Brooks vs ASICS – Which Brand is Right for You?

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Brooks and ASICS are both popular but somewhat different running shoes brands. If you’re looking for new running shoes, you might wonder which brand is right for you.

We’re comparing Brooks vs. ASICS to see how they are similar, different, and what’s unique to each brand. Both use specific technologies and are always bringing out more innovative ideas for different types of runners.

Brooks ONLY makes running shoes, so they’re very focused on running-specific technology. Their shoes are often real-world tested to ensure they accommodate different gaits.

ASICS makes many different types from casual to volleyball to running. They’re best known for their GEL technology, which provides superb shock absorption, and AHAR high-abrasion rubber, increasing grip and durability.

The most practical difference between Brooks vs. ASICS is that Brooks tend to have more space in the toe box, while ASICS have a narrower fit, especially in the forefoot and heel.

History

Brooks predates ASICS by around 35 years, although ASICS has been making running shoes longer than Brooks. Here’s a brief history of each brand.

Brooks

Brooks began back in 1914, but they made every type of shoe, including ballet slippers, bath shoes, baseball and football cleats, and even combat boots!

They turned their interests to running shoes in the early 1970s and became the first shoe manufacturer to use EVA foam, a standard in running shoes these days.

In 2001, Brooks recommitted to creating running shoes and ONLY running shoes. Since then, they’ve produced more innovative footwear and become a firm favorite among runners.

ASICS

ASICS began in Japan, in 1949. At that time, it was called Onitsuka Co, and its founder, Kihachiro Onitsuka, wanted to do something to uplift the youth in the aftermath of WWII. He decided to focus on creating athletic footwear that would promote an active lifestyle among young people in the country.

1982 saw their first stability shoe being released, and their iconic GEL technology debuted in 1986. Since then, they’ve introduced numerous new technologies and become a more sustainable brand.

Upper

Brooks

Brooks has a naturally wider toe box, which certain runners will appreciate. The uppers of their shoes utilize a couple of technologies to keep them as breathable as possible.

Their engineered mesh fabric provides a decent amount of stretch without compromising the secure structure of the shoe. It’s also designed with perforations to allow air in and moisture out.

Fit Knit technology creates a sock-like fit on your foot, keeping it from moving against your skin but allowing comfortable, free movement of your foot. Their trail shoes feature a robust toe bumper for extra protection.

Each of their shoes features the classic Brooks overlay on the upper and an extra eyelet for using different lacing techniques. All their shoes are available in a wide variety of colors.

Some Brooks shoes come in “StealthFit.” This is a “performance” upper with a more snug feeling, designed to adapt to the movement of your foot by stretching and compressing where necessary. It’s a good choice for runners who want a slightly more fitted, streamlined shoe.

ASICS

ASICS tends to have a narrower fit throughout the upper. They use a super elastic mesh material designed to fit snugly around the foot, providing support, comfort, and good airflow.

The brand has also introduced CHAMELEOID MESH technology, which maintains the ability to hold its structure and provide support while being very pliable, as well as offering superior breathability and a one-of-a-kind changing-color feature that makes you more visible (and looks cool).

Midsole

Brooks

Brooks runs wider in the midsole than ASICS, which offers great stability as the broader platform has more surface area for the foot to rest on and push against.

Their midsoles are lightweight, providing good pliability and allowing for natural foot movement. For ease of picking the right shoe, Brooks splits their midsoles into four categories:

  • Cushion
  • Speed
  • Energize
  • Trail

In the Cushion category, you’ll find shoes featuring DNA LOFT and BioMoGo DNA foam. DNA LOFT uses nitrogen-infusion to create a lighter, softer, and more cushy foam without losing durability. BioMoGo is a unique dynamic foam that adapts to your stride, providing near-custom cushioning.

Speed shoes use DNA FLASH foam, nitrogen-infused and made to be light and fast. Some use spikes, including a carbon fiber plate, for extra bounce. The Ener-Gize shoes feature DNA AMP foam, designed specifically for energy return.

Brooks’ trail shoes may feature different midsole foams and their Ballistic Rock Shield to protect your feet from rocks, stones, and hazards.

For those who need more support, Brooks uses versatile GuideRail technology integrated into their midsole to accommodate your natural stride. You’ll be able to see them easily on either side of the rear foot, and the shoes are labeled “GTS.”

Rather than using a traditional medial post, Brooks’ GuideRails are designed to prevent your foot from deviating from its natural path and only kick in when needed.

One of their shoes—the Dyad—features Dual Arch Pods on the outsole/midsole, a support system closer to an old-school medial post than the GuideRails.

ASICS

ASICS shoes have a narrower midsole than Brooks, but they don’t feel less stable, according to ASICS fans. Their midsoles are lightweight and comfortable, featuring their proprietary foam, known as FLYTEFOAM, in a few different varieties.

FLYTEFOAM Lyte is designed to be lighter without removing the important shock absorption and comfort a midsole offers. It uses nanofiber architecture technology to bounce back after every use, significantly extending its lifespan. It’s believed to be around 55 percent lighter than most others.

FLYTEFOAM Propel uses a high-energy elastomer for superior energy return. Between the uniquely bouncy foam formulation and the lightweight nature of the material, the wearer should be able to boost their speed.

FLYTEFOAM Blast is their most shock-absorbing and bounciest foam, while FLYTEFOAM Blast Turbo is soft, cloud-like, and usually used in conjunction with a carbon fiber plate

And then there’s ASICS’ GEL technology. It’s not found in all their shoes, and some feature it only in the rearfoot, while others have GEL in the forefoot as well. It’s often sandwiched between layers of foam to add to the shock absorption.

As for support, ASICS favors DUOMAX technology, a dual-density midsole with a firmer section set at an angle of 35 degrees to provide extra support under the arch.

Outsole

Brooks

Brooks shoes feature several different outsole designs, based on the particular use the shoe. All outsoles are made of high-quality rubber, and feature a Segmented Crash Pad—a caterpillar-shaped system of shock-absorbing sections working together to help smooth the heel-to-toe transition.

Some shoes feature an Arrow-Point outsole design, which is highly durable and makes for an even faster heel-to-toe transition. Trail shoes use a specialized rubber known as TrailTack, and feature lugs of various sizes and aggressiveness to keep you safe on different surfaces.

ASICS

ASICS has its own proprietary rubber, known as AHAR—ASICS High-Abrasion Rubber—or AHAR+, the upgraded version. It’s derived from car tires, and two to three times the abrasion-resistance of other compounds, enhancing the durability of your shoes by quite a bit.

They also use a unique technology known as a Trusstic System. This is a small section of carbon-reinforced rubber in the middle of the outsole, right underneath the arch. This stiff section helps to stop the shoe from twisting, keeping the feet in their natural position and stopping them from over-flexing.

You’ll also find Guidance Line technology in some of their shoes’ outsoles—a groove running down the forefoot, designed to promote better flexion in the forefoot and reduce pressure on the MTP joint.

Durability

Both brands are surprisingly durable. Brooks recommends replacing a pair of their shoes every 300 to 500 miles, while ASICS says every 450 to 500 miles.

Ultimately, this is less of a brand-specific thing and more about you—your mileage, gait, weight, and what surfaces you run on. If you have to measure midsole-for-midsole, you might find that ASICS GEL shoes last longer, thanks to their strength against compression.

Cushioning

Brooks

Brooks offers a slightly wider variety of cushioning, from soft and cushy to extremely lightweight for racing. As mentioned above, they use a range of different foams to achieve this:

  • DNA LOFT: Their softest foam, made from EVA, rubber, and infused with air and nitrogen.
  • BioMoGo DNA: Adapts to your specific gait to offer the cushion you need.
  • DNA FLASH: Thin cushioning, designed to be lightweight above all.
  • DNA AMP: Stiff, springy, and light, designed for speed.

There’s a cushioning type for everyone in their lineup, including both neutral and stability shoes.

ASICS

ASICS only has two types of foam cushioning, but their biggest draw is their GEL technology. It’s used in conjunction with one of their foams, which means their shoes may be a touch heavier than Brooks’ but provide impressive shock absorption.

The GEL is layered between their FLYTEFOAM EVA options. While the GEL absorbs shock, the type of foam you choose will help to shape your running experience.

  • Lyte: Designed to be super lightweight, great for racing.
  • Propel: Highly elastic, providing good energy return.
  • Blast: Most shock-absorbing and bouncy foam they create.
  • Blast Turbo: The softest of their foams, usually paired with a carbon plate.

Like Brooks, ASICS offers a wide range of different types of cushioning in both neutral and stability shoes. However, if it’s shock absorption you’re after, you can’t beat their GEL tech.

Overall Fit and Comfort

Brooks

Brooks shoes have a slightly wider-than-average toe box, which many runners will appreciate. This gives your toes room to breathe and may help reduce chafing and blisters in the long run. The company recommends choosing a half-size bigger than your usual shoe size.

Brooks are generally known to be comfortable shoes, provided you get the right fit. They offer decent tongue and ankle collar cushioning, and you can easily find the right amount of cushioning for your comfort.

ASICS

ASICS shoes are narrower, especially in the midfoot going into the rearfoot. They’re a great choice for runners with naturally narrow feet, but they come in wide and extra-wide sizes, too.

They’re also known to be comfortable on the feet, thanks to their plush upper and collar fabric. It’s good to know that ASICS shoes may be slightly heavier than Brooks, but this is unlikely to affect your comfort unless you’re racing.

Pricing

Brooks

Brooks running shoes range from around $65 to $250 for their fanciest racing shoes. Their most popular shoes fall into the $110 to $160 range, which makes them quite average in terms of price.

ASICS

ASICS have a similar price range, from about $80 for an entry-level shoe to $250 for their top-tier racing footwear. Most of their GEL shoes come in around $160, but you can find excellent options between that and about $110.

Summary

Brooks vs. ASICS is a tough call. Neither of the brands necessarily comes out way above the other—rather, they’re quite different, and each feature their own technologies that different runners will prefer.

That being said, if you’re a severe overpronator who needs strong extra support in the medial side of your shoe, you may prefer ASICS as they use a DUOMAX system for support. The GuideRails of Brooks shoes may not be enough for you.

On the other hand, if you need more light support than regular neutral shoes offer, the GuideRails of Brooks are the perfect way to get it.

ASICS wins in terms of shock absorption, but that’s really down to their GEL technology. Foam-for-foam, it’ll come down to personal preference.

Runners with wide feet might be drawn to Brooks first, but don’t forget that ASICS offers wide sizes. Runners with narrow feet may be better off with ASICS from the start.

But if you’re a runner without any special shoe needs or foot problems and you’re looking for a brand that’ll keep you comfy, safe, and help you perform better, they’re both excellent options.

BEST-SELLING BROOKS RUNNING SHOES

BEST-SELLING ASICS RUNNING SHOES

 

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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.