Monday, June 24, 2019

Brooks Cascadia 14 Review - A Speedy Cascadia! Rebuilt From The Ground Up, Ultra Versatile Trainer/Racer

Article by Jeff Valliere

Brooks Running Cascadia 14 ($130)


Introduction/First Impressions
Brooks went back to the drawing board for the Cascadia 14, rebuilding from the ground up.  When I heard the details initially, I had high hopes, but was caught off guard by how much they have improved this shoe, losing a full ounce in weight to come in a 10.7 oz, simplifying and streamlining the upper, improving fit, and drastically improving response, flexibility, traction and the overall performance of the shoe.


While I have been running in the Brooks Cascadia since version 4 and have run in most of the versions since and have found them to be a great shoe, rugged, durable, protective and with good traction under most circumstances, they had fallen out of favor for me.  I found earlier versions to be well suited for running and were a reasonable weight, but as the shoe evolved, the weight has steadily creeped up and I have increasingly found them to be a bit too stiff, heavy and ponderous for true running. I did however recognize the appeal and reasoning behind the Cascadia design for more casual running and hiking (a top pick for thru hikers), but for faster running or racing, the Cascadia had become a bit too much.  The Cascadia 14 however has suddenly jumped to the top of my pick list, read on!



Stats
Weight: 10.7oz/303g US Men’s Size 9
Sample: 11.25oz/320g men’s size 10
24mm heel/16mm forefoot (8mm drop), Cascadia 13 was at a 10mm drop with 27mm/17mm)
Available now
Tester Profile
Jeff  runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's.


Pros

  • Comfort
  • Traction
  • Response
  • Protection
  • Accommodating fit
  • Breathable Upper
  • Lacing
  • Durability


Cons

  • Toe bumper showing early signs of wear
  • Styling


Upper:
The Element Mesh upper is flexible, conforming and quite comfortable, with no pressure points or hot spots.  The mesh is dual layer and strikes a fine balance of comfort, breathability, durability, security/support and keeping out dust and debris.  The toe bumper is of medium thickness and protects well, warding off all but the most severe rock kicks (though I have not tested that specifically).  I do find the protection in the toe to be very good when working through rock gardens and talus.
Most of the support comes from the Full Internal Saddle, which is a wrapping, booty style tongue reminiscent of the Salmon Endofit design, which eases entry, keeps out debris and helps to hold the midfoot in place.  
Combined with the very secure set and forget stretch woven laces, this is a very effective and comfortable design without having to over tighten the laces.


You can see the lace loops in the above photo and how they are formed from one piece of sturdy felt like material, with perforations for breathability.
The stretch woven style laces are among the best out there in my opinion.  They are sturdy, just the right thickness and have just enough stretchy give to provide a positive hold without having to overtighten or re-adjust.
The tongue is on the low side of moderate thickness/padding, but protects well from the laces and features a handy lace garage.
The heel collar is moderately to well padded, protective and with great protection, stability and support.
Fit is absolutely outstanding, true to size, but with a wider, roomier toe box that does an amazing job striking a balance between providing extra room for splay, swell, accommodating a wide range of feet and a secure enough lockdown as to not have any hesitation or trepidation running fast on technical terrain, side hilling, rock hopping, etc….  
There is a front gaiter ring and even a velcro gaiter trap on the heel of the shoe, though I have never utilized such a thing.
Also, around the lower perimeter of the upper, the Cascadia 14 features a cordura mud guard to increase durability and protection, which I find helpful when wet and bashing around in rocky terrain.


Midsole:
The BioMoGo DNA midsole cushioning provides and excellent balance of cushion and response.  I find the Cascadia 14 to be suitable for shorter runs up to all day outings. The cushioning is firm and supportive without being the least bit harsh and absorbs shock in such a way that leaves me feeling fresh and not jarred or rattled on long downhills, no matter the surface.


To add to the protection, the Cascadia 14 also has what Brooks calls the Ballistic Rock Shield, a thermoplastic sheath layered between the midsole and the outsole to guard against sharp rocks and hard hits.


Outsole:
Also completely redesigned is the new TrailTackutsole, a durable, sticky rubber compound that performs very well over a wide variety of conditions, from dry to wet, rocks, slabs, loose dirt, off trail, mud, snow and ice.  With previous iterations of the Cascadia, I have found wet traction to be marginal, but the new TrailTack outsole is a huge improvement and I have little hesitation running fast over wet rocky, slabby trail.


The multidirectional lugs are pronounced and numerous, spread across the entire outsole for maximum traction.
Outsole durability has thus far proved to be average to above average with only slight signs of wear on the lugs where I toe off or land.  Additionally, the outsole (and midsole) are more flexible now and allow for much better contouring than previous versions.


Conclusions/Recommendations:
In summary, I was excited to try this new version of the Cascadia and it did not disappoint, if anything, it far exceeded my expectations.  I am extremely impressed with how well Brooks was able to retain so many attributes that have made the Cascadia a top seller for so many years, yet pared down the weight, livened the response, increased performance, improved the fit and made this a truly runnable shoe that will certainly satisfy a very wide range of runners without turning away loyal, long time fans.  
The Cascadia 14 is a perfect day to day trainer that can easily double as a medium to longer distance race shoe for most (or any distance for that matter).  


Though not feathery light on the scale, the Cascadia 14 feels deceptively light on the foot, quick, responsive and agile, to the point where it continues to surprise me day to day.  For all the performance and protection this shoe offers, the moderate weight is a very fair trade off.


Traction is excellent, providing very good grip in the wet, rocks, slab, roots, off trail, yet the tread is moderate enough to run smoothly on hard surfaces like very packed dirt and stretches of road.  Though a VERY minor nitpick and of course subjective, I found the styling/colorway of my pair at first to be a bit plain, almost a dad shoe sort of look, but after the first run, I quickly got past that, don’t be fooled!  In fact, over time, I have come to appreciate the subtle retro look.
Jeff’s Score: 9.3/10
Ride: 9.5, Fit: 9.5, Value: 9.5, Style: 7.5, Traction: 9, Rock Protection: 9.5


Comparisons: (all shoes below are in my usual size 10)


Brooks Caldera 3 (RTR Review)
The Caldera 3 is lighter, with more cushion and a 4mm drop vs. 8mm.  The fit of the Caldera 3 is not quite as spacious as the Cascadia 14 in the forefoot, but still very good.  Tread of the Caldera is minimal, best suited for more mellow trails and fire roads, door to trail, where the Cascadia is more suited for rugged mountain trails.

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 2 (RTR Review)
Comparable weight, the Cascadia has a more accommodating fit that, even for my slim foot, I would prefer over the S/Lab for longer runs. The Cascadia has at least as much responsiveness and traction overall is very comparable.

Salomon Ultra Pro (RTR Review)
The Cascadia 14 is a better shoe in my opinion, faster, lighter, more agile, at least as protective if not more protective. The Premium Wet Traction Contagrip outsole however is about the best out there, particularly in the wet. 

Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 (RTR Review)  
The Speedgoat 3 has more cushion and is lighter, with comparable traction.  Some may find the Speedgoat 3 to be a bit narrow in the forefoot, where the Cascadia 14 fit is much more relaxed.


Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail  (RTR Review coming soon)
Both shoes are somewhat close in stats, with the Pegasus being a little lighter and certainly more racy and sleek looking.  The Pegasus would likely be a better choice for faster running on more mellow trails and door to trail, but the Cascadia is not far off and would for sure be a better choice in technical mountain terrain, with better traction and protection.


Saucony Mad River TR (RTR Review)
Close in stats, the Mad River has wonderful versatility in lacing outsole drilling options, but I find the Cascadia 14 to be quicker, lighter feeling (though is the same on the scale) and more agile.


Saucony Peregrine ISO (RTR Review)
I think a flip of the coin here for me, all around very similar performance and use.  A slight edge in traction/cushion to the Peregrine ISO, but if you have a wider foot, then Cascadia 14 may be more desirable.


Salomon Ultra Pro  (RTR Review)
Both have very good all day comfort, traction, protection, durability and accommodating fit.  I find the Cascadia 14 however to be faster, more agile and more responsive.


Salomon Speedcross 5 (RTR Review)
The Speedcross 5 is heavier and not nearly as quick and agile feeling, though has more cushioning and padding all around.  The deep tread of the Speedcross 5 makes it a better pick for loose, soft terrain, mud, etc… But wet traction on rock and such is not as good as the Cascadia 14.  Cascadia 14 is a more versatile shoe overall.
Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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15 comments:

Jeff Valliere said...

Following

Gmx said...

I was waiting for this! Just curious as to how would they compare to salomon xa elevate.

Jeff Valliere said...

The Cascadia 14 has a more spacious fit and better cushioning for longer days on your feet, so overall more comfortable, but XA Elevate is a bit more precise for technical terrain and better traction.

@dctrail said...

How does this compare to the wildhorse 4 in terms of mid foot hold, toe room, and forefoot cushioning?

Quell'Uomo said...

Among the ugliest shoes ever !
Why shouldn't trail shoes have "normal" colourways as other running shoes do ? (aside from safety reasons).

Please stop making dull grey/brown/black shoes.
Kudos to Nike and Hoka One One

Unknown said...

I love these shoes as much for running as for hiking because they are very stable, is this model still good for hiking?

Unknown said...


I wanted to say I loved cascadia 12

Jeff Valliere said...

dctrail - Not sure on comparison to WH4, I have not run in them nor am familiar.

Quell'Uomo - I have found that when it comes to the colors/styling of the shoe, you just can't please everyone, but yeah, the styling here is a bit on the meh side. Running in them improved my view of them though.

Unknown - Great for hiking too!

Unknown 2 - This is a completely different shoe. They may as well have just come up with a different name.

slowK said...

HI Jeff - any comparisons to other 8mm drop shoes, especially the Wildhorse 5? I've been pretty happy with my WH 3s. Have tried the Salmon XA Elevates on, but they are too narrow for me.

These Cascadias look pretty tempting. I had an older pair (maybe 11s?) that were pretty clunky, as you describe.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

How do these compare to the Sense Ride 2?
Which would you grab for easy/moderate trail racing up to 50k?

Unknown said...

How about the comparison to Ultra Pro & Slab Ultra2? Three shoe's outsole studs layout are looking similar...

Jeff Valliere said...

Cascadia 14 vs. S/Lab Ultra 2 - Comparable weight, the Cascadia has a more accommodating fit that, even for my slim foot, I would prefer over the S/Lab for longer runs. The Cascadia has at least as mush responsiveness and traction overall is very comparable.

Cascadia 14 vs. Ultra Pro - The Cascadia 14 is a better shoe in my opinion, faster, lighter, more agile, at least as protective if not more protective. The Premium Wet Traction Contagrip outsole however is about the best out there, particularly in the wet.

Unknown said...

Thz Jeff

Gmx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gmx said...

Thanks for the response and thorough review Jeff (i ended up with the xa).