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In my ten-ish years of running, I believe I’ve only run in one single pair of Brooks shoes (Pure Flow 2, loved them, ran them into the ground). This wasn’t for any specific reason for this, it’s simply the only time Brooks shoes and I have crossed paths. But recently a Brooks representative reached out to me asking me if I’d like to review a pair of their shoes. The offer was for a road shoe, and one that I likely wouldn’t run in anyway (super cushioned, super supportive, super high heel drop) so I politely declined.
And then asked if I could review some trail shoes instead. Hey, this runner girl knows what she likes!
Soon enough the latest release of Brooks Cascadia (#11 to be exact, the original was released in 2005) showed up at my doorstep, and was put to work on our local trails.
According to Brooks:
“Like an SUV for your feet, these supportive women’s trail shoes deliver a cushioned, balanced, ride—the best all-around, versatile shoe for adventures out and about. Feet stay comfortable and secure with trail-specific technologies that add a layer of protection, including a four-pivot system that acts like a personalized suspension system on tricky terrain, a ballistic rock shield to protect feet from hazards, and a rugged outsole that provides great traction on wet surfaces. New to this edition of trail shoes for women is a redesigned forefoot for improved durability.”
- Arch: Medium, High
- Platform: Linear Platform
- DNA Layout: Biomogo DNA Layout
- Surface: Offroad/Trail
- Launch Date: January 1, 2016 (yeah, yeah…this isn’t a cutting edge review.)
- Weight: 11.8 oz (men’s) / 10.1 oz (women’s)
- Midsole Drop: 10mm
- Support Level: Neutral
- MSRP: $120
To be 100% transparent (and you probably could have inferred this from the opening paragraphs), I’ve never run in ANY Brooks Cascadia models before, so this review will be solely based on the 11, and not in comparison to previous models.
Compared to the type of shoes I normally run in, the Brooks Cascadia 11 is a burly shoe. If you are the type of person who wants your foot and ankle locked in for the ride, with minimal movement, and a ton of protection from sharp rocks both underfoot and slamming into your toes, this is your shoe.
If anything, this shoe reminded me of the built up, secure in the heel, firm but not too firm, cushioned but not too soft, road shoes I started running in 10 years ago. You know, the kind of shoe you put on and immediately can tell it means business. This is no casual shoe, you are going for a RUN. And with a 10 mm drop and weighing in at around 10-12 ounces, this certainly would be considered a “traditional” shoe.
The Cascadia 11 fit is true to size in my opinion. The forefoot is…narrow-ish, I think? As I’ve mentioned in the past handful of reviews, my toes have become spoiled rotten with the wider, natural toe-box of Altras, so now anytime I put on any other shoe, I immediately think “well THESE are narrow!” But again, that is admittedly my skewed opinion. (I should probably start running in sandals.) That said, a number of other reviews I’ve read say the Cascadia 11 feels narrower than the 9 & 10 models, so take that for what it is worth. My feet were not so cramped that I was experiencing any blistering or chafing, but it was noticeable that my toes didn’t have as much breathing room as I would like.
Personal space for my toes aside – the run in these was actually quite comfortable. I expected such a firm, heavy shoe to feel like cement blocks on my feet, but the Brooks Cascadia 11 was very smooth on trail. A nice, comfortable and secure fit in the heel cup, and just enough flexibility in the upper to make the Cascadia feel like a natural extension of my foot. The tread provided more than enough grip on our sandy South Carolina hills; the ballistic rock shield providing protection from any rocks or roots underfoot.
Brooks claims the Cascadia 11 incorporates four-point pivot posts to create a stabilizing suspension system. While I’m not 100% versed on industry lingo when it comes to various out and mid-sole technology, I will say that despite being such a sturdy shoe with zero ground feel, I never felt unstable or “clunky” in this shoe. This really was a pleasant surprise.
I personally experienced no hot spots, chafing, or discomfort from the build of the shoe. Even while walking around the house in these shoes with no socks on, nothing about the construction of the shoe itself felt unnatural or irritating. This however, often tends to vary person to person based upon foot shape, as you will notice if you check out any string of shoe reviews online.
I’ve read in numerous places that the Brooks Cascadia line has become an incredibly popular shoe among the hiking crowd, due to its ruggedness and durability, but still being significantly lighter than a traditional hiking boot. In fact, they are apparently so popular, Brooks even put a disclaimer on their website, stating that the Cascadia is trail running shoe, and not pack-rated, and therefore may not hold up to the extra weight and demands of long pack hikes. Regardless, I can see why hikers have fallen for the Cascadia. This shoe really feels like the kind of protection and support you need for a long day on the trails.
That said, for me: I’ll be sticking with something a little more minimal. Especially considering the trails we have around here don’t require anything “heavy duty”. I truly have no specific complaints about the Brooks Cascadia 11, it seems like a well constructed, comfortable trail shoe. It would be the perfect shoe for someone looking for a responsive, protective, burly sneaker that is still indeed a sneaker designed for running, and not something much heavier. It would also be perfect for someone who runs on harsher terrain, the kind that eats outsoles alive.
Have any questions about the Brooks Cascadia 11? Leave them in a comment below, and I will do my best to answer for you!
Disclaimer: Brooks provided the Cascadia 11 to me at no charge, however, all opinions expressed are my own.