Brooks Adrenaline vs Ghost – Two Great Workhorse Shoes for Different Runners

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In today’s article, we’re going to be comparing two very popular shoes, the Brooks Adrenaline vs Ghost.

And to stay up to date, we’re going to be comparing the Adrenaline GTS 22 and the Ghost 14.

When it comes to everyday running shoes, both are the Jack of all trades shoes and they’re both great for such a universal group of people.

It’s kind of surprising if you’re a runner and haven’t tried the Adrenaline of the Ghost at some point in your running journey.

But although they share a lot of similarities, they’re actually designed for different runners.

Let’s dive right into it…

Related:

Brooks Adrenaline vs Ghost

A good running shoe is never a popularity contest, but in the case of the Adrenaline and the Ghost, popularity does show credibility. I think these shoes are getting such a solid fan base because they’re simple and reliable shoes.

Also, Brooks don’t reinvent their shoes every season, which keeps runners regularly returning.

Related:

Quick Specs

The Adrenaline GTS and the Ghost do share the same stack height and drop. We have 36 millimeters in the heel and 24mm in the forefoot for a total drop of 12 millimeters.

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Stack & Drop

Other similar 12mm-drop running shoes include the Mizuno Wave Rider, and here’s our comparison of the Brooks Ghost vs Mizuno Wave Rider.

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Related:

In terms of weight, the Brooks Ghost weighs in at 10.0 oz for a men’s size 9 while the Adrenaline GTS 22 is slightly heavier at 10.2 oz.

But if we compare the Adrenaline GTS 21 to the 22, the shoe has lost 0.2 ounces. While it’s barely noticeable, it’s a move in the right direction for future shoe releases.

For a more in-depth comparison, please check the Adrenaline GTS 21 vs 22.

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Overall, these are training shoes and so they’re not going to be the lightest in the world, but they’re not the heaviest, either.

Related:

Who are the Adrenaline and Ghost for?

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The Adrenaline GTS 22 is Brooks’ moderate to high stability daily trainer with a moderate level of cushioning. It’s going to be great for somebody who has any type of overpronation or underpronation issues like someone who goes to the inside or the outside.

If you’re not familiar, GTS stands for Go To Support or Go To Stability. Brooks does this with all their running shoes to designate that it’s a stability running shoe.

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Brooks Ghost 14

The Ghost 14 is your mid-cushion neutral shoe. So, if you’re somebody who likes the idea of the Adrenaline as far as the weight, stack height, drop, and all of that but you don’t want the stability of the Adrenaline, the companion shoe is the Ghost.

Because the Ghost is just a straight neutral cushioned shoe, if you have some tendencies to overpronate (roll inward too much) or underpronate (roll outward too much) or you have some hip, knee, or Plantar Fasciitis issues, the Adrenaline is the better option.

Overall, this is what you need to remember:

The Adrenaline GTS 22 is the stability version of the Brooks Ghost 14. Essentially at the core of it, the Adrenaline is basically a Brooks Ghost with GuideRails.

But how does the Adrenaline offer stability?

Adrenaline – GuideRails

The real and most decisive feature that sets the Adrenaline and the Ghost apart is GuideRails. GuideRails are those little sidewalls that you can see on both the medial and lateral sides.

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Obviously, the medial GuideRail is going to prevent your foot from rolling in too much (overpronation) while the GuideRail on the outside is going to push your feet back if they roll to the outside too much (underpronation/supination).

Before, shoes were designed to prevent either overpronation or underpronation. However, with Brooks’ GuideRail approach, the Adrenaline is able to guide and keep you right smack in the middle taking pressure off your hips, heels, and knees.

But can you still wear the Adrenaline if you’re a neutral runner?

Yes, you can because GuideRails offer stability only when stability is needed.

So, if you’re somebody who just runs straight neutral and you never have any side-to-side issues, you can still wear this shoe because it’s not doing anything unless you need it.

Medial Postings vs OG GuideRails vs GTS 22 GuideRails

Basically, up to the 19, the Adrenaline only had a medial posting and offered support only on the inside. So, no matter what you were doing, the previous Adrenalines would always try to force you out.

But because the GTS 22 has that independent suspension on both shoes, it’s really designed to keep you in the middle only if your feet require some correction.

The GuideRails on the GTS 22 is definitely softer than before. Before, it was so stiff on both sides that it doesn’t let your foot get any natural pronation.

Your feet do need some pronation to be able to shock absorb with your ankles. And when you take that away, you’re going to have to shock absorb with your knees, which might cause some issues.

The new GuideRails seem to be much better integrated and they don’t overcorrect your foot movement.

This whole idea for GuideRails has really worked for Brooks and we’ve seen some other brands like Altra that have adopted this approach.

Related:

Where the Adrenaline & Ghost sit in Brooks lineup

The Adrenaline and Ghost are positioned as everyday running shoes. Within the Brooks’ range, they are sandwiched between more cushioned shoes like the Glycerin and the Aurora BL and lighter more speed-oriented shoes like the Launch and Hyperion Elite.

I think Brooks has made it really easy for runners to sort of pivot up and down if you want to stay in the Brooks family.

So, if you like what Brooks offers in the Adrenaline and Ghost but you like more cushion underfoot for your longer miles or race days, you can transition up to the Brooks Glycerin and the Glycerin GTS.

And if you like these shoes but you want something a little bit lighter and faster for workout and race days, you have the Launch and the Launch GTS.

How to use the Adrenaline & Ghost

The Ghost and Adrenaline are really the two biggest shoes that Brooks carries across the board.

Sitting in the daily trainer category does make them very versatile running shoes. They’re the Swiss army knife of shoes that can pretty much handle almost any running situation that you can throw at it.

There’s really not a whole lot of applications that you can’t use these shoes for and there’s not a lot of arch profiles that you really can’t pull these shoes for.

They’re ideal for easy and long runs but won’t get in your way if you are looking to pick up the pace a little bit. But if you are looking for a true speed-oriented shoe, I would consider looking at the Launch or the Hyperion.

Also, I would not race in these if you’re looking for a serious race-day shoe for 5ks, 10ks, or half marathons for example.

I also feel that the heel-to-toe drop also plays a role in how you can use a shoe.

So in terms of drop, Brooks is using the classic 12mm heel-to-toe drop on the Adrenaline and Ghost, which classifies these as high-drop shoes and will be most favorable for runners who want to make a smooth heel contact with the ground.

While midfoot and heel strikers may love these shoes, forefoot runners may struggle a bit to find the sweet spot in terms of landing

Midsole

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If you’re a fan of Brooks, you’ll notice that the midsole on the Adrenaline GTS 22 looks awfully similar to the Ghost 14.

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Brooks Ghost 14 – Full-length DNA Loft Midsole

A couple of years ago, Brooks started making their proprietary blend of DNA Loft which is a finely calibrated mix of EVA foam, rubber, and air, which makes it a little bit more resilient and durable.

When DNA Loft first came out, it was used segmentally on previous versions of both shoes. On the Ghost 12 and Adrenaline GTS 20, DNA Loft was just used on the heel.

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On the Ghost 13 and Adrenaline GTS 21, DNA Loft was used on the heel and on the lateral side of the shoe. On the Ghost 14 and Adrenaline GTS 22, DNA Loft now extends through the entire midsole.

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Having full-length DNA Loft in the midsole is going to give the shoes a tad softer underfoot feel but is still very much in line with both of the previous versions of the Ghost.

The new setup of the DNA Loft is smooth, a little bit light, and cushioned all the way through your foot, which also makes for better transitions from heel to toe.

These are not soft cushy shoes, but they’re a hair softer than their previous versions. The midsole is not too soft and not too firm and it’s going to last you a while.

Overall, you’re going to be happy with the Adrenaline GTS 22 and the Brooks Ghost 14 especially because they made that midsole all one piece of DNA Loft, which I think makes the shoe a lot more comfortable, more runnable, a bit more consistent, and just a better overall experience.

Upper

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The upper has also had a bit of a makeover. They’re still using their 3D stretch designed to wrap around your foot, and the upper on both shoes looks almost identical.

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The only difference is this 3D Fit Print is kind of constructed in a slightly different way. I don’t know how much of a difference that truly makes, but it is what it is.

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Brooks Ghost 14 – Mesh Upper

The toebox has this stretchy construction, which means if you have wider feet or narrow feet, the upper will kind of expand and contract around your foot a little bit.

Moving to the heel area, both shoes have some of the most comfortable and luxurious heel counters on the market.

The heel counter cradles the foot and heel without being overly structured. It’s covered with nice comfortable padding to ensure that there’s no irritation at the Achilles.

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What makes the heel counter comfortable is your heels actually sit deeply inside the shoe, which provides a nice locked-in feel.

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Brooks Ghost 14 – Heel Counter

Talking about lockdown…

Unlike the Ghost which has a traditional detached tongue, the Adrenaline has a gusseted tongue meaning it’s attached to the upper on both sides.

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I think some people were disappointed that the Brooks Ghost didn’t have a gusseted tongue, which would have been a nice touch to an already great shoe.

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Brooks Ghost 14 – New Flat Laces

The Adrenaline GTS 22 and the Ghost 14 now have flat laces unlike the Adrenaline 21 and the Ghost 13 which had oval laces.

Flat laces are going to give you just a little bit better lockdown because they give you a little bit more surface area and just secure the foot that much better.

Breathability

In terms of breathability, I wouldn’t opt for these uppers in hot weather with humidity. Both shoes feel kind of like winter or spring shoes where you might have some colder temperatures.

However, if you live somewhere that gets a lot of rain, you might want to look at the Brooks Ghost 14 GTX. The Ghost GTX version is this Gore-Tex waterproof option that performs really well in the mud and the rain.

Unfortunately for overpronators, the Adrenaline GTS does not come in a GTX version.

Last but not least, a few shoes have a better step-in comfort than these shoes. Despite some of the bulky traditional feel, the shoes seem to disappear under your foot when you’re running.

Outsole

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Both shoes have kind of the same outsole. The pattern is not that different from previous versions and it seems they did put a little more energy and effort into changing the blend on the outsole.

But looking at the pictures below, you can see that the Ghost has a little bit more rubber coverage than both the Adrenaline GTS 22 and the Ghost 13, but the lugs on the 13 seem to be deeper and more rugged.

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Brooks Ghost 14 – New Flex Groove Design

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While both outsoles still deliver great durability, the softer blown rubber and the fact that Brooks have chiseled off about 1mm on the outsole rubber would come at the cost of durability. But there’s still plenty of rubber to make the shoe nice and tough.

On the heel, there is a particular emphasis on the rubber to act as a crash pad for heel strikers.

GTS

In the last 2 years or so, a lot of Brooks shoes have been renamed and you’ll see the word GTS popping up on a lot of shoes.

Brooks is discontinuing some of their shoes and replacing them with the GTS versions of other existing shoes. For example, they discontinued the Brooks Bedlam and replaced it with the Levitate GTS.

So, we have shoes like the Launch GTS, the Glycerin GTS, and the Levitate GTS. But technically, the Adrenaline is the GTS version of the Ghost.

Sizing & Widths

Brooks seems to have some of the best-fitting running shoes and both shoes are true to size.

Not all Brooks shoes come in a full run of widths. But because these are two of the most popular shoes from Brooks, they come in a variety of widths.

The men’s come in narrow all the way to a 4E and on the female side, it goes from a narrow all the way up to a 2E.

Here’s a really cool article where we discuss whether Brooks running shoes run big or small.  

Cons

The most significant negative about these shoes, which is probably a positive for some runners, is they’re definitely on the high end of things.

So, if you’re someone who doesn’t like high-drop shoes or you’re sensitive to higher drop in general, just know that these may not be the best models for you.

However, if you’re used to running in high-drop shoes, you can’t go wrong in the Brooks Adrenaline or Ghost.

Overall, high drop is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that it’s going to work well for some people and not for others.

Wrap Up

Brooks haven’t reinvented the wheel on these shoes but have made nice improvements that are worth considering.

The Brooks Adrenaline and the Ghost remain as those no-nonsense versatile daily trainers that can handle just about anything you throw at them. They’re also a shoe that you can rock with jeans possibly to a barbeque.

If you are an orthotic user, the insole is removable and can be replaced with most orthotics.

A lot of people love the Ghost 14 and that love definitely translates well to the Adrenaline because they’re basically the same. They have the same midsole and pretty much the same upper. But the only significant difference is that you get a gusseted tongue on the Adrenaline and GuideRails for overpronation control.

Last but not least, the Ghost 14 is Brooks’ first shoe that is carbon neutral.

Other similar road shoes include:

This pretty much wraps this Brooks Adrenaline vs Ghost comparison. If you’ve ever tried one of these shoes, please share your experience in the comments.

Until then, I hope you’re staying safe out there, and see you in the next one 🙂

About Eric

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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