Average-to-heavy-weight runners will appreciate Glycerin 20 GTS for a long run shoe that can double as a speed shoe, especially those who need extra stability and find “speed shoes” too flimsy.
Narrow-footed runners should skip this shoe or try a half-size down from Brooks’ sizing pre-2021. Light runners doing low mileage with faster paces mixed in should look to Brooks’ Launch or Launch GTS (stability) over the Glycerin/Glycerin GTS.
The Glycerin GTS 20 faithfully follows the Glycerin GTS 19 which combined the stable, smooth-ride tradition of Brooks Transcend with the brand’s long-running Glycerin name and more-trimmed design. (What would have been “Transcend 8” became “Glycerin GTS 19.”)
Despite a new midsole in the 20 and the fact that the cost is up $10 from last year, the $160 USD price tag still matches that of Transcend 4 from early 2017 (and the 5, 6 and 7). From that perspective, the cost is not that bad.
Does it come through for the cost? It depends on what you want.
In the give-and-take between plush comfort and a light ride, Glycerin GTS 20, like the GTS 19, chooses to strip some upper from the Transcend to lighten up, coming in at 10.5 oz. (298 g.) in a US M9 / 9.4 oz. (266 g.) in a US W7.
The shoe is not as plush but is more streamlined for a lighter ride.
Drop .7 oz. more off the weight by choosing their StealthFit upper, a new adaptable, compression knit option.
Brooks allows runners to tailor their shoes without going to special-order mode. Their website offers the Glycerin, with choices for “StealthFit” or “Classic” for the upper and “Neutral” or “Support” for the midsole.
Since I like the support from the GuideRails® technology, I could see myself getting a StealthFit model for daily wear yet a Classic fit for putting on miles.
The combination of “StealthFit” plus “Support” would create a comfortable lifestyle shoe that will handle a few miles on the weekends, or a moderately supportive shoe for low-stability needs.
Opening the box I saw a typical Lite-Brite upper—great for nostalgia but nothing exceptional in a running-shoe style. It looks better on-foot than I expected, and I’ve actually been choosing it for some casual wear in addition to my runs.
On my first steps around my kitchen I immediately noticed the rocker base, very much like past Transcend models but even more-so. Though some reviewers are saying it is less “rockered” than the 19, have no worries. The 20 is not off its rocker; it’s plenty stable and moves quickly into toe-off.
The first run confirmed my choice to go with my preferred running-shoe size and not go up as I did in Brooks prior to these revamped GTS models of 2021/22. I have a med-narrow heel which widens a bit at the ball. The current Brooks uppers fit more like ASICS and less like HOKA in accommodating my foot shape—which is, I found out when researching the Lululemon Blissfeel, more typical for a women’s foot.
It still took me about 20-25 miles to break the upper in, but it did not “pinch” as too-tight fits do. Wide feet, try a half-size up from your regular running shoe, or see if the StealthFit option allows enough stretch.
Narrow feet try a StealthFit in your regular running shoe size as some are finding the fit to be too wide. It’s definitely not “wide” per se, just wider than the 19. The forefoot is slightly wider than past Transcends.
The Classic fit option combines a standard, durable, double-layer engineered mesh upper with traditional lacing and a moderately-plush tongue.
Add a shorter yet still-solid heel counter and sufficient ankle padding, more than found in the Launch GTS 9, the brand’s speed-stability shoe, and Adrenaline GTS 22, a stability shoe halfway between speed-specific and highly cushioned.
My heel did not slip, and the shoe has average breathability. It was not too hot on warm days or too airy in runs below freezing.
The StealthFit upper option, available in both Glycerin and Glycerin GTS, allows for more stretch and a modern look and feel yet a less-stable resistance to motion.
The StealthFit is much like Nike’s Flyknit in their React Infinity Run FK 2—without as many color options but a genuinely cool black/white/cream for the GTS. This upper is also similar to that in adidas Ultraboost shoes for a comfortable fit (and a much more low-key look). The stretchy ankle opening reminds me of New Balance’s Fresh Foam Vongo V4, which I really like and just pulled out for some miles yesterday.
Brooks has a history of caring for the environment with their BioMoGo DNA in past models. The Glycerin 20 is made with 32.4% recycled materials in the upper which equates to 4.66 plastic bottles reworked from landfills!
The big focus this year is Brooks’ nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 midsole which provides a softer landing than a traditional EVA blend and a lighter ride than the brand’s DNA LOFT.
This nitrogen approach brings a unique feel: soft yet resilient—not plush. Pushing on the side it has good “give” yet seems like it wants to explode, like a soft pillow so compressed that it won’t let the pounding over miles keep it down.
This creates a sort of softness to the landing with enough resilience that it seems firm into toe-off.
Overall the quick ride makes it feel lighter than it is. Because of this I was fine running speed intervals in this shoe; whereas the Saucony Guide 14, only .3 oz. heavier, feels like dead weight, and the 1.1 oz. heavier HOKA Gaviota 3 is a shoe I wear if I want to “strength train” over the run.
Like past Transcend/Glycerin GTS models, the 20 has a rocker feel underfoot with a quick transition into toe-off. The drop is 10 mm.
The GuideRails® remain largely unchanged since their 2019 revamp in Transcend 6. When it’s not broken don’t fix it! This unique approach to counter excess motion and alleviate pressure on knees and hips works together with the upper’s heel counter to rein in movement. Medially, the GuideRails® bolster the arch of the shoe to direct foot motion forward rather than inward.
The outsole has thinned considerably from Transcend 6, starting with a scaled-down Transcend 7 into a thin layer of carbon rubber in the Glycerin GTS models. The outsole will be the first aspect of the shoe to wear out for many runners.
The deepest flex groves in the 20 now run vertically versus horizontally, which makes it less flexible, perhaps even aids a quick ride much like the half carbon plate in ASICS Magic Speed in keeping the shoe curved, though of course not as intense.
Glycerin GTS 19 into 20 brings a thinner yet still padded ankle, tongue, and outsole and retains a sold heel counter.
The latest midsole is resilient-soft with a helpful rebound in the toe-off from a smooth transition, making the shoe feel fast (for its weight) at quicker paces.
Brooks has heightened its user-friendliness with options to choose a Classic or StealthFit upper on either Glycerin or Glycerin GTS, though with more color options in the neutral shoe.
Work through a stiff upper to break the shoe in yet have more stability long haul, or try the StealthFit option to skip that step.