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Finlay McAndrew  •  Running Gear •  07.12.2023 •  6 min read

Brooks Ghost Max vs Ghost - Shoes Review

Stable ride. Rocker geometry.

The new Brooks Ghost Max running shoes are designed to offer a completely different experience to the popular Brooks Ghost running shoes. Even though they share the same franchise name, they don’t share much else. For the avoidance of doubt, the Ghost Max are not a maximum cushioned version of the Ghost. Even though it may be logical to assume that Max is used for ‘maximum cushioning’ - this is not the case. If you want to find out what the Brooks Ghost Max are for, please read on. 

Close-up of heel area of Brooks Ghost Max running shoes

Please note the Men's Crown Blue/Black Iris/Marigold colourway (pictured throughout) was used for testing purposes only. The Men's Red Orange/Black/Surf The Web colourway is ranged at Run4It for Spring/Summer.

Brooks kindly sent us a pair of the new Ghost Max to test out. We hope you find this review helpful.

The midsole

The only technology the Ghost Max has in common with the Ghost 15 is the fact that they both feature Brooks’ DNA LOFT v2 cushioning - a soft and protective midsole foam. From here, the two shoes go in different directions.

Lateral view of Brooks Ghost Max running shoes
Firstly, the Ghost Max have a much lower drop - 6 mm versus 12 mm. This lower drop is mainly down to the fact that the Ghost Max have a thicker and higher stacked midsole than the Ghost 15. In fact, the Ghost Max have 10 mm more cushioning in the forefoot - this is all so Brooks’ new GlideRoll technology can do its job. To explain further, the curved midsole design actively promotes smoother heel-to-toe transitions. As a result, the amount of work going through the foot and ankle joint can be lowered. Brooks suggests this design may have benefits for plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, and Morton’s neuroma

Outsole of Brooks Ghost Max running shoe

Next, the base of the Ghost Max is exceptionally broad - particularly in the midfoot area. The wider base nets offer inherent stability and has the potential to provide more stability than the standard Ghost 15. Especially if you have wide feet. Furthermore, the midsole geometry may also help keep some people moving in their habitual motion path. Ultimately helping to reduce the likelihood of overuse related problems. 

The upper

The most significant feature to talk about on the Brooks Ghost Max upper is the unique liner last construction. This straight last design results in a fit that accommodates more foot shapes - particularly if you have broader feet. It also means the upper should fit an orthotic better than traditional shaped running shoes. It’s common for orthotics to wear through the sides of the upper due to the mismatch in shape, and the orthotics being too wide for the shoes. 

How do the Brooks Ghost Max feel to run in?

Let’s go back to the point about the use of the word Max. When we first saw these shoes, our expectation was that these were going to feel like maximal cushioned running shoes. By this, we mean we expect them to feel very soft, spongy, and bouncy. However, this is not how the Ghost Max feels underfoot to run in. 

Initial step in feel can be very misleading - as cushioning can often feel different when you’re running versus standing. Furthermore, some midsole foams can take a few kilometres to break in. With this in mind, I didn’t draw too many conclusions from the firm underfoot feel when I first stood up in them. 

Out on a run, this firm sensation didn’t really change though. For me, this was slightly disappointing as I prefer a softer underfoot experience. However, our job at Run4It is to find the positives in running shoes and establish who might benefit from certain attributes.

With this in mind, one of the stand out features of the Ghost Max midsole is how stable it feels. The broad base and responsive foam offers amazing underfoot support and my foot felt very supported on every stride. Additionally, the GlideRoll technology works well, and the midsole does lead to smooth transitions. The image below shows off the technology working in action. As you can see, I land prominently on the heel area. 

Gait cycle image

The cushioning felt best at easy efforts. I tried to run steadier in them, but the midsole lacked the bounce and lightness to feel good at that pace. While pace is all relative, if you’re wondering, the sweet spot for me was nothing faster than 4:45 minute/kilometre pace. 

There’s no doubt the Ghost Max are suitable for longer distance runs, as the midsole ultimately offers a lot of protection. However, I would always opt for a softer feeling midsole for longer runs. 

How do they fit?

Brooks have definitely nailed the upper design. The Ghost Max have a distinct point of difference to other running shoes, in that they have a very accommodating fit. For runners with broader feet, these are very likely to fit your feet well. 

Birds eye view of pair of Brooks Ghost Max running shoes on cobblestones

At the same time, the upper doesn’t lack support. I expected my feet to move around in them, as I have a relatively narrow ankle area. But this was not the case. The upper fabric feels secure and really comfortable. I don’t wear orthotics, but it’s clear how easily the shape of the design would accommodate them. 

How can the Brooks Ghost Max improve your run?

The Brooks Ghost Max are definitely best suited to easy paced runs. To expand on this, whether you’re doing a recovery run, trying to stay in zone 1 and 2, or want to keep your effort levels low, this is when the cushioning performs. While some may enjoy some steadier paced runs in them, you may feel they lack the energy return for that sort of effort.

Brooks states the Ghost Max can help decrease pressure underfoot and even have benefits for plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, and Morton’s neuroma. It’s definitely possible to see how the midsole geometry can help runners with these irritations. There’s a high chance they might provide more benefits for these types of foot problems than the standard Ghost 15, and even the highly cushioned Glycerin running shoes

Front on view of pair of Brooks Ghost Max running shoes

Building on this point, the Ghost Max offers a completely different experience to other Brooks models. There’s clearly a lot of innovation on display here and it’s exciting to see how this develops. However, it’s amazing how much anticipation affects your experience. Had the word Max not being used, I may have come to a different set of conclusions about the shoes. It’s important to note that these are very well cushioned running shoes, but they’re definitely not ultra plush maximal cushioned running shoes. Models such as the HOKA Bondi, On Cloudeclipse, ASICS Gel-Nimbus, and Nike Invincible feel considerably more cushioned. 

Can they be used for walking?

There’s no doubt the Brooks Ghost Max are very well suited to walking. The protective midsole, rocker geometry, and supportive base are all attributes that should help people feel more comfortable walking. Especially over longer distances. Furthermore, the linear last construction is ideal for insoles and orthotics. Finally, while these are very unlikely to offer complete relief from plantar fascia pain or other foot problems, they are likely to help reduce the overall discomfort.

Shop the Brooks Ghost Max

one of the stand out features of the Ghost Max midsole is how stable it feels.

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