Brooks Ghost 8: The Most Versatile Running Shoe

mj-618_348_brooks-ghost-8-the-most-versatile-running-shoe
 Brooks

The Brooks Ghost is one of those shoes that doesn’t see a lot of flashy innovation or reinvention between model years. That’s because, over its eight-year life, it’s proven to be a dependable everyday trainer for beginners and a workhorse for veterans. So it just gets tweaked each cycle, making it incrementally better with each release.

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The Ghost 8 is no exception. Classified as a neutral shoe, it’s Brooks’ mid-range cushioned trainer. The $120 price tag sets it in the neighborhood of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus, Saucony Ride, and New Balance Vazee Pace. Much like those models, it’s a no-frills shoe that has a lot of rubber and foam underfoot to take a heavy pounding and last hundreds of miles. In the Ghost, however, the foam midsole is blended with Brooks’ cushioning gel, creating a soft layer that resists any squishy feeling. The foam isn’t as soft and luxurious as you might find on premium, higher-priced shoes, but it has a resiliency that gives the shoe a faster ride. A blown rubber outsole in the forefoot delivers an even softer underfoot feel, yet is grippy when you’re ripping along pavement.

New to this version is an extended crash pad that runs the entire length of the shoe. Over the years, Brooks has segmented its lateral sole, breaking it into little pillars that deform independently as they come into contact with the ground. That results in an extremely smooth landing and a gentler transition from heel strike to toe off. With the crash pad being extended forward, the initial contact is smoother no matter where you first make contact — even if you land on your mid- or forefoot.

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The upper, too, gets an upgrade. A layer of engineered mesh is tuned to be flexible where you need it, but add structure to hold the foot in place — while also allowing excellent ventilation in the toe box. Dialing in the fit are film-like overlays in the forefoot that don’t pinch, especially on wider-footed runners. The Ghost still has thicker, glued-on overlays at the midfoot to really lock the foot down.

All of that combines to be a shoe that most runners can safely try out during a trip to the running shoe shop. While not a stability shoe, it has enough stabilizing features — soft crash pad, full-length ground contact, rigid heel cup — so even mild overpronators may find it offers enough guidance and protection.

Like your shoes a little flashier? Add $10 for the “Urban Jungle” version, which features an orange or yellow zebra stripe print.

[$120; brooksrunning.com]