Brooks running shoes are some of the most popular and best-selling shoes on the market. They are big on cushioning and comfort, checking off two major boxes for many runners.
The Brooks Ghost vs Launch is a common question runners ask. These two shoes are very similar. It can be difficult to choose between the two without comparing them closely.
They’re both neutral shoes with a generous toe box and good cushioning.
We’ve compared them section by section so you can make an informed decision as to which one would be best for you.
The Ghost 15 upper has had a minor update and now feels thinner, with more perforations on the smooth engineered mesh. The upper hugs your foot when you put the shoe on and it delivers a supportive fit.
This is due to the 3D Fit Print, which allows for a bit of stretch and structure. It works with the lacing system and this allows you to dial in for a more comfortable and secure midfoot feel.
The old oval laces have been replaced by flat laces and these distribute pressure evenly. There’s an added eyelet that will allow you to easily adjust the shoe. The Ghost 15 still has plush padding around the ankle collar, heel tab, and tongue.
This helps to cushion and support your foot without creating any hot spots. But runners may find that the tongue slides to one side as it’s not gusseted. The heel counter is stiffer than its predecessor, but this helps to lock your heel in.
The toe box is spacious and runners will find that the upper conforms to the shape of your foot. Reflective detailing is present on the back of the heel, on the sides of the toe box and on the sides of the heel counter for more visibility in low light conditions.
The Launch 9 has also had an update to its upper and it features a thin air mesh that’s soft, flexible, and breathable.
The upper has been designed to keep you cool and draw moisture away from your foot for a comfortable ride. It’s also a one-piece, seamless upper, which reduces hot spots while remaining lightweight.
Compared to its predecessors, the Launch 9 has less cushioning in the tongue and heel collar. With that being said, while the design of the Launch 9 is definitely performance-minded, the thin tongue can slip laterally. But it shouldn’t interfere with the run.
The laces are wide, thick, and flat. This helps to distribute pressure evenly across your foot. There’s an extra eyelet if you need to adjust the fit. The laces do tend to be a bit slippery, and this can lead to them coming undone while you’re running.
The heel features a flared heel cuff—and runners will find that it doesn’t affect the Achilles by chafing or rubbing against it. Not only does this help to keep your heel securely locked in place, but it makes it easier to slip the shoe on.
The heel counter has a firm stiffness that helps to prevent heel slippage, especially on long runs. But some runners may feel that the heel counter is a little too stiff for their liking.
The midsole of the Ghost 15 has also been updated. Unlike its predecessor, which had both DNA Loft and BioMoGo midsole foam, the Ghost 15 only has full-length DNA Loft midsole cushioning.
There is a lot more midsole cushioning in the Ghost 15, but it’s not too soft that it feels mushy. It’s not stiff either, managing to get the ideal mix. Runners will find it easy to pick up the pace and weight transfers will feel efficient.
Heel strikers will enjoy the extra support and protection in the heel. While some runners will find that it absorbs more shock, it may feel less responsive with little energy return.
The Launch 9 has a softer midsole with an extra 2mm of stack height than the Launch 8, but may feel that the BioMoGo DNA midsole is still on the firm side. You’ll find that the midsole does provide some responsiveness while feeling fast and nimble.
You still get a smooth ride, the shoe is still snappy and it’s perfect for faster runs.
The Ghost 15 uses soft blown rubber on the forefoot with durable carbon rubber on the heel. There are forefoot grooves that are partially filled with rubber, which helps provide better stability and flexibility, while making the transitions feel more snappy.
Brooks has added more rubber on the medial side to provide more support and runners will notice that the shoe has a flat geometry that works with the segmented crash pad. This helps to add a bit more energy through the gait cycle, while absorbing the shock of impact of your foot strikes.
Runners will find that the traction of the Ghost 15 is excellent on most surfaces and that the outsole is designed for the long haul.
The Launch 9 features a full-length, full-blown rubber outsole with a little extra rubber in the forefoot. The forefoot rubber is air-injected, which makes it lighter and more flexible so that it can propel your forwards while keeping your stride quick. It’s made with what Brooks calls Green Rubber – which is a bit more eco-friendly as it’s made with silica instead of petroleum.
The design of the pads on the outsole helps to improve the flexibility of the shoe and allows runners to move cleanly through their stride while reducing the impact of the footstrike.
Runners will find the traction of the outsole to have consistent grip over a variety of terrains, but some may find that it’s not as effective on wet surfaces.
The Ghost 15 is slightly softer underfoot, but it’s still firm and runners won’t feel their feet sinking into the shoe. Even though the shoe has more midsole cushioning, the DNA Loft is denser and runners will find that it doesn’t lose its cushioning prematurely.
The firmness of the shoe comes from the strategically-placed rubber outsole, which is also thicker. This helps to provide more support underneath the foot. It has a wide platform and this makes the shoe feel robust and provides a very stable ride.
When we look at the Launch 9, we find that the shoe is comfortable but some runners feel that it has a bit more volume in the midfoot then what they prefer. The BioMoGO DNA does leave one feeling that the shoe is on the firm side, but the shoe is still responsive and doesn’t lack any spring.
The softer, blown rubber of the outsole not only dampens the shock of impact, but it has improved the flexibility of the shoe and will let runners move cleanly through their stride.
The Ghost 15 has a heel-to-toe-drop of 12mm, which is higher than most of the other daily trainers.
But runners may find that this drop helps to roll them through their stride and make the transitions feel effortless.
The Launch 9 has a heel-to-toe-drop of 10mm, which is common in running shoes these days.
Runners will find that the Launch 9 feels stable and smooth even on uneven roads. Despite the 10mm drop, the shoe remains lighter and will be able to maintain a more traditional stride.
There is a slight weight difference between the Ghost 15 and Launch 9. The men’s Ghost 12 weighs 9.9 oz—281 grams—and the women’s shoe weighs 9.0 oz—255 grams.
The men’s Launch 9 weighs 8.2 oz—233 grams—and the women’s shoe weighs 7.1 oz—201 grams.
But the weight of both the Ghost 15 and Launch 9 can differ based on the size of shoe that you get. But runners will find the Launch 9 to be lighter.
At the time of writing this article, there’s a $30 dollar price difference between the Ghost 15 and the Launch 9.
The Ghost 15 has a retail price of $140, which is a great price for a durable daily trainer.
The Launch 9 is priced at $110, making it one of the best values on the market. It’s also a great price for runners who want a shoe for speed workouts, tempo runs or to use as a racing shoe.
The Brooks Ghost 15 places emphasis on the cushioning in the midsole—DNA Loft—and is an excellent all-purpose running shoe. But may lack responsiveness for runners who want to do faster-paced runs.
The Ghost 15 would be ideal for runners who want a well-cushioned daily trainer that feels soft and comfortable.
The Brooks Launch 9 is a little lighter than the Ghost 15 and has a smaller heel-to-toe drop. It uses DNA Loft and BioMoGo foam in the midsole, which makes it more responsive than the Ghost without sacrificing comfort.
It would be a good choice of footwear for runners who want a faster shoe that they can use for racing or speed work. The lower price also means it’s great for runners who want an awesome value-based shoe.