Well I have now run over 140km in my Brooks Cascadia 9, so I thought it was about time I published my initial thoughts on this shoe. As previously explained at the outset of my 2015 trail shoe smackdown, I am a long time wearer of the Brooks Adrenaline series of shoes for road running and like them a lot. I was therefore keen to try one of Brooks dedicated trail shoes and the Cascadia seemed like a great option.
I am running with the 2014 version of the shoe, more commonly referred to as the Cascadia 9. The Cascadia 10 is now available but like all their shoes, Brooks evolve the design year on year with slight tweaks here and there but fundamentally the shoe is the same.
I broke every rule in the book when I first ran in this shoe, by switching to it mid race and running 34km straight out of the box. It was a risk but at the time I was having problems with the shoes I was wearing and these were the only other option available to me. I had the opportunity to switch back out of them after 13km if I had any issues but I am pleased to say they worked perfectly and I ran to the end of the race with no issues at all.
This alone showed me how comfortable these shoes were and its continued as such since then. While not the lightest or minimalist trail shoe out there, they do provide excellent underfoot support and protection, with a 12mm drop and a great “ballistic” rock plate for rougher terrain.
The upper is made from a lightweight mesh which provides excellent ventilation but in my experience provides little or no protection from water or mud, although what does when you are wading through it? In this version Brooks also introduced a seam free upper, which both reduces weight and also possible rubbing points within the shoe for your feet.
Volume wise, it has a nice wide toe box which happily accommodates my wide UK size 11 feet wearing a liner sock and a slightly thicker outer sock, with plenty of room for natural toe spread when running. There is also a decent amount of toe protection, with a nice high rubber rand and synthetic overlay on the mesh.
The shoe uses a traditional lacing system, with a large flat lace which is an OKish length, maybe a little on the short side but remains tied once set. When you first wear them you probably want to spend a little time adjusting the lace tension along the top of your foot to get it comfortable but once you have done this its just a case of tying them heading out the door on future occasions.
There are fairly aggressive lugs as you would expect from a trail shoe, however these are more geared towards hard packed trail and softer ground and not providing grip in ankle deep mud. That said this is what most runners will experience across the majority of their runs, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing, just maybe worth bearing in mind if you are expecting conditions to be really bad.
The sole also appears to be extremely hard wearing and doesn’t really show any signs of wear after nearly 90 miles of running which is good. Its also more than capable of dealing with running on tarmac, if your trail runs include some of this between sections or you need to run a while before hitting the trail. A big plus point for those of us that live in more urban areas and have to be creative with our trails!
Overall a massive thumbs up for me for this shoe so far. I was impressed with how comfortable they were out of the box and will be using these from the start of my next race, so hopefully the comfort will continue there. If you are looking for a roomy and comfortable trail shoe, which will cope with both rough trail and tarmac then I would highly recommend you consider The Brooks Cascadia.
- Comfortable and roomy shoe out of the box – at least in my experience
- Great rock plate for underfoot protection on rough ground
- Excellent ventilation
- Durable sole with good grip on both rough and wet terrain
- Not the lightest trail shoe out there but then that’s the compromise for comfort I guess
- Not that grippy in thick mud but then this isn’t what the shoe is really geared towards
- High 12mm drop, so not for the minimalist runner out there
- Profile sock liner
- Comfortable saddle construction
- Hydrophobic Foam Package so the shoes don t get waterlogged
- Moisture-managing element mesh wicks, combined with microfibre and synthetic overlay materials
- Welded Cage-like structure to stabilize the foot
- Biomogo DNA providing lightweight but flexible cushioning
- Full length segmented crash pad
- Heel and forefoot pivot posting system, to adapt to every terrain
- Forefoot Ballistic Rock Shield to protect from rough terrain and sharp rocks
- Multi directional lug pattern for superior grip across a range of surfaces
- Durable, long wearing outsole compound giving premium wet-dry traction and skid-resistance