When people think of the high-cushion neutral trainers, there are a few names that come to mind above others. Those are the ASICS Nimbus, Saucony Triumph, Nike Vomero, Adidas Ultra Boost and the Brooks Glycerin.
Each of these companies has had the chance to put out multiple years of the models and make necessary tweaks when needed.
These shoes have all evolved over the years, but the fact that they are around speaks for their popularity and the technologies used. And for the Brooks Glycerins to be at model 16, shows that these are “go-to” shoes for many runners.
Brooks Glycerin 16 General Info
The Brooks Glycerin 16s represent the top level of traditional neutral trainer from the Brooks line. They are the flagship neutral trainer, and it is impossible to run a distance race and not see someone laced up in these shoes.
In fact, back in 2013 you would have caught me logging all my long runs in the 11s (I loved the bright orange and silver colorway). The 16s mark a complete update from previous models.
They will compete against the other max-cushion neutrals; Nimbus, Triumph, Vomero and Ultra Boosts. They are all in the same relative price range so it can be difficult to decide on a pair to purchase.
In this case, I have ran in the Triumph and the Vomero recently and can say that the Glycerins and Triumphs are the best of that list.
When they showed up, I really liked the new look of sole unit and the upper looked clean with the black/orange colorway. When they first went on my feet, I was happy with the cushion level and they were awesome for the all-day wear test.
On their first run, they were great. It seems that Brooks has cut some of the weight from the shoe while keeping the cushion high enough for all distances.
Brooks Glycerin 16 Sole Unit
The new sole unit on this shoe offers the same cushion level — and advertises more than in previous models — while not losing responsiveness. We’ll break down the shoe into the midsole and the outsole then talk about the ride itself.
The midsole of the shoe uses Brooks’ patented DNA foam, however, they have changed the formula for the foam. This new DNA Loft foam incorporates air and rubber to their previous foam formula to create the Loft foam.
This foam is advertised as softer and lighter while not losing responsiveness and durability. I can attest to the responsiveness, as these shoes were very springy and helped propel me through my gait.
The DNA Loft foam preformed very well, and even held up to 14 miles on a run without any breakdown.
In the midsole, Brooks continues to use grooves as a way to increase the flexibility and help with the responsiveness of the material.
It results here in a max-cushion shoe that doesn’t feel clunky, but instead feels connected to the ground and helps push forward.
As is usual with the Brooks (and anymore, any running shoe) design, the shoe ends with an aggressive upturn on the toe.
This allows you to roll into your next step. This small thing can help you when your legs start to get tired, and it naturally rolls you into that next step (and that’s the goal of running, keep one foot moving in front of the other).
The outsole uses HPR Plus rubber, a high abrasive rubber material, on the heel of the outsole that helps the durability and helps absorb impact from heel-strike runners.
Not all runners will benefit from this technology, but there are plenty of runners who will love the inclusion of that material. Brooks uses a blown rubber outsole for the forefoot.
This is a proven material that is durable while staying lightweight and is flexible. When combined with the midsole design, it allows for a flexible max-cushion shoe.
The ride of the sole unit is very smooth. There is ample cushion for the long runs, while still being responsive enough that you can run your tempos in them and feel fine.
As a mid-foot or fore-foot striker, the cushion and rubber was enough that I never felt a jarring impact but kept things going.
With that said, however, there was one negative about this unit. I noticed on two different runs in the rain that the insole moves around if the moisture gets to be too much.
On the first run of this manner, it wasn’t a big deal, just one slip and it was a quick fix. However, the second time it happened was during a half marathon race in the rain.
The insole moved enough that it created a gap between my big toe and the end of the toe box. This rubbing was very uncomfortable and created red skin.
Thankfully no blister developed, but for someone more apt to blistering, it could have been bad. This is the biggest negative of the shoe.
Brooks Glycerin 16 Upper Info
The Glycerin is known for running slightly small, however, mine fit true to size as a size 13. The heel fit snug but not tight, and the midfoot was supported but not pressed.
Neither of these splayed out into a super wide toe box either. Although it is not very wide, it was comfortable for any length of run.
The new upper for the shoe involves a mesh upper for breathability while utilizing 3D printed overlays to support your foot through the full gait. What exactly does this mean?
Well Brooks continues to use a dual layer mesh to allow for breathability but help keep dirt out of the shoe and offer a little support.
However, the real support over the arch comes from the 3D printed overlays that add just a touch of rigidity to the shoe and keep you locked in.
The neat thing about this design is that you get a breathable and flexible boot that still has arch support while maintaining the comfort of being seamless.
This means it is just as comfortable for those people who run without socks as for those who do wear socks.
Beyond that, perhaps my favorite part of the upper is the inclusion of an overly plush collar. It seems to me that often shoe companies overlook the collar of their shoe and that is where you develop irritation on your long runs.
In this case, there was no overlooking the collar, and it comfortably wraps your foot and ankle. Very nice.
On the negative side for the upper, the materials used are very absorbent. This resulted in the shoe being damp — or outright wet — a day or two after a run.
I had one run where I pulled the shoes out of the closet and they were still damp from sweat two days previous. And that rainy half marathon? It took a full 3 days for the shoes to be fully dry.
This is not a problem I have seen in other shoes before. I don’t know if it is because of the materials used or some other factor. However, it was something that I noticed and that annoyed me.
Brooks Glycerin 16 Conclusions
In the end, the Brooks Glycerin is a flagship shoe and there is a reason behind that. The combination of cushion, support and responsiveness results in a shoe that invites you to keep using it to run.
Beyond that, it is supremely well crafted. I logged around 150 miles in them before writing this review.
If you were to look at the shoes today, you’d know they were used but you’d probably guess they only had 20 miles or so logged on them.
The rubber has not shown any wear yet. The upper hasn’t creased or ripped anywhere. About the only thing that truly shows wear is the shoe laces (too long a material provided).
This is something I would hope would be true for this level of shoe, but it is assuring that it actually is true.
If you’re going to drop $150 on a pair of trainers, you want to know you’re going to get 300-500 miles in them and make it worthy of the price.
In this case, all signs point to that being the case and that these shoes bring value at the price point.
If you’re looking for that shoe to use for going long, or you’re getting into the sport for the first time, it might be worth dropping the money on some of the most famous trainers available.
They are so popular and readily available for a reason. And in this case, I’d recommend them to almost anyone. Just maybe save them from a soaker of a run.
We purchased a pair of Brooks Glycerin 16 from runningwarehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.