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Brooks Glycerin 18 vs 17 Comparison Running Shoe Review

by Sportitude
22 May 2020

Josh reviews and shares his enthusiasm for the Brooks Glycerin 18, a top neutral running shoe for 2020 and weighs in on how stacks up against its predecessor the Brooks Glycerin 17.

This max cushioned shoe is built to last and has had significant updates from the ground up. It is available in various widths and fits neatly into the high mileage running shoe category.

It sets you up with a midfoot and heel striker-friendly outsole that trades in the high flexibility of the previous model for improved support and a snappier toe-off.

Full-length DNA Loft cushioning delivers a cloud-like sensation on impact and responsiveness from the moment you lace up to your last K. A soft yet secure heel counter locks your heel in place like a seatbelt and a snugger fit through the forefoot ensures a secure, distraction-free ride to conquer your road runs.

Check out the review with full transcript below.

Hi guys, Josh here from Sportitude and it’s shoe review time. Our review is on the Brooks Glycerin 18, this fantastic new addition to the Brooks running family.

It’s in my opinion their highlight for the 2020 year. They obviously have a couple of very flashy racing flats and tempo shoes but the Glycerin 18 has some fantastic additions.

We’re going to talk all things Glycerin and compare it to where it was in the 17. We'll discuss changes Brooks have done to this shoe and profile the runner that should be considering it.

Runner Profile

First things first, let's talk about the person that should be considering this shoe and where this shoe sits in the whole market. It is a max cushioned shoe and there is a lot going on underneath the foot. It’s sat in that category for the best part of 17 years now. Of course, we're on to the 18th version of it.

When we’re talking about a neutral foot type, what does that look like? We’re going to profile the feet like I do on some of my shoe reviews which you may have seen previously.

A neutral foot type in theory has a static position with quite a high arch. There’s a bit of real estate between the arch and the ground. When the runner makes contact with the ground and goes through midstance, a lot of the pressure can be through the middle of the foot or to the lateral side, the outside of your foot.

As we come through the toe-off point we usually see a neutral foot type or a supinated foot type toe-off anywhere between the second or third metatarsal underneath your foot.

I am a mild overpronator so technically this is how my foot sits and I’ve done a good four runs now in the Brooks Glycerin 18. I haven’t put huge amounts of kilometres into them but my first impression of this shoe is it is more stable than where it was previously.

My arch does splay out ever so slightly. This shoe felt cushioned and supportive enough for me to potentially throw into my shoe rotation for my mileage pair of wheels.

Let’s talk all things cushioning because that will dictate who should be considering this shoe. It is a max cushioned shoe from the Glycerin family so there is a lot of protection underneath the foot. The great thing about this shoe is it's designed with heel strikers in mind.

There's a great bit of cushioning at the back of the shoe but for those midfoot runners and I fit into that bracket, there is plenty of dampening underneath the midfoot section as well. You get a lot of cushioning on that first point in contact with the ground.

This shoe will be the shoe you will have in your rotation as your everyday mileage-specific shoe. It's built to last - that's the thing with this shoe.

It's not a lightweight tempo or interval style shoe, although you can do that in this shoe. The shoe is designed to clock up the Ks. It's your everyday mileage running shoe.

Let's break down the Glycerin 18 and talk about the three components: the outsole, midsole and upper.

Outsole

I'm going to talk all things outsole first because that's where most the changes come with this shoe from the Glycerin 17.

I'm going to hold up a men's Glycerin 17 from last season next to the Glycerin 18. Evidently you can see what's going on underneath the shoe. They’ve changed quite a bit in regard to the flexibility through the forefoot.

If we look at the Glycerin 17 first up we’ve got six flex grooves through the front half. It's a very flexible shoe. In my opinion this was a great shoe for an under pronator, a supinated foot type. There’s a lot of the pressure on the lateral side of the foot and we want to encourage that foot to get over to that first metatarsal on toe-off, hence there is a lot of flexibility in this shoe – it’s fantastic.

The amount of width or the purchase with the ground underneath the heel in a Glycerin 17 is marginally narrower than the Glycerin 18. That is going to provide more real estate underneath the foot for that heel striker.

When a heel striker comes down in the Glycerin 18, having more purchase with the ground is going to give you a great deal more confidence with making that first contact in comparison to its predecessor the Glycerin 17.

The other notable change is Brooks have informed us they've gone with a green rubber through the whole construction of this outsole. The thickness of the outsole is considerably less than what it was previously.

We're only talking a couple millimetres here, but the green rubber combination is going to provide a slightly softer and more durable ride underneath the foot.

I can't comment on the durability factor just yet but no doubt Brooks have done their due diligence and tested this thing until the cows come home, so I'm sure I'll take their word on it that it's going to be more durable outsole.

Regarding the flexibility, the biggest change in the Glycerin 18 is what they've done through the forefoot. We've got almost four and a half flex grooves. The flex grooves don't go the whole way across the shoe like they did in the previous model.

What is that going to do to the performance of this shoe on toe-off? It's going to provide a little bit more rigidity through that front half.

If we think about the runner like myself that has a tendency to slightly overpronate through midstance and load that medial side of your forefoot on toe-off, having this encapsulated rubber is going to give that big toe a little bit more assistance and support. It'll provide extra spring as well through the last phase of your gait cycle.

I have ran in Glycerin 16 and Glycerin 17 previously. I did like it but it wasn't my go-to for my mileage. I can see the added benefit of the Glycerin 17 but for me it was too flexible through the front half. That is my subjective opinion.

Midsole

Let's go through and talk all things midsole because I think this is where the biggest asset of this shoe sings true. We have a DNA Loft cushioning system, not only in the heel but it goes the right way through to the mid and to the forefoot of this specific shoe, so it’s very cushioned. It's noticeably cushioned when you put it on your foot.

Sometimes when you talk about a Brooks shoe, they're soft but they’re not the softest shoe on the market. We're not going to start talking about which shoe is the softest and which is the firmest, but they’ll certainly place somewhere in the middle.

They offer enough cushioning but they also have that beautiful balance of responsiveness through the forefoot.

The DNA Loft runs pure underneath your foot. I like it because when I pick up the pace it provided a little bit more impact. When you're running faster in this shoe, you hit the ground with more force and more velocity goes through your foot.

Therefore, you still want something that’s going to dampen that impact but then provide some propulsion. That's exactly what this midsole did for me. I liked it on my long runs but when I wanted to pick it up it did everything I wanted to do. For cushion and response, it's great.

Upper

Let’s talk all things upper with the Glycerin 18. First things first, it has an internal heel counter at the back.

They have a plastic structure on the inside of the shoe which gives a really good amount of support. When we talk about a heel striker or even a midfoot runner in this shoe, you want to have minimal movement across the back half of your heel. That's why it's locked in really nicely with an internal construction.

A subtle thing and probably my favourite feature with Brooks shoes is their collar and the lining of the foam on the inside. It’s a very soft, nice to touch and very comfortable so kudos to Brooks with how they’ve engineered their heel counter in this shoe.

Coming through to the midfoot there's nothing overly complicated about how they’ve provided the support and structure of their engineered mesh. It provides lockdown through the arch area but as you come through to the forefoot that's probably been the biggest change in regard to the fit in this shoe.

From my perspective and what we've been seeing over the last couple of years with the Glycerin 16 and 17 is that the forefoot is a little bit roomy. It's quite a boxy fit. It's not excessively spacious in regards to the amount of wiggle room in the forefoot, but in comparison to its competitors it was a deeper fit through the front half.

However, for the Glycerin 18 they ever so slightly tightened up that fit through the forefoot so it is a more secure fit. In my opinion when I put this on it feels true to what the Brooks Ghost 12 felt for me in regard to the width, depth and length. It felt very similar to how that shoe felt on my foot.

Widths

Now to talk about the widths of this shoe. The men's comes in the standard D width and also a 2E which is fantastic. The ladies’ comes in a standard B width and a D width as well. Obviously, colours can vary depending on the width you’re looking at.

The great thing about Brooks is when they’re executing a good shoe, they will make it available in different widths. It seems true to the brand. I really like when brands do that with their key running shoes and offer in a variety of widths. Thank you very much Brooks, keep that up.


There you have it guys, the Brooks Glycerin 18. A max cushioned neutral running shoe and in my opinion so far in 2020, it's probably Brooks' best update yet.

If you haven't subscribed to the Sportitude YouTube channel please do so. Any comments or questions on the Brooks Glycerin 18 or any other shoes that you’d like us to review please contact our Sportitude shoe experts.

Until next time, happy running. We'll see you down the road.

FEATURES

  • Support: Neutral
  • Upper: Mesh
  • Midsole: Brooks DNA Loft
  • Heel Height: 24mm
  • Forefoot Height: 14mm
  • Offset / Drop: 10mm
  • Weight (women): 255g / 9oz
  • Weight (men): 289g / 10.2oz
  • Width (women): B (standard), D (wide)
  • Width (men): D (standard), 2E (wide)