Brooks Ghost Max for New Runners and Experienced Marathoners

Last updated on February 16th, 2024

5Brooks Ghost Max mudguard

The Brooks Ghost Max is a reliable everyday running shoe that excels in various types of runs. It offers a well-balanced ride, providing stability and the familiar comfort of Brooks' upper. The Ghost Max is a derivative of the popular Ghost series, offering a softer and more cushioned experience that adds a lively feel compared to the Ghost 15.

If you're not a fan of the Ghost 15's firm and flat feel, consider giving the Ghost Max a shot. Its ride is more contemporary and offers a more immersive experience.

If you've been a fan of the Ghost for its unwavering firmness, stability, and consistency over the years, then the Ghost Max may not be the right choice for you.

Brooks Ghost Max toebox

After carefully examining the past three iterations of the Ghost, I have consistently reached the same verdict: the Ghost caters to runners who prefer familiarity over novelty. In terms of both comfort and performance, the Ghost stands out as one of the most dependable running shoe collections available.

If you closed your eyes and had on different versions on each foot, it would be incredibly challenging to discern any distinction. The similarity between each version is so minimal.

Up until now, Brooks has found great success with this formula. The Ghost, widely recognized as one of the most sought-after running shoes globally, is a favorite among both novice runners and experienced marathoners.

The Ghost falls short in terms of ride quality, in my view. If you've experienced contemporary everyday sneakers like the New Balance Propel v4, the Hoka Mach 5, or the On Cloudsurfer, you'll understand what I mean. In comparison, the Ghost's ride feels lackluster, lacking in depth, and rigid.

This year, instead of the Ghost 16, we are introduced to a new addition to the Ghost series, the Ghost Max. It is an updated version of Brooks' beloved running shoe, with a taller sole and a weight of 10 oz (283 g), which is slightly lighter than the Ghost 15 by 0.1 oz (3 g).

The drop of the new Ghost Max is incredibly astonishing - only 6 mm heel drop, which is half the drop of the Ghost 15. Throughout its existence, the Ghost has been recognized for its remarkable 12 mm drop.

During my initial jog, I embarked on a leisurely 10 kilometers. To my delight, the Ghost Max provided a distinct experience in contrast to the Ghost 15. Notably, the sensation of the run was slightly more cushioned. Additionally, it exhibited a heightened agility, as if it effortlessly increased its speed.

I observed a difference in the fit of the shoes compared to the standard Ghost. The narrowness was more apparent, especially when walking as I could feel the arch. However, this sensation seemed to disappear when running. The foot lockdown was not impressive, and I could sense that the heel was not securely in place. To address this, I had to switch to using heel lock lacing.

The trainers that came to mind were the Hoka Clifton 9 and the ASICS Novablast 3. These three trainers share similarities in their ample cushioning, slight rocking motion, and overall lightweight design.

5Brooks Ghost Max upper

I have always had positive experiences with Brooks shoes, and the Ghost Max is no exception. The sizing is accurate, the width is just right, and there are no elements that bother my foot.

The tongue lacks gussets, much like the tongues of earlier Ghost models. Lockdown is effective, although I must secure it with a runner's knot.

The only aspect I don't particularly like is the selection of shoelaces. The laces are made of a delicate, oval material that tends to unravel easily. On the other hand, the Ghost 15's laces are flat and much more resistant to wear and tear.

I discovered that the Ghost Max from Brooks is noticeably narrower compared to other trainers I've tested. For runners with wide feet, I recommend choosing the wide or extra wide option.

Brooks Ghost Max sole units

The Ghost Max ride is sure to captivate Ghost enthusiasts and even those runners who aren't particularly fond of the standard Ghost. It boasts a remarkable sense of equilibrium, being sufficiently cushioned for leisurely runs yet firm enough for uptempo runnings.

When it comes to the level of comfort, this mid-range daily trainer falls on the firmer end of the spectrum. It offers a firmer feel than the Cumulus 25 and the Cloudsurfer 7, but is softer than the Ghost 15 and has a similar level of cushioning as the Saucony Ride 16.

I've put the Ghost Max to the test at various speeds, ranging from a slow recovery pace to a challenging threshold pace. It's capable of handling most speeds quite well, but it truly shines when it comes to comfortable and steady paces.

The Ghost Max has an extra 4 mm of foam in the heel and 10 mm in the forefoot compared to the Ghost 15. This additional cushioning depth makes the Ghost Max a superior choice for long distance training. It is definitely suitable for completing a full marathon.

5Brooks Ghost Max midsole

During my long-distance running test, I had the opportunity to try out the Ghost Max. I found that it had a subtle forefoot rocker that helped me effortlessly transition between strides, making it feel energy-efficient. Unlike plated trainers, the rocker in the Ghost Max is not as pronounced, but it still maintains a natural feel.

According to Brooks, the Ghost Max uses the same DNA Loft v2 foam in its midsole as the Ghost 15. However, the experience of wearing it is completely changed. The foam feels less heavy, more lightweight, and provides a greater energy return. Perhaps, it would have been more appropriate to call it v4. The naming system for Brooks' cushioning should be revamped as it currently causes confusion.

To enhance stability, they elevated the rearfoot edges to cradle the foot. This neutral trainer boasts a broad foundation, making it remarkably stable. However, it doesn't match the stability of the regular Ghost due to its firmer midsole and increased lean bias.

The shoe's shallow, guiding groove beneath the back part of the foot is a beneficial characteristic. This feature enhances the shoe's agility by reducing weight and enabling the heel to spread out.

The Ghost 15 featured 2 flex grooves running the length of the forefoot on its outsole. However, the Ghost Max does not have any, resulting in a stiffer feel in the forefoot. This, in turn, enhances the performance of the rocker.

The durability of Brooks' outsole rubber may not meet the standard of other brands. I have observed that the forefoot rubber and the midsole foam beneath the ball of the foot tend to wear out faster than usual. If you tend to be tough on outsoles, you may find the durability of the Ghost Max's outsole to be underwhelming.

Brooks Ghost Max heel

The Ghost Max by Brooks could have been named the Ghost 16, considering its numerous upgrades over the Ghost 15. This new version boasts enhanced cushioning, a softer feel, improved efficiency, and greater energy return. Additionally, the reduced 12 mm drop is not something I find myself yearning for.

What I love most about the Ghost Max is its contemporary feel, surpassing previous versions of the Ghost. It no longer resembles a trainer from half a decade ago, and I believe this iteration will captivate a fresh audience.

I have become a fan of the Ghost Max and plan to include it in my regular routine for slower-paced runs. Compared to other similar shoes, it offers a more solid and stable experience, and I particularly appreciate its firm yet slightly curved ride.

I find the Ghost Max to be overpriced at $150 when compared to other mid-range, neutral daily trainers. It would have been more reasonable if they had priced it at $140, like the Ghost 15 from the previous year.

  • Price: $150 (brooksrunning)
  • Style & Colors:
    • Black / Atomic Blue / Jasmine
    • White / Oyster / Metallic Silver
    • Black / Black / Ebony
    • Black / Orange / Cloud Blue
    • Grey / Black / Sharp Green
    • Coconut / White Sand / Chateau
    • Surf The Web / Peacoat / Sulphur
  • Usage:
    • Leisurely runs
    • Umtempo runs
    • Long distance running
    • Full marathon running
  • Constructions & Features:
    • Heel drop: 6 mm
    • Weight 10.0oz / 283.5g
    • Cushion level: Standard Cushioning / More Cushioning / Most Cushioning
5Brooks Ghost Max quarter