Brooks Glycerin 21 vs ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 – Which Is Right For You?

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Brooks and ASICS are two well-known, popular running shoe brands.

We’re comparing two of their plush, most cushioned running shoes to help you find the best one for your foot: the Brooks Glycerin vs ASICS Gel-Nimbus.

For this comparison, we’re looking at the latest models: the Brooks Glycerin 21 and the ASICS Nimbus 26.

Both the shoes are well-cushioned and comfortable. They’re basically the same—although they are a little more expensive than your typical running shoes.

In terms of differences, the Brooks Glycerin features a wider toe box and a roomier fit, while the ASICS Gel-Nimbus is more snug in the midfoot through the heel.

The Glycerin features Brooks’ DNA Loft foam as its cushioning, while the ASICS includes a gel material called PureGel in its midsole foam.

Let’s look at the two shoes in more detail.

Upper

Brooks Glycerin

The upper of the Glycerin 21 is made from multi-layered, seamless, one-piece mesh that molds to one’s foot.

Brooks redesigned the upper for better structure, fit, and breathability. This increases the flexibility of the shoe, making it lighter and better at keeping your feet cool.

Runners will find that there’s plenty of space in the toe box for their toes to splay, while their midfoot and heel have a secure, locked-in feeling. The print overlays are minimal and won’t cause any irritation or discomfort while you run.

The heel counter is rigid and will keep your heel locked in, while the heel collar is generously padded for extra comfort.

One of our favorite features is the gusseted tongue, which is made from stretchy polyester and helps to lock the midfoot down. This extra layer of material breathes well and doesn’t create any hot spots while running.

The tongue itself is plush and heavily padded, but it’s soft and doesn’t create pressure points on the bridge of the foot.

Runners will love the tubular laces, as they’re flexible and have enough stretch to get the perfect fit without changing the lockdown of the upper. Runners may find that the foot lockdown is so secure that they don’t have to do heel lock lacing.

The Glycerin also comes in a StealthFit option. This one-piece upper offers a snugger fit with almost no cushioning around the heel. Ultimately, it looks cool takes off a tiny amount of weight.

ASICS Gel-Nimbus

The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 features a multi-directional mesh upper that hugs the foot and feels durable enough to run miles in. Runners will find that the spacious toe box has enough room for a variety of foot shapes so that the toes can splay naturally.

The tongue on the Gel-Nimbus 26 is plush with thick padding and the tongue’s gussets provide an excellent midfoot lockdown without sacrificing any of the shoe’s flexibility.

The heel collar also features plush padding and this works well with the medium stiffness heel counter. Runners will feel like it wraps around their Achilles tendon and feels secure throughout the gait cycle.

Midsole

Brooks Glycerin

The midsole of the Glycerin 21 will leave runners with a luxurious underfoot feel. Brooks has added more DNA Loft foam to the midsole and this will have every foot landing feel soft but not mushy or as if you’re sinking into the shoe.

Runners won’t feel as though the shoe is bulky. Instead, they’ll find the ride to be smooth, with some responsiveness and bounce.

The shoe is versatile and runners will find themselves reaching for them for long runs as well as speedwork, as the shoe doesn’t feel heavy and the extra cushioning absorbs more shock.

ASICS Gel-Nimbus

The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 is a max-cushioning shoe, and the stack height has progressive grown over recent years. The men’s shoe has a stack height of 42mm/34mm—heel-to-toe, while the women’s shoe is 41mm/33mm.

This shoe features FlyteFoam Blast + Eco technology and the PureGel gel unit in the heel; this has been placed in between the two layers of foam. The FlyteFoam Blast is a solid piece of cushioning and it’s made with 20% recycled material.

The gel unit helps to absorb the impact and then distribute it evenly throughout the shoe, while the dual layers of foam provide a smooth, responsive and comfortable underfoot feel.

Runners will notice how soft the heel of the shoe is as soon as they step into the shoe and it compresses. This softer gel unit will benefit heel strikers, as it makes landings easier and softer. Runners will find that it helps the foot to roll smoothly in the transition.

Outsole

Brooks Glycerin

The Glycerin 21 has soft, blown rubber, segmented outsole. There are flex grooves in the forefoot that provide flexibility, as well as a guidance line that runs along the lateral side of the shoe.

Runners will notice that there’s some exposed midsole on the lateral side and that there’s a long strip of rubber that extends from the heel up to where the forefoot begins. This helps to make the transitions smoother and to provide additional midfoot stability.

Some may find that the outsole feels tackier due to soft-blown rubber that’s been used, but it will provide outstanding grip and traction. The one downside to using this soft-blown rubber is that the rubber can wear down faster.

ASICS Gel-Nimbus

The outsole of the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 has a similar geometry to its predecessor but it has also been updated.

It’s made from a new material called HYBRID ASICSGRIP. That’s ASICS-speak for a rubber that’s grippy, durable, and soft.

The rubber outsole has exposed midsole foam channels and the rubber lugs are now arranged sideways so that runners will have a softer, flexible ride.

Other Features

Stiffness/Flex

Runners may find that the Glycerin 21 isn’t a very flexible shoe. With that being said, it won’t feel stiff.

The shoe is quite responsive and one will have a slightly springy sensation. It also has plenty of inherent stability, as it has a wider platform which is enhanced by the flared design of the midsole and outsole.

While ASICS shoes have been known to be a bit stiff, the Gel-Nimbus 26 is surprisingly flexible and runners will find the shoe to be both responsive and soft.

Some may find that they have a slight feeling of the road beneath their feet. The Trusstic system isn’t as aggressive compared to stability shoes like the Gel-Kayano, but runners will notice the support it provides.

Drop

The Glycerin 21 has a 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is a common heel-to-toe drop that you’ll find in running shoes. The ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 has an 8 mm drop. Most people won’t notice the 2 mm difference.

Weight

There is only a slight weight difference between the Glycerin 21 and the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26. The Glycerin 21 men’s shoe weighs 9.8 oz and the women’s shoe weighs 9.4 oz.

The men’s Gel-Nimbus weighs 10.7 oz and the women’s shoe weighs 9.2 oz.

While both the Glycerin 21 and Gel-Nimbus 26 are slightly heavier shoes, runners will find that they don’t feel heavy on the feet when running in them.

Price

At the time of writing this article, both the Brooks Glycerin 21 and ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 cost $160.00.

While the price for either of these shoes may be more than your typical running shoe, both are max-cushioning shoes that are designed to absorb shock and reduce the risk of injury, while providing your feet with a soft, comfortable ride.

Summary

Both the Brooks Glycerin 21 and the ASICS Gel-Nimbus 26 offer maximum cushioning and provide excellent shock-absorption.

Runners who want more heel cushion may prefer the ASICS Gel-Nimbus, because of the gel unit in the heel. It would also be the better option for those who need a little more stability, since ASICS’ shoes in general tend to provide a more secure ride.

Runners who are looking for a roomier fit and a wider toe box should consider choosing the Brooks Glycerin. It would be a good choice for those who want softness underfoot without sacrificing responsiveness.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.