Hiking

Brooks Cascadia 14 Trail Running Shoes Review

By outdoorfox , on November 26, 2020 — 7 minutes to read
Running Shoes

The Cascadia is Brooks’ signature trail running shoe. A well-cushioned, neutral support shoe with reliable traction, I’ve hiked in every version of the Cascadia since the 3rd edition was released in 2008. Over the years Brooks has made a lot of design tweaks to their much-loved trail stalwart  – some good, others not so much. However, I’m happy to report that after logging more than 1,200 mi (1,931 km) in three separate pairs of the Cascadia 14, I think that this current incarnation is the best to hit the market since the 9’s came out in 2014.

Cascadia 14’s in Mexico’s Sierra Madre | May 2020

At a Glance

Price:  US$130
Weight:  10.7 oz (303 g) – Men’s Size 9 // 11.9 oz (338 g) – Men’s Size 12
Heal to Toe Drop:  8 mm
Stack Height (heel & forefoot):  26mm – 18 mm
Support:  Neutral
Arch:  Medium/High
Fit: True to size. Standard size (D) is best for medium-volume feet. Also available in Wide (2E).

Field Experience

I’ve been wearing the Brooks Cascadia 14 since September last year. I wore them in the Austrian and Slovenian Alps last fall, and have used them extensively on the rugged trails of Mexico’s Sierra Madre in subsequent months.

Approaching a snowy pass on Austria’s Stubai Hohenweg | October 2019

Cascadia 14 Vs Cascadia 13 

Weight The Cascadia 14’s are significantly lighter than previous models, tipping the scales at 10.7 oz / 303 grams (Men’s size 9), compared to the 13’s which come in at 11.9 oz / 337 grams.

Heel Drop: Reduced from 10 mm to 8mm.

Outsole – The new “TrailTrack Rubber” outsole with its multi-directional lugs are more durable (see below) and grippier on slippery terrain than recent editions of the Cascadia.

Upper – The integrated saddle system helps lock down the midfoot area and gives the shoe a snugger (but still not restrictive) feel than previous models.

Toebox – Roomiest toebox since the Cascadia 9’s. Well sized for medium-volume feet.

Cascadia 14s in Mexico’s Sierra Madre (January 2020)

Upper

The Upper uses Brooks’ Element mesh which is breathable, stretchy, comfortable, and I’ve experienced no pressure points or associated tearing in the material.

The internal saddle system gives the upper a secure fit; I’ve had no issues with my foot sliding around when negotiating rugged terrain (Note: It helps that Size 12 fits me like a glove).

The redesigned Cordura mudguard helps keep out debris and mud to a certain extent, though as with any mesh upper, dirt will eventually get through. To mitigate any rubbing/blister issues, I’ll generally combine my trail runners with Dirty Girl Gaiters (Note: The most recent two versions of the Cascadia have included gaiter traps on the heel).

Overall I’ve found the 14’s combination of Element mesh and the Cordura mudguard strikes a good balance between breathability, keeping out trail dreck, and still allowing for drainage when hiking in wet conditions. They also dry relatively quickly after a drenching.

The Tongue Pocket is useful for keeping the laces out of harm’s way when hiking through overgrown terrain.

As with every iteration of the Cascadia, the 14 has a solid heel counter that provides excellent rear-foot stability while helping to anchor the foot to the midsole. Speaking of which………

Brooks Cascadia 14

Midsole

Unlike the upper and outsole, the midsole of the Cascadia 14 has remained mostly the same as its predecessor:

The BioMoGo DNA midsole compound provides soft but responsive cushioning throughout the shoe’s platform. In regard to protection, the 14 also has a built-in rock plate in the forefoot which is particularly useful if a lot of your hiking is done in rugged terrain. Overall I’d give the midsole a “Goldilocks thumbs-up” – not so cushy that you can’t get a feel for the terrain, but not so firm that you feel every sharp or hard object with which you come in contact.

The four-point Pivot Post system helps provide stability, helping to keep your foot level from landing to push-off. The pivot points (two on each side of the shoe) are slightly smaller than the 13’s, but I haven’t noticed the ride of the shoe being any less secure.

The Berliner Hohenweg is one of Austria’s most renowned multi-day treks. During the summer months it can be fairly crowded, but in mid-October there was virtually no one the trail (Note: In addition to the Cascadia 14s, I used Kathoola Microspikes on all of my Alps hikes during October).

Outsole

I’ve found the new TrailTrack Rubber outsole with its multi-directional lugs to be more durable (see below) and grippier than recent editions of the Cascadia.

The lugs are (fairly) deep, numerous, and distributed across the entire sole for maximum traction. They work well on multiple surfaces including rock, sand, mud, roots, hardpack, and snow.

Descending an icy Mount Triglav (Slovenia’s highest peak) during a high route across Triglav National Park (October 2019).

Durability

Each pair of Cascadia 14’s has lasted me at least 400 miles (644 km) before showing significant signs of wear on the outsole and/or loss of cushioning and support. By the time I’ve put 500 to 600 miles (805 km-966 km) on them they are ready to be retired.

(L to R) Outsole Comparison: Cascadia 13 after approximately 400 miles (644 km) and Cascadia 14 after approximately 300 miles (483 km).

Suitability

Terrain

The Cascadia 14 is a neutral trail shoe that I consider to be an excellent all-rounder. It’s the footwear equivalent of an accurately rated 20°F sleeping bag (or quilt) for thru-hikers, or a jack-of-all-trades internal frame backpack such as the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 2400. And by that I mean it’s versatile – the Cascadia 14 not only provides mixed-surface traction and stability out in the woods but also offers sufficient support and cushioning for the occasional cross-over on to the roads.

“Will the Cascadia 14 work for me?”

Of all the gear in a backpacker’s kit, arguably the most individual-centric item is footwear. Factors such as foot type, injury history, terrain, and pack and body weight all (should) take precedence over how much the shoe weighs, what it looks like, and/or what company produces it when deciding on what shoe is right for you.

If you’ve got medium-volume feet (or slightly wider if you go with the 2E**) and are looking for a neutral trail shoe that is comfortable, versatile, and durable, then there is a fairly good chance that you may find the Cascadia 14’s to be suitable. However – and this is a big caveat – the only way you will know for certain is to give them a try in person.

**(Note: I haven’t personally used the Wide 2E version of the Cascadia 14, but from the reports I’ve read they are slightly wider than the standard sized models, but still not as wide as Altra trail shoes).

Mexico’s Sierra Madre (February 2020)

Conclusion

Brooks went back to the drawing board with the Cascadia 14. The result? I think they hit it out of the park with the design changes. The 14 feels lighter, more flexible, and has superior traction when compared to its recent predecessors. All of which has been accomplished while still retaining the stability and support for which the Cascadia trail shoe has always been known.

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