Brooks Glycerin 20 review

Swaddling your feet in supremely soft fabric Brooks Glycerin 20 takes cushioning to the next level.

Brooks Glycerin 20 review
(Image: © Lily Canter)

Live Science Verdict

Wearing Brooks Glycerin 20 is like having your feet smothered in cotton wool. This creates a luxurious, cushioned fit but makes for a less responsive, tactile ride.


  • +

    Ultimate cushioning

  • +

    Protects feet during long runs

  • +

    Good for neural runners who prefer a big drop


  • -

    Heavy underfoot

  • -

    Bulky design

  • -

    Less responsive

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You might not break any records in Brooks Glycerin 20 but your feet will always be comfy and that's the point. These are Brooks' most cushioned running shoe, which aim to create a "soft floaty feeling" thanks to the supreme softness.

Going one step further than their most popular Ghost brand, the Glycerin are fitted with DNA LOFT cushioning, which create the sensation of stepping onto a sandy beach when you first lace up.

If you love a super soft ride then these will be just the shoes for you but runners who prefer to feel the ground they are moving over may feel restricted.

Brooks Glycerin 20

RRP: $159.95/£155.79

Drop: 10mm

Support: Neural

Fit: Medium width

Women's Weight: 9.1oz / 258g 

Men's Weight 10.01oz/ 286.3g 

Although the Glycerin 20s are marginally lighter than their predecessor they are still relatively heavy at 286.3g/0.63lb and they are not the most aesthetically pleasing shoe on the market. This is largely due to the bulbous heel and the bulky cushioning in the tongue and upper.

The cushioning really divided our testers with some cooing over the pillow-y fit, whilst others felt their feet were suffocated by the plush thick upper and described the shoe as like running on the beach. Slow and laborious.

Whether this shoe works for you really depends on the amount of cushioning you enjoy. If a comfortable cushioned long run or walk where you can feel nothing underfoot sounds idyllic then these are the perfect training shoe. But if you prefer a responsive faster run then the Glycerin 20 may disappoint. Despite dividing our testers, we included it in our guide to the best running shoes, as a good option for those wanting maximum cushioning on their runs.

Brooks Glycerin 20: How we tested

We tested these shoes on long trail walks up to 20 miles, easy road runs up to two hours long and also put them through their paces during sprint intervals and Fartlek training. We also tried them out on dog walks in the park and for everyday wear.

Brooks Glycerin 20: Build and cushioning

Brooks Glycerin 20

(Image credit: Lily Canter)

This shoe is all about padding. The chunky midsole features nitrogen-infused DNA LOFT v3, which is the ultimate tour de force in cushioning. Meanwhile, the padded heel collar and tongue fit snugly around the top of the feet. Wearing the Glycerin 20 is like having your feet hugged by a giant marshmallow.

This is great for people on their feet all day or if you suffer from plantar fasciitis. But it does make for a bulky, relatively heavy shoe which feels rather unresponsive underfoot particular in wet conditions. 

The sponginess of the midsole is long lasting, with our tester finding that the softness remained intact after 12 weeks of long distance hiking.

Brooks Glycerin 20

(Image credit: Lily Canter)

Brooks Glycerin 20: Design and upper

Brooks Glycerin 20 design and upper

(Image credit: Lily Canter)

The Glycerin 20 is not going to win any beauty competitions. It has a lack of streamlining and is rather chunky in design. And although there is a breathable upper mesh, in hot weather the shoe does feel quite cumbersome.

That being said, it has a redesigned midsole and outsole offering a wider toe box. But this extra toe wriggle room is offset by the intense cushioning making it feel like your feet are being held in place by four walls of pillows.

Thankfully, it comes in a wide range of colors, so there is no risk that you get stuck with a color you detest

Brooks Glycerin 20 design and upper

(Image credit: Lily Canter)

Brooks Glycerin 20: Outsole

Brooks Glycerin 20 outsole

(Image credit: Lily Canter)

The sole itself has solid traction on the road and didn't lose grip in wet weather. And despite being soft on the inside the firmness of the outside layer of the midsole meant it was durable and did not wear down or crack.

Brooks Glycerin 20: Performance

Brooks Glycerin 20 performance

(Image credit: Lily Canter)

Off the shelf these shoes are ready to run or walk in providing sustained comfort from the get go. Despite the slightly smothering feeling, they did not rub over long distances and testers feet never felt sore.

They performed best on long slow road runs and gentle off road hiking and were great to wear all day long in the office or whilst doing errands. Where they were less effective was during speed work, as they created more of a sinking feeling than a propulsive or bouncy movement.

Brooks Glycerin 20: should you buy?

Brooks Glycerin 20

(Image credit: Amazon)

If you are a fan of cushioned shoes and prioritize comfort over speed, weight or design then the Glycerin 20 will perform well for you over many hours. 

Brooks Glycerin 20: User reviews

Brooks Glycerin 20

(Image credit: Amazon)

The Glycerin 20 score highly on Brooks' website with an average of 4.4 out of 5. One reviewer described them as "the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned. I wear these to work for 12 hour shifts and my feet are never sore at the end of the day. I also wear them to the gym where I weight-lift and they provide the perfect stability and comfort."

They scored equally well on Amazon, with 80% of reviewers awarding them five stars. One Amazon reviewer said: "I've worn Brooks for over 20 years and they're only brand I'll wear now for running. I have wide flat feet and I cannot describe how comfortable these are for long distance running. I reckon these are the best Glycerin yet. Get them. They are worth the investment."

But unhappy users claimed the shoes had less cushioning then previous models with one Brooks reviewer saying they were "heavy and not comfortable when running".

Brooks Glycerin 20: Alternatives

Asics Gel Nimbus 25 being tested by Alice Ball

(Image credit: Alice Ball)

The Asics Gel Nimbus 25 is another cushioned shoe which provides maximum impact absorption. It's also lighter than the Glycerin 20 and has a slightly lower drop of 8mm.

If you are looking for a little more spring in your step then the Nike Invincible 3 is a great bouncy alternative. It has a stack of springy ZoomX foam in its midsole but still delivers a comfortable, cushioned ride.

Lily Canter

Lily Canter is a freelance money, health and lifestyle journalist with more than 20 years' experience. She writes about fitness for Fit+Well, Tom's Guide, T3, South China Morning Post, Runner's World and Trail Running magazine. She focuses on personal finance for Yahoo! Finance UK, Metro, The Guardian, and loveMONEY. In her spare time she is an ultra-runner, canicrosser and UK Athletics running coach. She also co-hosts the award-winning podcast Freelancing for Journalists.