Brooks Glycerin 17 Review

After a complete redesign for the Brooks Glycerin in its 16th version, the Glycerin 17 is mainly a color refresh with no design changes to the midsole or outsole. Let’s see how the new one fits, feels, and functions!

The new Glycerin continues to be Brooks’ maximum-cushion neutral trainer. The 17 still follows in the long line of soft, pillowly Glycerins and might be a little softer than the 16 despite Brooks claiming to use the same midsole and outsole material.

Brooks Glycerin 16 vs 17:

  • Overall, the two shoes are very similar
  • The upper has also been tweaked to produce a slightly softer feel
  • That plush upper does seem to take up a little more room, creating a slightly narrower feel throughout and slightly reducing the toebox depth
  • That mesh upper is flexible enough that most runners shouldn’t have any issues with toebox room (even if the 15 was notable for its roomy toebox)
  • Weight is very similar between the two – Brooks has shaved a little weight, but nothing that you’re going to notice on-foot
  • The ride is very similar and Brooks claims that no changes we made to the midsole, but the first batch of 17s that we have received in the store feels softer than the last batch of 16s
  • The feel will likely even out over various production runs – the first batch of 16s that we received had a significant difference in softness between the two midsole colors
  • Overall, an update from Brooks that won’t alienate any users of the 16 and with some potential “bonus” softness, it could win against some other “max cushion” competitors

Fit

With the mesh upper and internal bootie which has been given a little extra plushness in the 17, the Glycerin has a pretty standard fit throughout, but the flexibility of the mesh should be forgiving enough that runners with slightly wider feet should be able to use it. Overall, the Glycerin 17 is nearly identical to the 16 but is still pretty middle of the road in overall width. The toebox continues to tighten after the notoriously deep and wide Glycerin 15, but the mesh is pretty forgiving. If you liked the spacious interior of the 15, you’d probably want to try out the new 17 before purchasing to make sure that the toebox is big enough. Runners who liked the 16 will be fine. Length is pretty true-to-size (for a running shoe) and comparable to the 16.

Feel

In the Glycerin 17, Brooks has maintained the softened and lowered the feel of the Glycerin 16. The DNA Loft foam is noticeably softer than the old Super DNA, yet feels really fast and light. The transition is great with DNA Loft, giving the Glycerin an edge over some of the max cushion alternatives. Overall, the Glycerin still feels like a unique performance-oriented maximum cushion shoe. Lighter and more playful than the its max-cushion competitors, Brooks has updated the Glycerin to compete with a wide range of neutral shoes. One thing to note is that, as with the Glycerin 16, the very soft foam in the 17 might be making it a difficult for Brooks to consistently produce consistent durometers. As noted above, while Brooks hasn’t changed the midsole design, the new 17s feel reliably softer than the 16s that we have in the store. This difference echoes the difference in softness that we experienced with early 16s, where the grey midsole of certain sizes was way softer than the white. It’s likely that this extra softness will be limited to the first run, but we’ll have to wait and see!

 Function

With a soft, less structured midsole, the Glycerin 17 doesn’t show any major signs of the inherent stability that some of the past Glycerins have had. While great for neutral runners, it’s not going to provide any guidance to prevent pronation.

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Comparisons:

Brooks Glycerin vs Brooks Ghost:

In their newest versions (Glycerin 17 vs Ghost 11), both shoes use Brooks’ new DNA Loft foam and mesh upper. The experience of the two shoes is considerably different, with the Glycerin feeling much more luxurious. The upper and midsole (and now the plusher upper as well) are simply much softer than the Ghost. You also ride a little higher in the Glycerin. Neither shoe provides significant guidance for runners with more flexible foot strikes.

Brooks Glycerin vs Nike Vomero

The Glycerin 17 and Vomero have recently gone in somewhat different directions.  The Vomero is wider overall, most notably in the toebox. You also get a little more toebox depth in the Vomero. The uppers are very similar, with a knit mesh featuring few overlays, but the plushness of the Glycerin is remarkable compared to the Vomero. Weights are similar on each, and the new React foam in the Vomero makes it just as lively as Brooks’ DNA Loft.  The Vomero now feels lower and a little faster, but with that is sacrifices some of the traditional softness that it’s known for. The amount of guidance in each shoe is minimal, and both are great options for neutral runners.

Brooks Glycerin vs ASICS Nimbus

Despite having a similar overall conceptual goal of providing a maximum amount of perceived cushion, the Glycerin and Nimbus have remarkably different on-foot feels. While the drop is 10mm on both shoes, the experience of the Glycerin is much more playful and springy while providing almost the same amount of cushion. The Glycerin feels much lower in the heel and the heel feels much more flexible, while the Nimbus’ heel feels a lot more stable/platform-like. In terms of weight, each are similar with the Glycerin feeling much lighter thanks to the springy midsole and flexible upper. The Glycerin is wider than the Nimbus, has more room in the toebox, and the upper mesh is much more flexible and forgiving. As each is designed as purely neutral trainers, guidance for each shoe is minimal.

Brooks Glycerin vs Mizuno Wave Sky

The Glycerin is lower than the Wave Sky, but the Sky might feel a little softer. With the flexible upper and really smooth transition of the Glycerin, it feels faster but a little less luxurious than the Sky. The transition of the Glycerin is much more smooth, and overall the shoe feels much more playful than the Wave Sky. The upper of the Glycerin feels much more forgiving and a little softer than the Sky. Toebox room is about the same on each, with the Glycerin being a little more forgiving. Both have minimal inherent stability and function as pure neutral shoes.

Brooks Glycerin vs Hoka Bondi

The new Glycerin, especially with its (maybe my mistake) super-soft foam, gets surprisingly close to the softness and smooth rocker transition of the Bondi. Obviously the Bondi is much higher overall and remains slightly softer than the Glycerin, but (intentionally or not,) Brooks has gotten as close as anyone to mimicking the Hoka feel in a more traditional shoe. The Glycerin is lighter and less substantial, with only slightly less of a “plush” feel. The Bondi does have some inherent stability due to its cradling midsole while the softer foam of the new Glycerin pretty much removes any inherent stability that it had in the previous couple of versions. The overall widths of the shoes are pretty similar, with the Bondi having much more depth and width in the toebox.

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