In full disclosure, I’m a huge Scott Jurek fan. When I found out Brooks created another Cascadia model and integrated recycled parts of Scott’s shoes in the heels, I was intrigued.
My very first trail run in these shoes was a 9 mile romp up and down steep terrain in the Utah mountains. I wanted to see if my new shoes (and feet!) could handle a tough trail run in brand new stiff shoes. I was pleasantly surprised at the comfort level and the lack of blisters. I felt confident to take these shoes on my Havasupai Grand Canyon adventure that was only just weeks away.
The Cascadia is marketed solely as a trail shoe, not a backpacking shoe. Regardless, I wore these shoes in place of backpacking boots on a 10 mile hike, down rocky terrain, to Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon. The Cascadia boasts of 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.” I can attest to the support I felt as I navigated through some very tricky terrain. The ballistic rock shield was no joke as I watched others around me pulling little pebbles from their shoe crevices.
This model has been narrowed a smidge from past Cascadias, a potential problem for those with wide feet, though I would not consider this a slim-line shoe. I generally prefer a wider toe box and I felt no crowding around my toes whatsoever.
A 10mm heel drop places these shoes in the traditionalist category. Rather than a zero drop, the runner will sit a little higher in the heel. Heel lift from a low profile heel cup is remedied with an extra lace eyelet to tighten and offer more support. This is a neutral shoe designed for those with medium to high arches.
In terms of cushion, the Cascadia falls into the center point of the bell shaped curve of cushion. There’s a decent stack beneath you offering superb protection and cushion for long runs, however it’s not a springy touchdown either. This is all a matter of preference to how much trail one prefers to feel. Less cushioning generally means more feedback from the ground allowing better responsiveness. The Cascadias find a good balance with a thicker sole unit armed with BioMoGo DNA midsole, which Brooks claims “provides adaptive cushioning” and ‘Ballistic’ rated rock plate.
The improvements over the V10 are focused on increasing durability to minimize some upper-tearing issues found on its predecessor. I found the shoe to be very durable, even with a 55lb. pack on my back, navigating 10 miles of rough terrain through the Grand Canyon. I didn’t receive a single blister on that trip. Hiking out of the Grand Canyon, I generously loaned these shoes to my sister so she could have proper shoes and not have to helicopter out of the canyon (she mistakenly wore Nike Shox…big gasp!). The moment she put the Cascadias on her feet she said “Ahhh, this is heaven.”
Overall, I highly recommend these shoes for anyone looking for a versatile trail or hiking shoe. The price tag is a little high for me, running around $160, but the durability and grip allow for technical trails and long mountain climbs, and I’m pretty sure they’ll last me for quite a while. The feel is firm, protective, yet not recommended for short and fast racers. The Cascadia is a little bit heavy and slow on the turnover, and not ideal for minimalist or for ground feel runners.