Monday, June 11, 2018

Brooks Running Ghost 11 Review: Top to Bottom, Effective Detailing and Tuning of a Classic Daily Trainer

Article by Sam Winebaum
Brooks Running Ghost 11

The Ghost reaches version 11 retaining its cushioned 12mm drop ride, accommodating fit, and durable long lasting outsole. Always a solid daily trainer, the Ghost 11 fine tunes and modernizes its tried and true formula, top to bottom. The updates include: 
  • a better fitting but in many ways similar engineered mesh upper, 
  • a new softer yet responsive foam DNA Loft midsole foam insert located only in the lateral heel crash pad while the rest of the midsole retains the same firmness of BioGoMo DNA foam as the Ghost 10 with tweaked midsole side wall geometries,
  • a tuning of the outsole lugs surface areas flattening them and focused on increased contract and smoothness.
Women's Ghost 11
Ghost 11
Official Weight: US M9 10.6 oz/ 300g; US W8.5 9.5 oz./269 g
Sample US M8.5 10.02 oz /284g; Estimated Weight US M9:10.3 oz/ 292 g
Stack Height: 29mm heel/17mm forefoot, 12mm offset (plus sock liner)
$120, Available July 2108
Ghost 10 (RTR review)
Weight US M9 10.1 oz/ 286 g
Sample: US M 8.5  9.74 g / 276 g

First Impressions and Fit
This is one sharp color scheme. I really like the black and orange contrasts here, with the orange striking but not overdone. The fit is true to size. I sized the same as in the Ghost 10. The fit is more consistent in feel from heel to toe. The achilles and ankle heel collar is slightly less "scratchy" feeling with slightly softer padding The mid foot hold is somewhat more secure and comfortable with less front of the arch snugness and what feels like slightly more effective volume as the many vertical thin overlays of the Ghost 10 are eliminated in favor of varying density mesh and 3d printed dot overlays. 
LEFT: Ghost 11                                                                        RIGHT: Ghost 10
Up front, the last lace hold is simplified eliminating the forward facing first loop with the lace holding strip slimmed down resulting in less pressure over the metatarsals and a smoother overall wrap, not that there was that much pressure in the 10. The thick sewn on toe bumper is eliminated and replaced with some similar feeling internal stiffening and more printed dots with as a result less sense of a toe bumper present over the toes. The upfront hold is a touch less secure but is not an issue. Lace up was once and done from the first run. This is one comfortable fit which doesn't under do or overdo plushness or security, really a perfect balance for a daily trainer. Overall the fit is perfect for me and should accommodate a variety of foot types. A wide version is also available.


The engineered mesh feels to be of about the same thickness and of similar materials as Ghost 10 but upfront sees the elimination of the thick sewn on toe bumper and changes to the lace holding panel which is now thinner and more pliable. 
The last lace loop pointing forward is eliminated. All of this contributes to a more friendly foot accommodating fit at the metatarsals. The Ghost 10 was quite frankly was very good there but a bit stiff feeling,
Towards the rear the upper is woven differently. with a slightly more dense weave at mid foot for support and to make up for the elimination of all the stripe overlays of the Ghost 10 .

In a cool detail I am not sure I have seen before, the lace holding panel and eyelets appear reflective and provide a nice visual transition between the black upper and bright orange and now flat laces.
The achilles and ankle collar padding is ever so slightly softer and there is also a touch more padding thickness around the achilles relieving the very slight scratchy sensation I feel in the G10 at the achilles hold while improving the hold.
LEFT: Ghost 11                                                                        RIGHT: Ghost 10
As seen in the photo above, the G11 conventional non bootie tongue is more contoured to the rest of the upper and the foot than the Ghost 10's as it is thinner and less puffy but still with plenty of padding. The foot wrap is of a piece.


The midsole stack remains essentially the same at 29mm heel, 17 forefoot with a 12mm drop. After running the Ghost 11, I looked at the specs and was surprised by the big old school drop. I really didn't notice this high drop as I do in for example the Mizuno Waver Rider, also 12mm, but with its firm Wave plate really keeping the heel "high feeling" on the platform and to a lesser extent than Wave Rider the high drop was also felt in Ghost 10. No longer here. The Ghost 11 is the highest drop shoe I run in and I don't mind it all with a softer landing and very smooth transitions the vibe here.

Why does it feel lower drop than 12mm? I think it is due to three key changes. First, the lateral Segmented Crash Pad, the patterned midsole area above is now made of Brooks' new softer DNA Loft midsole technology 9see article here): 
"DNA LOFT maintains Brooks’ signature DNA midsole qualities, instantly adapting to the runners’ individual stride, weight and speed but provides a softer and more protected experience due to the midsole’s unique blend of Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), rubber and air. Rubber adds longevity, ensuring the softness lasts the lifetime of the shoe while air decreases the material’s weight. "
DNA Loft is softer than the previous Caterpillar Segmented Crash Pad's BioMoGo DNA foam. In the Ghost 10, while the crash pad was called out in different colors, the midsole firmness was the same throughout. With the change to DNA Lift, landings are smoother and transmit less shock than I felt in the Ghost 10 but in no way is this a mushy heel but it does have a touch less pop than before but also less of a lumpy shock transmitting feeling. The rest of the midsole-the medial heel and the front medial and lateral midsole are all BioMoGo DNA in what Brooks tells us is the same firmnessOR durometer as the entire midsole of the Ghost 10 crash pad and all
I also notice the name (and design) change from Catapillar Segmented Crash Pad to Segmented Crash Pad. Good!
LEFT: Ghost 11                                                                        RIGHT: Ghost 10
The Ghost 10's Catapillar Crash pad was more segmented with less ground contact. I now notice a considerably smoother landing feel. No longer do I feel that slight sensation of squashing caterpillars! 

While the previous crash pad extended all the way around the heel and was of the same BioMoGo DNA foam and firmness as the rest of the midsole, despite the blue color contrast (photo below), the Ghost 11 new softer DNA Loft crash pad is only focused on the lateral side, the pentagon patterned side walls shown below.
LEFT: Ghost 11                                                                        RIGHT: Ghost 10
The medial side below gets more continuous and with somewhat more bowed out side walls of the same density of BioMoGo DNA as the rest of the midsole. The sidewalls are broader at mid foot contributing to a touch more support but in no way is this a shoe where medial support is "noticeable" in any way.
The Ghost 11 heel has a bit more of a rear and medial flare.
All of these changes contribute to a softer and  smoother landing and then transition off the heel than I experienced in the Ghost 10.  The heel landings and transitions remains stable despite the softer foam due to the other changes which include the more filled in side walls, the heel flare, and the outsole coverage.The heel softness overall is less than the Glycerin 15 (RTR review) with its very soft all Super DNA midsole. I often felt bogged down at slow paces in the Glycerin but not here. The Glycerin 16  (RTR review soon) gets an all DNA Loft midsole and we hope it is livelier than the Glycerin 15 was.


Outsoles and midsoles work together as a system and here Brooks, without changing the location and pattern of where the rubber is placed, has focused on increasing contact surface area by removing front and rear segmentations and siping of the rubber. The Ghost 11 is a touch stiffer than the Ghost 10 but has more front snap and spring. On the run, the sense that the foot at all stages of the gait is in contact with the ground is noticeably improved
LEFT: Ghost 11                                                                        RIGHT: Ghost 10
There is less sense of the lugs deflecting laterally on contact particularly at the heel as the "Caterpillar" approach is eliminated. At the forefoot the sensation is of stable, continuous contact and good road feel. The whole system of outsole and midsole works well together through the gait cycle as the shoe is very quiet on the road.
I have tested the Ghost 8, 9, 10, and now the Ghost 11. Each version has gotten increasingly smoother landings and transitions and gotten less stiff, lumpy feeling and awkward. With the 11, the Ghost makes a big leap forward by making its Segmented Crash Pad out of the new DNA Loft foam, a softer foam than the rest of the midsole, and getting rid of the excess heel midsole and outsole "Caterpillar" segmentation. The Ghost loses a touch of rear of shoe responsiveness as it a slightly softer shoe at the heel but gains a smoother, more comfortable underfoot experience. I found the DNA Loft's additional softness to work best at slower paces in contrast to Glycerin 15 where I felt bogged down at slow paces. It has an enjoyable training ride which can, if asked, pick up the pace just fine.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The Ghost 11 does not change its basic formula of a well cushioned higher drop geometry daily trainer. There are no wild innovations here, no missteps either, just carefully considered real improvements. It will feel and run very familiar to Ghost fans, but is more polished top to bottom. It does gain some weight which wasn't really noticed on the run, but that I wish could have been avoided as at 10.3 oz-10.6 oz in a modern trainer as many other contenders are now at or below 10 oz. 

Might it be a bit overbuilt? Time for some midsole innovation on the lighter weights side? Weight aside, and focusing on the details of upper, midsole, and outsole Brooks has for sure moved the Ghost forward and more so than any of the prior versions I have tested. 

The upper is more comfortable, modern and attractive, the midsole combines a softer lateral heel foam with firmer medial and front foam to provide softer yet still decently energetic and stable landings and take offs. The outsole, in combination with the midsole and especially the rear DNA Loft insert smooths over the previous busy feeling on the ground feel into a smoother, more consistent, fuller contact one. 

In a crowded field of daily trainers, the very popular Ghost is sure to retain its high standing as one of the best selling running shoes, and maybe improve on its standing, as it now blends in the softer cushion which runners are increasingly seeking, enough pop, smoother transitions and improved ground contact feel. It is a solid successful upgrade top to bottom.

Sam's Score 9.75/10
-0.15 for weight which could be reduced. Brooks DNA foams are durable, and now with DNA Loft softer and more energetic, the new upper is supportive, and the outsole coverage extensive and tuned, the weight for the stack provided of 29/17 is getting up there at 10.3 oz in our sample, (10.6 oz.catalog weight), and more than the Ghost 10 which came in at 10.1 oz, not to speak of all the comparison trainers below with generally comparable overall stack heights.
-0.10 The DNA Loft is great but I would prefer a slightly firmer heel to increase response at faster paces.

Ghost 11 vs. Saucony Ride ISO (RTR review)
A tough match up here. I give the nod to the Ride ISO somewhat more performance oriented slightly firmer heel yet still cushioned ride and lighter weight but its new ISO upper while light and comfortable just isn't as supportive as the Ghost's for me. Despite weighing more, nod to the Ghost.

Ghost 11 vs. Nike Pegasus 35 (RTR review)
The Pegasus has a firmer heel and comparable forefoot cushion with a more performance oriented fit and ride. I say both with the Peg for faster days and the Ghost, a superior option for mileage days and long runs.

Ghost 11 vs. Nike Epic React Flyknit (RTR review)
Lighter by more than 2 oz the Epic React is well cushioned but for me kind of lifeless and dull. The Ghost has a roomier superior more comfortable upper, the Epic's is way to snug at mid foot for me. The Epic while considerably lighter, lives between fast and slow, short and long for me and is nicely "average" while the Ghost will do what it does best far better, daily miles training at moderate paces.

Ghost 11 vs. Hoka Clifton 5 (RTR review)
The Clifton 5 is soft, bouncy and lively. It favors fore and mid foot strikers while heel strikers such as me can find the softness fatiguing. The Ghost tames  heel landing and stability overall better with its combination of soft DNA Loft  in its segmented crash pad and firmer BioMoGo DNA elsewhere.  Upfront the Ghost is more stable and sure. Nod to the Ghost.

Ghost 11 vs. Skechers Performance Ride 7 (RTR review)
Lighter, bouncier, and more lively, the Ride 7's upper is superior in its lighter weight yet excellent fit. Underfoot the Ride while super fun is just not stable enough for me for daily training and has much more minimal rubber coverage. Nod to the Ghost if mileage reliability and a touch more underfoot stability is the focus.

Ghost 11 vs. Adidas Solar Boost (RTR review)
Here we have a problem.. The Ghost has a superior upper with the Solar Boost's somewhat overbuilt and with for some a biting front of the saddle and bunion irritating  forefoot construction. Underfoot both are softer shoes. I prefer Boost and Torsion to DNA for sure but where the rubber hits the road the Ghost's outsole is more dynamic and sure footed and its upper flawless. Nod to Ghost overall.

Ghost 11 vs. ASICS Gel-Cumulus 20 (RTR review)
Two similar daily trainers. Chose the Cumulus if you want a somewhat firmer, faster ride and impeccable and for some maybe overbuilt rear of the shoe upper stability. Chose Ghost for an overall more mellow softer ride but still a lively one.

Ghost 11 vs. Salomon Sonic RA (RTR review)
The Sonic RA at about 2 oz lighter has more overall stack and plenty of substance in its midsole with its its Vibe tech, has a more minimal but supportive upper and copious rubber coverage. It is firmer and somewhat stiffer than the Ghost but a faster shoe with plenty of cushion. It comes down to preferences. If you want one shoe for everything with more of a speed focus I lean towards the faster paces versatility and pop of the Salomon. For a more mellow ride and cushion the Ghost.

For reviews of all the shoes mentioned in the article see our index page here
Updates and a full review to follow.
The Ghost 11 will be available July 2018
Reviewer Bio
Sam Winebaum is the Editor and Founder of RoadTrailRun. He has been running trails and roads and run shoe and tech geeking for 45 years. As he turned 60 in 2017, he was thrilled to clock a 1:35.24 half as well as 2 days after his 61st birthday, a 3:40 marathon.  He runs his trails in rocky rooty New Hampshire and smooth Park City, UT. 
The Ghost was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.
Comments & Questions Welcome Below!
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Keep_Moving09 said...

Great review. Would you say sizing is similar to the Ghost 10? (i.e. could I purchase the same size as I did in previous version)? Thanks!

Sam Winebaum said...

HI Keep_Moving09,
Yes true to size and same size as Ghost 10 as stated in review under fit and first impressions.
Sam, Editor
Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our page with links to all shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews. Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated

vin diesel height said...

I like Brooks Men's Shoes,Beautiful shoes, comfortable to wear, thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

Did you notice any sliding in the back of the shoe? I tried on the 11, and noticed that my heels slid up and down more than they did in the 10.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review! Just got my pair of Ghost 11s, and they are a great shoe, and I've never been a Brooks fan! They feel like the old Nike Pegasus line before they messed them up by making them firmer, tighter, and 10mm drop.

I think this is my favorite daily trainer since the old Pegasus! Slightly softer and more comfortable than the Saucony Ride Iso-like you said. The 12mm drop works better for me being a heel striker too- than the 8mm of the Iso.

Too bad Brooks don't honor your RTR10. :( I still tagged it on though. :)

dariFRESH said...

Great read...I just did my first run in these after leaning on the Bondi 5s probably more than I should. You are spot on as far as responsiveness. As a heel striker do you find these inferior to the Bondi 6?

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks daniFRESH,
The Ghost 11 is a fine shoe for a heel striker. Plenty of cushion decently stable too. The Bondi if you are an extreme heel striker would have more cushion and might be a better choice due to its rigidity if you suffered from certain foot issues such as Plantar's.
Sam, Editor

Sarah Whittington said...

Simply cannot wait for the 12. Having been an avid Ghost wearer since the 3, the 11s are as terrible as the model 4. Thankfully the 5 was a gem and I'm hoping the 12 will be the same. July 2019 cannot come soon enough!

I've muddled through with just one pair of 11s as it's such a disappointment. The upper fit is so much tighter than the 10, and the ride simply does not give after many, many miles. Previously, I was used to simply slipping on a pair of Ghosts and heading out. The 11 needs breaking in! Very old school!

I'm desperately seeking women's Ghost 10s, US size 9, if anyone comes across them. Not sure mine will hold out until the launch of the 12 in July. Really hoping the new model is a better reflection of the Ghost stable.