Friday, February 12, 2016

The Knitty Gritty—Reviews Skechers Performance GoRun 4-2016 and GoMeb Speed 3-2016

Article by Peter Stuart

Editor's Note: Just in time for the Olympic Trials in LA, Peter reviews Meb and Kara's race shoe, the GoMeb Speed 3-2016 with special bonus a review of the equally fine GoRun Ride 4-2016. Road Trail Run wishes Meb and Kara, two great champions and inspiration to runners everywhere best of luck in LA!

Significant updates to two stalwarts of the Skechers Performance line with the new 6.8 oz $125 GoMeb Speed 3- 2016 and the 7.7 oz, $105  GoRun 4-2016.

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

I’ve paired these two shoes together for review because, while there are significant updates to both, the changes are extremely similar for each. The naming of these shoes is a little confusing to me. I’m not sure why they didn’t just go with GoRun 5 and GoMeb 4—I’ve seen shoes get new names with far less comprehensive changes. 

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Upper and Fit
GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

The biggest story on both of these updates is the upper. Both the GoRun and the GoMeb now have fully knit Go Knit uppers. This upper first appeared in the GoRun Road Ultra last year. I’m a big fan. I had no idea that I’d like a knit upper, but they’re pretty great. The Skechers description of the upper is that it “offers the ultimate in comfort, fit and breathability”. Sock-like is certainly a good way to describe the fit of the shoe. The knit is soft and provides plenty of hold, but also allows the foot to push it out a bit if needed. I went out for 18 rainy, windy miles on my first run in the GoMeb and there were zero problems, hot spots or blisters. The knit stayed light (I was afraid it would retain water) and the shoe was perfectly comfortable. The GoRun also benefits from having this knit upper. In a bonus, I think the knit upper makes the Skechers designs (which I don’t always love) look way better. They’re both really good looking shoes.

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Fit is great in both shoes. The GoMeb is still a bit narrow, but seems to give a little bit and not feel too constrictive. The GoRun remains slipper-like and super comfortable. Both shoes run true-to-size for me. The GoRun has the Quick fit portal in the back of the shoe—which is neither here nor there to me. The GoMeb does not have the quick fit portal. Lacing and lockdown of foot on both shoes are great.
GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Midsole and Outsole
The midsole is the other big news on the Go Run 4 and Go Meb Speed 3 updates. They’ve changed the material from Resalyte™ to 5Gen™. Here is how Skechers describes 5Gen™

“Skechers Performance 5Gen™ is a rubber based EVA midsole foam that was developed to offer runners more energy return without sacrificing cushioning protection, traction, and durability.   We went through a rigorous testing process to come up with the ideal compound. 5Gen is 20% more resilient than Resalyte and therefore it's a midsole that feels soft and protective, yet is extremely energetic.”

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
 There’s definitely a difference in the materials that you can feel on the road as well as by just pushing your finger into the bottom of the shoe. The new 5Gen™ soles are a little firmer to the touch and are just a touch snappier on the road. There’s not a huge difference between the 2015 model and the 2016 in terms of ride, but you can certainly tell them apart.

The Go Run 2016 features “Resalyte Power pillars” in the mid foot “strike zone”, and the layout of the exposed EVA outsole and the harder rubber ‘pods’ seems to be the same as previous versions.

GoRun 4-2016  Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The Go Meb Speed 3 features a Delrin “speed plate” which adds a healthy dose of firm to these flats. The midsole is the new 5Gen™.
GoMeb Speed 3-2016 Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

GoRun 4 2016: This shoe continues to be a snappy, super flexible, light, barely there shoe. It weighs in at 7.7 ounces (men’s 9) and rides a lot like the Go Run 4 it is replacing. The transition is a little quicker, the ride a hair firmer (though it still has that “how can something this light have so much cushioning” effect). I’m a big fan of the ride of this shoe. I find my forefoot fatigues  a little when I go long in these, but slightly less so with the new version. If you liked the Go Run 4, this will be a nice subtle update to the ride. The upper is a great change for me.

GoMeb Speed 3 2016:  The ride on these is great, if a tiny bit stiff. The ride feels identical to the Go Meb Speed 3 (2015). I wore one on each foot and couldn’t feel a difference. I find the plate adds a stiffness to the shoe that makes it just a little too stiff for me over longer runs, but I’m sure it would work for many. It’s a nice, snappy ride and there’s plenty of (firm) cushion to get through a marathon. They are not as minimal as some other racing flats—and I think that’s a good thing. These weigh about 6.8 ounces for a men’s 9.

The Go Run 4, 2016 is similar in ride and feel to the following shoes: GoRun 4, Altra The One 2.5 and the Nike Lunar Tempo. They are all very flexible, light and carry more cushioning than you would think is possible for a shoe that light. The Go Run 4, 2016, doesn’t quite have the snap of racing flats such as the NB 1400, Asics Hyperspeed 6 +7, or the Pearl Izumi NO V2. Those shoes all feel a little more race-worthy to me. The Go Run is great for fartleks, tempo work and for long runs.

The Go Meb Speed 3, 2016 is very similar to the Go Meb Speed 3 (duh!). It’s a bit stiffer than any other race flat in my shoe closet, and also feels a little more substantial than many of them. It’s a fast and firm shoe.The ride is reminiscent of the Saucony Fastwitch series, the New Balance Vazee Pace and the Altra Impulse.

Both of these updates are terrific. If you already liked the GoRun 4 or the GoMeb 3 I think you will be really happy with the updates to the upper and to the midsoles and outsoles. If you haven’t tried either of these shoes yet, they’re fast, snappy and a delight to run in.

The GoRun 4 and GoMeb Speed 3 were provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Also please check out our review of the Skechers Forza, a new 2016 light stability shoe we liked a lot here.

Peter Stuart's Running Bio
My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

GoMeb Speed 3-2016 is available from Running Warehouse

Men's here,  Women's here

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Montrail Caldorado or Montrail Trans Alps? Which to Choose?

Article by Jeff Valliere

Montrail Caldorado Left, Montrail Trans Alps Right
When presented with the opportunity to test some of the newest offerings from Montrail, the Caldorado or the Trans Alps, I initially had trouble deciding which one would be most appropriate for me.  I’ll admit that I had a bit of difficulty deciphering based on the photos and as of yet limited information being released aside from their respective advertised weights.  Ultimately, I was fortunate enough to not have to pick one or the other, as Montrail was kind enough to offer both models for me to test.

Montrail Caldorado review here with comparison to Brooks Cascadia 11
Montrail TransAlps review here

As illustrated in the full reviews linked above, they are both great shoes and are evidence that Montrail is well on it’s way to regaining their reputation as a top tier trail shoe manufacturer.

But which of the two is most appropriate?  It completely depends on your usage and preferences.  

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Reviews & Comparisons: Next Generation Stability Run Shoes-Hoka Infinite, Brooks Transcend 3, Skechers GoRun Forza

Article by Sam Winebaum Editor Road Trail Run

Stability and support run shoes have traditionally relied on a very firm "post" and or plastic elements at the mid and rear foot to "control" pronation. I have never been able to stand this approach at all. Yet, my 2015 Shoe of the Year was the Altra Impulse (review here) a stability shoe without any post, relying on outsole pods and angle of the midsole to provide the stability. Brooks tested me with their new Stride Signature program at Outdoor Retailer (see here) and said that my obvious heel rotation(bottom left quadrant) could benefit from their Transcend 3 stability shoe, a shoe with a conventional single density midsole and no posts but with other stability features.

Brooks Running Stride Signature Analysis

Now I was curious, so I put the Brooks Transcend 3, the Skechers GoRun Forza, and Hoka One One Infinite, all stability shoes of what I am calling a Next Generation of stability shoes to the test. The Forza does have firmer foam on the medial side, a post, but it is only slightly firmer than the rest of its 5 GEN midsole. The Infinite and Transcend 3 both have single density midsoles and provide the stability by other means: the outsole, the width of the platform, the upper, and especially a form of cradle for the foot where midsole and upper meet wrapping up above where the foot sits.
Left to Right: Brooks Transcend 3, Hoka Infinite, Skechers Forza
Comparative Basic Stats

All 3 shoes provide stability features that are far less obtrusive and noticeable than traditional stability shoes. Here is the quick take:
  • The Brooks Transcend 3 is the most flexible overall and smoothest running from heel to toe. It runs the most like a conventional neutral shoe, relying on its Guide Rails where upper and midsole meet, a flared pod (green below) on the outsole, and a substantial heel counter for stability. It is the most expensive by $50 and built of very high quality materials. Likely one will see superb outsole miles and overall durability over time, especially for heavier runners. 
Brooks Transcend 3
  • The Hoka Infinite has the most pronounced feeling of  having mid foot stability elements at the midsole level, particularly at slower speeds, as the platform is very wide under mid foot.  It has the roomiest, highest volume toe box (the widest of any Hoka to date for me and of the three in this test) and is the lightest by almost an ounce. It is stiffer than the other two relying on the effective Meta Rocker geometry to transition from heel to toe off.  It has a 5mm drop while the other two drop in at 8mm.
Hoka One One Infinite
  • The Skechers GoRun Forza has the liveliest forefoot feel with firm and responsive heel cushioning. It is the only one of the 3 with a denser medial mid foot foam  to provide stability but it has by no means a post feel, having a smooth transition in feel from front to back, side to side. It runs lighter than its weight. The toe box is the narrowest but this is deceiving as the soft fabric like toe upper and soft bumper conform and hold my foot just right and it flexes and stretch well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2-Zante Killer—Killer Zante

Review by Peter Stuart

New Balance Zante V2

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

The New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 is a 8.5 oz/241 gram  (men’s 9), 6mm drop neutral running shoe utilizing New Balance's“Fresh Foam” technology. It’s a nice update from the original Zante which, full disclosure, was one of my favorite shoes of last year. So, how did they do on the update? Did they take the magic out of the shoe? Did they ruin a good thing? Or did they improve upon an already great shoe and make it better?

First impressions
The Fresh Foam Zante V2—or the Z2 as I like to call it—is a nice, simple looking shoe. My pair are bright orange with a blue liner. First run in the shoes left me with the impression that the fine folks at NB had left all of the things I liked about the original intact while adding some tweaks that make it an even better—if slightly heavier—shoe.

Upper and Fit 
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The upper features various densities of mesh with some welded overlays. The overlays are pretty minor, but hold the foot exceptionally well.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
There is more material around the heel counter than there was in the original-and it seems to hold the heel in very nicely without being too stiff. There is a generous (but not too generous) amount of padding around the heel and achilles. 

Fresh Foam Zante v1 Heel Medial Side

Overall the step-in experience of the Z2 is nice and plush. The tongue is attached on the sides from about halfway down and stays nicely in place, despite the lack of a loop for laces to pass through.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2. Photo Credit: Peter Stuart
The top of the tongue has a section of slightly padded material that both holds the laces in place and keeps away any pressure from the top of the foot—a problem I used to have with the 890.  Laces are flat and stay tied. Overall, the upper is of quality, plush materials and feels great. 

Good news on the fit: The bump under the arch (that seemed to go away with some miles, but was off-putting at first) from the original Zante is gone. So, too, is the slightly too snug mid-foot wrap. The Z2 feels a little wider at the mid-foot. Still a great fit, but it doesn’t have that same claustrophobic mid-foot. It’s a great fitting shoe. The tweaks on the materials and the fit are fairly minor, but make for a better fitting running shoe.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 Left, V1 Right
Photo Credit: Peter Stuart

Outsole and Midsole 

Changes in geometry are most evident on the bottom of the shoe. The shoes outsole is a full length piece of lightweight solid rubber that clearly has a different pattern of hexagons than the original Zante.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V1 Left Zante V2 Right 
It seems the outsole provides a little more forefoot protection than the original. Notice that I said protection and not cushion. The outsole of the Z2 feels just a little bit firmer than the original—which has two noticeable results for me: the transition from ball of foot to toe off feels just a little snappier in the update, and I get a little less forefoot fatigue on long-runs.

Fresh Foam Zante v2
The midsole of the Zante V2 is Fresh Foam. From what I understand, they have changed up the geometry of the hexagons on the midsole, which may affect the overall ride of the shoe.

Editor's Note and Update: New Balance confirms the outsole,while in a different pattern, is the exact same rubber and thickness as V1. The main change in midsole hexagon geometry is a change from concave to convex hexagons in the front of the shoe on the medial (inside). The convex hexagons on the V2would tend to firm up the ride slightly but as the front convex hexagons are also widely separated may also be providing the more snap Peter is feeling. Concave hexagons in V1 would tend to compress more providing more of a cushion feel but also potentially contributing to the foot fatigue Peter felt in V1 as they might be a touch less supportive and protective on toe off.
Fresh Foam Zante v1
The Zante V2 runs like a dream. It’s a Goldilocks shoe for me, everything is just right. Transition is buttery smooth and long miles feel great, but if I want to put a few strides or intervals in they respond really well. They are, as previously mentioned, slightly firmer feeling than the original Zante. I don’t mind it at all—as it allows them to transition through the gait cycle just a little more efficiently. I’ve taken them out on short runs, tempo runs and a 20-miler with some tempo thrown in and they’ve felt great on all runs. They’re sort of a Massachusetts Army Knife—they can do whatever job I require. If I had to have only 1 pair of shoes to handle all of my different workouts, it would probably be the Fresh Foam Zante V2. That said, they wouldn’t be my first choice to race in.

They are a little heavier than the Original, and due to that and the firmness they move a little closer to everyday trainer territory for me.

Like the Original Zante, the Zante V2, is a terrific Jack of all trades. It’s a really nice upper sitting on a very smooth-riding mid and outsole. I have no qualms about taking the Z2 out for a quick jog, a tempo run or for long miles. The upper disappears on the foot and the ride is as smooth as can be. What the Z2 gains in weight seems to be worth it for the added durability, quicker turnover and better fit. The Zante 2 manages to retain almost all of the magic of the original while also making some nice, subtle tweaks. Overall a very fun and reliable shoe to run in.

Zante V2 vs. New Balance Zante
The Original Zante is a little bit softer. For me, the only downsides to the original were the tight mid-foot wrap, the arch bump (which disappeared pretty quickly) and the tendency for my forefoot to get sore. The slightly firmer, slightly more padded forefoot is a nice improvement. I’ve felt quick on quick runs and well-protected on long runs. The added weight puts this closer to the 890 or other daily trainers and puts some space between the Zante and the Vazee Pace in the NB lineup. (RoadTrail Run's review of the Zante V1 here)

Zante V2 vs. New Balance Vazee Pace
The Zante now feels like more of a daily trainer than it used to. It’s still fun to go fast in, but doesn’t feel like as much of a specialist as the Pace is. The Pace is a bit firmer, and feels great at speed. If I wanted a shoe that feels good at any speed, I’d go Zante V2, if I wanted a shoe that felt meh to ok at slow speeds but great when I go fast, I’d go with the Vazee Pace. (Peter's Vazee Pace review here)

Zante V2 vs. Skechers Go Run 4. 
The Zante is a heavier, more protective shoe than the Skechers. Skechers feels light and barely there—and feels faster than the Go Run 4. That said, I feel some forefoot fatigue on runs longer than 15 miles in the Skechers that I haven’t felt in the Zante. Ultimately they’re pretty different shoes.

Zante V2 vs. Skechers GoRide 5.
Similar shoes in lots of respects, but the Zante feels more comfortable, transitions quicker and doesn’t feel as clunky as the GoRide 5. The Zante, for me, is just much more fun to run in. (Peter's GoRide Run review here)

Zante v2 Score: 4.9 out of 5
-0.1 for the added weight from last version, leaving these feeling just a tiny, tiny bit less gravity defying.

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V2 is available February 2016. $100.

The Fresh Foam Zante was provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's

Peter Stuart's Running Bio
My running career got off to a slow start…in high school I was told I ran like a race walker and was thus relegated to race walking on the track team. I got back into running about 15 years ago and then into triathlon. Triathlon really rekindled my love for running, so about two years ago I hired a coach and really focused on the half and full marathons.  I broke a bad habit of putting in tons of moderately hard miles (and no easy or hard ones) and after plateauing at 3:25 (with some disastrous marathons in there), this past year I brought my marathon under 3:00 and my half under 1:25. Along the way I’ve developed a bit of a shoe problem.

Running Warehouse has the New Balance Zante v2
Use Coupon Code RTR10 for 10% off
New Balance Zante v2  Men's,  Women's in 5 great colors
Free 2 Day Shipping and "No Sweat" Easy Returns!

Zante v2 is also available from the Road Trail Run partners below

Monday, January 25, 2016

Reviews and Comparisons- Montrail Caldorado and Brooks Cascadia 11. Cascadia the Benchmark Trail Shoe that Keeps on Getting Better vs.the Speedy Newcomer Caldorado

By Jeff Valliere (see Jeff's Run Bio at the end of the review)

Montrail Caldorado: 
Speed, Protection, Agility
$120, Available Now from Montrail.
Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

First Impressions:
Montrail knocked it out of the park with the Caldorado.  I have run in just about every type of shoe over the past 6 years, from minimal to maximal and can make a case for either depending on the run, conditions or how I am feeling, but for the majority of my daily training, I gravitate to a shoe that is somewhere in the middle.
Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere
The Caldorado falls into that sweet spot for me and does a great job at combining performance, protection, all day comfort and durability.  At 11oz 312grams for a men’s size 9 (non Outdry), the Caldorado is no lightweight, but it feels much lighter than an 11oz shoe, both in the hand and most importantly, on the foot.  This shoe is surprisingly responsive, quick and agile, yet provides enough protection for the steep, rocky, technical trails that I run daily.

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The seamless upper is made of a lightweight, breathable mesh with strategically placed welded overlays that lock the foot solidly onto the midsole without feeling the least bit confining.  Because of the effectiveness of the overlays in keeping the foot in place, control is quite impressive when pushing this shoe to the limits in technical terrain.  The tongue is moderately padded, not overly puffy, but just enough to feel comfortable without feeling the laces or having to spend extra time positioning.  The laces are your typical/traditional round laces and I can achieve just the right fit on the first try (though runners with more voluminous feet may find that they are a little short). The heel cup is adequately padded, just enough for comfort, but with no extra bulk and is also well protected and keeps the heel solidly in place.  There are handy loops on the heel to aid in with putting on the shoe (though I never really needed them). The toe bumper is quite solid and protective, but integrates well with the shoe.
Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

I have a lower volume - average size foot and found the fit to be spot on as far as length is concerned.  I don’t have much, if any, extra space in the forefoot, perhaps just enough for foot swell over the day, but I prefer that in favor of better control.  There is no extra room in the mid-foot, as fit is quite precise.

Montrail’s proprietary FluidFoam and FluidGuide technology really shine here.  The Fluidfoam provides a very well cushioned, yet firm, lively and responsive feel.  This shoe does great at any speed, but really shines when pushed hard and begs to go faster.  The Fluidguide gives a very stable feel on uneven terrain at any speed. The patented Fluid Guide is created by placing different, when heated and molded, densities of the same midsole material into the mold. The result is a smooth sense of stability at mid foot without the sometimes harsh transitions of glued in foam layers or posts of different densitites.
Montrail Fluid Guide gray is denser for more stability.Shoe illustrated is not the Caldorado
 I was able to push on steep, rocky technical downhills without the slightest bit of uneasiness or hesitation.  Additionally, Montrail’s Trailshield protection plate provides the highest level of rock protection, while offering enough flexibility to maintain an adequate sense of ground feel and forgiveness.  Stack height is 24mm in the heel and 16mm in the forefoot.  Though I have come to prefer offsets in the 4-6mm range, I hardly notice that this shoe is 8mm.

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The 5mm lugs also achieve that sweet spot of not being overly obtrusive, yet combined with the shape, configuration and rubber compound, the Caldorado provides remarkably good traction on a wide variety of terrain.  The Caldorado runs well on groomed gravel paths, as well as short sections of road, but truly excels on anything from steep rocky trails, talus hopping, steep dirt, off trail, mud, wet etc…  Grip is also good on packed snow.

Montrail Caldorado. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

If one was to own just one trail shoe, the Caldorado would be a great candidate.  It is reasonably light, very quick and responsive, smooth, comfortable, supportive, well ventilated, agile, protective and can handle everything from roads to dirt paths to technical mountain terrain and just about any distance, from short runs to ultras.   Since the Caldorado even comes in an Outdry version for Winter use or wet days only adds to its potential.

Montrail Caldorado Score: 4.8 out of 5
-0.20 for potential long term durability issues  upper mesh

Brooks Cascadia 11: 
The Benchmark Trail Shoe Keeps Getting Better
$120, Available Now

First Impressions:
The Brooks Cascadia 11, the latest iteration in a long lineage of reliable benchmark trail shoes takes it up yet another notch.  With an improved (more durable) upper on an otherwise unchanged midsole and outsole, the Cascadia 11 continues to get the job done.  Though a touch on the heavier side at 11.8 oz/334 grams., the added weight is well worth the all day protection and rugged durability it provides. The new colorways are subtle and have somewhat of a retro look to them.
Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

To address durability concerns that were of concern in the Cascadia 10, Brooks added, reconfigured and seemed to have beefed up critical areas where there were previously issues with tearing and delamination.  The most noticeable being a strip of durable, rubberized material along the middle ~60% of the medial side of the shoe.  Breathability remains excellent and the reconfiguration of overlays still provide a very precise and dialed fit.  I did however find that the toe box seems to be just slightly more voluminous and fits just a touch larger than the previous Cascadia 10.  Otherwise, midfoot fit is the same, snug and precise with excellent foothold and control.
The toe bumper/cap is quite protective and has good flexibility.  The heel counter is just the right height, padding is on the thick side, but is quite comfortable and protective with excellent heel hold.  As mentioned above, this Cascadia 11 feels just a touch longer than previous versions, which is evident when I try both the 10 and 11 on side by side, but it is minimal enough that I would call it true to size and likely not a consideration for the majority of users.

Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

Fit is somewhat on the narrow side and those with more voluminous feet, or those looking for more room for toe splay may want to carefully consider.

Brooks has found a very good formula with their BioMoGo DNA midsole and wisely have not deviated from this.  I find the midsole to be very well cushioned and supportive, great for all day outings in rough terrain, but it is not particularly plush in my opinion, nor is it very responsive.  Not necessarily a problem for me though, as I am aware of this ahead of time and choose this shoe not so much for fast performance, but for all day protection, comfort, traction, reliability and predictability.  The Ballistic Rock Shield does an impressive job at essentially eliminating any jabs from even the sharpest pointiest rocks, but does so at the expense of lateral flexibility.


The Cascadia 11 outsole is also unchanged and continues to do an impressive job of combining traction and durability, with an effective tread pattern and a somewhat hard, long lasting rubber compound.  This outsole excels on steep, rocky technical trails, loose dirt, off trail and packed snow.  It also does reasonably well in muddy conditions, but mud tends to stick and cake between the lugs.  The harder rubber compound is great for longevity, but can be a bit slick on wet rock and is not particularly forgiving.
Brooks Cascadia 11. Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The Cascadia 11 is a great shoe for all day forays into the mountains, off trail, technical terrain, long distance training or an ultra shoe for the masses.  Though Brooks discourages this use on it’s website, the Cascadia 11 has even gained a following with thru hikers due to its durability, support and lower weight relative to a hiking boot.  I find the Cascadia to be ideal for moderate paced runs at best. The weight of the shoe when combined with the very stiff mid-sole and rock plate does not make it particularly responsive, quick or agile and it does not contour  uneven terrain very well due to its lateral stiffness.  The Cascadia 11 has a 10mm offset (27/17mm) which is a little more than I typically prefer, but is not a problem for this shoe and its typical use (moderate to slower speeds, rougher terrain).

Brooks Cascadia 11: 4.5 out of 5
-0.25 for weight
-0.25 for lateral stability

Comparisons Montrail Caldorado to Brooks Cascadia 11:

I initially made reference to the fact that the Montrail Caldorado would be in direct competition with the Brooks Cascadia 11 and thus was given the opportunity to test them both side by side.  They do indeed share many similarities, being similar weight, size, price and both shoes will certainly appeal to the same group of trail runners looking for a durable and reliable trail shoe for long distances.  They both have top level protection, firm cushioning, durability, traction, all day comfort and fit is quite similar.
Their differences though, however minor, may sway one's decision one way or the other.  The first and initially most noticeable difference is weight, 11.8 oz. for the Cascadia 11 vs. 11 oz. for the Caldorado.  Though .8 of an ounce does not sound like much, it is clearly evident when holding each shoe and more importantly, is evident when running.  The Caldorado feels lighter than 11 oz. and feels comparatively much quicker, agile and nimble than the Cascadia 11.  I attribute this to the lower stack height/offset (24/16mm vs. 27/17mm in the Cascadia 11) and a more flexible and forgiving outsole.  I found that with the Caldorado, I had much better trail feel in technical terrain, yet I found protection to be similar to the Cascadia 11 and is much more forgiving when contouring over rocks, roots and other imperfections in the trail and felt that I could push faster and with more confidence than I could with the Cascadia 11.
Toe Box Comparison: Caldorado Left, Cascadia Right Photo Credit: Jeff Valliere

The Cascadia toe box is slightly more tapered than the Caldorado's and the Caldorado is slightly more rounded in the toe box. That said, they both feel about the same, a low volume, precise fit throughout and about the same in the toe box. I have a somewhat low volume foot and find both of them to be perfect, as I don't usually look for extra room since I run on technical, steep terrain almost exclusively and prefer control over room fro splay (within reason of course).

I also found that wet traction was a little bit better with the Caldorado.  None of this however is a knock on the Cascadia 11, as I would give it a slight advantage over the Caldorado in regards to all around traction (excluding wet rock), quality/durability and all day protection (thicker stack height and BioMoGo DNA).  The upper of the Cascadia 11 also seems more durable to me, as though it could withstand a bit more punishment over a longer period of time.

Either way, you could not go wrong with either shoe, it just depends on your preference.

The Caldorado and Cascadia 11 were provided at no charge to Road Trail Run. The opinions herein are entirely the author's.

Reviewer Bio

Jeff Valliere is a former pro cyclist who now runs and climbs the mountains of Colorado. He has been top 5 Masters, top 25 overall, at the Pike's Peak Marathon several times, finishing 3d Masters this year. Jeff loves vertical accumulating more than 500,000 vertical feet per year, has climbed all the 14's and 200 of the 13's and has held FKT on several.  He often runs and climbs at night. Passionate about the sport but also the gear he has reviewed hundred of shoes for various magazines and sites and participated in product testing for many brands.  Formerly a bike mechanic he now works in Satellite Imagery. He has twin 5 year old daughters who keep him ever busier yet.
The Cascadia 11 and 10 (at a great price) are available from 
Road Trail Run Partner 
Running Warehouse
Men's Here
Women's Here

Want to stick with the Cascadia 10?  Tri-Village has a great deal on them below

Save 36% on the Brooks Cascadia 10 Running Shoe - Was $119.95, Now $76.77!

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