Mud, snow, mountains: this trail shoe handles it all, says our reviewer
RUNNING SHOE: Brooks Cascadia Trail Running Shoes
Category: Trail, Neutral
Best for: Trails (gravel, packed dirt, technical mountain climbs), All conditions, Training, Racing, Hiking
Weight: 11.9 oz. (men’s size 10); 10.8 oz. (women’s size 8)
Heel-to-toe drop: 9 mm
By Jessica Poirier, ultra runner
Who am I: I’ve been running for 15 years. I started running marathons and moved into trail ultra-marathons ranging from 50k to 100 miles.
Why I like the Cascadias: With my background as a marathon runner, having to invest in new shoes for trail running and racing was a big decision. I’ll never forget my first trail run at Green Mountain, in Lakewood, Colo., with my friends. I watched them run the trails so smoothly, hop over the rocks, and power down the mountain without a worry of slipping and falling. I didn’t quite understand why I needed a trail shoe before that run, but that experience made it clear.
So I went to the local running store to get some trail shoes. I asked for the same shoe that a few of my friends were wearing, but the sales associate said if I walked out of the store with those shoes, I’d be unhappy. After he had done a gait analysis and analyzed my running form, he was trying to explain to me that I needed something different. I still leaned towards the same shoes my friends had, but he assured me that I should try the Brooks Cascadias and that if I wasn’t happy with them I could bring them back.
The first time I strapped on those shoes and hit the Green Mountain trails, I noticed a huge difference. I had mountain biked before and wearing these shoes felt like having mountain bike tires on my feet. It was great. I was able to run with confidence, power through the trail, glide over the rocks, and fly down the mountain with complete traction.
I have a wide foot so not all shoes fit me well, but these shoes fit great. While training for a 100 mile race, I decided to try another brand of shoes and got blistered feet within 10 miles. The more I tried other brands, the more I kept blistering. But once my feet healed up, I switched back to Cascadias and haven’t seen another blister since. These shoes are sturdy, durable and can handle various types of trails.
Where: I run in Colorado, but have ventured to trail races in Texas (Rocky Raccoon) and Arizona (Javelina Hundred). In Colorado, I have done easy city trail runs and technical mountain runs. Everywhere, I find that the Cascadias hold up very nicely. Even when I’ve done a race that is 70% trail and 30% road, I still find the Cascadias performing well.
When: Year-round, in all seasons. The Cascadias are designed to hold together through all conditions — snow, mud and river crossings.)