Brooks Running recently sent me a pair of the Cascadia 5 Trail shoes to try out.The Cascadia 5 was redesigned with input from ultramarathoner Scott Jurek.
These shoes are really attractive, subtle yet slightly flashy at the same time. Putting them on for the first time was kind of a shocker though, because they are STIFF! (Since this is a family friendly blog, you’ll have to click here to see my views on the value of stiffness.)
The shoes were worn on cement, asphalt, grass, mud, dirt, gravel and some singletrack over approximately 6 to 7 runs in all kinds of weather.
As mentioned, these shoes were quite stiff out of the box, which is not surprising, considering it is a trail shoe and has the Ballistic Rock Shield for protection. After several runs, I could feel it softening up some and molding to my foot.
One other note of caution is that these are a “normal” width shoe, so for someone like myself, with the slightly wider foot, I was worried that it might be too narrow. However, while snug, there were no problems for me, even on a longer run.
Several of my runs took place on the roads and sidewalks and, while a bit stiff, the shoes felt just fine, though my steps were not cushioned as much as with a typical road shoe.
On a groomed gravel path, the shoes started to show that they were more a trail than road shoe, with comfort noticeably improved. The lugs are spaced widely enough that no gravel stuck to the bottom of the shoe and, while there was not a plethora of mud, it shed the bit I ran through with no problem.
Singletrack is where the Cascadia really shone. The stiff sole made easy work of roots and sharper rocks, with the foot fully protected from feeling either. Loose gravel and other iffy footing was no problem for these shoes, clearly a well-designed outsole.
This is a really well-made shoe and, while obviously made for (and best used on) trails, they were also useful for a typical road run as well. Apart from the stiff feel, which might not be appropriate for all runners, this shoe should definitely be tried on for the narrower toe box, making sure that it is not too snug for a wider foot.
While I haven’t put in a lot of miles, considering the variety of surfaces and conditions they were put through, these shoes still look brand new out of the box. Very high quality construction, subtle styling, and comfortable fit make this a shoe that will remain in my rotation for quite some time.
*Shoes provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.
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