Product Review: Brooks Running Cascadia 5 Trail Shoe

Along with the Nightlife Jacket (see review here),  Brooks Running also sent me a pair of the Cascadia 5 Trail shoes to try out. “Embrace your adventurous side with the new Cascadia 5. All the extra toughness and protection of an off-road shoe meet the makings of a superior running shoe for industry-leading results. While its full-length BioMoGo midsole is gentler on the earth, you’re free to tear up any terrain.”

First Impressions

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.) One of the great things that Brooks is working on is greening their entire process, where possible. The box that the shoes came in had this to say: “This box, and your run, just got a little greener. Our packaging is the next best thing to no box at all. In Brooks’ quest to reduce, reuse, and recycle, we became a bit obsessed. Using 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) conten was just the start. Drumroll, please…” (Of course, to be really green, Brooks could dispense with the boxes, especially when sending directly to a consumer.)


HYDROFLOW®–Dynamic viscous fluid units for heel and forefoot enhance midsole cushioning—attenuating shock with industry leading dampening and comfort.

BIOMOGO–We’ve taken the long-lasting cushioning of our MoGo midsole and made it environmentally friendly. How, you ask? By adding a non-toxic, natural additive to the MoGo compound that encourages anaerobic microbes to munch away once it hits the landfill.

PIVOT POSTING SYSTEM–Independent, medial-lateral pivot posts are shaped to minimize ground contact surface area, reducing the destabilizing effect of trail irregularities.

BALLISTIC ROCK SHIELD–Toughened thermoplastic EVA sheath between the outsole and midsole protects the forefoot by spreading out point loads from sharp objects.


HPR green–This durable and long-wearing outsole is made with dispersed silica, resulting in premium wet-dry traction for excellent skid-resistance and a more environmentally friendly composition.


• Moisture-managing Element Mesh
• Microfiber Overlay Materials
• Synthetic Overlay Materials
• Moisture-managing Element Linings
• Hydrophobic Foam Package
• Internal Support Saddle

The Cascadia 5 was redesigned with input from ultramarathoner Scott Jurek. Here’s what Scott said about the Cascadia 5: “The low profile design of the midsole and outsole, base of support through footprint surface area, and the independently stabilizing Pivot Posts in the Cascadia 5 create a very stable trail shoe. The spacing in the one-piece outsole lug design, minimized outsole thickness, flexible Ballistic Rock Shield, and light BioMoGo midsole all contribute to a flexible and light ride.” For more of the interview, head over to the Brooks Blog.

Testing Conditions

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.

Overall Impressions

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.

Final Thoughts
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.

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