Brooks is a brand that has consistently delivered quality running shoes for a wide variety of runners.
With over 100 years of experience, Brooks has adapted over time to fit the needs of road runners, trail runners, and all runners between.
The Brooks Ghost Max is an all-new, high-cushion running shoe that has turned quite a few heads in our Marathon Sports stores. The Ghost has been the bread and butter of Brooks since its release back in 2008, and for good reason. It’s a reliable daily trainer with plenty of cushioning that will support you for various types of runs. The Ghost Max is the first spinoff from the legendary Brooks Ghost and we’re absolutely here for it.
Our Review Process
Here at Marathon Sports, running permeates our day-to-day lives in so many different ways. Our team members take the time to learn the ins and outs of all types of running shoes to form an unbiased opinion for readers to digest. We’ll give you the pros and then clap right back with the cons, giving you the most accurate information to help you find your right fit.
To accurately review the Brooks Ghost Max we set specific parameters and guidelines to help us along the way. Knowing it has plenty of cushioning is great but we also want to know how it compares to competitors.
We tested the Ghost Max alongside similar running shoes such as the HOKA Bondi and Asics Nimbus 25 to get a feel for what was done better and what could be improved. These tests spanned several months including runs at a variety of distances to examine the wear and tear over time.
Our comprehensive review contains insights from all of our reviewers to get the whole picture surrounding the Brooks Ghost Max. Each unique gait and running style gets us a little closer to understanding who will enjoy this running shoe. Ultimately, we want to provide you with enough knowledge to make an informed decision about whether this is the right shoe for you.
Brooks Ghost Max Details and Highlights
For those looking to hit the ground running, here are some of the key details about the Brooks Ghost Max:
- Men’s size 9 weighs 10 ounces; Women’s size 8 is 9 ounces
- 39 mm/33 mm stack height
- 6mm drop/heel-toe offset
- Made for daily training or casual walking
- True to size fit
- High-stack DNA LOFT v2 cushioning
- GlideRoll Rocker technology to help promote smooth heel-to-toe transitions
- Broad base for a more stable and supportive ride
- American Podiatry Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance recognizing this product promotes good foot health
- Carbon neutral
- Price: $150
Deep Diving Into the Ghost Max’s Features
The Brooks Ghost Max may not have a previous model you’re familiar with, however, it’s made with various Brooks technologies you may already know and love. Practically all of our reviewers mentioned the high stack and high cushioning first when testing, claiming it was soft and comfortable as soon as they laced their shoes up.
DNA LOFT v2 Cushioning
The Ghost Max features a thick stack of DNA LOFT v2 midsole foam and feels like one of the highest-cushioned, best Brooks running shoes to date.
DNA LOFT v2 is one of four different midsole technologies from Brooks and is classified as the softest of the lot. This midsole technology combines lightweight foam, rubber, and air to create a consistently soft running or walking experience. This is a great option for legs that are pounding the pavement day after day and could use a little extra impact absorption.
The super soft DNA LOFT v2 cushioning can make minor terrain changes go unnoticed underfoot. This is a good thing in regards to protection and consistency but if you prefer more responsiveness with your cushion, Brooks balances the two well with their DNA Flash midsole technology. Check out DNA Flash cushioning in the Brooks Hyperion Max.
Brooks running shoes generally shy away from incorporated rockers but it absolutely works for the Ghost Max.
If you aren’t familiar with running shoes with incorporated rockers we’ll give you a quick rundown. Rockers such as Brooks GlideRoll are used to help guide you through the gait cycle thus preserving your forward momentum. Some, such as the Brooks Ghost Max, utilize a full heel-to-toe rocker while others may only use a forefoot or toe rocker.
The highly cushioned DNA LOFT v2 foam and GlideRoll Rocker work in tandem to create a balanced running shoe that will cushion the impact of each step while guiding you to the next. Brooks suggests that these features combined with a lower offset are beneficial for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, and Morton’s neuroma.
Inherent Stability from a Broad Base
Most running brands will make high-cushion stability running shoes and high-cushion neutral running shoes. The Brooks Ghost Max fits somewhere between these broad categories with the help of the slightly widened base adding a touch of stability and support.
Unlike traditional stability running shoes, the Ghost Max does not use a medial post. Instead, the broad base gives you a larger platform to land on, providing inherent stability without changing your natural gait. It also adds a little more space for those with slightly wider feet or those who use their own orthotics.
An initiative that stands out for the Brooks Ghost Max is the focus on creating a carbon-neutral running shoe to combat climate change. Brooks uses more and more recycled materials in their shoes to lower their carbon footprint while also supporting carbon offset projects to neutralize their emissions.
Here are some sustainable facts regarding the Ghost Max:
- 56.4% Recycled materials used in the upper
- 9.39 Plastic bottles diverted from landfills
How Does the Ghost Max Fit?
Each of our reviewers reported that the Brooks Ghost Max fit true to size in length but did note the wider base gave them a little extra breathing room in terms of width. This extra space didn’t feel like too much and could be a great option for those with slightly wider feet. If you’re in between sizes, sizing up could potentially offer more room than you prefer, we recommend visiting your local Marathon Sports to find your Right Fit™.
When lacing up the Ghost Max our reviewers compared the upper and lockdown to the current Brooks Ghost 15. The heel collar and tongue are fairly plush, providing plenty of padding while still remaining breathable and lightweight. It also sports an external heel counter to keep your heel in place in complete comfort.
Road Testing Results
Our favorite part of any review is undoubtedly the road test. Don’t get us wrong, we love diving deep into running shoe features but nothing beats lacing them up and hitting the streets.
Our reviewers took the Brooks Ghost Max out for long runs and short runs (Brian even attempted a speed workout) to get a sense of how it performs.
During long runs, the Ghost Max cushioning consistently delivered a comfortable experience from start to finish. Even better, the Ghost Max is deceivingly lightweight, coming in lighter than the Saucony Omni 21, Asics Kayano 30, and even the Brooks Ghost 15. This is a great Brooks shoe for those who want to feel light on their feet with max cushion protection.
The GlideRoll Rocker in the Ghost Max is most noticeable when walking but still shines through on runs. For this reason, the Ghost Max is a fantastic walking shoe for those who prefer a brisk stroll around the neighborhood over speed workouts.
One of our testers attempted a short tempo run in the Brooks Ghost Max to push the limits of what this shoe can do. Brian reported he had no issues completing his workout in the Ghost Max but would prefer a running shoe dedicated to speedwork instead. Someone who prefers high-cushion running shoes and only wants one pair for daily running and the occasional tempo could get the job done in the Ghost Max.
Pros and Cons
Here we compare what the Brooks Ghost Max does really well and where it might fall short for your unique running style.
- Plush and comfortable upper, similar to the Ghost 15
- More lightweight than the Ghost 15 and its competitors
- High stack height/max cushioning for better impact protection
- A broad base creates a more stable platform that fits well for those with wider feet or orthotics
- GlideRoll Rocker helps guide you forward without feeling too aggressive
- Lower 6mm drop/offset can help benefit people with plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, and Morton’s neuroma
- Available in a wide variety of sizes and widths
- Carbon neutral
- The high cushion comes at the expense of responsiveness
- Weight savings could be made in some areas
- Reviewers mentioned a lack of color options on the initial release
When asked, our reviewers struggled to come up with cons for the Brooks Ghost Max. Sure, there could be weight savings in some areas but this running shoe is still lighter than comparable options. It’s important to keep in mind there isn’t a single running shoe that’s the best in every category.
Who Should Consider the Brooks Ghost Max?
The Brooks Ghost Max fills the niche of a max cushion daily trainer or walking shoe with inherent stability from the widened base. More than that, it does so coming in at only 10 oz for Men and 9 oz for Women. It offers a familiar fit, comparable to the Ghost 15, with more impact protection and an incorporated rocker to guide you forward.
The Brooks Ghost Max, like its muse, focuses on simplicity and doing the basic things very well. Everyday runners and walkers who enjoy the traditional fit of the Ghost 15 will find familiarity and comfort in the Ghost Max, and those looking for extra cushioning will get their fill from it as well.
Final Verdict: The Brooks Ghost Max Review
After lacing up the Brooks Ghost Max you’ll understand how it got its name but also where it blazes its own path. The familiar fit from a time-honored classic, the max cushioning underfoot, and the incorporated rocker come together to create a shoe each of our reviewers couldn’t help but love. Plus, sitting at the $150 price point, the Ghost Max is now one of the most inexpensive max cushion trainers on the market.
The Ghost Max with its widened base is geared towards neutral runners as well as mild pronators. Heavy overpronators may want to find a running shoe with more stability, such as the Brooks Beast GTS or Brooks Ariel GTS. Folks who are on their feet all day will enjoy the lightweight cushioning this shoe has to offer, keeping your legs feeling fresh as you move throughout your day.
Shop the Brooks Ghost Max at Marathon Sports
The Brooks Ghost Max, as well as many other top-rated running shoes for 2023, can be found right here at Marathon Sports. We’re not here to just sell some shoes; we’re runners and walkers who enjoy helping others find the gear that’s going to work best for them.
If you’re in the New England area, consider visiting one of our specialty running stores to find your Right Fit™. Our fit experts will take the time to get to know you, your running history, and your unique running style to help find a running shoe to support you in all your walking or running endeavors. If you find yourself further away, don’t worry, our online shop carries running shoes from top running shoe brands. In-person or online, Marathon Sports is proud to be a part of your running journey!