Brooks Ghost 9 Review

Overview

The Brooks Ghost 9 is the staple of the Brooks lineup, offering one of the best neutral shoes in the market.  It is sold at MSRP for $120 for the third year in a row, one of the least expensive shoes on the market, and can be found online for as low as $89.95 depending on size and color.  On a personal note, I have trained in the Ghost for 3 years now and I have yet to find a shoe on the market that I like better for every day training runs. To give a little context, I have run competitively for a number of years, ranging from the 800m to the 10k, am on the lighter side with a neutral to underpronating foot strike and do most of my training on the roads.

Function

The Brooks Ghost 9 is designed as a neutral road shoe, but is durable enough to handle nearly any surface. It can also handle a variety of runner’s builds and is commonly used by larger runners still finding their stride as well as professionals with near perfect form. For runners that have a heavier frame, however, they may find that they would like to go into a shoe with a bit more cushioning depending on their stride and personal preference.


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The Ghost 9 is an everyday trainer built specifically for easy road runs but can handle some faster work as well, although I would not recommend racing in it for any distance under the half marathon. There is little need to move into a lighter shoe unless you are doing interval or track work well under 7:00min mile pace. Personally, I even use them for my 5:30min/mile tempos and have used them for track work when my plantar fasciitis is bugging me enough that I do not want to risk aggravating the pain with unsupportive racing flats. If you are running pain free in the lower leg, however, you may benefit from moving into a lighter shoe for tempo and track work.

This is definitely a neutral shoe, and will offer very little stability if you overpronate. If you like the Ghost but need more stability, I would recommend moving out of the Ghost and possibly considering the Brooks Adrenaline.

The Specs

General

The Ghost 9 boasts some of the best features on the market for one of the lowest prices.  According to the Brooks website, the top 4 features are the Biomogo DNA Midsole cushioning, the full-length segmented crash pad, omega flex grooves, and engineered mesh.  The shoe is described by Brooks as a “cushion shoe” with a “universal platform and neutral support,” as mentioned earlier, designed for the road or a track.

The shoe is a prototype for its category, sacrificing quite a bit of stiffness and responsiveness for that plushy cushioned feel. As far as the surface, however, I have found that the shoe can handle trails just fine. I have taken the Ghost 9’s on everything from the local golf course (with permission of course!) to the Appalachian Trail. While the traction is fine for the more slick surfaces, the base of the shoe can sometimes feel a bit wide for trying to squeeze your feet between roots and rocks on the most technical of trails.

For the men’s shoe, as measured by Runner’s World, the Ghost 9 weighs in at 10.6oz, a .3oz drop from last year’s model and is a relatively high sitting shoe, with the heel profile measuring 34.0mm and the forefoot profile measuring 22.6mm for a reasonably standard 11.4mm drop. On the women’s side, the shoe added .5 oz from last year’s model, bringing it up to 9.0oz, still not unreasonable for its purpose.  The profile comes in at 32.3mm in the heel and 22.6mm in the forefoot to give its ladies a 9.7mm drop.

Both the profile and weight are not atypical of a cushioned trainer and if you are okay with a heavier shoe with less responsiveness, you should find the cushioning to be excellent, giving a comfortable ride for many miles at a time.

Upper

The upper of the Ghost 9 is one of the biggest changes from the Ghost 8. While it has the same general shape, the Ghost 9 eliminates many of the overlays of the Ghost 8. The toe box is slightly bigger than the Ghost 8 because of this. The lacing has also been changed with the removal of the middle loop at the bottom. This has not done much to change the shoe and the fit still seems very similar to the Ghost 8.

The Engineered Mesh of the Ghost 9 does an excellent job of fitting to the foot in a snug but breathable manner.  Personally, I find it to have just the right amount of flexibility, keeping my foot where my foot needs to be but allowing for enough movement during the toe off phase. I have also found that the lining holds up excellently. I typically will tear through other shoes near my big toe or on the right side of a shoe near my small toe, but the lining of the Ghost 9 is tough enough that they have not given out even after 500+ miles.

Overall, you can expect the upper of the Ghost 9 to feel very similar to the Ghost 8: breathable and snug without being too tight with a nice wider toebox.

As for the look, the Ghost 9 is very similar to the Ghost 8, keeping to the same general look that has been the standard of the last few editions of the Ghost but looking a bit more modern with sleeker lines and a more refined design. The Ghost 9 is by no means the Ferrari of running shoes, though, as the aesthetic design is not fantastic compared to other brands. It truly is a function over form kind of shoe.

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Topsole/Midsole

The midsole of the Ghost 9 is the exact same as the Ghost 8, with the Brooks Biomogo DNA Midsole cushioning that is advertised as a system that “dynamically adapts to every step and stride.” I cannot speak to every step and stride, but I find the cushioning to be excellent for my purposes.  Even well over ten miles into a long run, I have never had an issue with the Ghost 9’s cushioning system and have found it to be much more comfortable than the competition in this category.

Outsole

The outsole of the Ghost 9 is, like the midsole, very similar to what we saw in the Ghost 8 keeping almost the exact same crash pad with only a few changes coming near the ball of the foot. The Ghost 9 is also a bit closer to the ground than the Ghost 8.

The Full-Length Segmented Crash Pad, according to the Brooks website, “accommodates any foot landing and delivers smooth transitions.”  My experience with the shoe agrees with this assessment. Again, I cant speak to “any foot landing,” but the crash pad of the Ghost 9 certainly handles mine just fine and I feel as if it accommodates well through the landing and toe off phases. Even on trails, it takes a pretty serious rock or root to notice any unevenness in the ground under the shoe.  The crash pad certainly does an excellent job of absorbing much of the blows.

Furthermore, I have found the Ghost 9’s crash pad to be just as durable, if not more durable than the already very tough crash pad in the Ghost 8.  This outsole is much of the reason why this shoe can last so long. I have been able to get 500+miles out of all of my Ghost 8’s and the 9 is no different despite the many different surfaces, (road/gravel/singletrack/grass/etc) and under multiple weather conditions (rain/sun/snow).

I have also found that the outsole does an excellent job of holding on to the ground. Even in slick conditions with mud or ice, the Ghost 9 gets much better traction than other shoes. On more than one occasion I have done a workout in slick conditions where my teammates were sliding around in other shoes but I had no problems in the Ghost 9.

Awards

The Brooks Ghost won the “Neutral Shoe” Award from the 2017 Running Awards, beating out the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus and the Adidas Supernova Glide Boost with the Brooks company as a whole taking home silver in the “Shoe Brand” category, missing out on the win to ASICS.  The Brooks Ghost 9 also earned the “Best Buy” award for the third year running with its excellent quality at a very reasonable $120.

Similar Shoes

One of the biggest market spots for a shoe is the niche of a “cushioned neutral” shoe.  Since the Brooks 8 fits into this category, it is useful to compare it to some others, including the Saucony Ride, Mizuno Wave Rider, Nike Air Zoom Pegasus, and Adidas Supernova Glide Boost.

Compared to the Ride, the Ghost 9 is the same price but the Ghost 9 offers more comfort. Although, the Ghost 9 sacrifices a bit in looks and responsiveness. The Ride may be more fun for lighter runners on faster runs as the Ghost 9 is a heavier shoe. But if you are looking for excellent cushioning and comfort over the long run, expect the Ghost 9 to deliver and last longer.

With the Wave Rider, the price is again the same but the Wave Rider is lighter and has less cushioning than the Ghost.  The Ghost 9 is also much more durable and comfortable than the Wave Rider but offers less firmness and responsiveness for faster runs. This is quite similar to the comparison with the Ride.

With the Pegasus, the Pegasus is a higher seller but is an additional $40 along with a host of complaints in recent years that Nike is not giving its best technology to the Pegasus in hopes of its wearers paying more for the Vomero. The Glide Boost, like the Wave Rider, offers less cushioning but more responsiveness than the Ghost and is marketed for $10 more.

Plantar Fasciitis

A runner who suffers from plantar fasciitis is going to want to look for more stability in a shoe but, especially if you do not overpronate, you are going to need to be careful in finding a balance between a fully supportive shoe that is really designed for someone who overpronates, and a neutral shoe.

Personally, I have custom inserts in my Ghost 9’s and have found that they help ease the pain in my plantar quite a bit, but not as much as stretching, especially in the lower leg, and rolling have done.  If you take care of your body well outside of running though, the Ghost 9 is not a bad shoe for someone with plantar fasciitis.

Summary

The Brooks Ghost 9 accomplishes many of the goals the Ghost 8 was not able to do, providing a staple “Go-To-Shoe” for neutral runners looking for a bit of cushion on every day runs.  The Ghost 9, according to Runner’s World, The Running Awards, and myself, is the best shoe in its category for its value. Even if the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus or Adidas Supernova came in at the same price, I would personally stay with the Ghost 9 for its comfort and durability.  Again, I am not one to care too much about the appearance and am much more concerned with how the shoe performs as one could argue that the Ghost 9 is one of the least attractive running shoes on the market, although it has made significant improvements from its prior editions. The greatest aspects of the Ghost 9, however, are its rugged durability and excellent cushioning system that will keep your run comfortable for much longer than the competition in its category.

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Overall Review

If you are looking for an everyday trainer that can get you through the vast majority of surfaces and conditions with excellent durability; if you do not mind the appearance, the Ghost 9 is arguably the best shoe out there and definitely the best shoe for its price.

Ratings

Comfort: 90/100


 The #1 Best Insoles for Foot Pain

If you have plantar fasciitis, high arches, flat feet, or other foot support issues, but would rather not purchase a new pair of shoes – add the Tread Labs Stride Insole to your existing shoes. The Stride Insole is biomechanically designed to support your arch and cure/prevent plantar fasciitis. Simply remove the factory insole from your favorite shoes and replace it with the Stride. The Stride comes in four different arch heights for each foot size, offers a lifetime guaranteed arch support and has a removable top cover. Take the Tread Labs Fit Quiz now and get THE BEST possible support for your feet.

#1 Best Support - Tread Labs Stride Insole

  • THE BEST support to prevent/cure Plantar Fasciitis.
  • Lifetime Guaranteed Arch Support.
  • Replaceable Top-Cover
  • Free shipping both ways.

Read Why Stride Insoles are the Best


Support: 88/100

Durability 95/100

Cost (MSRP: $120): 90/100

Aesthetics: 75/100

Value: 99/100

Buy Brooks Ghost 9 on Amazon

2017-06-01T00:27:20+00:00

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