Brooks Ghost 14 review
That Brooks ghost 14 was the overall best hiking shoe from my larger tested review of the best hiking shoes for women. In advance, learn more about this versatile, responsive sneaker and why it’s at the top of my list.
Whether you go for sport or pleasure, a well-designed pair of hiking shoes will make every step more comfortable. My top pick for best women’s hiking shoes overall is this Brooks ghost 14 that has outperformed all other competitors I’ve evaluated during my rigorous road testing.
The Brooks Ghost 14 sneaker is designed for both walking and running, making it the most versatile choice for active days. It is available in sizes 5 to 13, three widths (narrow, medium) and 32 colors. It was also one of the most supportive shoes I tested while still being lightweight. I also liked that the sockliner is contoured to curve and wrap under your arch, relieving any potential sore tendons, and the heel cup has a deep, high collar to cradle your foot for maximum stability on unpredictable surfaces. While the Ghost is a good choice for most hikers, Forbes Vetted also has recommendations for the best trail running shoes or the best hiking shoes.
Ahead, you’ll find more in-depth details on my Brooks Ghost 14 review, including key features and benefits, as well as how I tested and ranked all of the other hiking shoes in our comprehensive list of the best women’s hiking shoes.
Brooks Ghost 14 functions
Unmatched responsive design
The main feature that sets the Brooks Ghost 14 apart is its padded design. The heel is springy but not squishy, which noticeably lifts your stride. As I walked over unforgiving concrete floors, down stairs and up hilly inclines on loose gravel roads, I was struck by how light my feet felt. To examine the midsole more closely, I put my phone on the floor and filmed videos of me walking the hardwood floors in my house. In the footage, I could see my foot pressing down on the midsole and then bouncing up with a soft landing.
To provide that kind of gliding motion, the Ghost 14 features a trackpad on the bottom of the sneaker that resembles a segmented grid that guides you through a simple toe-off – i.e. the progression of your foot as you move through your gait . In comparison the Hoka Clifton 8 has a rocker sole that’s curved to propel you forward and the On cloud 5 has a more minimal sole that allows you to feel the ground underneath as you walk.
Robust stability and comfort
Everyone walks in a way that is unique to their body mechanics. But as you increase or decrease your speed, you sometimes deviate from your natural form: you might pronate, or curl up your ankles, or supinate, or roll out your ankles, for example. Certain hiking shoes are shaped to correct your gait, while others, like the Ghost 14, are designed for “low deviators,” people who don’t tend to deviate too much from their natural shape, even when walking or running fast . Instead, the Ghost 14 keeps your foot in a neutral position with a rigid heel counter – the part at the back of the shoe that wraps around your heel – and a rigid sole to minimize potential roll-off without a bulky fit. This makes the shoe nimble and yet very stable. Other options, such as On cloud 5have an even stiffer heel that reduces lateral movement.
The Ghost passed all of my stability tests with ease, although I tend to have a slight supination that causes me to land harder on the outer edges of my feet. My testing included walking on a variety of surfaces: paved and dirt roads, hilly fields, and uneven, rocky terrain. I’ve also run in these shoes and covered a total of 84 miles. I was sure-footed and landed efficiently without feeling like the sneakers were overbuilt or too stiff.
Versatile, lightweight fit
The Ghost 14 had the most size and width options compared to others we tested, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer specific fits. Heel drop – the difference in midsole height between the heel and ball of the foot – is 12 millimeters, which is within the standard range for a sneaker and indicates excellent cushioning at the heel to absorb shock. If you want a pair that you can walk and run in, the Ghost 14 is well equipped for both activities to minimize the impact of a hard heel strike. When I was traveling and didn’t want to take multiple shoes with me, I put these sneakers in my suitcase as I could wear them for exploring, relaxing and morning runs.
While they weren’t the featheriest shoes I’ve tested, the Ghost 14 shoes are fairly airy and weigh only 7.9 ounces (anything under 8 ounces is generally considered light). These shoes have a breathable mesh upper for ventilation. While not waterproof, this pair held up well in light rain. However, to simulate a heavier downpour, I wore the shoes in the shower and they absorbed a moderate amount of water – meaning they can’t replace your rain boots. While most hiking boots are not extremely waterproof, some come in waterproof versions, such as On cloud 5if you tend to run in rainy places.
Stylish colors and prints
On the fashion side, the Brooks Ghost 14 is available in a variety of standard and limited edition colorways. The color palette includes 32 options, from the wilder and more adventurous (black with leopard spots and purple details) to the simpler (solid grey-on-grey). Sneaker aesthetics are important if you plan to wear your pairs all day, and Brooks offered the widest selection among the shoes I tested. Other sneakers, such as Under Armor Essential Sportstyle and the New Balance Foam Fresh X 1080v12for example, it only comes in about a dozen colorways and prints.
How does the Brooks Ghost 14 compare to other hiking shoes?
Of the seven shoes I tested, the Brooks Ghost 14 was my best overall pick; They’re responsive and stable with great cushioning and a versatile fit. However, these shoes cost $140. I found this to be the average price for a high-end athletic shoe, and Brooks offers a generous 90-day return policy, even on worn shoes. It’s worth noting that I didn’t find many budget picks among the expert-recommended pairs, underscoring the fact that a good pair of shoes is an investment.
However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option and don’t need quite as much stability, I recommend checking out my Under Armor UA Essential Sportstyle review. The Sportstyle shoes retail for $65. It’s well-cushioned, lighter (weighing 7.6 ounces) and has a higher drop (20 millimeters) to take the weight off your heels if you suffer from plantar fasciitis or high arches. However, it doesn’t have an ultra-grippy sole or a firm heel, so it’s best suited to smooth, flat surfaces rather than rugged, unpredictable terrain and conditions.
I’m an experienced runner and walker with over 30 years of experience on paved and dirt trails. As a lifestyle journalist and author, I’ve reviewed a wide range of wellness gear, including everything from massage guns to weighted blankets. While researching the best hiking shoes for women, I consulted several experts including Nelya LobkovaDPM, a board-certified podiatrist and podiatrist in private practice in New York City, and Anne Holland Johnson, MD., orthopedist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. I also interviewed Annabelle Lemes, a personal trainer in Connecticut who incorporates aerobic walking into her strength-based routines for clients.
I’ve spent several months testing the Brooks Ghost 14 in my neighborhood and on local varied terrain weekend trips. As part of my larger testing process, I put a total of seven hiking shoes through a battery of tests for comfort, cushioning, traction and support.
I wore each pair for at least two hours a day to assess how well each shoe performed on different surfaces and in different weather conditions and temperatures. I also rated the shoe’s firmness in the heel area for stability, waterproofing from wearing the shoes in the shower, weight on a digital scale, and heel-to-toe drop, which indicates cushioning at the highest versus the shoe’s lowest point indicates midsole. Other factors I evaluated were the overall style and aesthetics of the shoes for everyday wear.