Brooks Cascadia 8 (Spring 2013)
11.9 ounces / 10mm drop / $120
The Dirt: The rugged, well-cushioned Cascadia is a longtime favorite of trail runners for every distance. With this eighth rendition, Brooks upgraded the midsole for a smoother transition and more energy return. A tighter weave on the mesh upper helps keep out the smallest debris.
Because of its ample cushioning and plush crash pad at the heel, the Cascadia offers excellent shock absorption for pounding descents. It also transitions well to pavement.
A forefoot rock shield boosts protection against stones and roots without compromising flexibility.
Best For: Traditional in design, the Cascadia is a sturdy, well-cushioned shoe that one tester called “tough enough to handle everything from a 5K to a hundred.” It excels on rocky, technical trails.
Traction: While most testers praised the Cascadia’s ability to comfortably handle dirt, snow, ice and hardpack, one tester lamented, “Descending steep muddy terrain was challenging; sliding was a common occurrence.”
Fit: The asymmetrical lacing was a hit, comfortably locking in testers’ feet, hugging heels snugly while allowing ample room in the toebox.
The Downsides: For those accustomed to the new breed of minimalist footwear, the Cascadia may lack ground feel.
Tester-Monial: “The shoe felt a bit on the heavy side, but its cushion and protection more than outweighed the few extra ounces.”
—George Orozco, Kent, WA
Check out the other 10 shoes in our Spring 2013 Shoe Review.