Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX Review

Article by Alexandra Zvezdin

Brooks Cascadia 17 GTX ($170)


  • Protective ride even when sharp, random rocks pop out. 

  • Solid and stable, even on rugged trails. 

  • Wide toe box is comfortable right out of the box. 

  • Good traction on mud and wet rocks. 

  • Gore-Tex bootie keeps the splashes out for a bit longer than the regular version. 


  • Cascadia 17 fell a bit flat for me on hard surfaces perhaps due to the stiffer upper GTX fabric and increased stack height m usually a fan of shoes that don’t have a big stack height and are on the stiffer side. I never like the feeling of cushioning if I feel my stride being absorbed by the shoe instead of propelling me forward. 

  • There was an initial break-in period after which this improved, but I wish this shoe was just a bit more springy and the ride more progressive. 


Sample Weight: women's 11.05 oz /  314g (US10)

Stack Height: 36mm heel (measured) / 28 mm forefoot ( 8mm drop spec) 

$170.  Available now.

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Alex: Cascadias have been a part of my rotation since the 13s and I always “feel at home” when I lace them up. I’m happy to still say this so many versions later. The fit is true to size for me at a women’s 10B. 

The shoes were comfortable right out of the box with enough space in the toes for my almost wide foot and no rubbing or pressure points anywhere. 

Fit wise, the upper allows enough space for my high volume foot while the heel cup hugs my narrower heels. The laces are “grippy” and allow for a locked-in feeling throughout the run. 

Although the sole is completely redesigned, the upper and laces are similar to the previous version while 48.3% of it is made of recycled materials (which is really exciting!). I did prefer the more minimalist look of the previous version. The mesh has less aeration than the regular version, which is not a bad thing considering the scenarios in which I would use this shoe. 

Just as in previous versions, the toe box is reinforced with a plastic film that wraps around the side, a great way to prevent premature use of the mesh. 

Nothing extremely negative so far, but I did notice the tongue to be different than the regular version. It’s narrower and instead of being gusseted with an elastic band, it’s sewn pretty far down, perhaps midway through the upper foot. This with the narrow tongue leaves a good part of the upper potentially open to debris or water getting in. This seems like a risky design choice for a trail and GTX shoe. The back loop dies have velcro though so gaiter attachment remains a possibility in this version and offers a potential solution to water/debris getting in from the top. 

Midsole & Platform

Alex: I was really excited to test the Trail Adapt plate in the Cascadia 17. Despite gaining ~2mm in stack height, stability is still outstanding. Adding the protection of the cushioning and the plate, the Cascadia 17 is a good choice for long technical running at slower paces and hiking.

The midsole is firm, and so I expect the ride to be on the stiffer side. Right out of the box, the 17 feels quite flat on packed surfaces, but this seems to improve with time. In the first few runs I did not feel any energy return on packed surfaces. In fact my stride seems to be a distinct 2 step process with landing and then take-off without any rolling in between. Perhaps this is due to the increased stack height and initial stiffness.

Although this seems to improve after an initial break-in period, the feeling lingers. I don’t remember having this experience with either of my Cascadia 16 pairs. Although the C16 was also a stiff shoe, the ride felt more progressive. This might be a result of me spending a significant amount of time running gravel and urban trails in the Levitate, which has DNA AMP PU foam. To be completely fair to the shoe I did 3 sets of 30/30 intervals on gravel and a VO2 max session on the road in wet slush and found the ride to be just fine for faster speeds with the progression in the stride better than on my first long slow-paced run in them. 

I am still curious to see how the new midsole will feel in combination with a lot more snow on the ground and to see how the foam behaves with a lot more use.


Alex: The outsole is grippy and performs really well in mud and is amazing on wet rocks, outperforming the Cascadia 16’s. I trust this shoe and would feel confident on wet trails, technical terrain and even on easy scrambles. The lugs are firm which is promising in terms of durability. I expect the midsole to give out before the lugs get chewed. For me, this is a big plus and the rubber is 25% recycled!

I’m a bit sad to see the lug width change. In the past winters I added carbide tips to my Cascadias to make them a great winter shoe, even on ice. This won’t be possible since the carbide tips will not fit on the much narrower lugs.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Alex:The Cascadia 17 GTX is a heavy duty trail runner. The new updates improve grip which should translate really well to wet shoulder-season and winter running. 

The sole re-design remains a bit of a question mark for me since I had to break-in the shoe for the ride to feel anything else than flat on hard-packed surfaces which was not the case in previous versions. 

After a handful of runs, the Cascadias does feel better on packed surfaces and does ok at faster paces with the ride feeling more progressive. I think unless one plans to use this shoe in a door-to-trail scenario where the road part is long and must be run FAST, this detail should not matter. 

On trails, the Cascadia 17 GTX offers amazing grip, stability, protection and a very comfortable ride. Wearing these shoes allows me to focus on what’s ahead instead of what’s under my feet. 

The GTX did great in muddy conditions and my feet remained dry despite running in water-logged mud and puddles, but these were never very deep. I tested the shoes when temperatures were hovering around -4 Celsius and ran warm, which will likely be a good thing for cold winter runs. 

As someone who is unlikely to pick any GTX shoe in a situation when water can get in from above, I think winter running in “dry” snow, or trail running in wet (but not pouring) conditions are the best applications for the Cascadia 17 GTX. I did test the shoes in a drizzle with melting snow on the ground. Just about as wet as it gets. While slush and water didn’t get to my toes, water quickly entered the shoe and soaked in the tongue. Gaiters would solve this. 

I ran warm using the GTX in 3 degrees C and ultimately my feet were wet because of both water & sweat. I’m pretty confident this shoe will shine during long cold runs in the winter (when the snow is dry), but I can’t see myself using it in the torrential rains of summer (way too hot for GTX!). 

As always with Brooks,  the pricing is extremely reasonable and durability is likely to be great, so I think this is a solid choice if you want a shoe that will last for adventurous long runs when distance, and not speed, is the objective. Aside friom slower paced runs, the Cascadias will also be great hikers that will keep you comfortable all day and with the new grip you can explore trails beyond the beaten path without issues. 

Compared to other trail runners, this one is still on the heavy side, but also on the more durable side. I always wonder if we will ever see a significantly lighter and just as capable Cascadia.

Score: 9.2/10 

deductions for ride, weight & looks.


Review of non GTX version of the Cascadia 17 HERE

The Cascadia 17 GTX is available from our partners

Use our code RTR235 for 5% off all products

Tester Profile

Alexandra Zvezdin is a ski mountaineering racer on Canada’s National team. She splits her time between Montreal and wherever skiing takes her. Since she learned how to ski in 2019, she can’t wait for winter, but summer is becoming a-okay with trail running… As long as it’s uphill (1000m+ anyone!?) or hard intervals if it must be on flat roads. Her casual half-marathon time is 1:45 and 10km time is 42:50 and she’d like to break 40. She earned her masters degree in Biology from Memorial University (NL) while leading field work in Haida Gwaii (BC). The verdict of this coast to coast life? (Be)east coast trails are still the most rugged and make excellent technical runners! She loves mountains of the northeast and dreams of chasing a short distance steep FKT one day if she can avoid to face plant in the process ;) You can find her on IG @whatforwho 

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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