Brooks was founded in 1914 and began in a small factory in Philadelphia making bathing and ballet shoes before shifting into manufacturing sporting cleats. But it wasn't until the latter half of the decade that the brand really began to find its stride, shifting its focus more heavily to running shoes, developing new technologies, and, ultimately, releasing one of its all-time bestsellers, the Adrenaline GTS 1 shoe in 1999. All of which helped establish Brooks as a top brand for runners.
"The Brooks brand itself has a really long history in the running world and a really great reputation amongst runners and podiatrists," says Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, a podiatrist in Silver Spring, Maryland. "They're unique because they combine newer technology and a really lightweight shoe."
Below, we're diving into everything you need to know about the brand and sharing some of the best Brooks sneakers, according to both experts and editors.
Do podiatrists recommend Brooks?
Given its popularity, it's no surprise that the brand came highly recommended by both of the podiatrists that we spoke to. "Brooks are one of my top recommended gym shoes," Dr. Ashley Lee, a podiatrist in Hinsdale, Illinois (who also wears Brooks herself), tells Shop TODAY. "Year after year, Brooks makes a quality shoe and they do not compromise on the material."
When you're looking for shoes, one easy way to see if a pair might be a good option is to check whether it has the Seal of Acceptance by the American Podiatric Medical Association. "And Brooks actually holds one of the highest numbers of acceptances in their shoes," Parthasarathy says. To get this seal, companies can submit shoes to be reviewed. And after a comprehensive review, if the committee finds that "the shoes allow for normal foot function and promote foot health," it will receive the seal.
One of the best things about Brooks is that it creates so many different styles, including protonated, neutral and supinated options, Parthasarathy says. "You could find something for everyone," she adds. "Because they do have wide styles, they're cushioned and they have enough of a variety that I'd be pretty confident that my patients would be able to find something that would work for them."
Lee says that the shoes are so versatile, she recommends them to "casual walkers and elite runners." And adds that their shoes feature quality materials along with "a nice balance of stability and cushion."
Many of their new technologies are also based on intensive research. (The brand says that it partners with researchers to study how the body moves before applying the learnings to its gear design and ultimately wear testing products with runners.) "Most recently, they have something called DNA AMP technology, which is featured in some of their brands, like the Levitate, Bedlam and Ricochet versions. Also, they have a lot of cushioning as well. So the cushioning combined with a lightweight shoe and the mechanics for a runner is really good combination."
We asked the experts to share some of their most recommended shoes from the brand. Plus, we polled our team to get some of their favorites as well.
Best Brooks shoes
The Brooks Ghost is "one of the most popular neutral shoes on the market," Parthasarathy says. Meaning, it's a great choice for those who have a neutral arch and neither overpronate or supinate (or do either mildly).
While it's technically marketed as a running shoe, Lee says that it's also a good walking shoe, as it's light and flexible.
Shop TODAY senior social media editor Kate McCarthy has been a longtime fan of Brooks, and this sneaker, specifically. "I've been wearing the Brooks Ghost for almost a decade now and run everything from 5ks to marathons in them," she says. "They're the perfect combination of being supportive without feeling too heavy, and in all the years I've been running with them I've never had any blisters or foot pain. Whenever I hear someone is in the market for new sneakers they're the number one brand I always recommend, they've treated me so well throughout the years!"
According to Parthasarathy, the Brooks Levitate is "a nice cross-training shoe." "It has some stability to it, but it's more breathable, slightly more flexible and very lightweight."
The brand says that the shoe has springy cushioning and a sock-like fit that flexes to comfortably move with your foot.
If you're looking for a good "everyday walking shoe," Parthasarathy says this is it. "It has lots of cushioning." Shoppers have said that they wear them for everything from walks to trips to the theme park and workdays spent on their feet.
Lee says that Brooks' Glycerin sneakers are some of the most popular gym shoes out there — and they're the ones that she herself runs in. "It is a nice balance of comfort, cushion and stability," she says. "It's not too heavy so it makes for a nice ride, whether you are walking or running. They also provide plenty of room in the toe box so my feet don't feel cramped."
Parthasarathy calls Brooks' Adrenaline sneakers "a really good choice." "Because if you're an overpronator or have flatter feet, they provide a lot of stability when running, combined with cushioning."
Lee also listed the shoes as a good choice for walkers, saying that they are a stable shoe and offer "the most cushioning and support" of the options in Brooks' walking family.
One of the most recent additions to Brooks' running collection, the Launch 10 sneaker debuted in early July, and the brand sent me a pair to try. This was my first introduction to Brooks' shoes, and I have to say, I was pretty impressed. Most of the shoes I wear now tend to be bulkier, dad-style sneakers, so I loved how lightweight these felt (and, as a result how each step felt easier). According to the brand, the shoes are designed to offer dependable speed for all times of workouts and even races. That being said, after running and walking in them a couple of times, I prefer them for walks or casual, short runs. For longer runs, I think I will still reach for something with more propulsive cushioning and bounce, like the Hoka Rocket X 2.
After learning that the shoes that she had been wearing weren't ideal for running, editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger switched over to Brooks, having had many friends (who are also avid marathoners) recommend them to her. "I had the Brooks Revel 5 (which they don't make anymore). This was my second pair of Brooks, and I've run miles upon miles in them, wearing them down until I was forced to get a new pair. They're lightweight, don't cause blisters and come in fun designs and colors that elevate any workout outfit."
How to clean Brooks sneakers
When it comes to cleaning your sneakers, the brand has one main recommendation — don't stick them in the washing machine or dryer. Instead, Brooks says that you should clean them by hand.
To start, they recommend brushing off the bottom of the shoes to remove dirt and mud. Then, remove the shoelaces and use a damp cloth or a brush to clean the upper section. After rinsing them with warm water, the brand suggests removing the insoles and cleaning and drying them separately. When drying, Brooks says that stuffing your shoes with newspaper can help them maintain their shape and decrease drying time.
Meet our experts
- Dr. Priya Parthasarathy, DPM, is a podiatrist in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is an American Podiatric Medical Association Spokesperson and serves on the board of directors of the American Board of Podiatric Medicine.
- Dr. Ashley Lee, DPM, is a podiatrist in Hinsdale, Illinois. While Lee treats all adult foot and ankle disorders, she has a special interest in pediatric reconstructive surgery as well as adult and pediatric sports medicine.