many conditions and on many trail types and surfaces.

You can read more about this shoe in our Brooks Catamount 3 review.

Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 9.4 ounces (266 grams) | Drop: 6 millimeters | Stack Height: 22/16 millimeters (heel/toe)

Shop the Men's Brooks Catamount 3Shop the Women's Brooks Catamount 3

Best Cushioned Trail Shoe: Brooks Caldera 7 ($150)

Best Brooks Running Shoe - Brooks Caldera 7 - product photoPros:

  • Cushioned
  • Great traction
  • Durable


  • Excess material can make the shoe feel blocky

The Brooks Caldera 7 is a maximally cushioned shoe that trail runners have turned to for long-distance trail runs and races. It is in our best cushioned trail running shoes guide for its stable ride, breathable upper, ample midsole, and sticky outsole. This new version is slightly lighter than the previous without compromising on comfort.

The maximal cushioning comes from a midsole made of the brand’s DNA Loft v3 foam. This nitrogen-infused foam is incredibly soft without sacrificing durability. The shoe has a fairly wide base, which adds to its stability and can reduce foot fatigue, but we found that it made the shoe feel like it lacked a bit of get-up-and-go.

The shoe’s upper is made of breathable TPEE mesh, which dries quickly. One of our testers did have some issues with the toebox being a bit shallow, causing a small blister on their big toe. As with most shoes from this brand, the upper is generally roomy and can accommodate a wide variety of feet. The lacing system provides a good level of lockdown, and the heel felt secure, even without using the extra lace holes.

Brooks uses their TrailTack Green rubber for the outsole, which features 25% recycled materials. We’ve found this outsole to provide excellent traction on wet and dry surfaces, and the 4-millimeter lugs provided plenty of grip on our tester’s dry and rocky backyard trails in Fort Collins, Colorado. With well over 100 miles on these shoes, we noticed no significant signs of wear.

You can read more about this shoe in our Brooks Caldera 7 review.

Actual Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 10.6 ounces (299 grams) | Drop: 6 millimeters | Stack Height: 35/29 millimeters (heel/toe)

Shop the Men's Brooks Caldera 7Shop the Women's Brooks Caldera 7

Best Stability Shoe: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 ($140)

Best Brooks Running Shoe - Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 - product photoPros:

  • Highly supportive
  • Breathable upper


  • Significant break-in time
  • Lacks springiness

There’s a good reason that the Adrenaline GTS 23 takes the top spot in our best stability shoes guide and thus was also named the best stability shoe in our best running shoes guide. For the past twenty years, this line of shoes has been helping runners who overpronate have a more neutral stride. While most of the shoes in this guide are ideal for runners with a neutral stride, many overpronators out there need a little extra support to keep their joints healthy.

Brooks uses GuideRails technology to correct overpronation in the stride. Two strips of firm foam on both the medial and lateral sides of the shoe provide extra support and keep the ankle from collapsing inwards or outwards throughout the stride. This can help prevent injury in overpronators and create a more efficient running stride. Some people who don’t overpronate may also enjoy the extra support stability shoes can provide when logging big miles.

Like most stability shoes, these are rather stiff, especially out of the box. We found that while they were relatively comfortable when we first put them on, they got increasingly more comfortable after we took the time to break them in. The 12-millimeter drop may be a lot for some, but the shoe otherwise has a fairly standard fit that works for many foot shapes.

Our testers found this shoe wasn’t very springy, even compared to stability shoes from other brands. While it’s not an ideal choice if you’re looking to go fast, it’s perfect for everyday training and logging long miles when you want to give your feet and ankles as much support as possible.

Claimed Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 10.3 ounces (286 grams) | Drop: 12 millimeters | Stack Height: 36/24 millimeters (heel/toe)

Shop the Men's Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23Shop the Women's Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23

Best Trail Racing Shoe: Brooks Catamount Agil ($180)

Best Brooks Running Shoes - Catamount Agil - Product Photo


  • Fast, efficient, and good energy return
  • Stable
  • Secure and breathable upper
  • Excellent value


  • Nothing yet

The Brooks Catamount Agil is the brand’s premier off-road racing shoe. Our tester summed up his experience with the shoe in one word: “Fast!” That fast feeling comes from a few features. First, the shoe is incredibly light, with a claimed weight of 7.7 ounces for a U.S. men’s 9. Next, Brooks employs some of its newest and top-end technology, including the SpeedVault Trail Plate, which improves energy return. It is combined with a DNA Flash v2 midsole. Our tester said the new midsole increased the shoe’s responsiveness, and the trail plate boosted its propulsiveness. We also appreciate the shoe’s lower stack height and drop. The stack height is 27 millimeters at the heel, dropping to 21 millimeters at the toe. This helps the shoe feel more stable, less wobbly, and better at fast downhill running on technical trails.

Our tester also praised the shoe’s lightweight and breathable upper, which is made using about 50% recycled materials. The outsole, made from Brooks TrailTack Green rubber material, is also more environmentally friendly than the previous outsole. It has 4.5-millimeter lugs that provide plenty of grip. Brooks is focusing on the environmental impact of their shoe construction, and this one is a certified CarbonNeutral product. At just $180, this shoe is an excellent value.

Claimed Weight (U.S. men’s 9): 7.7 ounces (218 grams) | Drop: 6 millimeters | Stack Height: 27/21 millimeters (heel/toe)

Shop the Brooks Catamount Agil
Best Brooks Running Shoes - Brooks Cascadia 17 - Product Photo

The Brooks Cascadia 17 is our top Brooks trail running shoe. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Comparing the Best Brooks Running Shoes

Brooks Ghost 16 $140 9.5 ounces 12 millimeters 24/12 millimeters
Brooks Cascadia 17 $140 11.5 ounces 8 millimeters 20/12 millimeters
Brooks Catamount 3 $170 9.4 ounces 6 millimeters 22/16 millimeters
Brooks Caldera 7 $150 10.6 ounces 6 millimeters 35/29 millimeters
Adrenaline GTS 23 $140 10.3 ounces 12 millimeters 36/24 millimeters
Brooks Catamount Agil $180 7.7 ounces 6 millimeters 27/21 millimeters

Other Brooks Shoes

Brooks makes a large number of high-quality shoes that are ideal for different types of runners. We’re continuing to test several of them beyond what is in this guide, including:

  • The Brooks Hyperion Elite 4 is Brooks’ high-end road racing shoe, featuring a DNA Flash v2 midsole, the carbon-based Arris SpeedVault Race+ Plate, and Rapid Roll technology for some rocker. So far, our tester likes it a lot, but we want to get some more miles on it before forming a final opinion.
  • The Brooks Divide 4 is the brand’s road-to-trail hybrid shoe. Its hybrid-ness is on display in the shoe’s upper, which has a road running shoe fit, but with a mudguard, which is typically found on trail shoes. Brooks employs its DNA Loft midsole foam and TrailTack Rubber outsole. At $100, it’s at a much lower price point than other comparable shoes.
  • The Brooks Revel 6 is another $100 shoe that seems a solid option for anyone looking for a shoe that can double as a cross-trainer or an everyday shoe for running errands. We’re finding that the shoe struggles with longer runs, making our feet ache as we rack up mileage. But at $100, this shoe could serve as a great beginner’s shoe or one that only comes out for short runs.
  • The Brooks Levitate 6 is a highly cushioned shoe we’re reaching for on our recovery runs. The DNA Amp v2 foam is 10% lighter than the previous version, and the shoe also has an updated engineered mesh upper. While Brooks says the new upper has improved breathability, we still find that it runs hot compared to other Brooks shoes we’ve been testing.
Best Brooks Running Shoes - Brooks Caldera 7 - Product Photo

The Brooks Caldera 7 was one of our favorite off-road running shoes. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Glossary for Brooks Running Shoes

Running shoe terminology can be confusing and full of jargon. We break down commonly used terms for all running shoes and terms specific to Brooks running shoes below.

  • Stack height: Stack height is the height between the bottom of the shoe and the bottom of your foot. Running shoe brands typically measure stack height in millimeters. Stack height typically runs in the range of 10 to 40 millimeters. These days, most running shoes have stack heights in the 20s or 30s.
  • Drop: Drop is the difference between the stack height of the heel and the stack height of the forefoot of a shoe. Typically, drop ranges from none in zero-drop shoes to 12 millimeters. Most shoes have a drop in the 4- to 8-millimeter range.
  • Lugs: Lugs are the protrusions of material attached to the outsole of a shoe that provide traction. Lugs are generally found in trail shoes and can range from a few millimeters deep to 12 millimeters for mud-specific shoes. Many road shoes don’t have lugs; if they do, they’re quite small.
  • Midsole: The midsole is the soft and sponge-like material between the outsole and the sock liner. Different types of foam can provide various levels of support, cushion, and energy return. Generally, a thicker midsole results in a more cushioned shoe. Most running shoe brands create their own proprietary midsole foam.
  • Outsole: The outsole is the bottom of the shoe that makes contact with the ground. It typically features a rubber or a similar sticky material.
  • Rock Plate: A rock plate is a plastic or similarly rigid material placed above the outsole of the shoe to provide protection from rocks and other trail conditions. They are found in many trail shoes and can range in length from covering just the forefoot to stretching the whole length of the shoe.
  • Toebox: The toebox is the front of the shoe where the toes sit. Performance shoes are often more fitted in the toebox, while other shoes might be a bit wider, allowing the toes to splay out.
  • Rocker: Rocker is the rounded shape of the midsole and outsole that helps move the runner more efficiently through their stride. It’s similar to the rocker ski and snowboard manufacturers create. Typically, a more neutral shoe will have less of a rocker than a high-performance race shoe.
  • DNA Loft: This is Brooks’ base-level midsole foam, made of EVA foam, rubber, and air. A newer version of this foam, DNA Loft v3, is nitrogen-infused and is the brand’s softest, lightest, and most responsive version. Brooks considers it its softest midsole foam. Both foams are still in use in different shoes.
  • DNA Amp: This is Brooks’ highest-energy-return midsole foam. It features polyurethane (PU) foam inside a layer of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). This is a good option for a workout or speed shoe.
  • BioMoGo DNA: The BioMoGo DNA midsole foam balances the difference between DNA Loft and DNA Amp. It hits a middle ground of softness between the two. It provides more energy return than the DNA Loft but not quite at the level of the DNA Amp.
  • DNA Flash: This is Brooks’ racing shoe foam. Not surprisingly, it’s the lightest cushioning Brooks offers. It’s responsive but not quite as springy as the DNA Amp.
Best Brooks Running Shoes - Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 - Testing

iRunFar’s Alli Hartz testing the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23. Photo: iRunFar/Alli Hartz

How to Choose Brooks Running Shoes

Road versus Trail Shoes

We looked at the brand’s top road and trail shoes for this guide. The biggest difference between road and trail shoes is the outsole. Road shoe outsoles are generally smooth with just enough traction to not slip on roads, while trail running shoes have lugs that give them purchase on rugged off-road terrain. Many trail shoes, including the Brooks Cascadia 17, have a firm rock plate between the outsole and the sock liner to protect the feet from protrusions on the trail. Trail shoes will often also have a more durable upper to keep them from getting shredded while running through brush and rock. Road shoes are also typically lighter as they won’t include extra materials like a rock plate, toe cap, or mudguard. The type of shoe that works best for you should reflect where you spend most of your time running. If you’re typically on the pavement, go for a road shoe like the Brooks Ghost 16. The Cascadia is a solid pick if you spend more time on the trail or off-road.

Drop Height

Drop height is a personal preference and can vary from zero to 12 millimeters. Generally, a low-drop shoe has less than a 4-millimeter drop. Mid-drop shoes have a 5- to 8-millimeter difference between their heel and toe, and high-drop shoes have up to 12 millimeters of drop.

A low-drop shoe encourages a different type of running gait than a high-drop shoe and suits a different type of runner. High-drop shoes tend to work well for runners who heel-strike or have issues with their Achilles or calf muscles. None of the shoes in this guide are low-drop, though the Brooks Catamount 3 and Brooks Caldera 7 have 6-millimeter drops. Road shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 and Brooks Ghost 16 have the highest drops, at 12 millimeters.

Best Brooks Running Shoes - Brooks Adrenaline GTS - Product Photo

The Brooks Adrenaline GTS is a popular stability shoe. Photo: iRunFar/Alli Hartz


The minimalist movement seems to be all but over these days, and most shoes come with a decent amount of cushioning. Generally, shoes with a higher stack height are more cushioned, though the quality of the foam used in the midsole also plays into a shoe’s comfort. Foam can feel springy or mushy, so using stack height as the sole gauge of cushion can leave you with a shoe you don’t like.

The Brooks Caldera 7 is the most cushioned shoe in this guide. While the official stack height isn’t available, it’s a tall and cushioned shoe that is great for long miles on pavement.


Brooks uses a variety of proprietary materials in its shoes. The uppers of its higher-end shoes generally feature engineered mesh, while those of entry-level and base models feature knit mesh. For its midsoles, Brooks uses several different types of foam, including DNA Loft, DNA Amp v2, and DNA Loft v3 foam in the Brooks Caldera 7. In their highest-end shoes, like the Brooks Catamount Agil, the bran uses its DNA Flash v2 midsole foam. Each foam has distinct characteristics, creating shoes that excel in specific conditions.

Brooks also uses two different outsole rubbers. Some shoes feature the TrailTack rubber, while the TrailTack Green rubber is found on the Brooks Cascadia 17 and the Brooks Caldera 7. This rubber is made of 25% recycled materials, making it a more environmentally friendly option.

Price and Durability

Brooks offers a wide variety of shoes at different prices — there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for a race shoe, the Brooks Catamount Agil is a solid off-road option, and it’s also the most expensive at $180. Mid-range shoes like the Brooks Cascadia 17 or the Brooks Ghost 16 cost $140.

While the initial thought is that more expensive shoes will last longer, that’s not always the case. High-end race shoes often sacrifice durability for the sake of weight and performance and should only be used for fast training sessions or race day — unless you want to spend a lot of money on shoes. Similarly, some lower-end shoes might not hold up to the same miles as the Brooks Cascadia 17 or the Brooks Ghost 16.

Best Brooks Running Shoes - Brooks Catamount 3 - Product Photo

The Brooks Catamount 3. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Why You Should Trust Us

Brooks is a go-to brand for several iRunFar team members, and we have been testing shoes from the company for many years. Brooks trail shoes have been part of the iRunFar team’s rotation since the dawn of this site, and we’ve collectively put thousands of miles on them. To choose shoes for this guide, we relied on our experience with the brand and researched new models we hadn’t run in before for testing. We took shoes on a wide variety of terrain to explore their limits. We evaluated these shoes on comfort, durability, breathability, cushion, and responsiveness.

To create this guide, we ran the shoes on smooth trails, roads, bike paths, and technical and rugged routes. We also took them out in various weather conditions and on everything from easy recovery runs to long runs, and we also did speedwork and races in them.

Best Brooks Running Shoes - Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX - Product Photo

The Gore-Tex version of the Brooks Cascadia was one of our favorite waterpoof running shoes. Photo: iRunFar/Lexi Miller

Frequently Asked Questions about Brooks Shoes

What is the best Brooks shoe for a marathon? 

The Brooks Catamount Agil is the brand’s best option for off-road marathon-distance speed. While this shoe is moderately cushioned, it is light and has excellent energy return. We found it to be highly propulsive. Brooks says it’s good for racing anything less than 50k, and we’d have to agree.

If you’re putting in the miles to prepare for a marathon, the Brooks Caldera 7 and the Brooks Ghost 16 are both well-cushioned options that will protect your feet and joints as you build your distances.

What is the best overall Brooks running shoe?

The Brooks Ghost 16 continues to reign as one of the best road shoes on the market. It comes from a long lineage of shoes and offers reliable and consistent service. Not a flashy shoe by any stretch, you can trust it to go the distance, mile after mile. This workhorse shoe features excellent durability and cushioning. For off-road running, we like the Brooks Cascadia 17. It’s a solid do-everything shoe that can handle multiple surfaces and trail types.

Is Brooks a good running shoe brand?

Brooks has been around for a long time and continues to make consistent, if not flashy, shoes. Their fit tends to be very middle-of-the-road, and because of this, they are accessible to a wide array of runners. They continue to innovate with their upper, midsole, and outsole materials, making small but incremental improvements to their shoe lines that will keep loyal fans returning for more. The brand is well-known for making a range of great everyday running shoes.

Call for Comments

  • Have you had a chance to run in any of the Brooks shoes on this list?
  • Do you have a Brooks shoe you love that we should try?
Lexi Miller

Lexi Miller is a UESCA Certified Running and Endurance Nutrition Coach who has written for “Trail Runner Magazine,” “TrainingPeaks,” and other fitness blogs. With a background of working in mental health, she prioritizes holistic health and joy in her company Wild Miles Running, where she works with distance runners, Nordic skiers, backpackers, mountaineers, and endurance enthusiasts. On any given day, Lexi can be found playing in the mountains of Colorado with her toddler and dog.