The Brooks Glycerin 18 is Brooks’ most cushioned everyday trainer. This year, the upper got extra stretch and the midsole got more cushion. A stretchier upper and more cushioning typically mean a shoe is going to improve and that’s what happened here. The Glycerin 18 has been a runner favorite for years and it just got better.
Drew: The Brooks Glycerin 18 uses a midsole made of DNA Loft. DNA Loft is a blend of EVA foam, rubber, and air. The rubber is meant to increase the cushion’s bounce and durability while the air decreases weight. It’s the softest cushioning that Brooks makes and the Glycerin is the shoe with the most of it. And this year’s Glycerin 18 gets the most DNA Loft it’s ever had because Brooks reconfigured the midsole to pack in more DNA Loft goodness.
This is the plushest cushioning setup Brooks provides and it’s a fantastic ride. I really enjoyed the DNA Loft cushioning. It’s not too mushy but still protective. The transition from heel to toe is smooth. Brooks added a “transition zone” by exposing a small square of DNA Loft on the lateral side of the outsole. I’m not quite sure the “transition zone” is the main reason for the smooth transition but the midsole as a whole just kind of glides through your stride. That gliding feeling usually requires an exaggerated rocker geometry or a space age foam/carbon plate combo so I’m impressed that Brooks achieved this feel.
And Brooks didn’t stop there…they topped off the cushioning with an Ortholite insole, the Cadillac of insoles. Brooks deserves a round of applause for their work on this cushioning setup.
Jodi: Now I can’t speak for all of Brooks’ cushion technologies, but DNA Loft is by far my favorite. Plush is the perfect word to describe it. When putting them on for the first time you definitely have that instant step in comfort. And then it actually stays with you mile after mile. The company’s slogan is “Run Happy” for a reason people.
Drew: A wide base with the midsole flaring on both sides of the forefoot creates a stable platform. The internal heel counter is beefy and, as is standard these days, you sit inside the midsole at the heel. The really comfortable stretchy upper doesn’t stretch too much and you stay on the footbed when faced with uneven terrain. Is it enough to take them off road? Depends. The Glycerin 18 will work on dirt or gravel trails but I’d upgrade to a trail shoe for any trails with a lot of rocks or roots.
Jodi: I actually did take my pair off roading on some single lane dirt paths and the support was there. Based on the way the shoe is constructed, I’d say the Glycerin 18 is the closest in my current running rotation to being able to handle those more rugged conditions. Drew already went over the wide base, but I feel like a lot can be said for the heavily padded but sculpted heel and collar area. It really locked me into the footbed. I never had any heel slippage or rubbing.
Drew: The double-jacquard engineered mesh upper is stretchier than I expected and feels luxurious compared to most engineered mesh. It’s the closest I’ve seen an engineered mesh come to approximating a knit. The ¾ internal mesh bootie adds to the upper’s lux feel. And despite the double layer, the front of the shoe is nicely breathable. On the upper’s exterior, there are vinyl pentagrams patterned on both the medial and lateral sides (for looks), a vinyl Brooks logo, and vinyl reinforcement on all the lace loops.
The lace material itself is strange. It feels like a hollow, scratchy wool. But they’re nice and stretchy and don’t come undone. I wouldn’t mind seeing these laces pop up on other Brooks models like the Hyperion Tempo.
Jodi: The laces are strange! I’d hate for them to come into contact with any sort of velcro because they’d be toast. But they’re nice because for one they’re long enough. That can’t be said for all running shoe laces (Nike Pegasus 37 I’m looking at you). And two, you don’t have to double knot them. I never had them come untied. But hey, if you feel like you NEED to double knot them, there’s plenty of lace to do so.
My only complaint about the rest of the upper is that all that beautiful padding for the great lockdown is a super sponge for sweat. So make sure you let these guys air out. Don’t go forgetting them in a gym bag or the trunk of your car.
Drew: On the product page for the Glycerin 18, Brooks calls the fit plush. I can’t really argue with that. It’s nicer than most engineered meshes but doesn’t quite reach the socklike comfort of a knit upper. There’s plenty of room for wide footers but my narrow foot didn’t feel like it was sliding around. I was able to get the laces set where I wanted after 2-3 runs and from then on I’ve been able to slip the shoe on and off. The Glycerin 18 fits true to size for both narrow and wide footers.
Jodi: The fit is a dream come true for this wide footer! If you’re a wide footer like me then you know how hard finding the right shoe can be. The forefoot had enough width and just enough length for plenty of natural toe splay AND I never had any heel slippage. NEVER. Not even on my very first run. The fit actually has to be my favorite part of this shoe. I’d say it was like slipping on a pair of your favorite yoga pants. I felt like I could move around naturally but was fully supported.
Drew: The outsole features a lot of rubber (green rubber apparently 🤷🏼♂️), and even though it’s soft to the touch, it’s holding up well. It’s not going to last as long as some harder rubbers but it won’t be a durability disaster like blown rubber. I expect the Glycerin 18’s traction to last 250+ miles. I also didn’t experience any slippage running in wet conditions on pavement and grass.
Jodi: To be honest, I was worried about the traction. My last experience with Brooks was in the Hyperion Tempo and things got dicey when water entered the equation. So getting some kind of testing done where the elements were involved was on my list. Luckily, it’s springtime in California and mother nature is a wild woman. So between sprinklers on really hot days and some rogue rain showers I was able to get that done. The Glycerin 18’s traction was loads better than the Hyperion Tempo. It’s not the grippiest traction I’ve come across, but it did the job well.
Drew: The Brooks Glycerin 18 is one of the best everyday trainers on the market. I can’t say enough good things about this shoe. It’s a well-rounded package that will be a great running companion for all types of workouts.
Jodi: I don’t want to sound like a cliche but the Brooks Glycerin 18 might almost be the Goldilocks of my running sneakers. Everything is just about right. The way it checks off all the boxes leaves me to wonder what, if anything, I’d ask to be improved upon.
Thanks to Brooks for sending pairs to test. Brooks was not given any editorial control of the review. This review is based on our weartesters’ experiences using the shoes for speed workouts, trail runs, treadmill training, long runs, casual wear, and more.