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Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 review

9 expert score
0 user's score
As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples. We purchased this pair at Running Warehouse with our own money.
Review written on 11th June by Kristin Lassen Experienced Runner and Stability Shoe Expert
76 other reviews

Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 Verdict

The Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 continues the line's tradition of cushioned stability with a smooth transition. Overall it is a quality shoe that is fun to run in, but the shoe's average sock liner and poorly designed outsole coverage could be better for a shoe of this cost.

The pros

  • Super smooth transition
  • Cushion is soft but not squishy
  • Stable base
  • Secure, adaptive upper
  • High Quality heel counter

The cons

  • Sock liner mediocre
  • Decreased outsole under the toe
  • Price


Rating breakdown

Comfort
9.0
Build quality
8.0
Upper
9.0
Sole unit
8.0
Landing
10
Transition
9.0
Toe-off
8.0
Traction
7.0
Durability
7.0
Value / Price
8.0

Facts / Specs

Brand
Model
Glycerin GTS 21
Previous model
Type
Weight
10.7 oz (303 g)
MSRP
$160.00

Heel
28 mm.
Toe
28 mm.
Heel drop
10 mm.
Carbon plate
No plate

Size/Fit

Sizing
Buy half size bigger
Heel fit
Normal
Midfoot fit
Normal
Toebox fit
Normal

Cushioning & ride

Type of cushioning
Balanced
Amount of cushioning
Highly cushioned
Stability
Very stable
Flexibility
Rigid

Usage

Racing  
Speedwork
Daily training  
Long distance racing
Ultra distance racing

Who should buy the Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 ?

Average-to-heavy-weight runners will appreciate Glycerin 21 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.

Who should not buy the Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 ?

Skip Glycerin and Glycerin GTS if you like a connected “ground feel” while running. Those with narrow feet who want a high-quality running shoe may appreciate the Saucony Omni 13, which also offers a more supportive sock liner.

Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 Introduction

Picture of Brooks Glycerin GTS 21

The Glycerin GTS 21 follows the Glycerin GTS 20 and continues to offer a stable ride with a very smooth transition. Glycerin GTS is the stability version of Brooks’ Glycerin, which means it is the same shoe but with the added feature of GuideRails® to help guide the foot through regular pronation.

Glycerin GTS is the most plush stability offering from Brooks, joining the Launch GTS with its speed focus and Adrenaline GTS which sits between the two in cushion.

This shoe retails at $160 USD, the same as last year and as the Transcend 4, 5, 6 and 7, the previous name for Brooks’ most plush stability shoe (the cost was $10 lower for the first year when the name and design switched to “Glycerin GTS 19”).

The listed weight remains at 10.5 oz. (297.7 g.) in a US M9 and drops slightly to 9.2 oz. (260.8 g.) in a US W7; the StealthFit version with a compression knit upper is about a half ounce lighter.

Brooks allows runners to choose their preferences with choices for “StealthFit” or “Classic” for the upper and “Neutral” (Glycerin) or “Support” (Glycering GTS) for the midsole, regular or wide width.

Glycerin GTS competes with Saucony Omni, New Balance Vongo, and ASICS Gel-Kayano for top-end stability offerings.

Overall, I recommend Glycerin 21 GTS over the Saucony Omni 22 with two exceptions:

1) I take the sock liner out of Omni to put in Glycerin; it’s thicker and offers more arch support;

2) You’ll probably prefer Omni if you have a narrow foot. I stayed with the half-size smaller in Omni than Glycerin because though I’d prefer a slightly wider toe, the length was true to size. Sizing up would have made it really long.

Choose Vongo if you want the extra stiffness and spring of a nylon-plated shoe and Glycerin GTS if your foot gets uncomfortable wearing a plated shoe.

Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 First Impressions

Picture of Brooks Glycerin GTS 21

Unboxing Glycerin GTS 21, I loved the slick, clean style and looked forward to stepping onto this plush, attractive model.

It did not disappoint in feel underfoot, but I knew right away that I would need to size up a half size. True to the .2 oz drop in the listed weights (for women), the 21 in my size 10 weighed the same as last year’s size 9.5.

The first run felt smooth, and this continued through my testing period (70 miles).

Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 Upper

Picture of Brooks Glycerin GTS 21


The Classic fit option combines a durable, double-layer engineered mesh upper with traditional lacing and a moderately-plush tongue, this year made from over 61% recycled material.

A higher, more solid heel counter this model is a nice surprise; padding around the ankle is moderate. My heel did not slip, and my foot felt supported.

The shoe has better breathability and a more comfortable fit that does not require as long of a break in as in the 20.

The StealthFit upper option, available in both Glycerin and Glycerin GTS, allows for even more stretch, like Nike’s Flyknit in their React Infinity Run FK 2.

Picture of Brooks Glycerin GTS 21

My least favorite part of the shoe is the sock liner. It is average, but for a $160 shoe I would hope for something more robust and supportive under the arch, like I found in the ($30 less expensive) Omni 13. After about 40 miles of testing the Glycerin GTS sock liner felt flat. I like to put the Omni liner into the Glycerin GTS for a better feel underfoot inside the shoe.

The look is attractive and inviting, with a less-busy pattern than the 20 and a variety of colorways to choose from.

Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 Sole Unit

Picture of Brooks Glycerin GTS 21


The midsole provides an excellent ride. Once again made of Brooks’ nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3 material, it 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, but comfortable. The ride is light and airy, with a rocker feel underfoot and quick transition into toe-off. The drop is 10 mm.

The GuideRails® remain largely unchanged since their 2019 revamp in Transcend 6. 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.

The GuideRails® consist of the midsole extending up to border the shoe to provide support if needed. If not, they are not noticeable. The GuideRails® also help support the arch of the shoe to direct foot motion forward rather than rotating too far inward.

Picture of Brooks Glycerin GTS 21

Again this year the thin, carbon-rubber outsole will be the first part of the shoe to evidence wear. An additional flex groove just before toe-off exposes the midsole, and after 70 miles on my shoes I can already see it starting to fray.

On the positive side, the outsole covers more of the lateral midfoot.

Brooks Glycerin GTS 21 Conclusions

Picture of Brooks Glycerin GTS 21

This is a remarkable shoe that is fun to run in. The main thing keeping me from giving it five stars is the “meh” sock liner.

Sock liner aside, try Glycerin GTS 21 for the best in cushion, stability, and upper support.

Before buying, first check to see if you have heavy wear patterns under the medial toe box on your previous shoes.

The new flex groove under Glycerin GTS’s big toe exposes the midsole, and it might be a warning for you to try a different model to avoid premature wear.

How does the Glycerin GTS 21 compare?

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23
Brooks Glycerin GTS 21
Brooks Glycerin 21
Expert score
9
9
8
User score
Retail price
US$139.95
US$160
US$160
Shoe type
Weight
10.1 oz
10.7 oz
10 oz
Heel Drop
12 mm
10 mm
10 mm
Recommended for
Daily training
Racing, daily training
Daily training
Cushioning type
responsive/balanced
balanced
balanced
Cushioning amount
Medium cushioning
Highly cushioned
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
medium
rigid
flexible
Stability
very stable
very stable
very stable
Sizing
true to size
buy half size bigger
true to size

Why you can trust us

As editorial policy, we do not accept free samples from companies.
We purchased this pair of Brooks at Running Warehouse  with our own money.

This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about our policy.

Reviewed by Kristin

This review was written by Kristin Lassen on 11th June.
Running long for over twenty years, Kristin has found peace and solidarity with like-minded 'soles,' cheetahs of all speeds and walks of life. Kristin holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and an MA in theology; running is where her dual passions for truth and fitness merge. She teaches college classes and together with her husband raises four children, corn, and soybeans in rural Iowa.

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