Brooks Ariel 18

A 100-year-old company, Brooks has been exclusively making running shoes since 1977 which helps it compete with much bigger brands in terms of price and technology. The Brooks Ariel is the female version of the Beast which was introduced way back in 1992. The popularity of the shoe is such that it is still available in Brooks’s line and is lauded by fans as one the most stable shoes throughout the years. Since 2017, Brooks started using a softer midsole foam in their shoes thus competing in the soft running shoe category.

The newest improvements to the shoe are the new and improved fit with the upper, the updated external heel counter and a brand new last. Brooks listened to all the comments from the previous Ariel 16 and really amped up the width of the shoe with this new model. 

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Pros & Cons
  • The Progressive Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB) helps guide the foot into its natural gait with added support
  • Super DNA Midsole has 25% more cushioning than the standard Brooks midsole
  • Engineered air mesh in the upper offers a roomier toe box
  • Reinforced stability due to the external heel counter
  • Cons
    • The tongue is thinner compared to the previous model and does not have a gusset to tether to the upper
    • Above average price point
    • Key Features
      The Ariel features a two-part outsole with the HPR Green in the forefoot. This is an environment-friendly type of silica that adds durability and grip on any kind of surface. The qualities of the HPR Green allow an efficient toe-off.

      You can also find the Flextra indentations present in the forefoot. These flex grooves are personalized in each version of the Brooks in line with the gender and weight of the runner. The second layer consists of the HPR Plus in the midfoot and rearfoot of the shoe. This is a standard material found in most Brooks outsoles. In comparison with the HPR Green, the HPR Plus is sturdier and is resistant to high abrasion thus making the outsole more durable than previous models.

      Around the entire shoe is the full-length segmented crash pad which gives a smooth heel to toe transition when you’re on long walks or runs. It helps absorb a lot of shock on the crash pad.
      The midsole is equipped with a lot of cushioning features which makes it one of the most comfortable shoes from the Brooks line. The Ariel 18 features a Super DNA midsole that has been revamped to offer 25% more cushioning than the midsole of the previous editions. To add more stability to the shoe, the patented Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar feature has been added. It is a triple-density BioMoGo foam that offers both superior cushioning and stability for overpronators.

      All of these features have been laid out in a scientific MC Pod Configuration which stabilizes the midsole and offers an efficient heel-to-toe transition. The ultimate sockliner adds cushioning for a plush in-shoe feel. A feature carried on from the previous shoe, the Caterpillar Crash Pad helps the MC Pod configuration by allowing customized cushioning.

      To increase torsional rigidity, this shoe includes a DRB Accel, a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane unit) in the midsole. This boosts support in the heel while not affecting the movement of the foot in other areas.
      The upper features an engineered mesh that brings breathability and a secure fit to the shoe. There is a 3D-printed saddle over the midfoot that also helps secure the foot. You can see two overlays over the midfoot saddle to bring structure to the shoe. A Strobel board is stitched to the full-length Cushsole S-257 which is a supportive material that brings a comfortable in-shoe feel.

      The new fit with the engineered mesh gives you a lot more space for your toes with a very nice spacious toe box. This helps with a natural toe splay to prevent your toes from squishing inside the upper.

      The upper of the shoe wraps around your feet better than the previous version, which reduces the chance for hot spots. And last is the shape of the shoe and the updated last of the Ariel 18 which mimics the shape of the foot and also gives a lot more space in the forefoot. This helps gives you a natural motion when you’re on your walk or your run.
      This shoe weights 11.8oz / 334.5g. Because this is a highly-cushioned shoe, it is a little heavier than similar shoes. The mesh and sockliner are quite lightweight but the midsole with its plush cushioning and sturdy outsole, adds to the weight of the shoe. While not as light as many other stability shoes, it is soft and secure enough to be worn on races and marathons for overpronators or those who are prone to injuries.

      Read also about plantar fasciitis running shoes.
      The new no-sew overlays on the upper bring improved breathability to the shoe. The air mesh on pivotal places on the upper helps air and moisture flow in and out easily preventing the shoe from being uncomfortable. The removable sockliner has moisture-absorbing properties to prevent the shoe from feeling wet on longer runs. With the upgrade of the toebox to be wider, the shoe’s breathability is enhanced.
      This shoe is quite comfortable despite being a sturdy stability shoe. The shoes feel like an Orthopedic shoe and are often prescribed to runners suffering from plantar fasciitis. The insole inside the shoe is plush and thick but is replaceable and can fit custom orthotics if there is a need. The narrow toe box was a complaint in the previous models but has now been expanded to give the toes space to flex freely. The engineered mesh is also stretchable and porous which allows air and moisture to pass in and out, leaving this shoe cool and breezy. This shoe also requires a few walks or runs to break in.
      While Brooks stuck with a no-nonsense design for the men’s edition of this shoe, they have added more colors and better designs in the Ariel version. With 3 colorways- Grey/Grey/Pink, Ebony/Black/Thistle and Grey Pink, this shoe has clean aesthetics. However, this shoe has a lot of sturdy components in the midsole and outsole and does give off a clunky or heavy look.

      Read also about best tennis shoes for plantar fasciitis.

      Style takes a backseat in this shoe with a focus on stability and support for overpronators. It offers a slightly lower profile than the previous shoe which one reviewer liked as this helped in keeping her socks up.
      The Ariel 18 is sturdy with every material strongly glued together. The sheer volume of the midsole and the technology involved makes it durable. The Super DNA midsole is also made to be resistant to flattening which means that the midsole is likely to last longer than the outsole. Instead of the all leather upper present in the Brooks Beast 16 LE, this shoe features an engineered mesh that can be vulnerable to wear and tear on continuous usage.
      The dual-material outsole is the reason for the heavy nature of the shoe but it also keeps the outsole from experiencing wear and tear easily. The shape and size of the outsole are consistent from heel to toe which gives the shoe a solid grip over a variety of conditions.

      There is ample thick padding that wraps the ankle securely and also reduces friction while running. The engineered mesh in the upper also provides moisture management and provides protection from various elements that you might encounter when you run. All-in-all, the shoe provides good protection that is required from a daily trainer.
      Responsiveness is the measure of how easily a shoe can return to its original state after being compressed by natural forces. Because of the sturdy build of the Ariel 18, you will not experience a lot of compressions thus you will likely not get a very bouncy ride.

      Most of the shoe’s responsiveness comes from the Super DNA midsole which is a non-newtonian fluid engineered to work like nano-springs. In combination with the Super DNA midsole, it brings a moderate level of energy return. The crash pad helps mitigate the shock of impact and making the heel to toe transition easier.
      You would be surprised to know that the Brooks Beast/Ariel and the Asics Kayano are some of the most popular shoes prescribed by Doctors. This is clearly because this shoe is truly stable and resembles the structure of Orthopedic footwear. Reviewers have commented that they have worn this shoe when their knees hurt, when they are recovering from operations or are up on their feet and the shoe helped to minimize their pain.
      Because of the super stability features offered by this shoe, it is best worn on roads, treadmills, flat and hard soil or technical trails. It can easily be worn on easy and medium paced runs and half or full marathons.
      The shoe has a higher than average price amongst motion-control shoes. While there is truth to the fact that these shoes will maintain its quality for 300-500 miles without wear and tear, the Ariel 18 justifies its price because of its superior stability. The Ariel and Beast series of shoes are known to be the most stable shoes in the market so much so that Orthopedic doctors frequently recommend these shoes to overpronators or those who experience knee or joint pain.
      Like most of the Brooks shoes, the outsole features a combination of soft and hard rubber. The HPR Green in the forefoot and the HPR Plus in the mid and rear foot is separated by a chasm that allows for a good grip even in slippery conditions. The outsole is wide which provides a solid foundation to give the shoe a solid base. Reviewers have worn these shoes on trail runs, roads, gyms and even at work and have had no complaints about the grip.
      The midsole itself is quite firm. The midsole takes some time to break in but then offers moderate flexibility that helps the foot move in its original gait. While not as flexible as the Brooks Glycerin, it is comparable to the Transcend. The Strobel board in the upper is stitched to the Cushsole S-257 that brings some softness and flexibility to the upper. If you have excess flexibility in your arch, this shoe can minimize that motion with its sturdy structure.
      A motion control shoe, this is a super stable shoe for anybody's needs. It will help you get through long walks or runs no matter where your foot strikes on the ground. The footbed in this shoe is a little softer than the 16's, which is okay but those with planters fasciitis may prefer a firmer footbed.
      This shoe has a high 12mm heel to toe drop. Most running shoes of the past used to feature high drops considering the fact that most runners are heel strikers and make contact with the ground heel first, usually due to overstriding. By keeping the shoe well cushioned and adding a reinforced heel pad to prevent pain in the heel, this shoe also features a high drop to offer impact protection in combination with other features.

      Key Features
      -Flextra rubber in the forefoot
      -HPR Plus in the midfoot and rearfoot of the shoe
      -Super DNA midsole
      -Engineered mesh upper
      -Extended Progressive diagonal rollbar in the outsole
      -12mm drop
      Bottom Line
      Runners who seek soft cushioning packaged in a study long-distance shoe have appreciated the Beast (men's) and Ariel (women's) line of shoes. The shoe also features updates in the form of extra midfoot support and extra space in the forefoot which will find takers in runners with wide feet. With a straighter last than the previous version, this shoe can help flat-footed runners feel more of the midsole cushioning.

      The Ariel 18 makes good on its marketing promises. It offers amazing stability that is amongst the best in motion-control shoes and has great cushioning capabilities packed inside the midsole. If you can get past the price and the sizing inconsistencies, this shoe will give you a plush and soft ride. While the price is more than average, the shoe justifies it by using soft and quality material that gives the shoe a premium look and feel.
      Where to Buy
      Holabird Sports Link
      See Deal Link
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      Road Runner Sports Link
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      By Abbie Copeland
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Aug. 05. 2021

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