Our verdict

The Cascadia 17 from Brooks isn't just a product of chance with its seventeen editions. We confirmed that this trail saga remains a versatile marvel with upgrades like enhanced cushioning, top-notch breathability, and the innovative Trail Adapt system for unrivaled terrain adaptability. Even though this shoe feels a bit weighty and its foam feels slightly firm, we cannot overlook its magnificence.

Pros

  • Adaptable across various paces
  • World-class breathability
  • Comfortable for long runs
  • Superior grip thanks to TrailTack Green
  • Environmentally-friendly with recycled materials
  • Excellent stability
  • Rock plate protects the foot
  • Manages technical descents with ease
  • Ideally designed for heel strikers

Cons

  • Weighs more than v16
  • Midsole may feel overly firm for certain users

Audience verdict

86
Great!

Who should buy

The latest version of this trail workhorse from Brooks is ideal for:

  • Those looking for a versatile shoe that can tackle all types of trails.
  • Heel strikers seeking a protective and stable trail option.
  • Runners who prioritize maximum breathability, a feature that's hard to come by in trail shoes.

Brooks Cascadia 17

Who should NOT buy

For those of you seeking feather-light trail shoes, the Cascadia 17 might not be the go-to pick. Its predecessor already tipped the scales, and this year's model packs extra weight. We recommend the cushioned Hoka Speedgoat 5 for a lighter alternative.

Another runner profile less likely to favor this Brooks model includes those after a cloud-like underfoot feel. The DNA Loft v2 foam borders on firmness and lacks that cloud sensation. If you're part of this group, we vouch for the ultra-plush Nike Wildhorse 8 as a better choice.

Brooks Cascadia 17 hands

Finally, if you're looking for a hybrid trail/road experience, this option isn't the top pick in the market. Consider the Salomon Sense Ride 5 for a more versatile choice.

Breathability

Many trail running shoes typically offer just adequate breathability, so in our lab, our expectations are generally reserved with these. Yet, the 17th edition of the Cascadia pleasantly surprised us. After our assessments, we gave it the max score: 5 out of 5.

A good portion of the shoe's breathability originates from its toe box. The rest of the shoe maintains a more protective stance, which is often necessary for trail shoes to ensure additional structure, especially on the medial side and the heel.

To better understand this shoe's airflow capabilities, we took a closer look under our microscope.

Brooks Cascadia 17 microscope

What we observed was interesting. The Cascadia manages its effective breathability through a well-designed mesh, filled with numerous small ventilation holes, negating the need for larger ones.

Additionally, Brooks has crafted this mesh to be not just breathable but also durable, incorporating internal layers for both protection and comfort. And more than 50% of the upper is made with recycled materials, which is a plus.

Test results
Cascadia 17 5
Average 3.3
Compared to 78 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

Often, impressive breathability comes at the cost of durability, and that seems to be the situation with the Cascadia.

When we tested the upper with the Dremel, it didn't hold up for long and we gave it a 2/5. However, there is a protective layer in the most vulnerable parts of the toe box. So, we believe the likelihood of them tearing prematurely is minimal.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Toebox durability
Test results
Cascadia 17 2
Average 3
Compared to 58 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The heel also disappoints with a low 1-out-of-5 rating.

If you're a runner who experience wear in the Achilles area of trail shoes, you might face problems with this model sooner than you'd like. It performed notably worse than the Salomon Ultra Glide in the right.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Heel padding durability
Test results
Cascadia 17 1
Average 2.8
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

We recorded the hardness of Brooks' TrailTack Green rubber at 81.8 HC.

Brooks Cascadia 17 trailtack

This reveals the brand's focus on enhancing the shoe's grip. However, could this affect its long-term durability?

Brooks Cascadia 17 Outsole hardness
Test results
Cascadia 17 81.8 HC
Average 85.3 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

Although it's not the toughest rubber we've seen, it held up impressively in our Dremel test.

We managed to make only a slight indentation of 0.8 mm.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Outsole durability
Test results
Cascadia 17 0.8 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 51 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The outsole boasts a generous amount of rubber that seems built to last. We'll discuss the lugs shortly, but for the base layer alone, we found it to be 2.0 mm thick. With the addition of the lugs, that's plenty durable!

Brooks Cascadia 17 Outsole thickness
Test results
Cascadia 17 2.0 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

Weighing in at 11.6 oz (329g), the Cascadia 17 is slightly heavier than the Cascadia 16. It's a small increase—just 0.6 oz (19g) more than its predecessor—so we don't think it will make a significant difference in the trails.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Weight
Test results
Cascadia 17 11.61 oz (329g)
Average 10.34 oz (293g)
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

Brooks has wisely chosen to provide ample foam, ensuring the comfort of all heel strikers, even those on the heavier side.

Our caliper showed a thickness of 33.1 mm.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Heel stack
Test results
Cascadia 17 33.1 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

In the forefoot area, the cushioning suits both midfoot and forefoot strikers at 23.9 mm.

However, heavier forefoot strikers might lean towards shoes with some additional millimeters, like the New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail v3.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Forefoot stack
Test results
Cascadia 17 23.9 mm
Average 24.4 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

Reaffirming its suitability for heel strikers, the Cascadia 17 offers a 9.2-mm heel-to-toe drop. This is slightly more than the 8 mm the American brand claims.

To understand the reason behind this discrepancy, we recommend reading our related guide.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Drop
Test results
Cascadia 17 9.2 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 100 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

There's not much to highlight about the insole—it does its job well and feels comfortable. Our measurements show it at 4.8 mm, which is right around the average.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Insole thickness
Test results
Cascadia 17 4.8 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
2.7 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

In the midsole, we found Brooks' trusted DNA Loft v2 foam, which is also featured in their popular road shoes, such as the Adrenaline GTS 23.

This foam offers a the same nice bounce but is modified to be firmer (25.5 HA) than its road counterpart. It's a strategic decision for trail running where stability is crucial, even if it means giving up a bit of softness.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Trail Adapt

Additionally, the shoe incorporates a rock plate in the forefoot area, adding protection against rough terrains, as well as the Trail Adapt system sandwiched between two layers of foam.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Midsole softness
Test results
Cascadia 17 25.5 HA
Average 23.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 77 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Running shoe foams can be temperature-sensitive—especially when it comes to EVA-based ones like the DNA Loft v2 foam from Brooks. Hence this foam is likely to firm up in colder weather.

To test this, we placed the shoe in our freezer for 20 minutes and then measured its hardness. Sure enough, we found a reading of 33.8 HA, confirming that it does get firmer in cold conditions.

Seeing a 32.4% increase might be acceptable for an EVA-based foam, but it's disappointing for a shoe that isn't exactly super-easy on the wallet.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Cascadia 17 32.4%
Average 26.8%
Compared to 77 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

One of the standout benefits of embracing a firmer foam is the remarkable enhancement in stability.

The Cascadia 17 guarantees a consistently stable ride on every type of terrain.

Torsional rigidity

A significant contributor to the Cascadia's stability is its inherent stiffness. In our torsional rigidity test, we awarded it a 4/5—nearly the max score.

Test results
Cascadia 17 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 95 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

For the heel counter, the Cascadia 17 scored a 5/5. Rigid-heel enthusiasts or those with stability issues will surely appreciate this design. However, those seeking a more heel-flexible design dislike this feature.

Test results
Cascadia 17 5
Average 3.2
Compared to 93 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

A crucial aspect of crafting a stable shoe is its wide design, and the Cascadia ticks this box.

Measuring at 113.3 mm, none of us—even forefoot strikers—have any worries about shaky landings.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Cascadia 17 113.3 mm
Average 111.9 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

With an impressive 97.7 mm width, the Cascadia 17 distinguishes itself from the common trail shoe crowd, confirming our perspective that heel strikers will find it amazing. It's wiiiide!

Brooks Cascadia 17 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Cascadia 17 97.7 mm
Average 89.6 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

A common criticism from runners regarding the previous Cascadia was its excessive stiffness.

Shoe Stiffness test (N) Difference
Brooks Cascadia 17 26.0 -
Brooks Cascadia 16 51.5 98%

Yes, we wrote that right. The Cascadia 16 was 98% stiffer than this new version, even though it already felt moderately stiff. This change is a step in the right direction. The shoe is designed for long-distance runs and even ultras, emphasizing comfort.

Before, it was just too rigid to excel in this area. Now, it achieves a much better balance as proved by our 90-degree bend test.

Test results
Cascadia 17 26.0N
Average 28.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Difference in stiffness in cold

We tested the shoe in the freezer again to see how it responds to cold temperatures.

It does become stiffer, but not dramatically so. In fact, with a measurement of 37.9N, it remains comfortably below the average.

The variation between the two readings is 46.1%. This significant change makes it clear that you'll notice the difference for sure.

Test results
Cascadia 17 46.1%
Average 35.3%
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

We measured the lug depth of the Cascadia 17 at 3.9mm. This depth strikes a good balance, making the shoe apt for both simple and technical terrains. They're 0.4mm less deep than the previous version, and we feel it's the right direction for such a shoe.

It's also worth mentioning that Brooks incorporates three distinct lug designs in the Cascadia 17:

  • The heel features penetration lugs for optimal grip.
  • The midfoot lugs are plain, reducing mud clumping and ensuring better traction.
  • The forefoot boasts wedge-like lugs, enhancing agility during turns.
Brooks Cascadia 17 Lug depth
Test results
Cascadia 17 3.9 mm
Average 3.6 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Internal length

Brooks' size chart indicates an internal measurement of 270 mm. However, our measurement showed it to be 266.6 mm—slightly on the shorter side. For us, the fit is true to size, but if you often find yourself between sizes, it's something to consider.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Internal length
Test results
Cascadia 17 266.6 mm
Average 268.9 mm
Compared to 49 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
259.7 mm
Internal length
274.1 mm

Toebox width at the widest part

The toebox of the Cascadia 17 measures 99.5 mm at its widest point. This generous size ensures that those with wider feet can comfortably fit inside the shoe.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Cascadia 17 99.5 mm
Average 98.7 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

We found an impressive 80.3 mm in the toe cap area, which is remarkably more than the typical shoe. 

Brooks Cascadia 17 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Cascadia 17 80.3 mm
Average 79.0 mm
Compared to 63 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

When it comes to the tongue, the Cascadia 17 features a semi-gusseted design that ensures a snug yet comfortable fit.

While some trail runners might lean towards a fully gusseted tongue to maximize interior sealing, we believe this tongue is more gentle on the feet, especially for long-distance runs.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Cascadia 17 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

A big change from the previous Cascadia is the tongue-padding. The Cascadia 16 had a super-thick 12.2-mm tongue, while this model showcases a much-slimmer 4.7-mm design—almost a third of the thickness!

But there's no need to worry. Even though 4.7 mm might appear on the slim side for longer workouts—and we'd have liked a 6 or 7-mm thickness—this change doesn't compromise comfort too much.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Tongue padding
Test results
Cascadia 17 4.7 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 101 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

On the heel, we find a original and rare pull tab. Instead of the typical finger-loop design, this one attaches to the shoe with velcro, letting us adjust it to our preference.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Heel tab
Test results
Cascadia 17 Pull tab

Removable insole

The insole in this shoe is conveniently removable, allowing you to effortlessly fit your own custom third-party orthotics.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Removable insole
Test results
Cascadia 17 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

While a vast majority of trail runners don't venture out into the mountains after dark, a minority relish the thrill of lighting up their path with a headlamp and hitting the trails. This group would certainly have welcomed such a feature for those night runs. Maybe we'll get it in the Cascadia 18!

Brooks Cascadia 17 Reflective elements
Test results
Cascadia 17 No