Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review Brooks Ghost 8: Solid, Dependable, Traditional, Plush, A Bit of a Stiff

Brooks Ghost 8: Supportive Medial Midsole, Caterpillar Crash Pad Lateral Side
The Brooks Ghost 8 from Brooks Running is the 8th iteration of this popular, basic plush daily run trainer. No fancy new technologies here, just refinements  a formula providing a dependable, supportive and cushioned ride. At 10.5 oz  M 9, 9.2 oz W8  with a 28mm heel/ 16mm forefoot 12mm drop  the $120 Ghost 8 has what I would call a traditional running shoe design: high drop and somewhat heavy. They fit me true to size.  For the somewhat heavy weight, by today's standards, or for what I typically run in, the runner gets:

Heel Ride
The very cushioned yet stable heel ride is for me is the Ghost's best feature. The 28mm of BioMoGo DNA and Caterpillar Crash Pad midsole and outsole feels great back there, not mushy or block like and reminds me somewhat of the adidas Ultra Boost heel ride.
Brooks Ghost 8

Brooks Ghost 8

The Ghost has a fuller contact and thick outsole with significant sized gripping lugs reminiscent of many trails shoes, yet they are not noticeable as such on the road. With this outsole, the upper support, and stable midsole I would not hesitate to take them on smoother trails. On the minus side, the fore foot outsole could use deeper or wider  flex grooves particularly at the large continuous areas of rubber on the medial side (left) in picture below to smooth the transition from landing to toe off.
Brooks Ghost 8

Brooks Ghost 8

Upper and Fit
The Ghost has a luxurious supportive soft mesh upper with minimal stitching and has a great lacing and very well padded tongue system which held my foot superbly, if holding it maybe a bit too coddled while also adding to weight.
Brooks Ghost 8

The forefoot area is narrower and snug. I am a bit cramped in my D width tester especially so when combined with the relative stiffness of the mid and outsole. Brooks does provide the Ghost in 2E width as well as a narrower B.  I was reminded of the front of the shoe fit of a racing oriented trail shoe such as Salomon S-Lab Wings.
Brooks Ghost 8

The Brooks Ghost 8 fit me true to size.

    My Impressions
    The Ghost has a classy refined look and is made of quality materials. I think it looks great in the gray and light neon, office colors almost. I would not say this is the liveliest shoe I have run in this year that's for sure but they will get you through many miles in the comfort and performance akin to a lightly "sported" up good, basic sedan. There are many runs which call for just such as shoe . The traditional 12mm heel to toe drop is the greatest I have run in this year but I did not notice it much, although I would certainly mix my runs in the Ghost with lower drop shoes to balance.

    While called a "neutral" shoe its vertical medial side wall, relatively firm foam and rigidity back of the forefoot could in my view classify it as a light stability shoe as well. Without the green yellow "Caterpillar Crash Pad" on the lateral side I likely would find them too rigid and stiff for me especially when combined with the already narrow and fairly stiff forefoot part of the shoe. The flex is somewhat stiff and uneven starting too far forward leading to a somewhat awkward and forced heel to toe transition for me. I am finding that as I get more miles on them the flex is improving. This is likely a shoe that requires some patience and seasoning through miles on the road.

    I will keep the Brooks Ghost in my rotation for longer and recovery runs as its cushioning is just about right for me, attenuating shock very well without being unstable or overly soft. I probably would prefer the somewhat livelier Brooks Launch as an every day trainer.

    The Brooks Ghost 8 is a fine choice as a well cushioned, supportive basic trainer featuring traditional heel to toe geometry. The road feel is excellent in the back seat, the heel, and somewhat stiff and hard to transition up front, again reminding me of many trail shoes...which it is not.  It has a great upper, if somewhat narrow and cramped upfront. The outsole with its larger lugs increases versatility leading to light trail and winter running options and should provide many miles of service for all foot strike types.

    While targeted at neutral runners, I think it can also serve as a light stability shoe due to its medial midsole geometry, full coverage outsole, decently firm midsole and supportive upper. These characteristics may also make it a good choice for heavier runners, beginners, and those who run some easier trails during their road runs .

    For comparisons to the Ghost 7, a shoe I have not run, and more details on the Ghost 8 see Solereview's excellent article here

    Overall Score Ghost 8: 4.3
    -0.1 for weight
    -0.2 for narrow low volume toe area
    -0.4 for forefoot flex and smoothness on toe off.

    Disclosure: The Brooks Ghost was provided at no charge to RoadTrailRun. The opinions herein are entirely our own. RoadTrailRun receives a small commission on sales through the links below which helps support our site. 

    Running Warehouse has the Brooks Ghost for Men here and Women here

    Deals for Brooks Ghost 8


    Jeff Valliere said...

    I tested the Ghost 8 in the Spring and we share many of the same feelings and observations on the shoe. Generally, I did like it and for me, found that it ran a little lighter than the in hand weight suggests. Fit for me was excellent and quality/technology/constuction was top notch. I thought it ran quite smooth, a nice high mileage cruiser/trainer that can handle bouts of speed when pushed. Definitely geared for heel strike. All that said, to me, it just blends in with the multitude of built up, full featured, heavier, higher drop, well cushioned road shoes and not particularly memorable (for better or worse). I too have the same color scheme and find it to be good for the office and civilian use. Oh, I also found that the Ghost 8 transitioned well to moderate and even somewhat rugged trail use, but ideally when dry and warm (this rubber is more compliant in warmer temps). With the ample cushion and beefy lugs, I hardly feel any rocks and the high offset is less noticeable on inconsistent terrain. I found it to be quite stable on the trails and though a bit heavy for pure uphilling, I appreciate the plush cushion on days when I am not so worried about performance.

    Sam Winebaum said...

    Thanks for your additional insights Jeff! Did you find the rubber got firmer and stiffer and cold temperatures? More than usual? Shoes with lots of rubber coverage sometimes get very firm and stiff in cold, the NB 980 Fresh Foam come to mind.

    Jeff Valliere said...

    Hey Sam, not really more or less than other shoes, but based on my own experiences here around Boulder, if I can make a road shoe work on trails, it is really only during the summer months. Stating the obvious here, but much of that is because it helps that the rubber performs better on varied surfaces (rocks) when it is warmer, but also because trail conditions are more stable and predictable in the summer.