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They say that once you turn left on a plane, you never go back to economy. I can’t testify to that, having never turned left on a plane, but I will say that having experienced the feel of Brooks’s latest DNA Loft foam – the DNA Loft V3 cushioning in the outlandish-looking, limited-edition Aurora-BL shoe – it’s hard to go back to the more basic version of the foam.
That more basic version is what you’ll find in the midsole of the Ghost 14, and that’s a pity, because I hoped this might be the first major Brooks shoe to feature the new nitrogen-injected EVA DNA Loft v3 – ideally in a more traditional-looking shoe than the Aurora-BL.
There are some updates on the previous edition of the Ghost. The midsole is entirely DNA Loft, rather than a mix of that and the firmer BioGoMoDNA foam. It’s also Brooks’s first carbon-neutral shoe, with recycled materials reducing the environmental impact of making it, and the company offsetting any carbon emissions produced.
But in reality the Ghost 14 reverts to type. The long-running line is well established as a cushioned daily training option that is also versatile enough to tackle some faster running, but leans more towards comfort over pure speed. If anything, the Ghost 14 has tilted further towards comfort. That leaves it in an awkward spot, since Brooks’s Glycerin 19 is more comfortable if you are after that cushioned feel, while many other brands’ shoes offer more versatility.
I’ve run around 85km in the Ghost, the bulk of that being easy and steady runs during a period of relatively high-mileage marathon training. This should be the shoe’s bread and butter, since it offers plenty of protection while still having a little speed in there for steadier paces, but mostly I finished runs wanting more from the Ghost 14.
It didn’t feel as plush and comfy during easy runs as the Glycerin or the Nike Invincible, while on steadier efforts it didn’t have the lively ride you’ll find on other daily trainers like the Hoka Mach 4, New Balance’s FuelCell Rebel v2 or Fresh Foam 1080v11, or the Puma Velocity Nitro. I found all of those shoes more or less as comfortable as the Ghost 14, but with the advantage of having more responsive foams in the midsoles.
Then there’s the Brooks Aurora-BL and its modern take on DNA Loft cushioning, which again offers a faster, more impressive ride than the Ghost 14 while still being comfortable for long runs.
The Ghost 14 gets the job done, and it has a great upper that holds the foot snugly and an outsole that gripped well for me in all conditions on the road as well as canal towpaths. But it’s a shoe that lacks pizzazz, and Brooks doled out pizzazz in spades with the Aurora-BL.
If you’re a long-term fan of the Ghost line, rest assured that the 14 will tick the same boxes as past versions. It’s a highly cushioned daily trainer that offers step-in comfort and will last you many miles. However, the Ghost 14 lacks the wow factor at a time when there are many terrific alternatives available.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.