In this installment, we get hands-on with the Brooks Cascadia 11. This is an update to the aid model which we reviewed your ago and is one of only two Brooks Trail shoes on the market and clearly their best-selling. We put it through its paces and we are back to report how it went.
I’ll jump into the component breakdown here in a minute, but I’ll start by saying overall I didn’t find the 11 to be all that different from the 10. Of course, minor improvements have been made throughout, but Brooks didn’t really address some of my core issues with the last iteration.. Don’t get me wrong, as always Brooks makes a great shoe, the problem for me is that they are sticking to the old design where I feel if they really blew it out, then you have something much much more compelling. From a materials perspective and a quality perspective and even longevity perspective, Brooks is obviously one of the best. The problem I find with the Cascadia line is that they’ve gotten into a continuous pattern and are not making big jumps in proving the actual shoe design.
Construction: The Upper
The upper is composed of mesh materials which is designed to keep the foot cooler. It has a number of structural overlays but still remains a true no-sew. Shoes lace well and the collar is nicely padded. I think it cups you a little tight on the achilles, but that could be me.
The mid is composed of the patented Brooks Biomogo DNA system which is supposed to adapt as you run and your stride and steps change. Its one of Brooks bread and butter technologies and the whole thought is that by allowing the mid to adapt to your specific size, weight, run style, etc then you will get better performance. Its supposed to be better than EVA and give you more energy return than other systems out there.
The outsole features fairly small lugs, but a lot of them in multi-directional patterns which contributes to traction and control. It also features a segmented crash pad a rock shield which works well.
Style and Aesthetics
Visually I find the Cascadia 11s to be a solid looking shoe. They look like a cross between a light hiker and a trail runner featuring a lineup that has more muted styles and less in your face, unless you really want it. It’s lines aren’t super aggressive, yet it looks durable and resilient. It comes in several colorways for men and women and run the gamut from a bright green too much more muted blacks and navys.
Running in the Cascadia 11s for me feels a lot like the 10s. It’s a solid shoe as I said before, but therein lies some of my complaints. It is a stiff shoe. It can be a very heavy feeling and while it grips really well and is probably the place where I find it the most successful, the toebox design and overall upper for me just feels restrictive and angular. I find that it shines most if you are on shorter runs and you just want to go at it. Also I find it really caters better to those with stronger legs, because for me the cushioning even though it’s listed as a mid cushion still feels very stiff. This may have something to do with the rock guard, but I think there are still ways around this. My biggest nitpick obviously comes in the toebox and I’m not sure why, but as a fan of the Brooks Transcend 2 and 3, I wish they would bring a larger more relaxed toe to the Cascadia line. This does not feel like its a shoe for folks looking to run a 50K, 100K etc. I do think the weight also hurts a little here and I’m not sure why the shoe is as heavy as it is, but my guess is that it has something to do with the material in the mid and out coupled with the numerous layers of fabric on the upper.
After reading this, this probably sounds like I’m disappointed and honestly I am and it’s not entirely with the shoe. I’m a little bummed that Brooks is sticking with the Cascadia mold from generation to generation because I think between the material and their outsole that they potentially have a very strong contender for one of the best technical trail shoes out there. If you look at shoes like the Transcend and even the Launch 3, I think you find other models for foot shape designs that could be moved over into the Cascadia to make them more accessible for a larger portion of runners. I do think the shoes look good, I just want to be able to run in them for longer distances and to get there I need more room in the toebox and more cushioning under my foot. This might even be a new generation of Brooks trail shoe that we’re talking about. Perhaps the Cascadia is really for aggressive trail runners folks that would look at a shoe like the Salomon Speedcross, I would just love to see a Brooks trail shoe that competes more with a Hoka Challenger instead.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 11.8oz (size 9)
- Drop: 10mm heel/toe
- MSRP: $110.00
- Available: Now