In this review, we turn our attention to one of the long-standing leaders in running, Brooks. In our effort to continually run in our ever-challenging Pacific Northwest weather, we are reviewing the new Brooks Ghost 8 GTX. The goal, as it is with any all-weather shoe, is to let you run as you would normally, but to keep the weather out. And when someone makes a claim that, then we are definitely going to put it through its paces.
First off, the GTX model of the Ghost 8 is really just a waterproof version of their standard Ghost 8 and this means that aside from the addition of specific lining and other weather proofing elements the shoe pretty much matches up to its parent one-to-one. It is designed to be a neutral runner with a fairly high offset (12mm) and is very much a staple in the Brooks line. The shoe is targeted at, in our opinion, recreational to mid-level runners who aren’t overly concerned with massive speed improvements or going for very long distances at high speeds. Instead it caters to people looking for a solid running shoe that needs minimal break in time that lets them stomp out an easy 5 or 10K. This is not a negative at all and in fact just the opposite, it’s what makes this shoe a very solid seller for Brooks as it tends to work well for a large number of people.
Styling and Design
I’ve always had the feeling that when you see a Brooks shoe, you’re very much looking at what you’ve always expected a running shoe to be. I mean the silhouette of a Brooks shoe is what they model clipart after, it’s spot on. The Ghost 8 features a virtually seamless design and is a mix of mesh and paneling. Unlike the standard 8, the mesh on the GTX is Gore-tex which is how they get the waterproofing out of it. The sole is their proprietary Segmented Crash Pad which basically means there are a ton of grooves throughout the entire structure of the sole. This is supposed create a cushier ride and make the shoe more responsive. Brooks styling in the recreational area is never over-the-top and in fact is just the opposite, it is simple and understated. This is really designed to be appealing to people who aren’t looking for something flashy. The Ghost 8 GTX only offers one color way, but the non-GTX has quite a few to choose from including some super wild styles.
Structure and Feel
We have reviewed a few Brooks shoes prior and the last road shoes tested were the Transcend 2s which we loved so it’s best to go apples to apples with. The reason we loved them was their flexibility and cushioning. The Ghost 8 and especially the GTX just aren’t in the same place and in fact we found them to be quite stiff throughout their midsole. You don’t necessarily get a lot of ground feel in them, but they still track well and honestly the footbed is plush. Internally, the virtually seamless design does give you a very snug sock like fit and break in time is next to nothing. They feel really good when you slide them on and after lace up, they stay very snug and consistent. The toe box could stand to be a bit larger in my opinion, but I feel this way pretty much consistently about all shoes I test that have that “traditional” silhouette.
Let’s talk about how well these shoes run instead of how they look or even feel. First off, they are a great shoe for the recreational runner I will definitely say that. At low to mid mileage these shoes are solid, they are well cushioned and honestly the stiffness that were feeling degrades quickly and turns instead towards support and traction. The thing I found odd with the shoe is that while the sole is stiff, its also plush so its very soft. You don’t get a lot of flexibility, but you get a lot of underfoot comfort. This took a little getting used to and is a good thing, just unexpected. After over 20 runs in these, it’s also clear how little they break down. The feel is almost the same from day 1 as it is on day 30. I did always found them a little heavy if you are looking to drop your times, but if you are looking for longevity at your standard pace, then you will feel right at home. I think the GTX is a great platform if you really need the weatherproofing, but if you can do without it then save the weight and warmth and go with the straight 8. That event= slight weight drop will turn into better performance.
When someone tells me something is waterproof, then you better bet I am going to test them out the right way and to that end, the Ghost 8 GTXs were put up against runs of varying lengths in what I would call various phases of inclement weather. First, for shorter runs ranging between 3 and 7 miles in a light rain on an already wet ground, puddles of varying depths and some additional level of debris. The GTX stood up well here and for the most part, the interior stayed dry, and the shoe gained no real additional weight from the added water. The sole moved easily through small levels of debris and puddles with limited performance or comfort impact. I also took them out on longer 10-15 miles runs and through what I would describe as a weather-pocalypse to see if they could stand up as well. This means a lot more rain coming down, more debris, sizable puddles, etc. In all honesty, they lost this battle in many ways. By the end of the run, they felt heavier and were visibly soaked inside and out. It was a little extreme, I get it, but definitely wanted to see how much they could handle. I think for most runs in a fairly light rain under ten miles they should work pretty well. If you are going further than that or the volume of water picks up, then be prepared. We haven’t tested these in the snow just yet, but we have had a chance to run them at some pretty low temperatures, down to the low 20s, and they did keep the feet toasty and warm.
The Ghost 8 GTX is a great shoe for recreational runners looking to keep running in the rain in that 13 mile and below range. These things were built to tackle the weather and we really bombed them with it. They are stiff yet soft, but for many runners, heel strikers in particular, might really like this, but it is something to keep in mind. They aren’t flashy, but instead are subdued and understated. The Ghost 8 GTX is a solid shoe with a massive target market that won’t be disappointed. If you can live without waterproofing, then definitely do the non-GTX and save the weight. It will help your running game even more.
The Brooks Ghost 8 GTX are available for $150 and can be purchased directly from Brooks or at your local running retailer.