Saturday, July 04, 2020

Brooks Running Ghost 13 and 13 GTX Multi Tester Review: Easy Going, Soft and Flexible

Article by Jacob Brady, Derek Li, Mac Jeffries, Sally Reiley, and Sam Winebaum


Brooks Ghost 13 ($130) & Ghost 13 GTX ($160)

Stats

Weight:: men's 9.9 oz / 280 g(US9)  /  women's 8.9 oz/ 252g (US8)  

Samples:

Ghost 13 W8:  8.9 oz/ 252g, Ghost 13 GTX W8:  9.4 oz/ 266g, G13 9.63 oz / 273g US M8.5, G13 9.88oz / 280g US M9.5, G13 US M12: 11.35oz / 322g, G13 GTX US M12: 12.4oz / 351g

Offset/Drop: 12mm

Available now including at Running Warehouse here. Ghost 13 ($130),Ghost 13 GTX ($160)


Introduction

Sam: Clearly by features and specs this should be a more “mellow” Ghost than its predecessors.  We have softer DNA Loft goes from a lateral heel insert to the full length of the lateral side with somewhat firmer, as before, BioMoGo DNA co molded on the lateral side.


The upper moves from a relatively dense and stiffer engineered mesh that worked well to a softer more pliable and thin mesh with many forefoot ventilation holes and a more streamlined and a touch less plush rear heel counter that remains firm and substantial,.


The weight checks in under 10 oz, approximately 9.9 oz / 280 g so we see a small 0.1 oz weight drop. The “drop” remains the same, at a big for these times, 12mm.


I remarked in the Ghost 12 review:

“I found the overall ride quite soft yet stable but lacking in pop and that is not all bad as there are plenty of light speedsters to choose from, some with limited range and requiring good form, which I don’t have. All my runs were pleasant, slower often by the watch than with other even comparable weight shoes and that is OK as we all need an easy going, relatively light, stable and well cushioned cruiser with no surprises or warts. A ghost on the foot shoe.”

 I wondered what more soft DNA Loft would lead to.


Jacob: The Ghost is the Brooks flagship neutral daily trainer. It boasts a more traditional design with a high drop (12mm) and padded heel collar, an ample slab of moderate-density EVA, and a balanced and versatile ride. The significant change for version 13 is that the softer DNA Loft foam on the lateral side extends the full length of the shoe, rather than only in the heel in version 12. 


I’ve never run in the Ghost before, although I have many friends who do everything in the Ghost and love it. Though I don’t trend towards high-drop, heavier, more “classic” trainers, I was excited to give the Ghost a shot and hoped it would be a nice long run, general do-it-all workhorse.

Derek: When I first got serious with running, I was sponsored by Brooks for a little over a year. I must confess that the Ghost was not one of the staples in my rotation and I preferred the snappiness of the Launch and Racer ST5 in their day, along with the bounce of the Pure series. The Ghost first came to my attention in 2016, when I noticed a lot of runners using the Ghost 9 as a race option at the NYC Marathon. 


After the race I tried out the shoe, and though it seemed too heavy for race use, I could see why bigger runners would like it for uptempo stuff, as it had a stable bounce to it. Subsequent Ghost iterations seemed to be hit and miss with Brooks fans so I am keen to see how the latest Ghost stacks up in the era of PEBA foams and carbon plates. 

Pros: 

Mac: Ample fit. Good cushion to weight ratio

Sam: The DNA Loft all way to the front on the lateral side smooths and eases the ride

Sam: Soft midsole saved by copious firmer rubber to give it (just) enough pop for moderate paces.

Derek: Forefoot bounce, very good durability even from the forefoot blown rubber. 

Jacob/Sally: Comfortable and adequately secure fit

Jacob/Sally: Smooth, cushioned, consistent ride at slower paces


Cons:

Mac/Sam/Sally: more shock absorption than energy return; I would like to see more spring. Too flexible?

Derek/Sam/Sally: toe box is broad and high and not as well “connected” to underfoot as I would wish. 

Derek/Sam: Agree there is lots of flex through the toes and a distinct lack of snap on toe off.

Jacob: Given the softness not enough rebound at fast paces.

Stats

Weight:: men's 9.9 oz / 280 g(US9)  /  women's 8.9 oz/ 252g (US8)  

Samples:

Ghost 13 W8:  8.9 oz/ 252g, Ghost 13 GTX W8:  9.4 oz/ 266g, G13 9.63 oz / 273g US M8.5, G13 9.88oz / 280g US M9.5, G13 US M12: 11.35oz / 322g, G13 GTX US M12: 12.4oz / 351g

Available Sept 2020. Ghost 13 ($130),Ghost 13 GTX ($160)


First Impressions and Fit

Mac: I haven’t had much success with Brooks in general since early-generation Pureflows, so I admittedly didn’t have huge expectations going into this. Pulling these out of the box, though, I had hope: they felt relatively lightweight, the toebox looks ample, and the muted colorway with just a little bit of ‘80s hypercolor flash is catching. 


My 13.5E foot slid in without issue; the upper has just a little forefoot stretch that accommodated my Tailor’s bunion without issue. (The fit is much more forgiving than the Levitate 4, which I found narrow and constricting.) The padded heel collar and overlays keep the foot snug as a bug in a rug. 


Derek: It is rare to get understated colorways these days, but the Ghost13 is just that. Simplistic and elegant comes to mind for my colorway. Initial step in feel was good. Very luxurious around the tongue and ankle area with lots of padding around the heel collar. At first I thought the shoe ran big, as I had more than a thumb space in front of my toes. I took the shoe and compared it with some old Brooks Launch 3’s and Transcend 3’s and realized the lasts are the same length, but the Ghost has a noticeably rounder toebox and that gives the roomier fit. Bottom line is that the shoe is true to size, though fit volume is on the high side. The shoe does not feel harsh walking and jogging around, and there is some bounce in the forefoot for sure.

Sam: A great looking upper with the 3D overlays which are not only 3D in structure but in visual design.

The upper is a very soft engineered mesh (softer than previous Ghost and notably with very little midfoot to toe box structure as even the toe bumper is on the soft more pliable side. The fit is true to size with a notably generous toe box fit as it is so unstructured. The fit should best suit moderately wide feet more than narrow ones up front. Yet at the same time over the midfoot the volume is relatively shallow so I don’t need to lace them very tightly. Overall the fit is more relaxed than prior Ghost, maybe a bit too relaxed as I think the shoe would benefit from a bootie in the mix to really lock down the foot as well as a more substantial toe bumper given the soft pliable mesh.

Jacob: Upon unboxing, I was initially uninspired by the Ghost 13. It looked and felt a bit big and traditional with a stout heel collar, large heel stack, and moderately heavy weight. However,  once I slipped it on my thoughts changed—the sizing was perfect and the fit slipper-like comfort right out of the box. 

Additionally the Ghost looked less large once on the foot, very sleek actually, given the heel stack. the aesthetics of the gray/blue colorway I received are great. The highish weight also wasn’t noticeable on the run. Underfoot, the Ghost feels nicely solid—soft but firm enough to feel structured and stable. Overall the foam is softer and less dense than I expected. It feels like a quality shoe with a versatile fit and ride.

I also tested the Ghost 13 GTX, which is designed for wet/snowy conditions. 

The GTX version has more differences from the regular version than I expected. The upper is much rougher, with different laces and without the sculpting around the heel collar. 

On foot, the GTX version feels stiffer, less comfortable, and slightly lower volume, though the feel underfoot and general fit (on the roomier side, true to size) is similar.

Sally: I have run in the past several versions of the Ghost, and know it to be a very popular shoe for many runners. It has been a solid, reliable shoe for me, but not anything worthy of exclamation points. But not every shoe needs to be superlative - this one might just be a “safe” choice for many. 


As for past versions, the Ghost 13 fit comfortably true to size right out of the box, with a very ample toe box that could accommodate most foot shapes, especially wider feet. There is ample and definitely comfort-oriented cushioning around the ankle and heel. The fit feels secure and yet at the same time slipper-like. I find the soft grey/mint green/black colorway of my women’s version soothing and appealing. Let’s see how it runs!


Sam: The fit for me was true to size, barely, for my medium width feet.  I found the toe box very roomy given the soft mesh and not particularly substantial toe bumper. Foot hold up front was adequate but lacking some lock down due to the largely unstructured mesh and soft toe bumper whereas the mid foot was low requiring a light lace up. All in all super comfortable, maybe to comfortable.


Upper

Mac: This engineered mesh is very well done: it offers just enough stretch to be comfortable, without 


Derek: The shoe uses a breathable relatively thin engineered mesh with minimal stretch. Upper volume is high and would work well for people with high arches or bigger feet without necessarily needing a “wide” 2E option. There is an internal soft toe bumper which further adds to the height of the toe box. There is definitely plenty of splay room for the toes with this shoe. 


I found that I needed to lace the shoe up relatively tight to get a good lockdown with this shoe. Normally I don’t need a firm foothold for a trainer, but I found with this shoe that if I don’t lace it down tight, my toes slide around a bit and I actually developed a blister on the outer part of my left big toe after the first run in this shoe (which happened to be 15 miles). I decided the blister resulted from shearing forces from my toe pressing into the sockliner to maintain traction as it is certainly an odd place to get a blister. Overall, the upper breathes well and works fine, but I would have preferred a lower volume fit, especially in the toe box. 


Sam: I concur with Derek that the unstructured toe box is wide and high and very comfortable but.. for my medium to narrow foot something is amiss upfront. My toes tend to rise a bit and noticeably in the toe box as the shoe flexes just ahead of toe off. I think the cause is an overly soft and not extensive enough (over the toes and in length)  toe bumper.


The toe bumper may only be part of the cause as the front flex is very forward and soft without much stiffness further back. More on this in midsole and ride.


The fit over the instep is quite low if with no issues. As the upper is light and pliable with minimal overlays and the tongue conventional with no bootie I wonder if Brooks lowered the volume at mid foot to improve lockdown? Whatever they did the lockdown is adequate if not performance oriented and perfectly fine for a mellow daily trainer but I personally would prefer a bootie tongue in such a light upper. 

Sally: This upper works well in that it holds the foot quite comfortably. I found the forefoot a bit too roomy and loose for my narrow foot, with a modest amount of lateral slippage when cornering or changing directions. I snugged down the laces pretty tightly. The laces, by the way, are substantial and hold well, perhaps a bit long because I laced the shoe across the midfoot so tightly. The padded tongue stays centered, and the heel and ankle padding holds the foot down very securely, and comfortably. 


Jacob: The Ghost 13 upper is seamless, slipper-like, amply roomy, and disappears on the foot while still providing enough structure to not feel too loose or unstable. Brooks calls the upper mesh “Air Mesh;” it is softer than previous upper materials used in the Ghost line. The mesh is certainly soft and nicely pliable but static enough to provide decent foothold. I felt like the upper ran a bit hot–unexpected given the thinness.

The heel of the Ghost 13 is fairly built up with a traditional padded heel collar, but on foot I don’t feel this structure in a negative way or surprisingly much at all. 


Comfort and sizing are exceptional overall. I have an average width foot and foothold is good but a bit loose in the forefoot which is only noticed on uneven surfaces or when cornering at speed, which is not the strength of the Ghost. I think sacrificing a bit of foothold for comfort is certainly worthwhile for a soft, daily trainer and the roomy upper has never been problematic, even when running on trails.


One oddity I found is that it’s a bit hard to slide my foot into without crumpling the heel collar padding and having to readjust it once my foot is in, unless I loosen the laces a lot before putting it on. The padding and structure here will likely break down over time, perhaps more quickly than the rest of the upper.


As for the Ghost 13 GTX, the upper differs in being designed to perform in wet conditions. This design goal is achieved by more than just addition of a laminated to the upper (non bootie) Invisible Fit Gore-Tex layer. 


The mesh itself is different–scratchier, stiffer, and also likely less absorbent to keep the shoe from gaining weight when saturated. For the same reason, the laces are flat, thin, and rough. 

They are much harder to pull through and dial in tightness than the plush, stretchy, round laces of the regular Ghost 13. I had some issues with lace bite in the GTX verison even when I laced fairly loosely. 

The final striking difference is the heel design, which in the GTX version is both visually less exciting, lacking the aesthetic overlay on the rear and unique bump out along the collar, and in combination with the overall stiffer mesh and poor laces, the upper provides a less comfortable and less secure fit.

While worse in comfort and foothold, the GTX upper is entirely waterproof (I tested it in heavy rain and standing in puddles that covered the toebox) up to the second or third eyelet where the tongue gusseting stops. This is the selling point of the model and is very cool given the very small weight gain and minimal change in breathability compared to the regular Ghost. On the topic of breathability, while staying cool is great for the hot summer weather, as a New England runner a great benefit of a waterproof shoe is for use in the winter snow, slush, and cold rain. As I tested the Ghost 13 GTX in the summer, I unfortunately did not get to assess the cold weather performance, but the surprising breathability in the heat makes me concerned it may not be as warm as I’d like in freezing temperatures.


Women's GTX Color

Midsole

Derek: The midsole on this shoe looks simple, but actually there is a lot going on under the hood. The bulk of the midsole now uses their soft EVA based DNA Loft foam. DNALoft extends from the heel, along the lateral part of the shoe all the way to the lateral forefoot. Recall that DNA Loft was confined to the heel in the Ghost 12. 

The Ghost 13 does maintain BioMoGo foam along the medial aspect of the shoe (co-molded so no glue seams) to retain some responsiveness for toe-off. Overall the shoe does feel relatively soft by Brooks standards, and despite the way we have 2 different foams being spliced together in a rather unique way, with softer foam along the outside and firmer foam along the inside, once you get running in the shoe, the general feel of the midsole is that of a pretty uniform feel from heel to toe. 


Looking back at the Ghost 12, i think they addressed quite a few issues regarding harshness of underfoot feel, by softening up the overall package, and they did an excellent (almost too good?) job of introducing plenty of flex through the toe box. Lots of flex, lots of vibration dampening here.


Sam: I agree with Derek’s assessment of the midsole: soft, lots of easy front flex, very well cushioned yet balanced in front to back feel between the two different densities as the two foam types are co molded instead of glued together. The stiffness at the interface between glued in densities can often be felt but here not at all, just a slightly softer feel on the lateral side.


All in all the midsole feel from heel landing through midfoot to just before transition is very well cushioned, nicely stabilized by the outsole and decoupled through the grooves and cavity.

Upfront things start to fall apart underfoot for me  While very well cushioned, the front midsole outsole combination is for me overly flexible at toe off and lacking in snap for other than easy mellow running.  I realize we are talking Midsole and not Ride here but I am reminded of many adidas Boost shoes which up front at toe off stop the soft bouncy Boost for a carrier of firm EVA to provide some toe off snap as well as including Torsion plastic further back. Here the DNA Loft is soft all the way to the front on the lateral side.


I wonder what the midsole here would feel like if the firmer BioMoGo DNA medial foam carried across the whole front of the shoe ahead of the main flex point to provide more snap at toe off as well as offer a touch more less deformable cushion as it currently feels a bit thin. And what would it feel like overall if the forefoot stack was raised a few millimeters with the heel dropping from the massive 12mm drop geometry. I don’t think many would miss any rear cushion by losing a few millimeters there as it is ample. And of course another way to provide more snap is through the firmness and geometry of the outsole.

Jacob: The Ghost 13 uses two types of Brooks midsole: the dimpled softer DNA LOFT EVA-blend foam on the lateral side, and the firmer, more responsive BioMoGo DNA on the medial side. The midsoles foams are co-molded together which leads to no visible or perceptible transitional line between the two foams. The intention of this dual-foam design is to provide a soft, smooth landing from the DNA LOFT but increase stability and encourage a more responsive toe-off from the firmer BioMoGo DNA.


I think this design works fairly well as the midsole has a good balance of softness, flexibility (quite flexible given the cushioning), and move-along response. I agree with Sam and Derek that it’s hard to notice the two types of foam. The cushion is ample and bottomless but it isn’t overly plush, sink-in soft, or squishy.  The firmer medial foam is most noticed on toe-off and makes it easy—for a moderately heavy, soft shoe—to roll off the toe and into the next stride. However the response and transition is far from snappy. It’s more of a smooth rolling feel than a spring or pop so conducive to slower paces.


The midsole of the GTX version feels the same in hand (pressing into the foam) and on the run.


Sally: I agree with the others that the midsole is soft and impact absorbing, and contributes to  to a mellow smooth transition with plenty of forefoot flex. 

I did not experience any real pop at toe-off, but there are other shoes for those tempo runs. This is a solid, comfortable cruiser, that might better benefit a runner heftier than me (I am 106 pounds soaking wet). 


Outsole

Derek: The overall scheme is pretty simple. Thick stacks of very soft blown rubber in the forefoot, and carbon-injected rubber along the heel. 

There is easily 5mm of blown rubber up front and just by squeezing it you can see the sponginess of this rubber. 


The design is actually not particularly different from Ghost 12 (top below), and maintains the deep horizontal grooves across the forefoot section. I think they might have been better off reverting to the design on the Ghost 11 with larger patches of rubber to reduce flexibility a bit. 

This is likely the big contributor to improving the flex through the forefoot. I have to say I really liked the bounce through the forefoot in this shoe, courtesy of the softer Loft foam and the copious amount of blown rubber. I liken the bounce to a hyper-charged version of the bounce we got from the Nike Zoom Streak 6 forefoot. Durability and grip have proven excellent. I am facing a wet spell in my neck of the woods, and the shoe has performed really well on wet roads here. Durability has never been an issue for Brooks trainers, but I am really impressed with the overall durability of what I consider to be very soft blown rubber up front. 50 miles of tarmac in, and the rubber outsole pattern is still clearly visible. I expect the blown rubber to last a long long time in this model. 


Sam: In addition to traction and durability, and with the copious rubber here that should be outstanding, the outsole of any shoe plays a key role in stability, transitions, and toe off and is particularly important in the mix when the midsole is relatively soft as here with the Ghost 13.


There is clearly less of the lag and deflection I felt in the Ghost 12 at the heel. The firmer rear outsole medial side is now shorter and less segmented with softer blown rubber picking up sooner..  While this change softens things a bit a mid foot I might have preferred a segment of firmer rubber for that area. 


Upfront as previously discussed in Midsole the shoe is very flexible. The outsole clearly keeps the softer lateral side from being mushy as it is felt as a nice stable and firmer component but overall the shoe up front lacks some snap and pop. Are the grooves into the midsole now too deep? Should the front ahead of the flex point stay firmer BioMoGo DNA instead of partial lateral side DNA Loft? Could the outsole rubber be somewhat firmer? 


Jacob: The Ghost 13 outside is composed of several pieces of very thick, soft rubber. The outsole is the thickest of any road shoe I’ve tested, but is well-segmented with deep flex grooves and variation in thickness in the rubber pieces themselves which leads to great flexibility given the thickness and bottomless cushion feel. The ride provided by the thick rubber is somewhat unique, giving a similar type of dense cushioned feel as when running a trail shoe on the road, but smoother.


The grip is tacky and great on pavement, brick, paint lines, dirt, and basically everything I’ve tried it on. The rubber appears to wear at an average rate so given the thickness the shoe should last many miles. Though traction is great, perhaps due to the softness and thickness combination, there’s a bit of instability while cornering at speed.


I’ve run the Ghost on moderate trail sections twice and the grip was solid on dirt, gravel, rock slabs, and dry roots. The fit is not conducive to uneven or twisty terrain, but traction is good enough that the Ghost performs well on tame trails.

Women's Ghost 13 GTX


In the GTX version, the outsole rubber is notably firmer and less sticky-feeling to the touch. The GTX outsole, like the upper, is likely optimized for wet grip, though stickier rubbers usually have better wet grip, so it’s a bit curious. 

In wet conditions, the Ghost GTX performs well. The grip is not spectacular nor confidence-inspiring, but it is solid and I experienced no accidental slipping on wet roads unless I tried to force it on fresh pavement and paint lines–it isn’t a tacky, overtly grippy feel though. The ride provided by the firmer outsole in the GTX version is a bit stiffer and less plush, though it’s hard to separate how much of that feel is from the difference in upper.


Ride

Mac: I am going to be up front here: I wasn’t expecting much out of this shoe. With all of the superfoams out there, trying out a “just EVA” just didn’t excite me all that much. I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised: although I wasn’t blown away 

Derek: The ride is relatively soft and cushioned in this trainer. The heel feels firmer than the forefoot, and I put it down to the difference between the carbon rubber in the heel vs the blown rubber in the forefoot, despite DNA Loft being the softer foam at the heel. It is not necessarily a bad thing, as the firmer heel adds stability, and also maintains the heel to toe drop of the shoe, through to toe-off. I like the bounce you get from the forefoot at moderate paces, though this is less noticeable at easy/recovery paces. 


Overall transition is pretty smooth, but I do feel that the shoe is too flexible through the forefoot and could do with a bit more snap through toe-off. I like how the shoe feels at faster paces, but weight aside, I struggle to sustain the faster pace in this shoe as I feel like I have to work a bit harder to get through toe-off due to the forefoot flex. 


Overall the ride is OK. It is not particularly spectacular but does have a bit of liveliness to the ride for a daily trainer. I would recommend it more for easy to moderate pace runs, and more for people who need higher volume shoes but not necessarily wide models. It is entirely possible that heavier runners will get more bounce out of the shoe, even at easy paces and they may like it better. I think if they had stiffened up the forefoot a little more, it would be better for faster efforts and make it an overall more fun shoe to run in.

Sam: I agree with Derek and Mac. The Ghost 13 has a great cushioned and smooth easy to transition ride, until you get to the toe off. Those wanting a soft easy flexing well cushioned forefoot with lots of front upper room of the more unstructured variety in the mix and soft flexibility will be pleased. I wished for more snap on toe off from a longer slightly stiffer flexing front of the shoe with more of a roll to toe off. I felt the lack of toe bumper substance had my toes rising just before toe off when combined with the flex.  I found the ride easy and pleasant at slower paces, but overly soft upfront at moderate paces with as Derek found more bounce as the pace picked up. 

Jacob: I also did not expect an exciting ride from a high-drop, heavier, primarily EVA trainer, and though not exciting, I really like the way the Ghost 13 runs. It has a nice roll-through sensation makes it easy to run in, and the weight is not noticed.The high drop (12 mm) contributes to the roll-through feel but is surprisingly less dramatic than I expected even after running in several zero drop shoes recently. The heel at least does not feel blocky or in the way at all. 


The Ghost 13 has true bottomless cushion for me (at 155 lbs / 70 kg) and a well-done measured softness that smoothes the landing and reduces vibration, but doesn’t take much energy away. It also rebounds quickly enough to get me off the toe without hesitation. This feel is smooth and consistent, not bouncy or squishy, nor responsive and snappy. The Ghost is less stable than I expected given its softness and flexibility, but still more stable than trainers with bouncier, more flexible midsoles (New Balance FuelCell Propel, Saucony Freedom 3, Asics Novablast, to name a few). 

I agree with Sam and Derek that Ghost is best at slower paces. Like Sam, I thought the ride was overly soft in the forefoot at faster paces and felt a bit odd with less stability and less of the smooth rolling feel experienced at easy/endurance paces–fast paces is where I noticed the lack of pop off the toe that Sam and Derek described. However, I didn’t have as much of an issue with the lack of a snappy toe off, which I felt gave the Ghost a relaxed, easy-going feel. It makes it worse at speed, for sure, thus cutting the versatility, but at this weight I was hoping for an easy day or comfortable long run shoe, and at those paces, have no issue with the toe off.


In the GTX version there is less focus on plush comfort and the shoe has a stiffer feel overall, primarily from the upper but also the outsole. In my runs in the Ghost 13 GTX I felt most notably that the midfoot and heel lockdown was not as good as the upper was a bit less dynamic so my foot didn’t feel as connected to the platform as in the regular Ghost. I also thought that while the ride was certainly in the same category, it was a bit stiffer and more stable. However, in an A/B test I nearly forgot I was wearing two different shoes–the upper didn’t even feel hotter and I could hardly distinguish a difference in ride. The GTX version varies in construction and comfort, but any performance difference is negligible.


Sally: I won’t elaborate much more on this, as I came to the same conclusions as the other testers. I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of the ride, and found it lighter in feel than its weight would indicate. I tried to push the pace several times with this solid cruiser, and was moderately successful - it responded nicely, though not as effortlessly as some of the recent high-performance trainers we have been wear-testing. But it succeeds very well at the easy moderate runs it is designed for.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Derek: It is a competent and smooth ride for a daily trainer, but just not particularly memorable for me. It does most things adequately well without standing out particularly in any one department. I think the $130 price point may be challenging for this shoe, given the selection of competitors in the daily trainer space from other brands, e.g. Saucony Ride and Nike Pegasus.

Derek’s Score: 7.6 / 10

Ride 40% 7 Fit 40% 8 Style 10% 8.5 Value 10% 7.5


Sam: Easy going and on the softer side you won’t get in trouble choosing the Ghost 13 as a well and softly cushioned, easy flexing, daily trainer that should last many, many miles. The midfoot upper is a bit low in volume but easy to lace in while the shoe rear’s hold and stability combined with just the right amount of cushion and rubber is mint. The toe box is commendable in being comfortable, wide, and easy fitting but too much so for my medium to narrower feet. I wished for a better lockdown to the platform up front. Those who have been on the edge of wide in the front of a Ghost should consider going regular widths here. 


The softness and flex of the underfoot platform up front, in combination with the upper, needs work for my tastes as it lacks front upper lockdown and pop on toe off. But at the same time thanks to the copious outsole it is not mushy.


While a great choice for easy mellow miles the Ghost 13 suffers a bit in the versatility department as a daily trainer for my preferences. 

Sam’s Score: 8.6 / 10

Ride: 8.5 (50%) Fit:8.5  (30%) Value: 8.5 (15%) Style: 9.5 (5%)


Jacob: I’m definitely a fan of the Ghost 13 and have been picking it for most of my easy or tired-legs runs. It is very comfortable and well-cushioned with a smooth and consistent ride. I’ve enjoyed every run I’ve done in it (at 57mi now). I tested the Ghost at a variety of paces but enjoy how it runs the most at an easy to endurance pace. The moderately high weight isn’t a burden on chill runs but becomes noticeable when trying to run fast. Also it feels too soft and generally less smooth at high speeds. 


The Ghost is a shoe that could work on most runs, and for those with small quivers it would be a great workhorse for easy runs, long runs, and just general random runs–it’s even capable on smooth trails–a great choice as a do-it-all daily trainer. For me, with a large quiver of shoes, the Ghost will stay in my rotation as an easy run or easy long run shoe. Overall, I was quite impressed and understand why the Ghost is a classic in the Brooks road line.


I don’t mind the 12mm drop nearly as much as I thought I would but do feel that a few mm could be shaved off the heel, thus cutting weight and lowering the “ramp” feeling without negatively affecting the ride.

Jacob’s Score: 8.7/10

Ride: 8.5 (50%) Fit: 9 (30%) Value: 8.5 (15%) Style 9 (5%)


Sally: There is no question as to why the Ghost is such a top seller. It is a good-looking, solid, comfortable, well-cushioned, smooth riding shoe for all types of runners, especially suited to the easy mellow miles. I have even found myself reaching for the Ghost 13 (out of a multitude of running shoes in my quiver) every day to walk the dog! It is a “safe” choice for those who don’t want a closet full of choices. 

Sally’s score:   8.5/10

Ride 8.5 (50%)   Fit 8.5 (30%)   Value: 8.5 (15%)  Style 8.5 (5%)


Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Nike Zoom Pegasus 37 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I tested the Brooks Ghost 13 and Pegasus 37 at the same time, and the rides are really quite polar opposites. The Ghost 13, has a generous fit, with a soft flexible forefoot, while the Pegasus 37 has an overall stiffer but springier ride and a rather narrow fit and low volume fit profile. I have to say I enjoy the Pegasus 37 a lot more for daily training, though the Ghost 13 is more forgiving for easy runs. Overall the Pegasus 37 is a more versatile and fun shoe for me, at $10 less.


Sam: I agree with Derek’s assessment of the men’s Pegasus 37. I also tested the women’s version in my equivalent size and found it softer and smoother running than the men’s due to its lower pressure air bag and softer React foam. Compared to the Ghost 13 the women’s Peg is more suitable to faster paces than the Ghost while having plenty of soft cushion. The transition and toe off are notably quicker in the Pegasus at all paces. In terms of upper the more performance oriented vibe continues with particularly noted a more secure forefoot hold than the Ghost for me but a somewhat less comfortable one. Overall I prefer the women’s Peg over the Ghost 13 but would select the Ghost 13 for easy runs over the men's Peg.


Saucony Triumph 17 (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. I know the Triumph was very well received by most people, but it is a shoe I struggle to go long in. The upper and fit tends to give me hot spots under the balls of my big toe, and is overall less breathable than it could be. It is a smooth versatile shoe otherwise, but of course is a bit heavier than the Ghost, and costs $20 more. I think people with bigger feet will appreciate the added volume fit of the Ghost 13. The Triumph is a bit smoother, and a bit snappier through the forefoot, but the Ghost 13 has a bit more forefoot bounce at faster paces, if you can sustain it. I personally prefer the Ghost 13 for easy runs, but would go for the Triumph if i want to incorporate some faster paces.


Sam: I concur with Derek above although I did not find the Ghost had as much forefoot bounce as Derek says due to its flexiblity but maybe also because I selected the Ghost for slower pace runs. 


Saucony Triumph 18  (RTR Initial Review)

Jacob: Though the Ghost is quite comfortable, the Triumph wins in this regard with an even more plush yet somehow also more breathable upper with a more locked-in fit. The Triumph is notably heavier and I really feel the weight, whereas the Ghost runs lighter than it is. They are both interestingly easy-to-run in shoes but the rides differ dramatically. The Triumph is more muted, buttery, and bouncy as well as stiffer and less soft. The Ghost is livelier and more flexible with more (appreciated) ground feel in the forefoot which makes it feel like a more minimal shoe compared to the massive, boat-like Triumph. Both are for sure easy/endurance shoes and slower runners may prefer the extreme comfort and top-class protection of the Triumph, but for me the lower weight and livelier ride of the Ghost make it more enjoyable overall.


Sam: Packing considerable and noticeable additional weight, a full ounce and some more than the Ghost, the very plush and bouncier T18 has clearly more cushion with a considerably more locked down fit than the Ghost front to back from its substantial upper. So much so that I wonder, given the broad on the ground platform if its bootie, Ghost has none, with a thinner upper and could use one, is really needed in such a shoe. The Ghost is livelier and a faster trainer if I think needing some of the upper security and less flexible more stable toe off of the T18 and is a beast for longer slower miles in total comfort and security 


Saucony Endorphin Shift (RTR Review)

Derek: I wear US9.5 in both shoes. The Endorphin Shift is slated to retail at $140, so $10 more than the Ghost 13, and is significantly heavier than the Ghost on the scale. Nevertheless, the Endorphin Shift is by far the more fun shoe to run in, with plenty of stack and cushioning paired with its SpeedRoll technology to aid turnover. The main Achilles heel for me with the Shift is outsole grip in wet conditions, but otherwise the Shift is an overall better daily trainer for me, for pretty much any kind of run.


Sam: Rocker for Shift vs flexibility for Ghost 13. Depends on what you prefer in a daily trainer. I personally preferred the more directed forward motion at all paces of the Shift over the Ghost more easy going flexibility which when the pace picks up has to engaged and pushed. I would add the Shift is also more stable overall and while firmer in feel more cushioned.


Brooks Levitate 4 (RTR Initial Review)

Sam: A pretty significant difference in ride and fit for these two mainstay Brooks daily trainers.

The Ghost 13 is softer for sure, has more forefoot rubber and a far rommier upper than the more performance oriented Levitate with its snugger and more low over the toes knit upper.  The DNA AMP PU midsole of the Levitate is more pneumatic and firmer in feel than the combination LOFT and BioMoGo midsole of the Ghost. The Levitate 4, unlike its v2 version, falls apart at the ball of the foot with a duller, thinner and stiffer feel than the Ghost’s more flexible soft cushion over ample outsole. My sense is the new thinner not extensively segmented Levitate front outsole just doesn’t provide much pop or response, especially at slower paces while the Ghost’s does clearly better in that department.


Saucony Ride 13 (RTR Review)

Sam: At about the same weight, the Ride 13 is a bit firmer but still very well cushioned. It more easily picks up the pace or goes slow. Both shoes share a copious amount of forefoot rubber which for the Ghost helps stabilize its softer cushion while for the Ride provides snappy response at faster paces. The Ghost upper will be somewhat more accommodating for wider feet. Ride 13 is a better choice for me as I like more response and a slightly firmer daily training ride.


New Balance 880v10 (RTR Review)

Sam: Very similar purpose shoes here, daily training. They have very similar fits although I would give the comfort advantage to the Ghost as far as the upper but hold advantage to the 880. The Ghost is slightly softer overall and a touch less responsive and more easy going.


New Balance 1080v10 (RTR Review)

Sam: The 1080v10 is clearly a somewhat higher performance daily training option with better fast pace manners than the Ghost but for me a firmer stiffer feel than the Ghost at slower paces. Despite being a bit to roomy not as locked down at the toe box, I prefer the mesh approach of the Ghost over the for me tight over the top of toes 1080 knit .


Skechers Performance GoRun Ride 8 (RTR Review)

Sam: Playing in the same daily training world, the slightly lighter Ride has a more cushioned and far stiffer forefoot with no real rocker compared to more flexible Ghost. It is also half the heel to toe drop of the Ghost and that is felt given its stiffness and lack of rocker. I struggled more to toe off in the Ride than in the Ghost. The Ghost upper is more comfortable and roomy. 


The Ghost 13 and Ghost 13 GTX release September 2020


Read reviewers' run bios here
The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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