Our verdict

In our experience, the Brooks Catamount 2 is a great trail running shoe, but it comes with a few compromises. It's not designed for wide feet or technical terrain, and it's not the best for long distances. However, if these factors don't bother you, we believe this shoe offers a stable ride in a lightweight package. We were also impressed with the bouncy DNA Flash midsole and its outstanding performance on easy trails like fire roads, even at uptempo paces. We think that for runners who fit its specific profile, the Catamount 2 could be a great choice even at £170, combining speed with comfort in a way that's hard to beat.

Pros

  • Impressively lightweight design
  • Offers a stable ride
  • Excellent traction on easy trails
  • Ideal for midfoot and forefoot strikers
  • The SkyVault plate provides both protection and bounce
  • Durable, long-lasting outsole
  • Perfect for faster paces

Cons

  • The upper might be too narrow for many runners
  • Lacks sufficient cushioning for longer distances
  • Not for technical terrain

Audience verdict

88
Great!

Who should buy

We recommend the Brooks Catamount 2 for:

  • Enthusiasts of Brooks road running shoes looking for a trail running equivalent.
  • Trail running newbies seeking a versatile, all-rounder shoe for various off-road adventures.
  • Neutral trail runners in pursuit of a lightweight, stable shoe ideal for easy terrain.

Brooks Catamount 2

Who should NOT buy

Brooks crafted the Catamount 2 primarily for narrow-to-medium width feet, making it a less suitable choice for runners with wide feet. Plus, since it's a trail shoe, a bit more room for toe splay is usually desirable, so we think it might not be the best pick for those runners.

If you fall into that category, we suggest considering shoes with wider toeboxes and similar features, such as the Saucony Peregrine 13 or the Nike Pegasus Trail 4.

Brooks Catamount 2

Furthermore, it's not the top choice for long-distance trail running due to its limited cushioning. If you're deep into the ultra-world, you might want to explore options like the Hoka Mafate Speed 4 or the Saucony Endorphin Edge.

Breathability

Trail running shoes take a different approach to breathability compared to road running shoes because more isn't always better. In fact, in very cold countries, we might prefer shoes with less breathability, especially for winter runs.

That's why we believe a 3/5 rating is a nice balance for these shoes, which is exactly what the Catamount 2 scored after our smoke test.

Under the light, we spotted a very thin mesh, strategically reinforced on the sides to enhance stability. This design reduces breathability, which explains why there's so much airflow through the tongue.

Brooks Catamount 2 microscope

To better understand the upper, we examined it under a microscope.

Brooks Catamount 2 upper

We found an interesting engineered mesh with a thin outer layer for structure—unlike most shoes, which have this layer inside.

Lastly, we analysed how Brooks structured the upper. Essentially, it's a road design but with additional layers for extra comfort and protection in certain areas.

Test results
Catamount 2 3
Average 3.3
Compared to 83 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

The upside of a thin, minimalistic mesh is it keeps the shoe lightweight and offers decent breathability. However, the major downside is the likely impact on durability.

During our first Dremel test in this lab review, the Catamount 2 only managed a 2/5. While it's not the absolute worst, it's far from impressive. However, Brooks has incorporated some robust protective features on the toe cap, effectively shielding the upper against a significant amount of potential damage.

Brooks Catamount 2 Toebox durability
Test results
Catamount 2 2
Average 3.1
Compared to 63 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

After thoroughly assessing the toebox, we shifted our focus to the heel area, where we discovered a significantly more impressive result.

Brooks uses a remarkably resistant fabric in this area, effortlessly earning a strong 4/5 in our second Dremel test.

Brooks Catamount 2 Heel padding durability
Test results
Catamount 2 4
Average 2.9
Compared to 61 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Turning the shoe over to examine the outsole, we began by checking the hardness of the rubber with our durometer. At 84.5 in the Shore HC hardness scale, it's pretty much average.

Brooks Catamount 2 Outsole hardness
Test results
Catamount 2 84.5 HC
Average 85.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

Now that we've established the outsole's average hardness, we believe the real test is the Dremel evaluation.

For the Catamount 2, our measurements showed an indentation of just 0.7 mm—a good result that promises a durable, long-lasting outsole.

Brooks Catamount 2 Outsole durability
Test results
Catamount 2 0.7 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Last but not least, we checked the thickness of the outsole.

At 2.5 mm, there's enough rubber, though we think it's slightly too much as it can somewhat mute the ride. For this shoe, with its impressive durability performance, we would have preferred an outsole thickness between 1.5 and 2 mm.

Brooks Catamount 2 Outsole thickness
Test results
Catamount 2 2.5 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

The scale displayed a feather-light 9.7 oz (275g) on the screen, a delightful find for those seeking a lightweight trail running shoe.

It's not just lighter than the average trail shoe—it also impressively dips below the 10-oz benchmark.

Brooks Catamount 2 Weight
Test results
Catamount 2 9.70 oz (275g)
Average 10.30 oz (292g)
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

One reason Brooks managed to keep this shoe relatively light compared to the competition is its low stack height.

Brooks Catamount 2 stack

Hats off to Brooks for boldly placing such a cool design on the shelves!

With a heel height of 29.0 mm, it positions itself as a shoe suitable for short to medium distances, but not as the ideal choice for longer efforts.

Brooks Catamount 2 Heel stack
Test results
Catamount 2 29.0 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The forefoot follows the same pattern as the heel, with a slightly lower stack than what's typical in trail shoes. This design again signals to every midfoot and forefoot striker that this shoe is best suited for runs lasting 1 to 2 hours.

Brooks Catamount 2 Forefoot stack
Test results
Catamount 2 22.6 mm
Average 24.5 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

Brooks officially stated a 6-mm heel-to-toe drop for the Catamount 2, and following the official guidelines, we measured it at 6.4 mm—a negligible difference.

This design makes the shoe more suitable for midfoot strikers, although a 6.4 mm drop is often considered a "universal" drop that can also provide a satisfactory ride for both forefoot and heel strikers.

Brooks Catamount 2 Drop
Test results
Catamount 2 6.4 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 105 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

In an effort to keep the shoe as light as possible, Brooks opted for a really thin insole that's almost half the thickness of the average.

Brooks Catamount 2 Insole thickness
Test results
Catamount 2 2.9 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 106 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.

Transitioning to the midsole, we discovered a full-length slab of Brooks' DNA Flash. As extensively detailed in our guide on foams, DNA Flash is an EVA-based, nitrogen-infused foam famous for its lightness and speed-enhancing qualities. It's the same compound found in the fantastic Brooks Hyperion Max.

With a softness rating of 22.0 HA, we found it strikes a perfect balance, making it exceptionally well-suited for a trail running shoe.

Brooks Catamount 2 SkyVault

Keep in mind that the ride might feel a bit firmer than expected due to the Pebax plate in the midsole. This feature not only offers stability and added protection but also doubles as a rock plate.

Brooks Catamount 2 Midsole softness
Test results
Catamount 2 22.0 HA
Average 22.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Midsole softness in cold

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

Since it's crafted as a shoe that can be used in winter, it's important to understand how it behaves under cold temperatures. What we found is that the softness varied to 25.9 HA.

Brooks Catamount 2 Midsole softness in cold
Test results
Catamount 2 25.9 HA
Average 28.2 HA
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.8 HA
Midsole softness in cold (soft to firm)
48.4 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

That's a 17.6% difference from the room temperature reading, which is a good result. It ensures that the foam won't feel significantly different across all seasons.

Test results
Catamount 2 17.6%
Average 26.4%
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

The Catamount 2 is a neutral shoe, but it has a few tricks up its sleeve, such as the large DNA Flash walls on the medial and lateral sides, and the SkyVault plate.

Brooks Catamount 2 running

While we believe it's best suited for neutral runners, those with mild stability needs can also use this shoe without any issues.

Torsional rigidity

Obviously, the lower stack height contributes to a stable ride. However, a significant part of this stability comes from the shoe's impressive torsional rigidity that we rated at 5/5.

This feature keeps the shoe really stable. But naturally, it results in less agility on technical terrain, making the Catamount 2 a shoe geared towards easy trails.

Test results
Catamount 2 5
Average 3.5
Compared to 100 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter takes a more balanced approach, earning a 3/5. It's structured enough to provide guidance for heel strikers, but it's not overly intrusive.

Test results
Catamount 2 3
Average 3.2
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

One of the key reasons the Catamount 2 offers such a stable ride is its impressive midsole width.

At 116.3 mm, it's remarkably wide, greatly benefiting those with a midfoot or forefoot striking technique.

Brooks Catamount 2 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
Catamount 2 116.3 mm
Average 112.1 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

On the other hand, the heel width is just average, measuring 90.2 mm. This isn't bad news for heel strikers, but don't expect the same dimensions as you would find in a stability shoe.

Brooks Catamount 2 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Catamount 2 90.2 mm
Average 89.7 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

We've already discussed the shoe's torsional rigidity, but what about its flexibility lengthwise? If it's too rigid, it could be uncomfortable for easy runs or even walking!

Luckily, in our 90-degree bend test, it scored just 29.1N, which is average.

Test results
Catamount 2 29.1N
Average 28.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Stiffness in cold

We then repeated the test, like we did with the midsole softness, to see if the shoe becomes super stiff after a 20-minute stint in our freezer. The new reading came in at 33.1N.

Test results
Catamount 2 33.1N
Average 38.0N
Compared to 103 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
11.9N
Stiffness in cold
92.1N

Difference in stiffness in cold

This is just a 13.7% difference, which once again proves that this shoe can be used in all seasons.

Test results
Catamount 2 13.7%
Average 35.1%
Compared to 103 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

The semi-gusseted tongue provides an excellent lockdown. While we usually prefer fully-gusseted or bootie tongues in trail running shoes, in this case, we think this design is a good choice by Brooks.

Brooks Catamount 2 Lug depth
Test results
Catamount 2 3.0 mm
Average 3.6 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

From the moment we slipped our feet into the shoe, we felt it was pretty narrow, and our toebox measurements further confirmed this.

Brooks Catamount 2

Measuring 95.7 mm at its widest part, you can expect a race-oriented fit for normal feet, and an excellent fit for those with narrow feet. This feature is a side benefit for technical terrain, although it's clear that the shoe isn't primarily designed for challenging trails.

Brooks Catamount 2 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
Catamount 2 95.7 mm
Average 98.8 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

However, there's a catch. For those with wide feet only in the toe region, this shoe can be accommodating, as it features a very low taper in the toe cap. We measured 79.2 mm in that area.

Brooks Catamount 2 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Catamount 2 79.2 mm
Average 79.0 mm
Compared to 68 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The semi-gusseted tongue provides an excellent lockdown. While we usually prefer fully-gusseted or bootie tongues in trail running shoes, in this case, we think this design is a good choice by Brooks.

Brooks Catamount 2 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Catamount 2 Both sides (semi)

Comfort

Tongue padding

Brooks clearly focused on cutting as many ounces as possible, and the thin, 3.7-mm tongue is a testament to their efforts.

Brooks Catamount 2 Tongue padding
Test results
Catamount 2 3.7 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

The Catamount 2 may not have a heel tab, but it boasts a velcro-fastened tab to attach a gaiter, which is a delightful and useful addition!

Brooks Catamount 2 Heel tab
Test results
Catamount 2 None

Removable insole

We were also happy to see that the Catamount 2 it's one of the few shoes with a perforated insole, designed to improve ventilation underfoot. And it's removable, too.

Brooks Catamount 2 Removable insole
Test results
Catamount 2 Yes

Misc

After thoroughly assessing the toebox, we shifted our focus to the heel area, where we discovered a significantly more impressive result.

Brooks uses a remarkably resistant fabric in this area, effortlessly earning a strong 4/5 in our second Dremel test.

Reflective elements

We found it disappointing that the Catamount 2 lacks any reflective elements—a significant oversight in terms of safety for a trail shoe.

Brooks Catamount 2 Reflective elements
Test results
Catamount 2 No