The Brooks Ghost is the popular daily trainer in the Brooks line-up. I’ve reviewed the Ghost 12 before and although I enjoyed the ride, the heel to toe transition wasn’t that smooth. But Brooks has made some changes in the 13th and 14th edition of this shoe. I’ve tried both, but both in the Gore-Tex versions. The ride is the same as the regular version, only the material of the upper is different to make them waterproof. I live in a country where it rains frequently and when I volunteer at parkrun I have to stand on wet grass for a few hours, so having waterproof shoes in my rotation is a bit of a must.
The Ghost is a neutral running shoe with a 12 mm drop. I’ve actually seen different numbers for the stack height on these ranging from 32-35 mm in the heel to 20-23 in the forefoot. Brooks themselves don’t seem to mention it anywhere. The 14 does weigh 255 grams, so it’s not a very light shoe, but I guess that’s not such a huge deal for a daily trainer, it’s not a racing shoe. It’s actually a tiny bit heavier than the 13, which was 250 grams.
There is quite a bit of rubber on these, which contributes to the weight of these shoes. Brooks uses two types of rubber. A softer blown rubber underneath the forefoot and harder rubber underneath the heel. Even so, it’s not a super hard rubber like some other brands use, so you will see some wear sooner than in some other brands. I did start to see some clear wear starting from around 70-100 kilometers onwards or so.
The midsole in the 14 is different to the previous version, since the Ghost 14 has a full DNA Loft midsole, while the 13 has DNA loft on the lateral side and BioMoGo on the medial side, which was already an improvement over the 12, where the transition from one foam to another wasn’t very smooth, since it wasn’t along the entire length of the shoe. However, I was a bit surprised that the 14 didn’t really feel that different to the 13. Just slightly more plush, but still a medium soft shoe. On the other hand that still makes sense for what the Ghost is supposed to be, a neutral yet stable daily trainer. If they make it too soft it gets too close to the Glycerin model, since both those shoes have a midsole made completely out of DNA Loft foam.
The toe box of the 13 feels a bit roomier. In both versions the upper is not very stretchy since they are both the Gore-Tex version, but the upper of the 14 is a bit softer than the 13. The 14 feels a bit more plush and has more padding in the heel, but the padding in the tongue is quite minimal in both editions.
I enjoyed the 13, I took them on a trip to Iceland instead of taking heavy hiking boots. I did not regret that decision. They work fine as casual shoes (in most circumstances at least), work fine for more moderate hiking and can also be used for running. I didn’t really have any issues with the 13, until I used them for about a 100 kilometers and the fabric on top of the heel counter started to tear. Now, I’m not completely unfamiliar with the fabric and padding on the inside of the heel counter coming apart after about 500 to 600 kilometers. I have a narrow heel, so heel slippage is a bit more common for me and yes that might cause friction and might eventually cause some wear and tear. But not after only about a 100 kilometers and also not on top of the heel collar rather than inside it where your heel actually sits while wearing the shoes. At first I assumed it might just be a faulty pair. But then I noticed my regular pair of Ghost 13 starting to show signs of the same. Still, it could be a coincidence or just my feet. Until I saw someone else post about it on Instagram and when I posted about it as well, more people told me they had the exact same issue after about 100-150 kilometers. Now, that can’t be a coincidence anymore.
I returned my pair of Ghost 13 and got a pair of 14 instead, which I actually enjoyed even more than the 13. I was wondering if the extra padding in the heel of the 14 would resolve this issue, but it is the same sort of fabric lining. I also had the Ghost 12 before this (regular edition) and never had any issues with that model, nor any other of the Brooks shoes that I’ve tried in the past, although the lining in those was different. At first I thought the 14 would last longer and that’s also what Brooks told me when I asked, that they knew about the issue with the 13 that some people experienced and that they now had resolved the issue by changing the shape of the heel counter and that it should not be an issue anymore. But after about 120 kilometers in the 14, the same thing happened. Also saw someone with the Brooks GTS21 have this same issue. Again on top of the heel counter and also inside it a bit, but the fabric tears on top of the heel counter first.
And yes I untie my laces and I know how to tie them to prevent heel slippage, either way, this should not be happening to a shoe after about 100 kilometers on them. Which is really a shame since they are around €140 and they really should last longer than this. They are apparently made with at least 30% recycled materials, it is always a good thing to lower the carbon footprint of a product, but I’m not not sure that it makes much of a difference if your product only lasts me about 150 kilometers. In the end I ended up sending both the 13 and the 14 back, which is unfortunate because the shoes are really comfortable, for running as well as walking and hiking, they just aren’t very durable.
Both the 13 and 14 are really comfortable, stable daily trainers which can be used in a lot of different situations and it is such a shame that they both have issues with durability. Do keep in mind that the problem with the heel doesn’t seem to be an issue for everyone, it seems to depend on the shape of your heel, at least that’s what Brooks told me, but I’m also not the only one experiencing it. And more users have reported quite some wear on the outsole as well starting from around a hundred kilometers or so. I do really hope Brooks is able to sort these things out in the next version, because the Ghost is a really comfortable allround shoe that different types of runners can really benefit from and it’s also one of the few road running shoes that offers a Gore-Tex version.
Note: I’ve bought the Brooks Ghost 13, Ghost 13 GTX and the 14 GTX with my own money. All opinions are my own.