By: Jeremy Neisser
Brooks shoes have a strong reputation in the running community. The general consensus is that you can’t go wrong with any Brooks running shoe.
The Defyance offers a premium and exceptionally comfortable ride, thanks to its superior cushioning and support. It provides a luxurious experience akin to walking on clouds. On the other hand, the Ghost is designed as your reliable everyday trainer, prioritizing ample cushioning without any extravagant features. It aims to deliver a straightforward and dependable performance.
When comparing the Brooks Defyance vs. Brooks Ghost, it is important to understand the qualities these shoes share.
For example, both shoes are designed with highly cushioned neutral footbeds, providing only inherent stability, and no formal pronation control.
They are well-known for their level of cushioning and feature 3D Fit Print and synthetic overlays to provide structure to the top of your foot while you walk or run
For those of you who would like a quick overview of the differences, let’s get going!
Brooks Defyance vs Brooks Ghost – The Differences Explained:
Who The Brooks Defyance & Ghost Shoes are NOT For:
Both are more neutral running shoes, meaning that Brooks Defyance and Brooks Ghost are appropriate for those who do not overpronate.
If you find that your shoes are wearing unevenly on the outside or inside edges of the soles, you should visit a specialty running store to see if you need some support for pronation.
A little pronation is a natural way that your body disperses force when striking the ground, but too much can often lead to biomechanical inefficiencies and ultimately injuries.
If this uneven wearing-out pattern isn’t a problem for your shoes as you wear them, then Brooks Defyance or the Brooks Ghost would be great picks for you.
If the overpronation is an issue for you and you are still interested in Brooks running shoes, then check out the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21, as it is a premier support shoe on the market today. A plusher stability option would the Glycerin GTS 19
Both the Brooks Defyance and Ghost provide excellent cushioning overall and are particularly well-padded in the heel area for those that like a protective ground contact.
The Brooks Defyance is using the BioMoGo DNA midsole foam, which is probably the plushest midsole foam that Brooks has ever come up with.
It feels great and would be perfect for someone looking to optimize their cushioning levels within a shoe in a super durable package.
The Brooks Ghost comes with a DNA Loft midsole foam, which is still plenty soft, but it is more deliberate in providing a responsive ride that someone light looks for in a daily trainer. This “snap” is especially present in the forefoot of the Ghost.
All of the cushioning does not detract from the forefoot flexibility in either shoe, as they both have Omega Flex Grooves to let your foot move as naturally as possible.
Furthermore, the cushioning is enhanced with a Segmented Crash Pad to accommodate any foot landing and deliver smooth heel-to-toe transitions for both of the shoes, but it does feel smoother in the Defyance.
New runners are often shocked at the price of running shoes and are tempted to buy shoes strictly based on price.
This can be a mistake.
As with anything, the cost of the shoe is relative to the technology and quality of the shoe. The higher you go, usually the better of a shoe you get. However, I have noticed diminishing returns over the $150 mark.
- THIS WOMEN'S SHOE IS FOR: Runners looking for a smooth ride that won’t distract from the fun of the run. The Ghost 14 offers a simplified midsole construction which creates more seamless transitions. This Brooks Ghost 14 is a certified PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe and has been granted the APMA Seal of Acceptance. We recommend ordering Brooks running shoes 1/2 to one size larger than your dress shoe.
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: The Ghost 14 offers neutral support while providing high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Ghost 13
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability - yet it feels lighter than ever. DNA LOFT now makes up the entire midsole, for a softer, smoother, ride.
Price alone cannot be the only determining factor in your Brooks Ghost vs. Defyance decision because both shoes have different qualities for runners of different running styles, running environments, and body structures.
The Brooks Ghost carries a lower price point than the Brooks Defyance, but in both instances, you are getting a high-quality shoe.
Be sure to check around to find the least expensive version of each shoe. Oddly enough, I found that WalMart.com has the best price for the Ghost.
Price-wise, the Defyance tends to be the higher of the most popular Brooks shoes including that of the Ghost AND Adrenaline.
If you are buying at full MSRP, then the Ghost is going to be $120, and the Defyance is going to be $220. Is the Defyance worth $100 more? That depends. Let’s take a look at some more qualities of each shoe to find out.
If price is a major factor, try checking out the Brooks Levitate.
The Two-color knitted upper in the Brooks Ghost delivers softness and breathability while also offering a fresh new look for those familiar with previous models.
This is simpler than the upper of the Brooks Defyance, which is built with a standard engineered mesh to be breathable and offer adaptable flexibility, but with some added support compared to the Ghost.
If you find yourself running in dry, hot weather, this feature is especially luxurious.
Also, if you find that your toenails bruise or blacken or that your toes swell or blister, the increased toe room can be beneficial in keeping these problems at bay. Side note, I often found that I got black toenails after running in my Nike shoes, switching to Ghost eliminated it.
That being said, make sure to buy your shoes in the correct size.
Many people will look for a snug-fitting daily trainer that touches the toe to the front of the shoe, but you should look to have at least a half thumbnail width of space between your toe and the front of the shoe.
Honestly, the uppers aren’t all that different between the Brooks Defyance and Ghost. They are both comfortable, breathable, and provide an excellent lockdown. What else could you want for a daily trainer?
Going off on a tangent as a testament to the liner on the inside of each shoe, you could practically run in these shoes sockless.
This has a lot to do with how soft the interior lining that surrounds your foot and moves and expands with your stride, as well as the sock liner, which offers great “step-in” comfort.
That being said, we would not recommend it. A good pair of running socks is essential to keeping your running shoes in good condition.
Some runners, especially those with hip, knee, and ankle issues, are concerned with the weight of their running shoes.
All Brooks running shoes are fairly lightweight, and that's impressive when you observe all the thoughtful features they manage to pack into each shoe.
In the case of the Brooks Ghost vs. Defyance, the Ghost is actually the lighter of the two shoes.
This, however, requires a sacrifice in the Brooks Ghost.
The Defyance has far more cushion to make up for the slightly heavier weight.
Again, this is a matter of discovering which feature is more important to you – the increased cushion of the Brooks Defyance vs. the decreased weight of the Brooks Ghost.
If you are looking for a lot more cushion, check out the Brooks Defyance
Quite frankly, there is very little difference in the breathability between the upper mesh materials in the Defyance and the Ghost.
I would say that the Ghost has better overall breathability, but the Defyance will get you better breathability in the toe box in particular.When comparing Brooks to other popular running shoes, including Asics, you will find that Brooks focuses on cushioning and breathability above all else.
- THIS WOMEN'S SHOE IS FOR: The Ghost 13 is for runners looking for a reliable shoe that's soft and smooth. The Ghost 13 offers improved transitions for zero distractions so you can focus more on what matters most: your run. This Brooks Ghost 13 is a certified PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe and has been granted the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: The neutral support type provides high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Ghost 12
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability - yet it feels lighter than ever.
- SMOOTH, STABLE RIDE: No matter how your foot lands, our Segmented Crash Pad - an integrated system of shock absorbers - will cushion every step and stride for smooth heel-to-toe transitions.
- SOFT, SECURE, FIT: The newly engineered mesh and 3D Fit Print practically disappears on your foot with strategically placed stretch and structure.
A feature that sets the Brooks Defyance ahead of the Brooks Ghost is the midsole & the outsole.
Featuring deeper grooves and more rubber, the Defyance soles are designed to improve comfort, flexibility, and traction at the same time.
The Ghost is not bad in any of these areas, but it does just feel like less shoe in general, and the outsole is not an exception.
Although these features contribute to the slightly heavier weight of the shoe, a lot of runners will take greater traction and durability over a lightweight shoe.
The Ghost is one of the most popular of the Brooks line. We compare it against all of the lines including the Ravenna (which has been steadily gaining popularity for its lightweight versatility).
Brooks Defyance Vs Brooks Ghost -Verdict
To keep things simple, the Ghost is probably a better value overall. Paying $130 and getting 85% of the benefits against $220 for the extra 15% seems like a good trade for most runners.
That being said, if you are someone who is looking to optimize your running shoe to the fullest extent when it comes to cushioning, comfort, and durability, then it may be worth it to you to give the Defyance a try.
It is hard to go wrong with Brooks running shoes and there are far more on the market than just these. If you are curious in learning more about other running shoes from Brooks you can check out this comparison review.
Hi, Jeremy Here,
I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journey. About Jeremy.
I have run over 250 races including the California International Marathon, Clarksburg Country Run, and various other 5K & 10K races throughout the United States. I am a former Athletics department employee at University of the Pacific and Shoe Consultant with Dicks Sporting Goods
Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API