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Road Running Shoes • February 4, 2021

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 Performance Review

adrenaline 21

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.4 oz. (295 g) for a US M9 / 8.5 oz. (241 g) for a US W8
  • Full-length DNA Loft
  • Women’s colorways currently reign supreme over Men’s colorways
  • The safest Adrenaline boost on the road

ALDREN: Straight up, I’ve always tried to avoid the Brooks Adrenaline line. Nothing against the shoe, it’s just that there were always more exciting things to throw on my feet. Now that I have a pair for myself, I would like to formally apologize to Brooks Running for looking down upon your precious Adrenaline. It’s not my fault that I don’t want to match Jenny’s mom and the rest of her run-walk club. I’m trying to impress Stacy’s mom with my vibrant Saucony Endorphin Shift’s. With that in mind, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is all I want, and I’ve waited for so long.

JARRETT: The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is here. That’s quite the name, but not a mouthful. Seriously, be happy they shortened “Go-To-Shoe!”

I’ve put almost 40 miles into the latest Adrenaline before this review, which is more than usual. Is that a great sign? Did I love the shoe or was I struggling to figure out how I felt about it?

adrenaline 21

The Good

ALDREN: It looks like all of the shoes from the Brooks lineup this year went on the same diet. Every update in 2020 made their shoes look a lot more streamlined, and the Adrenaline 21 followed that trend. One issue with last year’s model was that it was too bulky. This iteration creates a more snug fit around the midfoot that had me feeling secure and locked in. The toe box is also very accommodating to my foot. I didn’t have too much wiggle room, but I didn’t feel like my toes were cramped together.  

Working down to the midsole, the DNA Loft performed well. Many brands are working towards a “right out the box” type of runner and the new Adrenaline 21 did not shy away from that standard. I took these out for a few 9 mile recovery days and my legs felt fine afterward. 

The GuideRail system from Brooks just works with my stride. The issue I usually run into with the medial side posting from other brands is that it takes away from the cushioning that the shoe is supposed to provide. The GuideRails system sits slightly above the midsole to stop any inward movement, while not taking away from the comfort provided by the DNA Loft.

The tongue game is improving from Brooks. Last year’s version was way too padded and never stayed in place. This new tongue is still on the thicker end, but it’s conveniently longer to help as a pull tab when sliding these shoes on.

JARRETT: Brooks redesigned the upper of the Adrenaline. With the 21st iteration, it’s a new engineered air mesh that is soft, comfortable and provides a secure fit. 

The broken-up 3D print on the sides adds support to the upper while allowing airflow to the midfoot. Brooks kept things safe with the firm heel counter and traditionally padded collar. It’s comfortable just how you’d expect. 

I’d recommend for my flat-footed friends to steer clear of the Adrenaline, as the arch is pronounced and very noticeable. My foot bothered me at first, but I got used to it after a while.

Another new feature to the 21 is the DNA Loft has been extended full length across the lateral side of the shoe for extra cushion. The rest is BioMoGo to provide a firmer and more stable ride. If you’ve run in Brooks within the last year or two, you’re familiar with the noninvasive GuideRails technology. This shoe does a good job of keeping your foot in place. 

The outsole is very similar to the previous iteration. It’s full of blown rubber for grip and has flex grooves for added flexibility. The shoe is holding up well with very little wear after almost 40 miles. 

At 10.8 oz. for my 10.5 2E, the Adrenaline 21 can go toe-to-toe with just about any stability option. These weigh the same as the HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 4 and 1.6 oz. less than the New Balance 860v11. Stability shoes are usually in the hefty range, and the Adrenaline 21 is on the slimmer side. For a well-cushioned and built-up shoe, I’m pleased.

Also, I’m not sure if my fitness is getting better (*toots own horn*), but my easy runs were anywhere between 30-45 seconds faster than normal with the Adrenaline 21. That’s a great sign for a stability shoe.

Shop Adrenaline 21 – Men Shop Adrenaline 21 – Women adrenaline 21

The Bad

ALDREN: A 12 mm heel-to-toe drop is pretty high. I can usually stand a 10 mm drop at the highest, but this caused a lot of flaring up around my Achilles. If you prefer a lower drop feel like an Arahi 4 or Provision 4, steer away from the Adrenaline 21.

The colorways on the men’s side are also lacking. Kudos to all the women’s colorways, I’m pretty jealous of them. The men’s colors are flat out bland.

JARRETT: While I received the wide version of the Adrenaline 21, it felt snug in the forefoot. I didn’t have any blisters while running in this shoe, but I think someone with a very wide foot might have issues.

Although the Adrenaline is marketed as a buttery smooth shoe, it gives more of a slapping sensation when rolling through your stride. It’s not loud enough to wake the neighbors, but it’s noticeable. Stability shoes can only be so flexible, so it kinda comes with the territory. 

All the colorways for the Adrenaline are some form of grey, black, or white. It might be the safest shoe when it comes to creativity. I expect more from Brooks who loves going all out with colors/themes.

Shop Adrenaline 21 – Men Shop Adrenaline 21 – Women adrenaline 21

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 Conclusion

ALDREN: The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is and forever will be a staple in the running world. This shoe is best suited for recovery runs and long runs but feel free to grab this as your everyday trainer because it can handle it. Those who liked the Adrenaline 20 will like the updated version. I also recommend these for anyone new to running and has no idea what to buy.

JARRETT: The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is a comfortable stability daily trainer. I wish the wide was slightly wider in the forefoot. If you need some stability in your life, I don’t see why the Adrenaline wouldn’t be a top contender. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done.

You can pick up the Adrenaline GTS 21 at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Adrenaline 21 – Men Shop Adrenaline 21 – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. This running show was recommended for Achilles heel tendonitis, would you agree? Any other recommendations on the topic?


    1. Aldren says:

      Hey Robert,
      So typically when someone is dealing with achilles heel tendonitis, the easiest way to relieve the pain around the achilles is to raise the heel in a shoe. The Brooks Adrenaline, along with the Brooks Ghost, have a 12 mm offset which tends to be on the higher side of running shoes.

      1. Thank you! OK, if you were to pick one over the other?

        1. Aldren says:

          Probably the Adrenaline. It falls into the stability category but a nonintrusive type of stability so it’s a solid choice.

  2. Katja says:

    Hi Aldren, super late reply to this post, and perhaps you won’t see it anymore. I’m a little confused by the following: “A 12 mm heel-to-toe drop is pretty high. I can usually stand a 10 mm drop at the highest, but this caused a lot of flaring up around my Achilles.” Did you mean this 12mm shoe caused flaring up or sticking to shoes 10mm and below caused a lot of flaring up around your Achilles?

    1. Aldren says:

      I think when I got this adrenaline, I was doing a lot of training in the arahi and endorphin shift at the time. If anything, I may have just jumped to rapidly to this shoe and flaired my achilles.

      1. Katja says:

        That makes sense. I never considered it could go both ways (increase drop = potential Achilles issues). You got me thinking now if the abrupt change from Arahi to Mizuno Inspire caused my issues. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the quick reply!

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