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Trail Running Shoes • August 10, 2023

Brooks Cascadia 17 Review: No Fussin’ On The Trails

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What You Need To Know


11 oz. (311 g) for a US M9,

9.8 oz. (277 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

Stack height unavailable (8 mm drop)

Best For

Long, easy trail days (or hikes)

Key Features

TrailTrack Green outsole, DNA Loft v2 midsole, Trail Adapt stability system, Ballistic Rock Shield

On The Run
Bulletproof rock shield Clever outsole traction Maybe not as plush as we remember


ALEX: Ahh, the nostalgia of seeing a pair of Brooks Cascadia land on my doorstep. My first trail shoe ever was the Cascadia 7 back in 2013, a shoe I purchased in a half size too small. Three 50K races in, I lost all my toenails and discarded the shoe. In my defense, even in the correct size, those were the days of a narrow, low-volume toe box and some hefty overlays.

Ultimately, the main issue was that I had no idea how to size/wear trail shoes, as evidenced by the ongoing issues I had in just about every single other brand until I realized I was not, in fact, a US W8. I went from full commitment to a US W8 and having horrible foot problems to convincing myself that I was a US W9 and continued to have horrible foot problems. What a long way I’ve come. Talk to me in 10 years, and I’ll likely be whistling a different tune.

Some of the new features of the Brooks Cascadia 17 immediately got my attention. First, the outsole has a Biomimetic design that draws inspiration from goat hooves. The forefoot and outsole split to grip uneven surfaces — you know, like a goat hoof. I wasn’t sure I wanted my shoe to mimic a goat hoof. Also, those suckers walk on four legs, so it seems like an unfair design to put a biped on a hoof-like outsole. Anyway, I tried not to get too hung up on it. But I got pretty hung up on it.

The other thing that stood out to me was all of the Green Technology that went into making this shoe. Apparently, this shoe is made with the equivalent of TEN plastic water bottles. This shoe is brought to you directly by Zach Miller at WMTRC! Don’t worry, Zach, Brooks has got your back. Too soon?

JOHN: The Cascadia wasn’t my first trail shoe, but I definitely consider it my first. I really didn’t like my initial few pairs of trail shoes when I started out running on trails. I ran on the road and just really didn’t like the way trail shoes felt, at least until I got my first pair of the Cascadia 13. Then things changed. It felt more like a road shoe, and Brooks customer service helped me with a defect on the shoe by giving me a new pair. It was, all around, an incredible experience.

Whenever I was seeded Brooks (working in run specialty) or if my size in the Cascadia was available at a good discount, I would always get them because they keep the shoe pretty consistent, and you knew it was going to be a quality ride.

MICHAEL: In 2017, I bought my first pair of Cascadia at REI. The rest is history. The Cascadia has always been a fan favorite, but basically, with the growth of the trail world, it fell out of popularity for ultra runners yet retained popularity in the thru-hiking world. The tale of the Cascadia 16 was that it was an excellent blend of tradition with the shoe, and while it didn’t take any deep dives into modernity, it lightened up a bit, gained a little more cush underfoot, and added an improved TrailTack outsole compound.

What we like about the Brooks Cascadia 17

ALEX: The Cascadia 17 is durable, stable, and protective. With added stack height, a highly protective upper, and a Trail Adapt combination midsole/outsole, this one is an all-terrain ride that’s made to last. The Trail Adapt System provides stability through its combination of lightweight DNA Loft v2 cushioning, a protective plate that adapts to varied terrain, and strategically placed outsole pods that provide a smooth ride over technical, uneven trails.

The hearty TPU bumper and mudguards, in addition to the rubberized heel counter, all add protection without adding stiffness or problematic flex points to the shoe.

Brooks uses 54% recycled materials in the upper, and more than nine plastic water bottles are diverted from landfills in the process of making the shoe. The TrailTrack Green Rubber outsole is made of 25% recycled content and provides sticky traction that provides great grip and confidence on wet, rocky, rooty terrain.

The fit is true to size, and the toe box feels roomier than previous versions. It’s comfortable and supportive, with a secure midfoot and unobtrusive tongue and heel collar. I was able to achieve a secure lockdown on the first try.

My Achilles wanted me to note the 8 mm drop. And it wanted to tell you that it appreciates how the 8mm drop pairs with the stability.

It’s always refreshing to see a shoe priced under $150. At $140, the Cascadia 17 remains an accessible option for a durable, highly versatile trail shoe.

JOHN: Knowing about the updates to this shoe, I really wanted to get a full understanding of what it could do and hoped it would rain. Most people don’t hope for poor rainy weather, but I wanted nasty wet trail conditions to fully test this shoe. My wish was granted on my first run.

I absolutely love the outsole of the Cascadia 17. Brooks has updated it with TrailTrack. I had no problem with slippery rocks, roots, mud, or crossing water. I was very impressed with the grip and the updated lug pattern. They work extremely well out there in the muck. The trail adaptive system and zonal outsole pods smooth out the playing field of even the messiest of trails offering brilliant stability on uneven terrain, rocks, roots, and all the nasty stuff you find when adventuring.

The DNA Loft v2 foam, coupled with the ballistic rock shield, offers comfort and protection on the trails. I did not feel anything under me poking my feet. It offered a smooth run. I find the combination of updates is a great mix to inspire courage for trail runners of all levels of experience. My next couple of runs in this shoe were, unfortunately, back to business with blazing summer temps. I found the shoe to fit true to size. The upper doesn’t allow in debris and dries quickly.

I received the sharp Green/Navy/Firecracker colorway and was extremely impressed with the style of the shoe. It looks good. The Cascadia has come a long way since my first pair of model 13. Those beauties were Oriole orange and black, so I’ll always have a love for them, but the 17 is looking bright and alive. I’m a big fan of the look, and the shoe feels like it is a dramatic improvement over last year’s version.

The price point of $140 is a great deal for this shoe. Many trail shoes are $150 and higher. I’m impressed that the price of this shoe hasn’t changed too much since I bought my first pair.

MICHAEL: Despite some changes in the lineup over the years, several great aspects of the Cascadia are still alive and well in version 17. Brook’s TrailTrack outsole is still an excellent compound, and the aggressive lug pattern here is like a celebration of that success. As Alex said, it’s even more eco-friendly this time around, and I could detect no change in performance. All-mountain protection and durability also showed up yet again in version 17. The rock plate is the most stout of any shoe I’ve tested (and I do love a good rock plate y’all), and the overlays around the upper keep the foot feeling safe and secure.

Lastly, I love the styling. My blue/yellow/gray colorway was fun, quirky, and happy, which is basically Brooks’ whole marketing ethos. Despite all the strong fashion-forward modern stuff coming out of the outdoor space (think Arcteryx, ON, and Salomon), I love that Brooks really stays true to its vibe here. If you’re looking for a “Scott Jurek Fan starter pack” shoe, the Cascadia 17 has to be at the top of that list, and despite what I’m going to write in the ‘bad’ section of the review, this shoe keeps the Cascadia traditions alive and well, even if some of those traditions are a bit, well, antiquated.

Shop Brooks Cascadia - Men Shop Brooks Cascadia - Women

What we don’t like about the Brooks Cascadia 17

ALEX: I got the ugly colorway. Again. I have no issue with specific colors, but I take issue with being assigned a color based on gender. Maybe I just don’t want a purple shoe.

It lacks the lively, bouncy feel that I have become accustomed to. This one feels kind of dense and lifeless. Put another way; it’s not the friend you call up when you want to go out and get rowdy and make bad decisions. This is the one that will ensure you make responsible decisions and are in bed by 10 PM. It’s sturdy, it’s stable, but it’s not the life of the party.

Finally, the added weight to this already hearty shoe is not necessarily a dealbreaker, but it may keep it in a slower long run/hiker category for some.

JOHN: It is really difficult to nitpick a shoe that’s had great previous and current updates. The pessimist in me says that this shoe is so good that they can only mess it up next update, but the optimist in me is confident Brooks will keep building on the Cascadia.

My last run in the Cascadia 17, I told myself I’m going to straight up look for one bad thing with this shoe because it’s super lame not to have one thing to improve. Guess what? I can’t. I Love this shoe so much I want to hoard ten pairs in a bunker to prep for the apocalypse. For a high-volume runner like me, this shoe is a dream. It works on easy-to-hard trails, is stable and comfortable, and I could literally wear this shoe on every run!

MICHAEL: Normally, I really try not to be one to really rip on a shoe. After all, I’ve only been doing this for maybe a year, and I think the most negative review I’ve ever written is the Speedland SL:HSV. That review was essentially just a case of letting me down on some preconceived notions I had for a $375 shoe. Some of that lofty preconception let-down may have been the case here for the Brooks Cascadia 17, and I want to go out and say that, like John and Alex, you may absolutely love this shoe. Don’t let my negative experience totally keep you from giving this one a shot, especially if you are a fan of the super old Cascadia models and dig the colorway.

Shop Brooks Cascadia - Men Shop Brooks Cascadia - Women

Brooks Cascadia 17 Conclusion

ALEX: The Cascadia 17 is a durable, reliable, responsibly crafted shoe that you can spend long days on highly variable terrain in. It is equipped with features that make it highly protective in rooty, rocky terrain, and the Trail Adapt System effectively provides adaptive stability and great traction so you can move with confidence.

Overall this is a no-fuss shoe that will be perfect for long days out on the trail, recovery days when you want some extra protection, and/or long hikes.

JOHN: I’ve had several pairs of the Cascadia over the years and ran many races and training runs over many different surfaces wearing them. With that said, I never went out of my way to seek out this shoe. I always liked the Cascadia, thinking it’s pretty decent and consistent, and if a deal or opportunity to be seeded presents itself I would capitalize. Well, this new version is different. Seek out this shoe. Especially if you’re one of those people who has a smaller rotation of shoes. This one can be a training shoe, a racing shoe, and a rotation workhorse.

As much as the reviewers here at Believe in the Run liked the previous version, I fully believe Brooks has built even more into it with this new update. Go ahead and check out the previous review. I highly encourage you to welcome an old friend, the Cascadia, back into your rotation.

MICHAEL: Unfortunately, I’m going to have to disagree with my man John on this one. Version 17 feels like a step in the wrong direction for the Cascadia. I’m not even hoping that this shoe all of a sudden becomes something it’s not. Brooks has models for max cushion and high-end speed on the trail, I just wish they could execute on some fundamentals like fit and keeping the weight under control for this one. Ultimately, if you are looking for a good deal I would seriously recommend the Caldera 6 or Divide 3 (or upcoming versions 7 and 4, respectively).

In 2022, I ran the most trail miles of any shoe I tested in the Caldera 6, a testament to its versatility and comfort. The Divide 3 was our runner-up pick for the best shoe that flew under the radar and has its own repertoire of solid traction and protection underfoot that nearly rivals the Cascadia for most applications. Unfortunately, the Cascadia 17 just wasn’t it for me.

You can pick up the Brooks Cascadia 17 for $139 from Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe

Shop Brooks Cascadia 17 Men
Shop Brooks Cascadia 17 Women

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Alex Elizabeth
Lead Trail Reviewer
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Alex is a trail and ultra runner from the upper midwest who loves Minnesota’s long winters and logging miles on the rooty, rocky, steep trails of Lake Superior’s North Shore. She was the first female to set a supported FKT on the 310 mile Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) and enjoys multi-day events and races, especially if they involve snow and -20 degree temps. 

All-time favorite shoes: Hoka Speedgoat Evo, Hoka Tecton X, Altra Timp.

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Fav. Distance


  • 94:35

    200 Mile
  • 29:45 

    100 Mile
  • 15:10

  • 13:42

    50 Mile
photo of man in yellow shirt
John Calabrese
Habitual Ultrarunner
  • Instagram
  • Strava

An obsessed runner, John has run in most ultra races in the Mid-Atlantic area. Since he’s an ultra runner, it’s no surprise he’s also a lover of food. He’s also a dedicated father, caregiver, and veteran.

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Shoe Size


Fav. Distance


  • 23:25:23

    100 Mile
  • 9:13:41

    50 Mile
  • 4:23:38

michael bio photo
Michael Loutzenheiser
Southern Trail Reviewer

An engineer living with his wife and cat in Birmingham, Ala., Michael loves chill morning runs in the neighborhood, but especially enjoys soaking up long miles of technical southeast singletrack. Occasionally, he’ll get a racing itch and actually string together some “organized” training for a trail race or FKT. In his free time, Michael enjoys books, backpacking, and hanging out with friends.

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Fav. Distance

Half Marathon (Trail)

  • 4:48

  • 1:16

    Half Marathon
  • 16:45

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