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Trail Running Shoes • August 21, 2020

Brooks Cascadia 15 Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 10.6 oz. (300 g) for a US M9.0 / 9.2 oz. (261 g) for a US W8.0
  • Features improved upper with hydrophobic mesh for quicker drying
  • Retains the same BioMoGo DNA midsole as the Cascadia 14
  • Yacht rock Saturdays before trail trek Sundays

TAYLOR: Not long ago, I was deep in the backcountry of the Northern Colorado Rockies and I came upon a group of bachelor bighorn sheep. One was clearly the dominant elder (he was listening to yacht rock while complaining about millennials’ lack of music taste). That’s kind of how I imagine the Cascadia– the wise, experienced boomer of the crowd.

If you hadn’t noticed, Brooks has been dropping some great updates and new shoes in its trail line. The Catamount is a new flashy speedster, the Divide provides some promise as an entry-level trail shoe, and the Caldera has a plush and smooth ride.

This year’s Cascadia 15 resembles the previous version in almost every way, which makes sense– only real update is an enhanced upper.

With all the young gun trail shoes making their way around the mountain with their new technologies, how does the Cascadia 15 stack up? Does it still hold nearly one-sixth of all trail shoe sales as it once did? Or is it ready to be ushered off into the wilderness as the once-was King of Trail Shoes?

brooks cascadia 15 shoe

The Good

TAYLOR: Brooks does a couple things right when it comes to trail shoes. Comfort is a top priority and you can bet on trail protection.

Every Brooks shoe that I have stepped into has a very comfortable upper. The Cascadia’s is made of softer flexible monoloop engineered mesh. That means it’s as airy as a Scott Jurek crop-top and as tough as the dude too. That combo is few and far between and is especially nice for drying quickly and keeping the footsies at an appropriate temp. Gaiter attachments and a lace guard attached to the upper give the Cascadia some versatility for off-road adventures.

Grip is another consistently positive mark. TrailTac performed nicely on anything from sticky mud to dry granite. I only had some slippage on wet river rock. The 4mm widely spaced multidirectional lugs shed mud pretty decently too.

Stability is a very noticeable sensation in the overall ride. A slightly wider foot base and accommodating forefoot are a partial cause. The unshakeable ride really comes from posts in both the forefoot and the heel. Seriously, a sumo wrestler would have a tough time knocking these things out of position. I noticed that it felt more balanced than many stability shoes. Even with an 8mm drop (26mm heel to 18 mm toe), the posts kept my foot in a better position to strike evenly on most terrain.

Underfoot protection might attract you. It is something that is well noted in Brooks’ description of the Cascadia, and I’ll touch more on this in the next section, but I can’t deny that the Cascadia is super protective…like obsessive big brother protective. The ballistic rock plate and a thick slab of BioMoGo DNA midsole will save you from any elements underfoot.

Shop Brooks Cascadia 15 – Men Shop Brooks Cascadia 15 – Women brooks cascadia 15 shoe

The Bad

TAYLOR: I waited this long to say it, but both last year’s model and the new Cascadia 15 are on my shortlist of shoes that I really don’t like. Another overhaul would be welcomed! Honestly, it’s outdated and out-performed by so many other shoes, even from the same company.

My biggest issue is a sloppy fit. To me, this is the absolute must-need aspect of a viable trail shoe. I mean, walking around in the Cascadia was comfortable. Doing anything else was not. Lockdown is non-existent. Wearing these down a trail was like riding shotgun sans seatbelt with Bo Duke. My feet were sliding everywhere inside the cabin on any turn or bump on the trail. Seriously, it was downright hazardous. My ankle definitely found this out after trying to get it moving on slightly technical downhill.

The undercarriage is a brick of BioMoGo DNA. It does have a tiny bit of flex at toe-off, but overall, it doesn’t offer anything positive besides a ton of underfoot protection. At 11.7 ounces for a men’s size 10.5, the Cascadia 15 is pretty average. It must be cursed though, because it feels heavier than that. The combo makes for a little bit of a clunky run compared to many other shoes that are similar weight and protection.

Shop Brooks Cascadia 15 – Men Shop Brooks Cascadia 15 – Women

Brooks Cascadia 15 Conclusion

TAYLOR: To answer the question from before, sadly, the Brooks Cascadia 15 is more like the bighorn king who once was. I tried. I really, really tried. After reviewing the overhauled Cascadia 14 last year, I had zero interest in stepping foot in it again. I worked myself up to be excited about the 15 and was really let down again.

Brooks does claim a very stable ride, protective, and good grip. All of those are very true and positive marks. However, none of that really matters if my foot flies around freely. There is very little foot security even if you ratchet your feet in with the laces. This shoe might be good for low technicality and low speed runs. It would even work as a lightweight and breathable all-day hiker. Maybe they’ll be right for you, but they were not for me. If you’re still interested, check them out at Running Warehouse for $129.95.

You can pick up the at Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) by using the shop link below.

Shop Brooks Cascadia 15 – Men Shop Brooks Cascadia 15 – Women

Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. So, the 15s are definitely better than the 14s – the 14s for me were useless. I sold them off at 60 miles. The upper let in a bunch of sand (like a legit pile), and they were even stiffer/brick-like than the 15s. I definitely experienced the sliding around laterally in the shoe on anything slightly technical. I still have some of that with the 15s but they certainly tried to fix things and they got about 50% of the way there. That being said, I miss version 13. I don’t care if it was heavier, it was a better shoe.

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