I have been very pleased with Brooks’ Ravenna in the past (I have run in the 5th version, but there’s already a Ravenna 7 out there which we reviewed earlier this year) and I was eager to get my feet in the latest Adrenaline.
For the few who don’t know, the “GTS” in the name means Go To Shoe and it’s possibly Brooks’ most popular shoe.
The Adrenaline comes with a promise: stability. Long time readers will know that I was “blessed” with completely flat feet and my right one in particular suffers if I am running in shoes without any kind of support for a long time.
To go straight to the end, here’s the thing: the Adrenaline 16 delivers on the stability front and it’s fit – with a very low arch – is perfect for my flat foot.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 General Info
While the Adrenaline 15 introduced quite a few updates versus its predecessor, this 16th version is just a small update of the previous one.
The sole unit is new, but it’s virtually identical to the 15. The upper is where most changes have happened and although a small fit issue persists, it’s a good improvement.
I was advised to order half a size up in this shoe – so instead of my usual US 11 I got a 11.5. I am glad I did, because even on half a size up, the midfoot and forefoot fit is quite snug. It’s not a bad thing for a stability shoe, but the shoes then run long.
The upper is quite structured until you break them in a little.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 Sole Unit
Let’s start with the outsole. You will notice from the picture above that the outsole is very segmented. Brooks calls this construction “Full Length Segmented Crash Pad” and what it does is to adapt to your landing and heel-to-toe gait to always provide the ideal ground-contact and stability.
The biggest “decoupling” is in the heel where the lateral (external) side rests under a layer of DNA midsole while the medial (internal) part rests under a layer of the harder foam material. The two parts of the heel are very distant from each other. The idea is that depending on where you land during the gait, the shoe will compress on that side differently to aid and support your ankle.
The rest of the outsole resembles Nike’s “waffle” pattern and I found no particular issue with it. Rubber looks virtually unchanged after approximately 100 miles in.
If you look close enough, you can see a little TPU (plastic) shank just under the arch. It usually provides torsional stability but this one is so small I am not even sure it does anything. Well, it does not matter really – the ride is stable and the shoe does not flex unnecessarily across it’s longitudinal axis.
Now – what is a great feature of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 sole unit is how wide the base is.
Looking at the shoes from the top, you can clearly see that the sole underneath the forefoot is wider than the toebox and mid sections themselves. To me, this has proven to be the best feature of the shoe. No matter how tired I am (and therefore how sloppy my running technique has become), my foot is always aligned and I don’t “swerve” during toe-off.
One of the issues my flat feet give me is that I am easy to injure my peroneal tendon. This happens very often when I am careless on cambered roads or when I simply place my foot on an uneven surface while pounding my body weight on it.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 Upper Info
The upper of the GTS 16 is quite traditional but at the same time at pace with the times.
Upper is mostly without stitching aside from the connection between the heel and the midfoot and the area where the tongue is attached.
During the summer months I run mostly without socks and I haven’t observed any blister or other discomfort coming from the stitching. The heel area is well padded and a heel counter makes the heel quite rigid.
Overlays are welded on and sparsely applied. The laces are flat and don’t seem prone to get untied.
The arch is not flat but also not particularly elevated. It didn’t bother my flat foot at all.
So – what do I think of the Brooks GTS 16 upper? It’s not for me or my foot shape.
I sized up, from my usual 11US to 11.5 US. This made the mid and forefoot fit fantastic: the midfoot hugs my foot securely and the toebox allows my toes to spread without feeling cramped. BUT the sizing up made the shoe actually be too long for me. My heel would not just sit right and even though I never lost the shoe – I could never come to terms with the feeling of the heel slipping out.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 Conclusions
If you can get past the weird sizing issue, the Adrenaline is a great stability shoe and would work very well for flat footed runners.
I am very torn about this shoe. It did not work for me in the way I wished, because it doesn’t fit my foot particularly well. But this issue aside – I really enjoyed my runs in the Adrenaline 16 and maybe I’ll experiment with sizes and widths until I find the combination that works for me.
My issues aside, what I can say about this shoe is that I appreciated the extremely stable sole unit and general construction. The cushioning is soft but not bouncy and the heel-to-toe transition is superb. The wide platform is very forgiving of poor running form and I felt it kept me safe from accidental ankle twists.
I still give it 4 stars because if the fit is right for you, this is one of the best traditional stability shoes out there in my opinion.
Have you run in the GTS 16? Do you have the same issue as I had? Please let me know in the comments!
Thank you to the nice people at Brooks for sending us a pair of Adrenaline GTS 16 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after logging more than 100 miles in them.