Our verdict

The Brooks Cascadia 13 GTX is a great choice for the runner who is not willing to move things indoors when it gets cold and sloppy. I tested it on a variety of trail surfaces it works! It kept me running high and dry. Gore-Tex, the industry standard in waterproof technology, performs just as promised with the Cascadia, waterproof and breathable.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Comfy fit
  • True to size
  • Stable
  • Responsive
  • Rock shield guard
  • Feels light

Cons

  • Narrow toebox
  • Expensive

Audience verdict

81
Good!

Brooks Cascadia 13 GTX: a true winter shoe

As the daylight fades and temperatures start to drop, or the slop and mess of spring melt-off starts to happen, many of us are forced inside to the treadmill. While the treadmill is not an all-bad, the allure of a shoe that is aimed at keeping you running outside no matter what the conditions are very enticing.

The Brooks Cascadia has always received high praise as a trail running shoe and the Gore-Tex version is a nice adaptation to an already solid shoe. I began testing these shoes at the beginning of winter in what promised to be apt conditions for testing a waterproof shoe.

Now, at the end of winter, these shoes are a welcome piece of footwear for the slop of spring meltdown that western Montana is currently enveloped in.

Comfy fit in the Cascadia 13 GTX

After lacing up the Cascadia 13 GTX my feet felt completely at home. The Cascadia hugs the heel very snug and tightly.

The lace cage compresses evenly, distributing the pressure of the tongue super comfortably on the top of the foot. The super tight weave of the mesh upper is pliable yet durable and allows the foot to move where and when it needs to

The toe box is on the narrow side but it did not feel cramped at all. The sizing is true to fit. The shoe felt a little rigid at first but after three runs in the sloppy Missoula conditions, they have begun to loosen up nicely. So, while some breaking in is required in my opinion, it was very minimal at best.

Performance

While a lot of Gore-Tex running shoes carry weight like a tank, the Brooks Cascadia is pretty light (12.3 oz) compared to other Gore-Tex trail runners I have experienced. Other leading brands weigh in between 14 and 20 ounces.

Advances in Gore-Tex fabric technology make it lighter and less rigid than older versions. These shoes are light and nimble and sit right in the weight range of other non-GTX trail runners.

While some waterproof trail runners look more like hiking shoes, the Cascadia presents like a true running shoe with the added waterproof bonus. The Gore-Tex fabric is remarkably breathable. Not once did I feel as if my feet were excessively dampened by sweat. The breathability of the shoe is remarkable.

My first run out in these shoes saw some of Montana’s classic “not sure if it is fall, winter or spring” weather. The messy mix of slush, water and snow was a perfect test for a Gore-Tex shoe. The Cascadia 13 was impressive in these conditions. The waterproofing and breathability of the shoe performed flawlessly. My feet were dry and happy the entire time.

The Cascadia shed water nicely and did not hold onto the water like some shoe might. Currently, I find myself pushing into the higher elevations and the Cascadia is perfect on these runs since there is still a good deal of snow left up high. While the Cascadia would be overkill down low right now, it’s finding lots of use in the wet high country.

The sole of the Cascadia is burly, to say the least. The sole provides a nice wide base for added stability on slippery surfaces.

The outer hexagonal studs offer an excellent lateral cleat on both sides of the forefoot.

Brooks uses its proprietary BioMoGo DNA technology in the midsole and it’s both responsive on the trail and cushioned enough to make the longer efforts less impactful. On the first few runs that I did in these shoes I felt very connected to the road and trail surface but cushioned enough to push as hard and as long as I wanted to.

To be clear, the shoe is not plush or maximally cushioned, but it does have enough cushioning to forgive the impact of those unintended rocks or roots in the wrong place on the foot.

The rugged 3D rubberized mudguard that extends from the toe box to the heel is nothing short of armour. It is tough and pliable at the same time. While protecting your foot from the lashing of ice and other trail debris, the mudguard does not sacrifice the flexibility of the shoe one bit.

Brooks uses what they call a rock shield guard to improve stability and disperse the impact of those more pointed encounters your sole might have on the run. This combined with the cushion of the DNA midsole makes for a smooth and confident ride.  The triangular Pivot technology allows for targeted flex in just the right spots on the sole of the shoe.

The Cascadia 13 GTX has the added bonus of a gaiter attachment on the heel of the shoe which is nice for really sloppy spring conditions or deep snow.

There is also a well thought out small pouch on the tongue of the shoe that you can tuck your laces up into. This is a convenient addition for a clean look and to keep yourself free of the annoyance of getting hung up on brush and bramble.

The comfort and quality of the Brooks brand really come through in this shoe. It’s light, responsive, waterproof and solidly constructed. At an MSRP of £170.00, the Brooks Cascadia GTX seems a bit spendy but it is worth every penny and a must for any serious runner’s arsenal. The Cascadia 13 GTX is certain to keep you running outside regardless of what the seasons throw your way.