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Road Running Shoes • June 9, 2020

Brooks Ghost 13 Performance Review

brooks ghost 13

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.0 oz. (255 g) for a US M8.0
  • Extended DNA Loft from heel to forefoot
  • New engineered (and better-looking) mesh upper
  • If it ain’t broke and people are buying it, don’t fix it.

ADRIENNE: After running exclusively in Brooks for a number of years, I totally ignored them for a number more (sorry, Brooks, it’s not you, it’s me). I got back on the train when I started reviewing for BITR, and ever since, my opinions of their kicks have been all over the place. Most models, like the Launch and the DNA AMP models, feel nothing like they used to; then the Ghost 13 arrives at my doorstep. Not to give too much away too soon, but as soon as I slipped these bad boys on, it was like reconnecting with an old friend.

Across most brands, there is a model or two that seems to be struggling from an identity crisis: while still good in their own way, many models aren’t sure if they are for daily mileage, faster training, racing, or foot coddling. Some try to be all of the above, some are more successful than others. Then there’s the Ghost series– it is not one of those models. Long, long ago, it was an up-tempo trainer; however, it was quickly converted into a comfortable cruiser with plenty of cushioning. This is a shoe made to get daily miles in comfort, true to what I remember from years ago. It’s relatively simple in design and oh so smooth to run in.

Consistency is key to the Ghost lineup– subtle improvements from the Ghost 12 result in an extension of DNA Loft foam from the heel running the length of the foot, and a more stylish (IMO), open-engineered Air Mesh upper. In the Glycerin 18, I wasn’t too thrilled with the use of DNA Loft and was on cushion overload. But for its more-nimble little brother, my somewhat Goldilocks-like preferences in cushioning were satisfied as impact got gobbled up in a virtually distraction-free, pleasant ride. I found myself reaching for the G13 over and over again as I put a good number of miles in them (all easy, plus strides).

Underneath, the generous amount of co-molded EVAs of various densities is rubber and more rubber. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to weigh down the shoe and has some pop thanks to some injected air and deep forefoot flex grooves. I’m a sucker for some forefoot flex in a daily ride and Brooks delivers here! I also expect a good deal of life from these; after 30-ish miles there are no signs of wear. The Ghost 13 is finished with a fabulous feeling and fitting upper that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. The finished product is an 8.8 oz, 12 mm drop thing of smoothness.

How does the Ghost 13 ride? Smooth as silk for me. Just like the name implies, it basically disappeared on my foot. For a shoe on the bulky side, it seems to be barely there once you get going. The G13 is the ideal recovery run and easy run shoe today as it almost rewards slowing down. It won’t get in the way if you want to go faster, however, it seems most at home at my easy pace. And I am more than happy with that (I bet my coach is too).

brooks ghost 13 - medial

The Good

ADRIENNE: Let’s start with the fit. It is damn near perfect: an accommodating toe box for plenty of splay and no slop and a secure midfoot hold make the shoe as comfortable as it is functional. I seriously have no complaints. It’s almost like it had my name on it, but it’s so well-made I think many others will feel the same way too. Speaking of others, this is probably the most forgiving shoe I’ve run in in years. You can land on your forefoot, heels, sides of your feet… you get the idea, and the shoe just moves with you.

I took these out for a 7-miler the other day on tired legs and felt great the hours and days after. Whatever Brooks did with just plain old EVA and some air, it works in this shoe. And it is smooth as silk. Whether you’re running a 7-minute mile or an 11-minute mile, like the cast of ‘Friends,’ the Ghost is there for you. Given the extension of DNA Loft, forefoot and heel-striders alike get great protection from the road. It also doesn’t run like a nearly 9-oz shoe, so that is neat also. I think this one will make my rotation as a daily and recovery day shoe, and maybe an easy long run here and there as well. Clearly, I dig this shoe.

ROBBE: You will not find a lack of comfort in the Brooks Ghost 13. The upper is plush in all the right spots without being overbearing. The fit and mold to the foot are right where they should be. Probably the best upper in Brooks’ arsenal. And the design is a step above most other Brooks offerings.

Like Adrienne said, this shoe will adapt to your running style. It offers a smooth ride, especially on downhills, where the cushion and high-drop work in tandem to keep you rolling along. After a long run, you won’t feel any worse for wear with the amount of pampering your feet receive.

One last thing– there are a handful of shoes out there that beginner runners or budget runners should reach for– shoes that will last forever and provide expected comfort and durability for upwards of 400-500 miles. This is one of those shoes. The outsole rubber will last and last.

AUSTIN: DNA LOFT, in the heel of the Ghost 12, extends into the forefoot for the 13. BioMoGo DNA adds extra cushioning and superb step-in comfort. On a related note, if you’re in the market for a Brooks trainer with a full-length DNA LOFT midsole, have a look at the “TempurPedic” Glycerin 18.

After the first two runs, I decided to try the third (8 miles) with a Ghost 12 for comparative analysis. I slipped the 12 (10.1 ounces) on the left foot and 13 (10.1 ounces) on the right to gauge any noticeable fit and ride differences. Honestly, I hoped for glaring distinctions, but the shoes feel quite similar. I thought I favored the forefoot cushioning of the 12, but four miles into the run, the 13 felt a touch softer. That LOFT in the forefoot is swell. The 12 locked the midfoot down better, but the 13 didn’t exhibit any noticeable slippage as my Garmin buzzed each mile.

The upper, an engineered mesh, breathes well. That’s a welcome feature for all runners as June and July temperatures are on the horizon. Heel collar and tongue padding are thick, and I’m excited to say that the laces are an appropriate length. Yes, the laces aren’t too long, friends. Rejoice in less work to tie your shoes quickly.

Shop Brooks Ghost – MEN Shop Brooks Ghost – WOMEN brooks ghost 13 - tongue

The Bad

ADRIENNE: Is a 12mm drop really necessary??? This may be just me.

ROBBE: Truth be told, the Ghost 13 feels a bit on the heavy side for a daily trainer, even though it is lighter than other daily trainers like the Nike Pegasus 37. For me, the weight seemed to come from the thick rubber on the outsole. I took this shoe on several runs, including one long run, and I felt like I just had to give some extra effort coming off the ground. Weird thing is that I moved straight from the Ghost 13 on to the Brooks Bedlam 3, which is actually heavier but feels much lighter to me.

Lastly, Brooks plays it safe, and maybe too safe sometimes. Not much has changed in this shoe since version 11 aside from the DNA Loft now extending from heel to forefoot.

That said, I know they sell a shit ton of this shoe, so like the old saying goes­: If it ain’t broke and people are buying it, don’t fix it.

AUSTIN: I don’t foresee the Ghost undergoing a stack height drop anytime soon, but I would like to see the 12 mm offset drop to 10. Better yet, eight. I note this because as a forefoot striker, running shoes with higher drops feel less smooth through the gait cycle. To put another way, the heel gets in the way, especially on the downhill. As for the Ghost 13, I’ve got no bones to pick. Step-in comfort is what you’ve come to expect—it shines, the ride is solid, and the price point ($130) is optimal. Drop the drop and the weight half an ounce eventually.

Shop Brooks Ghost – MEN Shop Brooks Ghost – WOMEN brooks ghost 13 - tongue

Brooks Ghost 13 Conclusion

ADRIENNE: For better or worse, Brooks may still be Brooks– but in the case of the Ghost 13, they did an excellent job in keeping a shoe true to itself. Such a good job it won over a lightweight trainer fan. I haven’t slipped into anything as effective for its purpose since the Saucony Triumph 17, and we know how that one went over. This is a shoe that works for both beginners and seasoned runners alike. When it comes to the Ghost, please never change, Brooks.

ROBBE: Fans of previous versions of the Brooks Ghost 13 will be pleased that just a few minor tweaks have kept this shoe largely the same. For runners wanting a new and fresh experience underfoot, you may want to look elsewhere. Point being, if you want a reliable daily trainer with great comfort and cushion that will last forever, you could do much worse than the Ghost 13.

AUSTIN: Like the Nike Pegasus 37, the Brooks Ghost is a daily trainer that you can depend on year after year. The shoe undergoes changes, but they tend to be minimal so as not to disrupt the fandom that keeps runners regularly returning. Also, if you like shoes with grey and black, the forthcoming palette will not disappoint. Of course, we’ve had enough black for the year. So, I suggest purchasing the brightest color available or waiting for a myriad of other colorways, including a Gore-Tex version later in the year.

The Brooks Ghost 13 releases everywhere on September 1 for $130. You can pick it up at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Brooks Ghost – MEN Shop Brooks Ghost – WOMEN

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Buddhi says:

    Hi there, I run between 60-80 miles a month on usually slow (10-12 min/mile) runs. I am mostly a forefoot striker. No competitive running. I just enjoy running for fitness and relaxation. I usually don’t do more than 8 miles a run.

    Current shoes are Brooks Ghost 11 and 12 and the 12s are newly acquired since the pair of 11s are starting to wear out.

    I had been running in NB Zantes before the Ghost 11s and the Brooks were a revelation! I stopped having ankle pain (twisted left ankle that never fully healed) after runs and everything just got better. I absolutely love the Ghost 11.

    I HATE the Ghost 12. The toe box is constricting and there seem to be round, hard cushions under my forefoot that start hurting after 4-5 miles. Ankle soreness also returned. It’s so bad that I’ve gone back to my worn 11s and the two runs in those seem to have cured whatever issues I was having.

    Do you have any recommendations? I am wracking my brains trying to decide what to do. If the Ghost 13s are nearly identical to the 12s, I won’t like them. Should I switch to something like a Saucony Endorphin?

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