Brooks is a tried and true brand with a ton of very standard styles and names you might know including things like the Cascadia, Ghost, Adrenanline, etc… So it is really awesome when they throw you a curveball and that is what we have here with the Brooks Catamount. Earlier this year they launched the Hyperion Tempo road shoe which featured an amazing new midsole technology called DNAFlash and this summer they decided to surprise everyone and launch the Catamount as a speedy trail edition of the same shoe.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Totally unexpected trail shoe from Brooks designed for both Tempo and Speed days.
- Used the same design and DNAFlash from the popular Hyperion Tempo.
- Weighs in at 9.6oz or 272g for a US Men’s 9.
- Has 32mm of cushion and a 6mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $160.00 USD and comes in 1 color for Men and Women.
Brooks really surprised us all with this one and we honestly can’t say thank you enough. From the day we met the Hyperion Tempo and had our first exposure to DNA Flash, we could only wonder how long it would take to see it in a trail shoe. They kept this under wraps and dropped it on all of us, so when it arrived it was received with plenty of shock and awe.
The Catamount goes on like a sock due to the half bootie interior. The tongue has minimal padding but does not move at all due to the design. Ankle collar padding is there but more as you would find on a performance road shoe, it is subtle. Your heel gets cupped well and once laced down, there is very little movement in that upper. The feeling underfoot is definitely on the stiffer side due to the rock plate and while you get decent flex at the front third of the foot, the remainder is rigid. The good news is it does retain most of the pop we felt in the Hyperion Tempo and a bit of that bounce, but it is dampened by that TrailTack rubber outsole.
On the trails, they are super fun and quick. If you are a trail racer and doing shorter distance events (half marathon distance and under) then the Catamount is a great choice. They are nimble which means they are controllable making it really easy to find foot placement on even the sketchiest of trails. That DNA Flash midsole is fast and responsive so they just want to go and the firmness of the thin rubber outsole almost works like a plate encouraging you to go faster.
This all sounds great, but they can be unforgiving. The outsole is very stiff and after a decent amount of miles, we started to wish they would have segmented it a little bit. The upper is snug and hugs your foot like any good racer should, but after a bunch of miles on the trails… well, you start to want a little freedom. Bottom line, the Catamount is a trail performance beast, but for slower runners or those looking to put up big distance numbers, maybe not the best choice.
The Catamount starts with an engineered mesh upper but adds a ton of features. First, internally the shoe features a half bootie that you kid of slip into. Higher up they added suede reinforcement panels to keep your foot stable and prevent side to side rotation. It keeps you locked in well. On the outside, they added a mudguard around the perimeter of the shoe to protect you from lower-hanging trail debris. Lastly, they added drainage slits to help purge water when it gets a little wet out. Oh, and they added a gaiter attachment at the heel, just so you are fully covered.
The midsole layer on the Catamount is exactly the same as the Hyperion Tempo. It uses Brooks new DNA Flash midsole technology which is basically their tried and true DNA foam but infused with nitrogen. This leaves you with a lighter and more responsive piece of foam so they can pack more cushion in for the runner. In this case, 32mm of cushion which is outstanding on a trail shoe, especially a speed-focused one.
Under that magical midsole, Brooks has added a full length of their TrailTack sticky rubber with nicely spaced multi-direction lugs. The lugs aren’t as aggressive as something like the Cascadia but still offer solid traction on the uphills and downhills. Brooks also added a ballistic rock shield into the central section of the outsole to provide maximum protection against more aggressive debris and it works really well.
Style & Aesthetics
The Catamount is a beautiful looking shoe but it is white which is really weird for a trail shoe. The real plus here is the desire to get it dirty and you almost take it as a challenge, a badge of honor somewhat once they are thoroughly gnarled up. We do find the profile beautiful, especially for a trail shoe, and it truly does look like a road shoe that someone has tacked a rubber sole on.
The Brooks Catamount was such a welcome surprise we don’t know where to start. They are going to run a little firm for most which make them better for quicker, more aggressive trail runs, but if you like a stiffer feel then that DNA Flash midsole makes them a decent distance candidate as well. The bottom line is they are just packed with goodness from the well thought out upper to the rock plate and their mudguards, Brooks really knocked it out of the park here. And the white, as we said, you can call that extra incentive to get them dirty.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.