I bought the Brooks Ghost 4 this past winter, just after Christmas. I got a men’s pair for $85 (cheaper than the $100 MSRP, and I had a coupon too), it was great. I really like these shoes, but they are more “shoe” than the trainers I usually review. Compared to the Kinvara, or Pure Line, these are more traditional trainers. I would still classify them as a lighter trainer, and they are, infact, neutral cushioned shoes meant for springy long runs. It also won an Editor’s Choice Award by Runner’s World.
As you can tell, these shoes have a much higher stack: the heel is 32.7 mm, forefoot 22.8, leaving a drop of 9.9 mm. This is lower than most trainers (12 mm) but much higher than the Saucony “minimalism” lines, including the Kinvara, which have a 4 mm drop. You can tell these shoes were made to cushion the long run, which Brooks makes clear from their website:
Following in the footsteps of the Ghost 3, the Ghost 4 was deemed “Editor’s Choice” in Runner’s World’s Fall 2011 Shoe Guide in the September issue. Runner’s World described the Ghost 4 as “a lightweight shoe with a snug fit,” noting that “the Ghost has a fast feel and a surprisingly springy midsole that supplies just a bit of stability.”
Initial Thoughts: This shoe is definitely springy. Still lightweight at 9.5 oz, I’m not particularly weighed down. The shoes I typically run in (Nike Free 3.0, Brooks PureConnect) have lower weights of ~7 oz, so there is a difference, but it goes along with this being a different type of shoe. If you wear thick trainers, these are a little thinner but not minimalist. They are a fast, long-distance trainer. A good marathon shoe for people who aren’t running sub 6 minute miles, I suppose. I have not owned or even seen in stores the previous Ghost models, so I can’t comment on them. Shown below is the Ghost 3, where the “caterpillar crash pad” originated in the heel cushioning.
The Sole: Like the Brooks PureConnect (my review), these shoes have the Brooks “DNA” cushioning which add “customized cushioning). This suggests that the DNA gel is very firm when pushing off hard in a sprint, but soft for a nice jog. The PureConnect has this feature, and I can honestly tell more in the PCs. With the Ghost, you are so wrapped up in the cushioning of the heel (if you’re a low-heel junkie like me) that there is more cushioning than you would ever need. It does change the feel of the shoe though, making it more versatile. Final words: I guess I appreciate it.
As far as the sole itself goes, there is blown rubber on most of it, making it a very durable trainer. There are also “Omega flex grooves” cut into it for “extra flexibility.” These are not as flexible as any of the Nike Free line, but they’re way more flexible than the Brooks Dyad (these three are all apples and oranges, though).
The Upper: The upper on these shoes are great, open mesh that aerates well. If you plan on wearing them in more inclement weather, you can get a Gortex upper that is wonderfully waterproof and breathable. I’ve heard great things about this process, though I have the regular shoe.
This shoe is ideally made for runners looking for a long distance trainer that is perkier than regular Bowerman-style running shoes. Low, light, and at a low price they’re pretty good. I’d recommend them to runners looking to go a little faster, but still get the protection they want from cushioned shoes, an almost performance trainer.
Type: Cushioned neutral trainer.
Weight/Heel-toe Drop: 9.5 oz (mens, 9.3 womens), 9.9mm drop.
Price: $100. Can be found on sale at many retailers now that the Ghost 5 is being released!
Pros: Durable, blown rubber bottom. Lower heel-toe drop and lots of flex grooves for great flexibility. A fast, low-slung distance trainer!
Cons: Boring colorway, not a lot of support or stability, but has some (you can go either way if you want to complain). Has now been updated by the Ghost 5.
Comments: Great for runners looking for a faster distance trainer. Could be a performance shoe. Also available with a Gortex upper that weatherproofs your shoe.