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Trail Running Shoes • March 13, 2024

Brooks Catamount Agil Review: Short-Course Speed Demon

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What You Need To Know


7.7 oz. (218 g) for a US M9 (Unisex sizing)

Stack Height / Drop

16 mm in heel, 10 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop, midsole measurement only)

Best For

Trail races up to 50k

Key Features

DNA Flash v2 midsole, SpeedVault Trail plate, TrailTack Green rubber outsole with 4.5 mm lugs

On The Run
Top-notch fit Trail Tack Green means go There might not be enough stack to go long
Price / Availability

Available now for $180

Introduction to the Brooks Catamount Agil

TAYLOR: Colorado is known for a handful of things. Getting high covers a few of them. My preferred version of high comes with big climbs and blue skies — I mean trail running, of course. Even though we have countless miles of trail and a couple thousand peaks that are higher than 12,000 feet, the most popular endeavors are the 58 14,000-foot mountains. People crowd these few peaks just to hold a dirty piece of cardboard that says they tagged a 14-er. How many have I amassed? Only a few because there are so many other peaks with a fraction of as many people and just as much to offer.

In the world of trail running, the ultra craze has had a similar effect. I completely understand the challenge of going further than you ever have, but the ultra-mentality has overshadowed the fact that there are incredible races and faces in the “sub-ultra” division, too. Some companies, like Brooks, are finally stepping into the progressive differentiation of our sport and choosing not to go all the way to ultra. Even more so than the roads, trail running requires nuanced gear for more than just speed and distance but terrain and conditions as well. We’re in an exciting age of refined technology for the whole range of trail running, no matter the distance.

The Brooks Catamount Agil is a prime example. Seen on the feet of athletes around the world, this shoe is equally eye-catching and intriguing under the microscope. It combines high-end materials with a tech-savvy design for fast and technical pursuits. Of course, we’ve already experienced both the magic and misery of such designs. If the Brooks Catamount Agil can emulate what the Catamount 3 and Caldera 7 have done in their respective categories, y’all are in for a treat.

Spoiler alert: this one’s tasty.

MATT: There is an interesting distinction between the purpose and functionality of trail shoes. In the US, particularly on the East Coast, trail racing is done one way, long distance. Trails and Ultra distance seem to go hand in hand, which is a stark contrast to road running, where the market for shoes to perform at specific distances is commonplace.

I bring this up because, for most trail shoes that I test, one of the criteria is how this shoe would hold up over 50k, 50m, 100k, etc. Unless a shoe is specifically marketed otherwise, a trail shoe that’s too hard on the legs after 20 miles will probably get a ding in my review. That said, short-course trail running is 100% a thing, as are sky races and fell racing, and all of these categories of trail running necessitate a variety of features in your shoe of choice.

The Brooks Catamount Agil is really interesting because Brooks has clearly designed and marketed the shoe for shorter distances, technical terrain, and flat-out going fast in those conditions. So, if my legs hurt thinking about wearing the Catamount Agil for 50 miles, well, they should because it’s not what it’s built to do.

There are a few short-course, technical races that I could already envision the Catamount Agil being perfect for, but first, I needed to log some miles and put it to the test.

What we like about the Brooks Catamount Agil

TAYLOR: Precision. That’s my one-word review of the Brooks Catamount Agil. Every nook and cranny is meticulously pored over to create a lightweight, nimble crusher of a trail shoe.

The upper sets the tone right off the bat. It’s beautifully put together, with a booty-like heel and tongue melded to the mesh that covers the rest of your foot. The knit collar has a nice amount of stretch over the midfoot and around the ankle, which boosts overall fit and comfort. It’s kept in check with a durable engineered mesh and stout heel counter. I was initially worried that the heel would be too rigid, but strategic padding lines the inner for an even more dialed fit and feel.

As for performance, the slim-fitting materials form to the foot in a very precise fashion. There’s no wiggle room — in a good way. This will likely be the selling or passing point for many. I felt that I could get away with not even lacing up the shoe for most runs. Both the Salomon S/Lab Sense and Naked T/r come to mind. Honestly, though, the Brooks Catamount Agil is leagues better in the comfort division. The forefoot is slightly wider than both of those shoes and the mesh is more forgiving too.

Something I appreciate about the Brooks Catamount Agil is that the platform is marginally wider than the aforementioned competitors. It allowed for more control without having to add extra elements to the package. In this way, I had flashbacks to the Norda 002, Speedland SL:PDX, and Merrell Long Sky 2. My foot did not pour over any of the edges of the midsole.

Where the Brooks Catamount Agil bursts into a league of its own is the underfoot feel. It marries a true performance feel with remarkable agility, giving this shoe more protection and pizazz than any other shoe in its category. The Catamount Agil’s thin layer of DNA Flash v2 nitrogen-infused foam makes all the difference. There’s comfort upon contact, ground feel, a noticeable amount of protection, and pep in every step. It really is a dream combo for this type of trail shoe.

The Speedvault plate reacts similarly to the Skyvault plate found in the Brooks Catamount 3. It adds rigidity along with the reactive midsole to snap the shoe back to shape at toe-off.

What’s left of this shoe to rave about? I suppose the Trail Tack Green outsole also slaps. Is that still a viable adjective? We’ve always appreciated the tackiness of Brook’s outsole. Now, it’s lightweight, more environmentally conscious, and durable. It ranks with some of the best. The lug formation and 4.5 mm depth is a good resume booster as it was able to handle any condition I was able to put it in.

MATT: OK, for starters, the Catamount Agil is a beautiful shoe. It’s stylish and just looks fast. I love a good white/off-white shoe, but ripping off the band-aid and taking it on that first muddy run is always bittersweet. Anyway, the upper is really a different design from Brooks, as it most closely resembles the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar with a form-fitted knit upper that forms a high, booty-like collar.

I really liked the feel and fit, and I appreciate that it’s topped off with some really nice ribbed racing laces that are very reminiscent of Nike’s Vaporfly or Alphafly laces.

Moving down, the midsole design generates a fast and nimble turnover, backed by a killer combination of Brooks’ nitrogen-infused DNA Flash V2 foam and a Pebax fly plate. Remember, this shoe is meant for shorter distances, so when I share that the stack maxes out at 16 mm in the heel, don’t freak out. Yes, with the high stack trend today, the thought of a shoe with less than 20 mm seems archaic, but trust me, it works here. You feel low and connected to the trail, and the lightweight shoe turns over quickly.

Honestly, the Catamount Agil feels the closest to a trail Vaporfly of any other plated trail shoe I have tested, and that includes the Nike Ultrafly. Round all of this off with some aggressive 4.5 mm lugs that give plenty of confidence when tackling mud, rocks, and roots, and the overall feel of this shoe is top-notch.

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What we don’t like about the Brooks Catamount Agil

TAYLOR: Ah, crap, I guess I have to write something here.

It’s a natural progression to discuss how light and fast a shoe is and then turn around to say that it will only fit “the chosen ones.” The Brooks Catamount Agil doesn’t exactly follow that script, but the slim fit will immediately put some off.

Also, because of the same challenge, this shoe will have a fairly limited range. A few hours would likely bring many folks to the edge of their comfort zone. I was able to push a couple of hours while still feeling pretty good, but my feet and lower legs definitely felt it the next day.

MATT: The first thing I do when unboxing a new shoe is to make sure I get a few quick photos, especially with white trail shoes because that will be the last time they look like this.

With the Catamount Agil, the second thing I did was drive to Robbe’s house and intercept his pair before he could do damage to his ankles. All the great things about the upper on this shoe go out the window if you know you’re prone to rolling your ankles. This shoe would be like running in soccer cleats and would not end well for the weak of ankle.

Along those same lines, everything that makes the shoe light and fast comes at the sacrifice of overall protection. Just know that this is a trail racer and not built to be a daily driver that will soften the blow of daily kicked roots and rocks. It’s just not built that way.

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Final thoughts on the Brooks Catamount Agil

TAYLOR: If the Brooks Catamount Agil were a fine spirit… ah, forget it. I have no experience with that stuff, but I do have a lot of experience with trail shoes. The point I’m really trying to get at with the Brooks Catamount Agil is that it’s top-shelf stuff. It will be on reserve for me.

I love this shoe for a bunch of reasons, one being that it is a level up from anything else in its category. It is a true high-performance trail shoe for high-octane endeavors. From fit to underfoot feel, the Brooks Catamount Agil will give you the confidence to do whatever needs to be done come race day.

MATT: I really love what Brooks has done with the Catamount Agil. For a high-performance race-day shoe on technical, short-course trails, I don’t think there is a better shoe out there. This shoe is like a Vaporfly mixed with a track spike and topped off with the outsole of a Saucony Peregrine. It’s meant to go fast, and it will keep you upright, as long as you don’t already have paper-mache ankles.

You can pick up the Brooks Catamount Agil for $180 at by using the buttons below.

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Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Ryan W says:

    Just got my pair and I am psyched! The fit feels perfect for my long and narrow feet. I don’t get the fear of ankle rolling described in this review. I have a chronically unstable ankle from years of injury but so far, the Cat Agil feels quite stable for me. Compared to a shoe like the Saucony Peregrine which I have rolled my ankles several times in (also I have found the grip in the Peregines to be terrible when things get wet) the Agil feels much more sold.

  2. Charles says:

    Great review! I feel like some cons have been missed: the white upper doesn’t stay white very long (one muddy run was enough, despite trying really hard to clean it up afterwards). And the placement of the branding (shoe name on the mesh) creates a portion of the shoe that is slightly harder to bend, this creating some discomfort uphill, since it’s pretty much at the exact spot where the shoe bends when going uphill with front feet strikes (could be fixed by either moving that band a bit, or giving the shoe a slight rocker shape).

  3. David Walser says:

    How does it handle running on pavement, say if you were running a cross country race with some road sections? Those lugs are pretty deep.

  4. ryan says:

    I think this shoe can go 50k in the right conditions, and of course, it needs to be on the right runner. Mario Mendoza (Brooks Trail) just set a CR at Siuslaw Dunes 50k yesterday in 4:12 (03/16/24).

  5. Taylor says:

    I ran a bunch of gravel and some pavement in this. Handled fine. Certainly could handle a cross country race as it feels like a spike with more foam in some ways.

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Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
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Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

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Matt Kucharski
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
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Matt is a recovering triathlete who fell in love with running and left the dark side behind. Trail and ultra running are where he is most in his element, but he can still be found routinely running the streets in and around Baltimore with the Faster Bastards. Aside from running, he is a lover of coffee, mezcal, beer, and 90s country music.

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