Editor’s Note: We picked up these Brooks Cascadias at the Outdoor Retailer expo where BOA was retrofitting laces with their wire lace system. Normal Cascadias do not feature a BOA system.
Remember those old classmates you see at your 10-year high school reunion? You know, the ones that look like they haven’t aged a day since you left high school for good? You of course know that something has had to happen in the last 10 years, but way they look suggests nothing of the sort? If can identify with this, then the Brooks Cascadia 9 is the rail running shoe for you.
For trail runners, the Cascadia is a household name. As the 9 suggests, the shoe is on its ninth iteration and has built up a formidable reputation over the years as being a no-nonsense, “just get up the mountain” platform that some runners swear by and other won’t touch. For most, the position they took when the first model of the Cascadias was introduced hasn’t changed because, other than some minor obvious aesthetic alterations, not much has actually changed about the shoe itself.
Of course, Brooks won’t tell you that. They’ll point out the features that have evolved over nine generations like the 4-point pivot posts and the “slightly” lowered heel and avoid admitting that if something isn’t broken, they’re not going to fix it. The Cascadia line is and has always been an utterly fantastic trail running shoe.
- Fit/Comfort/Performance: For me, Brooks generally fit well, but the Cascadia 9 is about as close to perfect as it can be. Just enough arch support and a snug but not restricting toe box fit help make longer 12-14 mile trail runs bearable on the feet. They’re especially comfortable with a good pair of compression socks, allowing for tight lace up and a real “foot meets the ground” responsive feeling. Cushioning is exactly what is should be- ample but not anywhere near maximalist territory. This keeps the performance sharp and snappy.
- Tread: This is my favorite part about the Cascadia 9 and pretty much any Cascadia model prior to this. The tread is a simple, knobby, extremely flat layout over a medium footprint. Compare these to any Hoka and they’ll look like ballet shoes, but on their own they’ll provide more than enough stability on the trail and excel at providing extra grip when needed, specifically in loose gravel or even snow.
- Durability: After 300+ miles on the pair in the photos, the wear and tear is clearly minimal. Tread is close to new and still has plenty of life, which is impressive given some of the trails it’s tackled that I like to classify as “tread eaters”. Brooks’ no-sew construction is clearly a huge contributor to how well the upper seems are holding together (plus it makes the Cascadia look amazing).
- Price: A new pair of Cascadias will set you back around $100. For those who like the shoes, it’s a very reasonable cost, but for those unfamiliar with the Cascadia, that price range introduces many far more ‘exotic’ competitors that may steal the thunder from an otherwise ordinary looking shoe.
- Weight: With so much tread and just the right amount of cushioning for longer runs, the Cascadia isn’t the lightest platform. It’s not heavy by any means, but it’s clear that Brooks is not looking to cut weight at the expense of what makes this shoe such a performer.
It’s been said that the best running shoes are the ones you don’t notice are on your feet. That argument doesn’t hold up in trail running and the Brooks Cascadia 9s prove it. The feeling of a refined and stable trail running shoe with plenty of quantifiable grip is what I want to sense, even if it comes in a package that’s verging on old.
How much longer will the Cascadias be around? Who knows. The line could enjoy another nine fruitful iterations or Brooks’ PureConnect and minimalists series could render an old design unwanted. For now, the Cascadia 9 is an excellent, well-balanced, and superbly performing trail shoe that is sure to please most trail runners. At least those who like seeing their old classmates who look the same.