Some say once a road runner, always a road runner, and I must admit I have been away from the trails for a while. In the never-ending chase after speed and endurance and the fact that back in my trail days, I did not really wear trail-specific shoes, I was missing a lot of the picture.
Along came the Brooks Cascadia 14, the latest innovation in the Cascadia line.
This model resembles the new iPhone in the shear amount of trail-applied tech it incorporates. In comparison with the previous model, Brooks managed to lose 1.2 pounds, a major improvement.
I must admit, coming from road racing, I felt them to be quite heavy in hand. At 10.7oz / 303.3g, they are not light compared to road racing shoes, but in my opinion, weight is not an issue here.
The grip is my first love here. The Brooks Cascadia 14 allowed me to tackle mud, gravel, uphill gravel, almost any surface I came across. The TrailTack outsole performed well on all surfaces.
Logically it did not feel great on concrete, but they are not made for that.
Just beware of heavy mud saturation between the lugs, as it erases the grip. The lugs are very well separated for that to be unlikely, but I did get them so muddy that the grip was gone.
Yes, you have more weight, but also more rubber; in trail running, you gotta love the rubber as it means grip.
Comfort is the second thing I love about the Cascadia 14. I ran a 16km trail the first time I wore them, fearing the pains of new shoes. Surprisingly, I ended up feeling pain everywhere but the feet and joints (it was a hard, mixed terrain trail in tropical weather). My feet where fresh and cool.
Cushioning is rather funny here because you only really feel it on uneven surfaces (where this shoe lives, of course). I believe it has something to do with the fact that the rock plate is so close to the outsole (as it should), that the midsole contracts only as considerable force is applied in pressure points.
I found the midsole to be cushioned but not mushy or yielding as Nike’s React Foam or ZoomX, for example. But it is definitely built for purpose and in that purpose performs very well.
Adding to comfort is the fact that the Cordura Mud Guard does its job very well of releasing incoming water from the shoe. The holes in the insoles make sure the water finds it’s way quickly to the sides and the chain-like mesh on the sides protects the feet from rocks and debris entering the shoe.
Also, the construction of the shoe makes for very easy drying after washing the shoes in the washing machine. These reviewed models are the non-GORETEX model, so water does come in but leaves quickly.
Stability & Control
Stability is very welcome here. In trail running, it means control over the terrain and the ability to respond to my commands.
The Cascadia 14 did just that tremendously well, especially on uphills. Downhill the heel lockdown is very noticeable to maintain control.
Being the speed junkie that I am, I tried to reach speeds and succeeded in gravel roads. So if you think trails cannot be as fast, think again.
- Great cushioning
- Superb grip
- Outstanding water dispersion
- Looks are fine, a little busy but modern
- Lean on the heavy side
- Outsole is great but can become saturated with heavy mud
The Brooks Cascadia 10 was my first ever trail running shoe, and boy was that sweet ride, albeit very slow and bulky.
Now, through four iterations of improvements, the Cascadia has all of the same protection as earlier iterations, but it has cut away the bulk into a new, sleek design.
Brooks describes the Cascadia as an SUV for your feet, which speaks to the comfort, protection and stability of the shoe, but this iteration has transformed the Cascadia into more of a Tesla SUV.
The Cascadia is a comfortable shoe. The upper has plenty of cushion around the heel collar and tongue and feels soft against the foot all around.
It consists of two layers: the soft inner layer and the rugged outer layer. This maximizes comfort and durability. It is also is made of a synthetic moisture-wicking material to keep the feet dry and happy on hotter runs.
On the same note, the perforated material is very breathable to keep your feet cool, yet the perforations are small enough to keep debris out.
I have loved my shoes to pieces, and now I have some slightly larger perforations, by which I mean the big holes. They really enhance breathability.
The midsole is also a comforting compound. It is softer than previous generations so it provides additional cushioning, which I love.
Over the course of my 600ish miles of testing, the midsole has progressively softened up further. I can run all day in the Cascadias and still be comfortable by the end.
My longest effort in these shoes was around 16 hours, and bar a few inevitable blisters, my feet were in great shape.
The Cascadia has a standard fit in all dimensions. I size down a half size from other Brooks shoes to ensure this, or else I don't have the secure fit I need for rougher trails.
The toe box is a little bit narrow for my liking; I would rather have a little more room for toe splay, but the toe box is by no means cramped.
The lacing is very adaptable, so the Cascadia is accommodating to those with both higher and lower volume midfoot areas. But, the upper material in the toe box is not stretchy or particularly adaptable, which is something to be aware of.
Brooks uses as a layer of their BioMoGo DNA in the midsole and insole of the Cascadia. BioMoGo DNA is an adaptive cushioning system that adapts to your specific foot strike every time you land.
DNA is made of a non-newtonian compound, which means that it changes its state of matter when different amounts of pressure applied to it. When you are running faster, you apply more pressure to the midsole.
The extra pressure causes the shoe to become more firm and responsive. When you are lightly jogging, you apply less pressure to the midsole.
This causes the midsole to be softer and less responsive. These adaptations happen every time your foot touches the ground.
The BioMoGo DNA midsole is paired with a durable carbon rubber outsole for a stiffer, more responsive ride.
Protection is where the Cascadia shines. There are four main protective features in the Cascadia that protect your feet from the elements: the outsole, the rock shield, the toe bumper, and the reinforced upper.
The Cascadia has excellent traction. The carbon rubber outsole with its aggressively lugged pattern holds onto wet rocks, mud and snow exceptionally well.
Traction is one of the most important parts of a trail shoe because it keeps you from falling to your death.
I was so happy with the traction of the Cascadia that I soloed an 1100 ft 5.8 rock climbing pitch with them, of course after a long-run approach. (Please be safe; good shoes won't always save you from falling to your death.)
The toe bumper isn’t the most high profile toe bumper featured on the trail running market. But, it is all you need to protect your feet from kicking rocks on the trail. I have a nasty ingrown toenail and the toe bumper did wonders protecting this.
I feel that the midsole and outsole are adequate protection from sharp rocks underfoot. Nevertheless, Brooks includes an additional reinforced plastic plate sandwiched in between these two components to further shield the feet from underfoot trail hazards.
Finally, the reinforced upper will protect your feet from anything you happen to rub against. It will not prevent bruising when you bash your feet against rocks, but it does prevent grazes and cuts nicely.
I run on very rocky terrain so the reinforced upper has served my feet very well.
The Cascadia is a heavy-duty shoe. It is made of high-quality materials that are meant to last. I absolutely abused my shoes by hiking and running on class 3 and 4 terrain, yet they have lasted 600 miles and are still going.
My uppers have started to tear because of my abuse, but if you are less extreme with your pair, they should last up to 1000 miles. Brooks guarantees 300-500 miles, and will replace them for free if they don’t last that long. But, I'm sure anyone can easily exceed that figure.
The BioMoGo part of BioMoGo DNA means that in an anaerobic landfill, the midsole will decompose within 20 years, compared to the thousands of years that it takes other midsole materials to decompose.
You don’t need to worry about the midsole breaking down prematurely because you don’t live in an anaerobic landfill (hopefully)!
The BioMoGo technology is not patented because Brooks wants other companies to be more environmentally friendly.
The Brooks Cascadia 14 will handle pretty much anything you throw at it. It will handle any kind of trail in any conditions at any speed. It excels at longer distances on rougher terrain.
Although Brooks tells you that it will wear out the shoes faster, the Cascadia can double as a very comfortable hiking shoe.
I caution you, the Cascadia is not the choice for someone who primarily road runs, since the ride is far harsher on the road. Heavier runners and lighter runners will enjoy the Cascadia alike.
The Cascadia was another great update from Brooks. I suggest Brooks to continue to cut down on the weight of the Cascadia and to make the area for the big toe a little more spacious.
But, overall, this is a great trail running shoe. So what are you waiting for? Go and try on a pair!
The Brooks Cascadia 14 is a neutral cushioned trail runner, and my review will be based on this use. Trail running shoes tend to be heavier in general.
Marketed as a cushioned trail runner, the Cascadia 14 is even a tad heavier than the normal trail runner at 10.7 ounces. The tradeoff for the extra weight (cushion) is a smoother ride and the ability to go farther.
It also has a hefty heel to toe drop of 8mm, which is noticeable if you are not used to it, and has a medium to high arch.
When I opened the box and saw these shoes, I was pleased with the look and appearance even though they are a little bulky.
The color scheme is brilliant, the laces were just the right length, and the tongue was short enough that it did not pose any issue while running. Now, let’s dive deeper into how the shoe performed.
The Cascadia 14 is designed for trail running, and with the extra cushion, they are made to go the distance. Living in Florida, I threw everything I could at these shoes to test them out.
I was able to take them on gravel paths, sand, roots, rocks, mud, grass, and a little pavement. They performed well on all the terrains available to me and were not burdened by the road either.
The design of the sole is excellent with its lug placement. The lugs are long enough to give good grip but not too long as to take away from stability on firmer surfaces.
I was able to take them on a couple 10+ mile runs and found the cushion to be plush throughout the run. One of the long runs was in the middle of the day, in Florida, where it is extremely hot.
I was concerned about the ventilation, but they kept my feet cooler than other trail and road running shoes I use. It was a pleasant surprise!
Even though they are bulky, I still had decent ground feel and stepping on rocks and roots did not hurt at all.
Fit and feel
Brooks tends to run narrow from my past experiences, so I went a half size up and was glad I did. The Cascadia 14’s are tight in the midfoot and forefoot, but they do stretch out a bit as they wear in.
My foot locked into the heel well and never had an issue wit hit sliding around in the shoe while turning, ascending, descending, starting, or stopping.
They do not provide as much support on the ankles as some other shoes out there, but that was not an issue for me. The tongue is sewn into the shoes with a generous amount of material so that it is still easy to put on.
The purpose of this is to catch any debris that may try to enter around the tongue, and I found it very helpful. The laces performed wonderfully as I never had to stop and deal with them coming untied on their own.
The piece on the back of the shoe is velcro, which will allow you to use a gaiter if needed.
Even though the Cascadia 14’s have extra cushioning, they were not too stiff. I was able to get decent flex out of the shoe, and it did not hinder my toe positioning either.
During my first run, I felt like I may get a blister on the outside of my pinky toe on my right foot. But, the shoes broke in quickly, and I did not have that feeling on my later runs.
Brooks incorporated some serious technology into this shoe. So, let’s take a look at some of its most notable features.
The TrailTrack traction provides extra grip when the weather turns up or if you are on some technical terrain. I experienced this in an area covered in algae.
As I took a turn, the shoe gripped even as I pivoted to turn on the slimy surface.
The Brooks patented BioMoGo DNA midsole is one of its best technologies and is present in the Cascadia 14. As I stated earlier, I found the ride to be both plush and responsive, a rare combination in trail running shoes.
I also wanted to mention the Cordura Mud Guard because it is specific to trail running. It helps to protect against mud and other debris from entering the shoe.
I did not get a chance to run in heavy rain or deep puddles, but it is supposed to allow water to drain adequately so to not hinder performance.
Conclusion and rating
After putting the Cascadia 14 to the test, I can say that if you are looking for a cushioned trail runner and don’t mind it to be a little narrow, then this is a shoe you will want to try.
It offers long-distance comfort and is relatively light for its use. The shoe provides exceptional ventilation for the hot days and doesn’t shy away from wet, slippery, or technical terrain.
They can go the distance if you are running a half, full, or ultra-marathon.
I’ll start be saying I’ve run in the Brooks Cascadia since version 7 (2012). I haven’t tried every model in between, but over the last 2 years I’ve run in the 12, 13, and 14.
In version 13, I saw some improvements I really appreciated and the 14 still has ‘em!
So far, I’ve run Cascadia 14 in a 22 miler in Cuyamaca State Park that had some climbing (~1800 feet). The run was reasonably technical, dry, and a bit sandy at points.
I also ran another 11.5 miles on local trails that were similar.
The laces garage in the tongue: Shove your excess laces in there! No more flappy laces.
The velcro at the back heel to attach gaiters: I love this feature! No more cutting velcro tape pieces, cleaning the back of the heel, and then hoping it all stays put during a run.
The major differences in the shoe since the 13 are that it’s more than an ounce lighter and the heel-to-toe drop has gone from 10mm to 8mm. These all seemed to contribute to the weight savings.
The heel to toe drop resulted in some weight savings. I didn’t really notice a difference in the feel there. The other spot that was trimmed down was in the upper material and overlays.
There is less protection around the toes, and the material is generally a bit more porous. So, the tiny holes in the upper are bigger in the Cascadia 14.
This is great for breathability and drainage, but pretty terrible for keeping out sand and dirt. By the end of my 22 miler, I could feel my toes swimming in sand/grit underneath my socks
Thankfully, my socks only let in the very fine dust which is OK. I didn’t like the feeling of collecting sand at the bottom of my shoes.
The same thing happened on my 11 miler, and when I got home and took off my shoe, a bunch of sand came out (and then I pulled out the vacuum).
The rock plate has also gotten harder, which was great for running over rocky terrain (and we have a lot of that in Southern California). I never felt a stabby rock on the bottom of my foot!
The downside is that the shoe is a bit stiffer than previous versions. I am a small framed runner (5’0”, 105lbs), so it might be that if you’re not pint-sized, then it won’t feel this way.
My trail running boyfriend did not find this stiffness unappealing (we’re both Cascadia fans).
Overall, the stiffness for me made it feel less nimble, and I found that I had to tighten the shoe up snugly to make it not feel sloppy on more rutted trails where you might hit the dirt at an angle.
At faster speeds, the shoe feels fine. I got down into the upper 7-minute miles on flat and downhill sections.
Some other things to note:
- Sizing seems to have stayed the same. I generally wear a 7 in running shoes (especially Brooks), and these fit as expected.
- Laces are plenty long enough though I did find that I had to aggressively knot them otherwise they would come undone (the basic double knot needed extra umph).
- Toe box seems roomier than the 13's, which is nice.
- The tongue is pretty thin and stayed in place.
Overall, it’s a very solid trail shoe with all the features trail runners expect at a very light weight.
Ultimately, I decided this wasn’t going to be my race day shoe because of (a) how much sand was finding its way in during the run, and (b) the stiffness that makes it feel a bit clunky (for me).
I definitely preferred the Cascadia 13, even with the extra ounce.
Good to know
- The latest version in the Brooks Cascadia series offers a smoother and more stable suspension for off-road running. In this 14th iteration, the Cascadia brings several updates that keep the foot level and lighter than ever, as well as an improved, more streamlined design for added flexibility.
- A full internal saddle system makes its way in the upper of the Cascadia 14. This new design provides a close-to-foot feel. The overlays and pieces on the upper coverage were also eliminated in this version to make the shoe lighter. In addition, new material is also utilized for the mudguard.
- The sole unit of the Cascadia 14 also presents notable changes. First is an updated Pivot Post system, which has the same functionality but on a greater scale. Then, an all-new outsole material is also introduced, which is intended to be more conducive for running on wet surfaces.
The Brooks Cascadia 14 follows the standard running shoe length, which makes it true-to-size. However, buyers are still encouraged to try the shoe before purchasing to ensure getting an accurate size. The shoe offers an adequate room in the forefoot to allow a comfortable toe splay. In addition, the shoe comes in both Medium and Wide options for men, while the women’s version is available in Medium.
Brooks introduces to the Cascadia series the TrailTack outsole component. This all-new rubber compound is specially designed to provide extra traction when running on wet surfaces. In the Cascadia 14, the TrailTack outsole is reinforced on the high-wear areas—the heel and toe—as a protective measure and to help the runner focus on the trail instead of their foot. The Brooks Caldera 3, also a neutral trail shoe, uses the TrailTack outsole as well.
TrailTack also includes a set of high surface-area lugs that deliver the necessary grip on uphill and downhill tracks.
The BioMoGo DNA midsole is the combination of two of Brooks’ proprietary materials: the BioMoGo and the DNA. As the Cascadia 14’s primary cushioning unit, the BioMoGo DNA adapts to the runner’s stride, weight, and speed, thereby reducing the impact on the joints. The BioMoGo DNA also provides contoured underfoot support; the benefits of this material makes it a popular feature in many Brooks running shoes.
Individually, the two materials have their own functions they bring to the Cascadia 14. First, the gel-based DNA foam supplies the shock-absorbent quality of the midsole and promotes a greater energy return with each step. Then, the BioMoGo compound gives the shoe the plush underfoot cushioning; the material is made from eco-friendly resources, which appeals to environmentally conscious users.
An updated, scaled-down Pivot Post System is also employed in the Cascadia 14. The Pivot Post comes in a set of four, which are placed on the lateral and medial sides of the shoe, all working together to provide a stable and steady ride. In addition, the Pivot Post system promotes structural integrity and helps with the durability of the platform.
The upper of the Brooks Cascadia 14 is a basic synthetic mesh that offers sufficient breathability and comfortable coverage. The material also effectively manages moisture absorption to keep the foot dry from sweat and slight water splashes.
Aiding the mesh upper is a full internal saddle system that assists with holding the foot in place. Its updated version in the Cascadia 14 allows an even more contoured fit, which is closer to the foot than it is before. Despite the reduction of overlays, the Cascadia 14 gets the supportive feature from the saddle; fewer overlays also mean an improved fit and more agile movement for the foot.
Another new element in the Brooks Cascadia 14 is the mudguard. In the previous version, the 3D Rubber Print mudguard was present to shield the shoe from excessive exposure to mud and water. The current Cordura® mudguard promises protection not only from mud and water but from debris as well. The Cordura® fabric is known for its durability and high-resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs.
The Brooks Cascadia 14 employs a classic lace-up closure system. A small portion in the upper is designed to serve as the lace guard of the shoe. This detail maintains the security of the shoelaces and keeps them out of the way to prevent distractions while running.
The shoe utilizes Strobel lasting technique, which is known for its supportive quality, as well as its capability to provide additional cushioning that also contributes to the overall responsiveness.
How Cascadia 14 compares
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