4 Best Brooks Trail Running Shoes in 2024

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen on
4 Best Brooks Trail Running Shoes in 2024
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Brooks has made a name in the running world. It’s given us some of the best road running shoes, and it sure didn’t let us down with its trail shoes

Among all the running shoes we’ve tested, nothing comes close to Brooks trail shoes in the durability department. Even better, they’re supportive and grippy, it’s hard to lose your steps in them.

But in order to get the best of the best, we acquired trail running shoes from the brand and tested them until they were literally broken into pieces. We tackled various terrains in them before we concluded which ones impressed us the most.

How we test trail running shoes

Every shoe on this list, we’ve examined down to the nitty-gritties. We also have our own RunRepeat shoe testing lab where we conduct these tests. And before we do the following, we always make sure to buy each shoe with our own money. We give ourselves no reason to be partial to any brands as we give you more reason to trust us.

What happens in our scrutinization process is:

  • We run in the shoes for a minimum of 30-50 miles. We approach difficult terrains in different conditions. We observe all the abilities and inefficiencies of the shoes, and we delve deeper by evaluating them down to specifics like fit, comfort, grip, support, and more. 
  • We slice them into bits. We measure each part via 30 different parameters like lightness, breathability, flexibility, etc.

Best Brooks trail running shoes overall

What makes it the best?

Among all Brooks trail running shoes we’ve tested, Cascadia 17 established its dominance in off-the-beaten paths. Together with its well-positioned lugs and Trail Adapt system, this workhorse has unmatched versatility across mixed terrains and paces. On top of this, it offers out-of-this-world breathability!

We navigated through steep and uneven paths with a high level of agility thanks to the flexible midsole and grippy outsole. With our calliper, we measured the lug depth at 3.9 mm (deeper than the average). The lugs are designed with intention — varying in shape and depth in the heel, forefoot, and midfoot areas — to serve their purpose better.

Integrated into the forefoot area is a rock plate for better protection, while the Trail Adapt system lies in the midsole. The sensation underfoot feels firm, translating to a consistently steady ride even on rough terrains. Another feature that enhances stability is the vast landing platform — notably in the heel area with a generous 8.5 mm extra width!

We gave the upper 5/5 on our breathability test as it performed with flying colours. Our feet felt cool even on sunny days.

Cascadia 17’s focus on protection and stability gave up the plush cushion that some runners prefer. We recommend exploring other options if comfort is the top priority.

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
Full review of Brooks Cascadia 17

Best road-to-trail Brooks running shoes

Brooks Divide 4
82
Good!

What makes it the best?

Contrary to its name, Divide 4 combines elements that pave our seamless transitions from the streets to beaten paths. It has a flexible build that makes it easy to manoeuvre, a balanced cushion, and a reliable grip. Among all the Brooks trail running shoes we tested, Divide 4 is our top hybrid shoe.

Running in this pair made us feel versatile as the midsole flows with every stride. It enhances our agility, making the shift to uneven terrains feel effortless. In our bend test, it took 29.9% less effort vs. the average to flex the midsole to 90 degrees. 

Another element that keeps our transitions smooth is the subtle yet sticky set of lugs in the outsole. Measuring 2.7 mm thick (vs. 3.5 mm average), it gave us good traction on trails and adapted well to the road without feeling chunky underfoot.

We found the balanced cushion to be stacked enough for impact protection. Despite being 15.3% softer than the average trail shoe, it had a good amount of firmness that gives a well-planted sensation. This feeling remained when we shifted our weight laterally and ran through uneven paths.

However, the lack of grip and lug depth tells us this shoe performs best on mild trails. Best to avoid rocky, muddy, and technical terrains.

Pros

  • Good impact protection
  • Smooth ride
  • Feels stable underfoot
  • Works well as a hybrid shoe
  • Suitable for hiking
  • Secure lockdown
  • Comfy fit
  • Accommodates wide feet
  • Grippy outsole
  • Easy on the wallet

Cons

  • Midsole feels a little dull
  • Not for technical or muddy trails
  • Overall issues with durability
Full review of Brooks Divide 4

Best lightweight Brooks trail running shoes

Brooks Catamount 3
90
Superb!

What makes it the best?

The Catamount 3 defies traditional trail shoes, delivering unmatched versatility in our lab tests and runs. It's our top lightweight Brooks trail shoe, combining agility and stability in a remarkably airy package, which makes it a great performer across various speeds and distances.

Catamount 3 melts away on our feet and our scales confirm its weightlessness at 9.0 oz (255g), 13.0% lighter than the average trail shoe. This is attributed to its below-average stack, which our calliper measures at 28.3/21.5 mm, giving us a heightened surface connection. 

The highlight of the Catamount 3 is the DNA Flash midsole, which provides exceptional support. Despite a softer-than-average 20.4 HA reading on our durometer, the ride feels balanced and snappy. Cutting the shoe open reveals a Skyvault plate in the forefoot, which serves as a rock plate and enhances stability and bounce. Since it doesn't extend to the heel, the Catamount 3 remains 21.3% more flexible than average, effortlessly adapting to technical terrain.

Underfoot, the TrailTack Green outsole delivers a good mix of grip and durability. Its 2.9 mm lugs are the perfect depth for a smooth and fast ride. Our durometer confirms its hardness is at par with average, erasing any concerns about premature wear.

However, the upper has dense multi-layered mesh and reinforcements that hamper airflow. Those who run in warmer weather should explore more breathable options.

Pros

  • Reduced weight from v2
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Stable and secure ride
  • High-quality materials
  • Suitable for all footstrikes
  • Lightweight!
  • Fantastic Skyvault plate
  • Adaptable across various paces

Cons

  • Poor upper ventilation
  • Tight fit for some
  • Limited grip in wet conditions
Full review of Brooks Catamount 3

Brooks trail running shoes with the best cushioning

Brooks Caldera 7
87
Great!

What makes it the best?

Upon initial wear, the Caldera 7 undeniably offers the best cushioning among all the Brooks trail running shoes we tested in and out of the lab. This terrain monster serves tonnes of cushioning, a breathable experience, and a stable ride— all leading to lasting comfort as we mindlessly run in easy-to-moderate terrains without leg strain. 

We found Caldera 7 suitable for long, laid-back days as it provides generous amounts of highly-regarded and bouncy DNA Loft v3 foam. At 36.7/27.8 mm, it dampens landing impact, making endurance runs less taxing on our legs. Our durometer confirms a plush 15.5 HA, 33.2% softer than average. 

Despite its height and plush sensation, the ride feels remarkably stable. We credit the midsole sidewalls that guide our foot alignment, the stiff central groove for steady support, and its extensive landing base. This shoe is one of the widest we’ve seen, notably its 105.2 mm heel that’s 15.6 mm wider than average!

Moving to the upper, we're in awe of Caldera’s ventilation as it uses an engineered mesh for seamless breathability. After testing with our smoke-pumping machine, we gave it a well-deserved 5/5 rating, perfect for summer adventures.

Because of its size and high torsional rigidity, we didn’t feel too agile on twisty terrains. We recommend exploring other options for technical terrains.

Pros

  • Tonnes of cushioning
  • Plush DNA Loft v3 foam
  • Best Caldera to date
  • Roomier than ever
  • Superb upper ventilation
  • Surprisingly stable
  • Fairly priced

Cons

  • Still heavy
  • Outsole could be better
  • Not for technical trails
Full review of Brooks Caldera 7
Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.