Brooks Cascadia 15 GTX review

One of the first shoes that comes to mind when we think of trail running is the Brooks Cascadia. In its fifteenth iteration, and now with an added Gore-Tex treatment, the Brooks Cascadia 15 GTX remains as a standard-bearer for the trail running shoe community.

Brooks has a history and reputation of making well-built, high-end, reliable running footwear, and this is no exception. 

Out of the box, we find a shoe with the qualities of a great all-around neutral trail runner. The shoe itself is pretty middle of the road in its specifics, weighing in around 11oz, a moderate stack height, and an 8mm heel to toe drop. 

I’m generally impressed with the looks, profile, and design of the Cascadia 15s, although it doesn’t necessarily grab one’s attention with its outward design. The color scheme pictured here is Ebony/Red, with a gold accent for the logo and some of the trim.

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I’ll get into the details of the shoe in the proceeding sections, but as stated previously, this is a well-constructed shoe that looks like it is ready for just about anything one can throw at it!

So here are a few questions I’m looking to answer:

  • How does this shoe do as an everyday trail running shoe?
  • Realizing that more and more backpackers are turning to trail running shoes, how does this shoe do with hiking?
  • And given the extra protective element of Gore-Tex, how does this shoe do in some sloppy and wet conditions?

Let’s put it to the test!

First 50 miles performance

I’ve been excited to try these shoes out ever since first learning about famed ultrarunner, Scott Jurek, over a decade ago; however, I have not had the opportunity until now.

It’s the dry season in the Pacific Northwest, and so I didn’t get all of the opportunities to test these shoes in the nasty winter conditions I was hoping for.

However, I did find a great variety of surfaces and environments to get a perfect sense of what to expect, with plenty of dirt trail running, crossing plenty of water and even some high altitude hiking.

Overall, the Cascadia 15 GTX impressed me with just how durable these shoes can be. I really pounded out the initial mileage with rocks, gravel, water, dirt, mud, even snow, and anything else I could find, and they still look rather undaunted.

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The word that kept on coming into my HEAD during my runs and hikes was WORKHORSE!

My one complaint is that my feet kept on sliding forward in the shoe, cramming my toes in the toe box (especially my big toe), which eventually caused some blisters.

I tried to remedy this by using a “heel lock” lace tying technique which helped a little, but I still feel pretty restricted in my toe movement with these shoes. I also definitely experienced discomfort with steep downhill running. 

After about 50 miles or so, it’s fair to say that the Brooks Cascadia 15 GTX is a great daily trail running shoe that is plenty durable. Most runners will not be blown away by its agility or response, but overall I experienced a very cushy run, even on rocks, scree, and other hard trail surfaces.

Upper

Brooks describes the upper as a  “New engineered monoloop mesh, and 3D Fit Print upper [to] increase breathability and speed up dry time,” which is one of the few changes from the previous Cascadia 14 model.

The upper is really well constructed, and for the GTX model, the Gore-Tex held up really well in creeks, streams, and in snow. Now, keep in mind that this does not mean that these shoes are waterproof, but the Gore-Tex will keep you moderately dry with a water repellent quality when intermittently encountering Mother Nature.

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One should also note the universal gaiter loops and durable lacing. Again, besides the restrictive feeling in the toes, this shoe is well constructed.

Midsole

Additionally, Brooks touts “A built-in rock plate protects your foot from rocks and roots while BioMoGo DNA cushions every stride.” I was super impressed with how cushioned this shoe felt when dealing with roots, rocks, and rough edges of the trail.

Brooks also states, “Our unique Pivot Post System provides a stable platform that allows your foot to adapt to any terrain.” While the midsole is not super responsive or agile, the durability is what will cause a runner to keep on lacing these bad boys up for one trail after another.

Outsole

“TrailTack sticky outsole provides added grip” according to Brooks, which I can attest to, as I had the opportunity to fall on my face plenty of times, and each time I was happily surprised to remain upright.

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The 3mm lugs allow for running on a variety of surfaces, including a pretty comfortable pavement experience when needed.

Conclusion

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Again, my only concern, I wish my toes didn’t get squished as much as they do by sliding forward, but perhaps one can buy something slightly larger or wider if this is a concern. 

At the end of the day, this workhorse can get just about anywhere with plenty of durability and cushion. For that, I can recommend the Brooks Cascadia 15 GTX for the trail runner or hiker that appreciates such an experience.

Facts / Specs

Terrain: Trail
Weight: Men 11.7oz / Women 9.8oz
Drop: 8mm
Arch support: Neutral
Base model: Brooks Cascadia 15
Update: Brooks Cascadia 16 GTX
Forefoot height: 18mm

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Author
Jeff Binder
Jeff Binder

I am a runner, pastor, writer, and lover of all things outdoors, living in Portland, Oregon, with my wife, Julie; our dog, George; and our cat, Annie. I can be found on the trails of Forest Park, hiking along the coast, on Mount Hood, or running the bridges of the Willamette River.