Friday, June 12, 2020

Brooks Cascadia 15 Multi Tester Review

Article by Canice Harte, John Tribbia, Jeff Valliere and Hannah Winebaum

Brooks Running Cascadia 15 ($130, $160 GTX)


Estimated weight men's 10.75oz / 305g (US9)  /  Official women’s weight 10 oz/ 283g (US8)

  Samples: M10 - 11.25oz /318g

Midsole Stack Height: 24mm / 16mm, 8mm offset

Available (including in wide): Cascadia 15: 8/1 ($130)  Cascadia 15 GTX: 9/1 $160


Canice: wide toe box, great breathability and comfortable

John: very comfortable out of the box, stable in varied terrain, engineered mesh upper that is soft to the skin

Jeff V:  comfort, fit, firm yet compliant cushioning, traction, security, durability, stable in rough terrain

Hannah: blister free, comfortable fit out of the box.  Great traction. Best for mellow recovery hikes and runs


Canice: the ride is flat and unimpressive

John: not much bounce, slappy on smooth downhill

Jeff:  not as well vented as previous version

Hannah: stiff, not very energetic or springy 

Tester Profiles

John Tribbia (5' 6", 130lbs) is a former sponsored mountain/trail runner who has run with La Sportiva , Brooks/Fleet Feet, Pearl Izumi, and Salomon. Even though he competes less frequently these days, you can still find John enjoying the daily grind of running on any surface, though his favorite terrain is 30-40% grade climbs. He has won races such as America's Uphill, Imogene Pass Run, and the US Skyrunner Vertical Kilometer Series; and he's held several FKTs on several iconic mountains in Boulder, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. If you follow him on Strava, you'll notice he runs at varying paces between 5 minutes/mile to 12 minutes/mile before the break of dawn almost everyday.

Canice is a 2 x finisher of the Wasatch 100, the Bear 100, Moab 100, Western States 100, and Leadman as well as many other ultras. He regularly competes in Expedition Length Adventure races with his longest race to date 600 miles as well as in traditional road races and triathlons.

Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Hannah lives in Utah and can often be found frolicking in the Wasatch by foot, ski, and bike fueled by gruyere and les croissants. She ran her first ultra last year and is looking forward to more magical trail adventures this summer!

First Impressions and Fit

Canice: The Cascadia is one of the iconic shoes in the history of trail running and as crazy as it is, this was the first time I have run in the Cascadia . We’re now on version 15 and the shoe has evolved nicely over the years. When you first slip a pair on you’ll notice the shoe is soft and flexible and has a very roomy toe box. I found the shoe to fit true to size, has a good heel hold but is a little loose over the instep.

The two big stand out impressions I had when I first tried the Cascadia 15 is that the toe box is great and there’s not a lot of cushion in the shoe. I had always envisioned the Cascadia as being more of an all around trail shoe so I was expecting something more substantial under foot but the Cascadia has a lot more ground feel than I would have guessed.

John: The moment I put these shoes on, I could tell they would be a winner. They felt very comfortable out of the box. The engineered mesh upper is soft to the touch and effectively hugs the foot. I found the shoe true to size (normal width foot in a size 9.0 Men’s) and the heel fits snugly. Out on my first trail with the Cascadias, I noticed it performed exceptionally well on smooth terrain and rocky unsure footing. I especially like how stable it feels and how well protected my foot feels over scree and rocky trail. On the downhill, however, I found the rebound to be flat and felt my forefoot was slapping the ground.

Jeff V:  I loved the Cascadia 15 right out of the box, before I even put them on.  I have always been a fan of the Cascadia, but my interest waned for several years, as the model seemed to fall behind the competition, that was until the Cascadia 14 came along and was a huge revamp that I really enjoyed (RTR Review).  The latest 15th iteration retains the excellent midsole and outsole of the 14, but with an improved upper.  While I had no issues with the upper of the 14 (aside from noticing some wear over time), fit, security and breathability were all excellent.  Only knock was that the look was a bit plain.  

The 15 looks modern and flashy in a subtle sort of way.  Fit is very comparable to the 14, true to size and a slightly generous toe box, accommodating, yet still secure with no unwanted movement.  The more tightly woven closed mesh upper, beefed up toe bumper and 360 degree rand add a little bit to the security and fit of the shoe, as well as a bit more protection.


Canice: The upper of the Cascadia 15 is soft and flexible and seems to be simple but in truth has a lot of great features done incredibly well. The most important aspect of the Cascadia 15 is that it is comfortable. The overlays around the sides of the shoe and across the toe box are flexible and provide a great amount of durability to the upper. 

You’ll find an attachment point for your gaiters at the bottom of the laces, 

as well as an elastic strap midway up the laces to tuck your laces into after tying them and a gusseted tongue. 

There is a nice grab loop on the heel and good cushioning in the heel pocket. All in all the Cascadia 15 upper is very nice

John: The mono loop mesh upper is new in this version and is a welcome upgrade. The material breathes fairly well, although, I did feel my feet getting hot in summer-like temperatures and direct sunlight. More than anything, the upper feels good on the foot. In most shoes with a seamless design without the engineered mesh upper, my forefoot will wear through on the outside bottom of the upper after 200-300 miles of running. 

This mesh upper is much like the Brooks Caldera 4’s (left above) and since I have already put 500 miles on those shoes without incident I know this material is top quality. 

Jeff V:  The mesh upper is, as John states, is very similar in construction to the Caldera 4 which has proven to be very durable over time.  

The mesh used for version 14 (left above) was a bit more open and porous and thus more breathable, while the 15 is more tightly woven.  I have done a number of side by side comparisons between the 14 and 15 to best gauge, fit, security and breathability and there are some marked differences.  The 14 is without doubt more breathable and would say is very good overall in the breathability department, while the 15 feels a bit warm on hot days and I would rate as average.   The reduced breathability of the 15 is somewhat to do with the more closely woven dense weave, but also I think because the review sample is black (vs. light gray for the 14).

I found the fit of the 14 to be excellent and security very good as well and when running on mellow to moderate terrain, I can barely tell the difference between the two.  The 15 however is even better and really shines on steep, technical trails and off camber terrain, providing amazing security and stability.

The more closed mesh of the 15 also helps keep out debris as opposed to the more open mesh of the previous version.

The toe bumper is improved as well, slightly thicker and offering better coverage with integrating with a 360 degree rand for better protection in rough terrain.

Lacing is very secure and easy to get right on the first attempt with no need to ever re-adjust and the stretchy lace loop is handy to easily keep the laces in place.


Canice: The classic Cascadia feature and arguably the number one feature Brooks talks up for the Cascadia is the “Pivot Post” system. 

The idea being you have four points of contact (two on the lateral and two on the medial sides of your foot) which is highlighted in red in the photos and they’re there to provide stability.

It’s hard to say when you’re running if these really work but it is fair to say the shoes feel stable from heel strike to toe off so they must know what they’re talking about.

The midsole highlights are that it is durable, has an 8mm drop and provides good protection.

John: As Canice points out, the midsole is designed to give greater stability. To determine if that’s true, I took these up and down a steep and technical trail. I felt in complete control laterally and ankle rolls were non-existent. The width is the first thing that stands out by giving sufficient counter to ensure an ankle roll is unlikely. 

Then, with the Pivot Posts, I felt extremely stable running on a variety of terrain, both up and downhill. In fact, I was hard pressed to find something rocky or slabby enough that could challenge the stability and protection of the midsole. When it comes to cushion, the Cascadia falls more on the firmer part of the cushioning spectrum but it doesn’t translate to an uncomfortably harsh ride. The midsole cushion offers a welcomed dampening to the terrain below. However, on long sustained descents on a service road, I felt like my forefoot was slapping the ground. I don’t know if this was compromising performance at all, but I noticed my foot plant was much louder than in a more cushioned shoe.

Jeff V:  Canice and John give a great description of the midsole and I agree with their observations on performance, stability and cushioning.  I did not really notice the slappy-ness that John refers to, but that could be because he is a faster runner than me!   Like the previous version, I find the midsole to offer a very good combination of firm, yet compliant and predictable stability, with all day cushion and reasonably responsive performance.  Definitely not a rocket ship, but when my legs are feeling good, I feel as though the Cascadia 15 can easily rise to the challenge.


Canice: The outsole provides great traction both climbing and descending. I did feel it slip under foot a couple times on wet logs but it was minor. All in all the outsole performs quite well.

John: The outsole is Brooks’ TrailTack rubber that provides a durable and sticky tread that performs really well over a variety of conditions. I took these on both wet and dry rocks, on slabs, dirt, and off trail. I found the traction in all of those conditions to be very good.

Jeff V:  The TrailTack outsole is 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.  

The multidirectional lugs are pronounced and numerous, spread across the entire outsole for maximum traction. 

This is the same outsole as the previous version and durability has proven to be above average with only slight signs of wear on the lugs where I toe off or land.  


Canice: This was a big miss for me. I was looking or expecting a well cushioned shoe with good rebound and didn't find any of that. They felt flat and had no spring or pop when toeing off. Yes, I felt protected but that was about it.

John: Like Canice, I found the Cascadia to be overly stiff, firm, and lacking spring in the toe-off. It is a great shoe for more casual running or hiking; yet I was longing for more flex, heel to toe rock, and bounce when trying to pick things up a bit, especially on non-technical descents. 

Jeff V:  I find the ride to be smooth, stable and predictable and while the Cascadia is no speedster, I think it is one of the better performing and quicker of the fully protected shoes in this class.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Hannah: Greetings shoe nerds!

I put on the Cascadias for the first time as I headed out the door for a 20 miler around Coyote Canyon here in Utah. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing amIright?! 

The terrain was a mix of desert, loose gravel, and loamy single track and they handled it well. They had a nice gription on the rocky sections. No rolled ankles or blisters, which is always a plus!  I’m a size 8 in all shoes and they fit TTS.

Since that initial outing with the Cascadias, I've run a lot more miles in them on smooth Park City single track and gravel roads. 

They're a bit too stiff for my liking and I'm noticeably sore in my ankles, knees, hips, and lower back when I run in them. I don't usually experience those aches and pains when I run the Hoka Speedgoat 4 cush or even the much lighter and lower stack Skechers Speed TRL Hyper. When I wear the Cascadias on long runs, my legs feel heavy vs. the springy and energetic strides that I get from the Hoka or Sketchers. 

I will keep these in my quiver for mellow recovery hikes instead of big trail run miles.

Canice: The Cascadia 15 is the Subaru of trail running shoes. Good at everything but not great at anything. For me the ride killed the shoe. Give it some life, keep everything else as is and this would be a “great” shoe. Do that and lighten the shoe up and it will be a “spectacular” shoe. As it is it’s an okay shoe, that is priced well, and has a nice wide toe box.

Canice: 7.8 / 10






Rock Protection

Overall Score

Percentage of Total
















John: The Cascadia 15 is a good day to day trainer for casually paced outings of long or short distances. Even though it isn’t a very light shoe, it feels nimble and quick through slabby and rocky terrain. However, when the terrain becomes less technical, I found the performance and response to be lackluster. Nevertheless, the traction is excellent on a variety of terrain and the upper is comfortable + durable. 

John’s Score: 8.3 / 10

Ride: 7 (stable and dampening ride, but not a lot of “pep”)

Fit: 9 (nearly no break in period for me and my average width foot fits perfectly)

Value: 8 (versatile shoe with durable upper & outsole that can withstand high mileage)

Style: 9 (fluorescent yellow shoe laces FTW!)

Traction: 9 (high performing on a variety of terrain)

Rock Protection: 8.5 (needs toe protection, but footplate and width provide ample protection)

Jeff V:  I really like the Cascadia 15 and it does a wonderful job performing as a versatile, well protected, durable everyday trainer.  Some days I have a specific agenda and select a shoe that will perfectly fill that niche, but other days, I walk out the door not knowing the route, terrain, how fast I feel like going or if it will involve scrambling, some fire roads, wet, mud, snow, etc…  On those days, the Cascadia 15 is the perfect shoe to grab that will handle just about anything you throw at it.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.6/10

Ride: 9.5 / Fit: 9.5 / Value: 9.5 / Style: 9.5 / Traction: 9.5 / Rock Protection: 9.5

Comparisons Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Cascadia 14 (RTR Review)

Brooks Caldera 4 (RTR Review)  

Jeff V:  The Caldera 4 has a very similar upper in regard to material, but the Caldera has a wider, more relaxed fit that makes it more suited to moderate to mellow terrain than the Cascadia.  Cushioning is also softer and more ample, though traction and overall technical performance does not match the Cascadia.

John: Adding to Jeff’s comparison, the Caldera 4 is suitable as a road to trail hybrid and has a more running oriented ride. In my lone critique of the Cascadia 15’s ride, I mention that the shoe doesn’t “spring off” and the Caldera 4 is where you can find a more runnable shoe in the Brooks line.

Salomon Sense Ride 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Comparable in overall usage and versatility, the Cascadia is a bit more durable, protective and better suited for technical terrain.  Sense Ride 3 is more plush.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Speedgoat 4 feels lighter, more responsive, with softer cushioning and more stack, but is a bigger shoe and perhaps not as agile as the Cascadia.  Security, fit, traction and durability are comparable, though Cascadia has a slightly more forgiving toe box.

Salomon Speedcross 5 (RTR Review

Jeff V:  The Speedcross 5 is heavier and not nearly as quick or 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 or any other wet surfaces is not as good as the Cascadia 15.  Cascadia 15 is a more versatile shoe overall.

Saucony Mad River TR 2 (RTR Initial Review)

Jeff V:  Very close in my opinion in all ways, though the Mad River TR 2 has perhaps a touch better traction and a slightly softer midsole.

John: Agree with Jeff and I will only comment that I felt that the Mad River TR 2 midsole is much softer and cushier than the Cascadia 15’s, at least during the initial break-in period.

Saucony Xodus 10 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The Xodus 10 is in the hunt for my favorite shoe this year.  It shares many of the attributes as the Cascadia in regards to fit, security, stability, traction, but the Xodus 10 is more responsive and quick, with better cushion.

La Sportiva Jackal (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The only aspect I would say the Jackal competes is traction, but otherwise, I found the Jackal to be a bit of a rough ride with firm cushion, tricky fit and instability in technical terrain.  The Cascadia outperforms the Jackal in every other aspect.

John: For me, the Jackal has a really harsh ride on anything runnable. While the Cascadia is also firm, I found it much more versatile and more secure in mellow to extreme terrain compared to the Jackal.

Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. 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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Josh said...

Are the updates worth getting the 15 or save some money and go with the 14?

Jeff Valliere said...

Sorry Josh, just seeing this a year later! 😊 I think the 14 and 15 are so similar, I would suggest a 14 at sale price. That said (now a year on), the upcoming 16 blows them both away and certainly worthy of consideration (8/1/21 release). Of course you will soon be able to get the 15 at a sale price, but would spring the extra money on the 16 personally.