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Brooks Ghost 16 Performance Review

Annie Keris
Brooks Ghost 16

The Brooks Ghost has had an impressive…um, run (ba dum tish) as one of the industry’s top-selling shoes for quite some time, and the Brooks Ghost 16 carries forward many elements that will keep it familiar to its innumerable devotees. For example, its moderate stack, 12 mm drop, and comfortable air mesh upper (which sees only minor tweaks) all remain consistent.

Another feature Brooks has retained from version 15 has less to do with performance and more to do with corporate responsibility. The Brooks Ghost 16, like its predecessor, is a Certified Carbon Neutral product. This is achieved through the increased use of recycled materials and Brooks’ support of verified carbon offsetting projects that serve to neutralize any remaining emissions.

Brooks isn’t the only brand working toward better environmental practices, thankfully. But I do appreciate the fact that the company committed to accomplishing this with a model they produce and sell in the highest quantities.

But back to the shoe itself… There are indeed a couple of noteworthy changes arriving with number 16 in a long line of friendly Ghosts. Let’s get into it.

Brooks Ghost 16

Release Date: May 1, 2024

Price: $140

Weight: Men’s 9.8 oz., Women’s 8.8 oz.

Drop: 12mm

Sizing: True to size

Buy Men's at Brooks Buy Women's at Brooks
  • Rundown: The Brooks Ghost 16 maintains strong Ghost DNA while becoming more modern and comfortable in its cushioning setup.
Brooks Ghost 16 Lateral View

What Changed?

The first change to the Brooks Ghost 16 comes in the form of the outsole material. Brooks is using its new RoadTack rubber, which is a mix of rubber and recycled silica that we here at WearTesters found super impressive in the Brooks Glycerin 21.

The bigger change, though, is in the midsole, which has been upgraded to DNA LOFT v3. This nitrogen-infused foam has appeared in a handful of models over the last few years but is now making its way into a whole slew of Brooks’ slated 2024 lineup. It’s fair to say that we’re likewise generally fans of DNA LOFT v3’s properties around here.

But let’s see whether or not our affinity for those features extends to the Brooks Ghost 16…

Brooks Ghost 16 Cushion


Annie: I’m happy to say that the DNA LOFT v3 in the Brooks Ghost 16 is still the same foam I’ve come to trust and enjoy for its resiliency and understated impact protection in shoes like the Glycerin 21. There’s just less of it. You get a more lightweight feel and bit more pep in the Ghost 16 as a result. But the tradeoff is of course that you sacrifice several millimeters of cushioning in the process – particularly in the forefoot, given the shoe’s high drop.

Speaking of the drop…

While the DNA LOFT v3 delivered what I’d hoped, the rest of the underfoot setup of the Ghost 16 didn’t particularly agree with me. In my natural gait, the ride often felt abrupt. This was illuminated most clearly to me when I was running uphill and said to myself, “oh, wait, that finally feels better.” I’m guessing the incline naturally leveled out the shoe’s geometry and better allowed my body to employ its preferred mechanics for shock absorption.

Ultimately, the shoe’s 12 mm drop just seemed to have too imposing a point of view for my (mostly) midfoot strike, and I found myself having to accommodate a less natural movement pattern – shifting my foot strike either back toward my heel or farther toward my forefoot – in order to reap the benefits of the cushioning. Otherwise, the forefoot felt thin, and transitions were awkward for me.

I was honestly a little surprised by how pronounced this sensation was for me in the Ghost 16, since I didn’t have such issues when testing the Brooks Glycerin 21 (which sports a not-much-lower 10 mm drop). But our fellow reviewer, Tyler, did experience a similar effect in the Glycerin 21. So, perhaps the drop and geometry of the Ghost 16 is simply where my body draws the line.

But how did the midsole treat you, Drew?

Drew: I too think the 12mm drop is just too high. It’s weird because the Glycerin 21’s 10mm drop doesn’t bug me but the Brooks Ghost 16’s 12mm drop does. You’d think those 2mm wouldn’t register but somehow they do. 

That said, the Ghost’s 12mm drop is a godsend for people with achilles issues as it removes some of that achilles strain from the equation. Also, anyone who’s run in the Ghost for years will find the Brooks Ghost 16 consistent with previous models but packing squishier, more protective cushioning. For Ghost fans this midsole is possibly the Ghost’s biggest upgrade ever.

Brooks Ghost 16 Upper


Annie: Between the holey design of the forefoot mesh and the dotted pattern adorning the heel, it felt like Brooks was deliberately attempting to set my otherwise mild trypophobia ablaze. Intrepid soul that I am, however, I powered through and continued testing like a professional. But Brooks, I thought we were cool. Unless this is your way of nudging me toward exposure therapy…In which case, it worked.

Anyway, my idiosyncrasies aside…

In reliable Brooks fashion, I found the air mesh upper, which Brooks says, “blends stretch and structure with just-right breathability” both comfortable and very well-fitting. The heel counter seemed a little rigid at first for my preference; but it didn’t cause any irritation or discomfort, so I certainly can’t complain.

As for that “just-right breathability”, I appreciate the balance Brooks found. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to not be quite as insanely breathable as some shoes – like the New Balance FuelCell Rebel v4, for example – a shoe I loved and an upper I will appreciate in the summer but occasionally froze in this winter.

The Brooks Ghost 16’s upper isn’t too thick and is by no means suffocating, but it still gave me some welcome protection for running in frigid temps. If most of your running takes place in humid summer months and you place an especially high value on breathability, you could find a more breathable option. But sometimes a strength is a weakness and a weakness is a strength, depending on your perspective.

So, Drew. Did you also find the upper’s performance highly effective yet its porous appearance slightly emotionally unsettling?

Drew: Today I learned I’m lucky that porous uppers don’t set off alarm bells in my head. Not sure I would have made it this long as a shoe reviewer if that were the case. Shoe designers love their holes and dots.

But back to the upper at in hand. It’s a typical, somewhat breathable, yet very comfortable Brooks upper. The kind of same old, same old that makes this shoe reviewer yawn but is perfect for longtime Brooks Ghost fans. Brooks delivers exactly what you’d expect out of a Ghost upper.

Brooks Ghost 16 Outsole Traction


Annie: As we mentioned above, we first got to test out the RoadTack rubber compound on the Brooks Glycerin 21. I was hugely impressed by its grip and durability then, and I found it to perform nearly as well here in the Brooks Ghost 16.

I say “nearly” only because I think I really benefited from the rubber being decoupled on the Glycerin 21 and wish it had been implemented in the same way on the Ghost 16. The grip and durability is nevertheless very solid here. I just missed the extra flexibility and confidence in toe-off that the decoupling afforded.

As a result, the rubber on the Ghost 16 felt thicker and a tad more intrusive underfoot. That sensation is probably also a byproduct of the more moderate stack and the fact that a 12 mm drop makes for an even thinner forefoot feel. Regardless – and similar to what I experienced with the midsole – the outsole felt softer and like it smoothed out if I shifted my foot strike forward or back.

What about you, Drew?

Drew: The Brooks Ghost 16 has a lot of rubber with fewer and smaller flex grooves. That’s not a bad thing if you want to get maximum durability but it does hurt the softness of the shoe and is especially noticeable in comparison to the Glycerin 21.

I’d encourage longtime Ghost devotees to try on the Glycerin 21. I think the upgrade is worth the extra dollars and the outsole’s extra flexibility may feel like a breath of fresh air for your tootsies (Editor’s Note: do you mean feet? What a weird word. I’m editing it out next time).

Brooks Ghost 16 Heel

Is the Brooks Ghost 16 wide foot friendly?

Annie: The women’s standard (Medium) width Brooks Ghost 16 is very comfortable for my average-to-slightly-wide forefoot. I think true wide footers will likely prefer the Wide sizing in this case. And if the Ghost 15 is any indication, Brooks will likely offer the Ghost 16 in an Extra Wide version (as well as Narrow sizing for that matter). So there should be a width option available for just about everyone upon release this spring.

Drew: The Brooks Ghost 16 is relatively accommodating but I’m with Annie on this one, if you’re a true wide footer, opt for the wide version. It will likely release alongside the standard version on May 1st. 

Lengthwise, the Brooks Ghost 16 fit perfectly in my normal running shoe size. Feel confident buying your typical size.

Brooks Ghost 16 Close Up On Foot

Is the Brooks Ghost 16 worth $140?

Annie: If the setup agrees with you, yes. From the upper, to the midsole, to the outsole, this is another thoughtfully made, built-to-last model from Brooks. And the price has mercifully held steady with last year’s Ghost.

I get more enjoyment out of other, same-priced daily trainers that happen to better align with my personal mechanics and ride preferences. But if the Ghost 16 fits with your running style, Brooks is delivering a well-made, reasonably priced shoe.

Drew: If the Ghost is your go to daily running shoe, you’ll feel like you’re getting a lot of extra value (mostly driven by the midsole change) out of the $140 versus previous versions.

If you’re coming from other, more cushy daily trainers, I’d recommend spending the extra $20 to get the Brooks Glycerin 21. You’ll have a better overall experience and one that aligns better with the shoes you’ve worn previously. The Glycerin 21 is superior to the Ghost 16 such that the $20 premium is easily justified and buyer’s remorse won’t enter the equation.

Brooks Ghost 16 in the snow

Brooks Ghost 16 Summary

Annie: The Brooks Ghost 16 remains a stalwart and recognizable pillar of the Brooks pedigree. The loads of runners who have enjoyed the Ghost line in the past likely still will. In my case, the shoe simply runs () counter to my mechanics. 

But if a more modest stack height and a higher drop typically float your boat, the Brooks Ghost 16 is a quality, durable offering with a dialed-in, comfortable upper, an upgraded midsole material, and reliable grip that will serve you well through a ton of daily miles.

Drew: The Brooks Ghost 16 maintains strong Ghost DNA while becoming more modern and comfortable in its cushioning setup. It’s a great shoe for beginners and occasional runners. Ghost fans will also be extremely happy with the upgrades.

However, if you’re looking to take the Brooks plunge for the first time and are coming from a world of high stack daily running shoes, you’ll have better options than the Brooks Ghost 16 in the Brooks portfolio (both the Glycerin 21 and the Brooks Ghost Max).

How do the Authors Run?

Drew Whitcomb (age 42, 6’6″ 195lbs): Runs daily with a once a week rest day. Runs a lot of miles due to testing needs and a growing affinity for long-distance races. Regularly competes in marathons, half-marathons, 10k, and 5k races.

Annie Keris (age 39, 5’0” 117lbs): Typically follows a “two days on, one day off” running routine. “On” days include daily miles, speed work, and long runs. An “off” day usually involves yoga and mobility/recovery work. Enjoys occasional racing but perhaps enjoys the training process even more. Gravitates most toward the half marathon distance, but ventures into the 10k and 5k as well. The marathon is thus far uncharted territory…


While Brooks did send pairs of the Ghost 16 to facilitate this review, they had no involvement in this review, didn’t receive an advance look at it, and have not attempted to influence it.

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