Sunday, March 17, 2024

Brooks Catamount Agil Multi Tester Review Named Just Right! 6 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark, Jeff Valliere, and John Tribbia

Brooks Catamount Agil ($180)


The Catamount Agil is an all new trail runner from Brooks. It features the same  new DNA Flash v2 nitrogen infused supercritical foam as their top road racer the Hyperion Elite on a relatively low  27mm heel / 21mm full stack height. Above the 5mm lug Trail Tack outsole we have a PEBAX Speed Vault Trail plate. Clearly a speed trail shoe for technical terrain and weighing a mere 7.7 oz  / 218 g ( men’sUS9) let’s see how it performed.


Lightweight and agile: Renee/Jeff V/John

Upper secure/ankle flex: Renee/Jeff V

Light, responsive and nimble:  Jeff V

Well executed ankle “gaiter”: Jeff V/John

Great cushion for a minimal shoe: Jeff V

Good traction for its class:  Jeff V/John

Secure lacing:  Jeff V


Overlay placement across toe box: Renee

Terrain specific shoe: Renee/John


Weight: men's 7.7 oz  / 218 g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

  Samples: men’s  7.62 oz / 216g US8.5 ,  men’s  8.25 oz / 233g US10 

Women’s 6.72oz / 191g (US8) 

Stack Height: men’s 27 mm heel / 21 mm forefoot ( 6 mm drop spec) 

5mm lug outsole

Platform Width: 80 mm heel / 60 mm midfoot / 100 mm forefoot

$180  Available March 1, 2024 

Most comparable shoes 

Merrell Skyfire Matryx 2

VJ Lightspeed 


Salomon S/Lab Pulsar

Salomon Trail Pro

NNormal Kjerag

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Non stretch engineered “mono mesh” type materials with suede like underlays and external overlays. Stretch knit tongue and rear collars.

Renee: The Catamount Agil is a more “agile” version of the Catamount 3 (RTR Review), which is already a fast, agile shoe. Both shoes are fun and a clear upgrade to the Brooks trail lineup. 

If you like light, fast, and agile shoes, the Agil has everything you need. My usual women’s size 8 in Brooks felt and fit great. The toe box has good width without feeling sloppy. The booty style upper is very secure. The knit stretches tight around my ankles, basically like a gaiter. I have a low volume foot, narrow heels, and relatively small ankles. The shoe takes some effort to get on but feels like an extension of my foot. The ankle fabric is very flexible and allows for complete movement of the foot/ankle. 

The shoe is sheer fun on singletrack. My only minor complaint about the shoe is a personal fit issue. The overlay around the medial side toe box hit my toe just right, causing some irritation. 

John: My first impressions of the Catamount Agil were impressive! It definitely lives up to the hype of being a more agile version of the already fast Catamount. It's sleek, lightweight, and screams speed. 

To me, the fit is interesting. I agree with Renee that it's a clear upgrade to the Brooks trail lineup in terms of being more form-fitting and snug. My size US9 felt good overall, but I have a slightly narrow foot and can see how the slim fit and narrower toe box might not be suitable for everyone, especially those with wider feet.

The upper is definitely a standout. The booty-style design Renee mentioned is spot on. It features a stretch knit half-bootie tongue construction that integrates seamlessly with the mesh material. This design provides a sock-like fit and helps prevent debris from entering the shoe. Additionally, the tongue itself is constructed with a breathable and lightweight material that doesn't add unnecessary bulk or weight. 

The locked in feel was especially noticeable on uneven terrain where I felt confident and supported with each step. I like the stretchy knit around the ankles; it acts like a built-in gaiter, keeping debris out and adding an extra layer of security. However, I can also understand Renee’s minor complaint about the medial side toe box overlay. 

While the fit was good for me, I can see how that specific area might cause irritation for some runners, especially on longer runs. Overall, the first impression of the Catamount Agil's fit and upper is positive. It's lightweight, secure, and feels like an extension of your foot, perfect for attacking technical terrain with confidence. It's important to keep in mind, however, that the narrower fit might not be suitable for everyone.

Jeff V: The Agil showing up at my door kind of surprised me and I was quite impressed by its lightweight, streamlined design and it just looks fast and race ready!  I have been a big fan of the Catamount since its inception, but find it to be best suited for faster running on non technical trails, so the Agil appears to be a nice alternative for more technical trails.  

The booty style mesh upper takes a little work to slide on (not the type of shoe to slip into for a quick trip to the mailbox), but is not at all difficult and once the shoe is on, the upper is exceptionally comfortable with a nice socklike feel and snug hug, even before cinching the laces down.  In fact, I think I could completely remove the laces and the Agil would be secure enough for all but the hardest downhills on technical trails, the upper is that good. 

Fit is true to size in my normal size 10 and security is very good in the heel, midfoot and toe.  I would classify the Agil fit as race like, with an adequately wide toe box and while not roomy per se, is compliant enough to not feel at all confining.

The laces are serrated, with a “crinkle cut” fry type of design-similar if not identical to what are used on many carbon road shoes such as the Nike Alphafly. They provide a very nice positive feel as you tighten them.  The “tongue”, or at least what would normally be considered a tongue, has a nice little strip of padding to protect the top of the foot from any lace pressure. 

Snugging the laces is a one and done experience and is somewhat of a formality given the overall security upon step in.

The stretch material around the heel collar is amazing and conforms nicely around my thin ankle, feeling very comfortable, with no rub and is just enough to keep out trail debris.  

I have mentioned this before, but in a message to all shoe manufacturers, please do more of these collars, as it makes so much obvious sense!

The heel counter is thin and flexible, with just enough strategically placed padding to be very comfortable, secure and stable.  

The toe cap is not obvious, but the material there is a thicker weave and offers a baseline level of protection.

The orange diagonal lateral overlays on either side provide structure and support to what might otherwise be considered an overly stretchy upper.  While I think the design is effective, I do notice the somewhat thick overlays as the shoe flexes and creates a significant crease at its maximum flexion point which is far forward and decisive.  

While I have not encountered any discomfort, rubbing or soreness, it was slightly annoying at first.  I think this has subsided some over time as the shoe breaks in, or maybe I have just gotten more used to it.  I also notice it less the faster I am running, perhaps because I am more focused on the speed and effort.  

Upper security is very good for fast running in technical terrain and I have no issues on most technical trails, but do notice just a slight bit of give on very steep off trail descents or sidehilling, but is still very controllable and not at all an issue.

Midsole & Platform

Nitrogen infused DNA Flash v2 midsole foam. Same foam as in Hyperion Elite 4 marathon shoe and 10% lighter than Flash v1 foam found in the original Catamount. Speed Vault Trail PEBAX propulsion and protection plate.

Renee: The midsole is comfortable and  built for speed rather than cushion. My longest run was 3.5 hours, getting just over 200 ft of gain per mile (about as good as I can get without running the same big hill over and over). For that kind of terrain of climbing or constant ups and downs (and switchbacks), the shoes have enough comfort. If I was running on flatter terrain I’d need more comfort underfoot. Brooks lists the shoe for up to 40k, which is runner specific I think. No doubt the shoe is a great choice for short and fast efforts, namely routes with big climbs and vert. 

John: I agree with Renee that the Agil's midsole and platform prioritize responsiveness and agility above all else. The shoe truly comes alive on technical trails, especially when rock hopping and tip-toeing is required. The lively and energetic feel with each step makes it a joy to navigate tricky terrain. While the Catamount Agil provided enough comfort for my usual runs, I echo Renee's observation that the focus on responsiveness might not be ideal for prioritizing long-distance comfort, especially on flat surfaces. Like Renee, I found the shoe to be a phenomenal uphill performer, especially on challenging terrain with significant elevation gain. However, for flatter runs and longer distances, I would also prefer a shoe with more cushioning. In those cases, I would likely opt for the original Catamount for its better balance between responsiveness and long-distance comfort.

Jeff V:  The Nitrogen-infused DNA Flash v2 midsole is notably lighter feeling, has a softer feel and is more responsive than v1 Flash foam.  Combined with the Speed Vault Trail PEBAX propulsion/protection plate, the Agil is exceptionally quick and energetic, be it on the flats, uphill or downhill and is exceptionally light and snappy on the uphills. The light feel of the shoe combined with the Speed Vault plate is a winning formula for fast and/or long hill climbs or rolling terrain.  While the stack height is somewhat on the minimal side, I find the cushioning to feel surprisingly soft and sufficient for several hours or more of running, without feeling beat up.  The plate adds a nice level of protection (and propulsion) from rocks under foot, while still being flexible enough to contour over the terrain and not feel unstable.


Renee: I ran in some light snow and mud with the Agil, and the 5mm lugs had great  grip and traction. Even on flat and smoother areas, the lugs aren’t obtrusive or uncomfortable. The plate helps some in terms of protection. On debris-covered trails, the lugs worked great. If going off-trail occasionally the Agil is a fun option. 

John: Building on what Renee said, I also found the 5 mm lugs on the Agil's outsole to be excellent for grip and traction. During my runs, I encountered various conditions, including loose gravel, wet rocks, and snow and mud. In all these situations, the aggressive lugs provided confident footing and prevented any slipping or sliding. Even on flat sections, the lugs weren't overly noticeable or uncomfortable underfoot. 

I also appreciated the added protection offered by the PEBAX plate, especially on trails littered with debris. The combination of the lugs and plate instilled a sense of security and confidence when navigating technical terrain. While I wouldn't recommend the Agil for extensive off-trail exploration, it certainly held its own during my occasional off-piste ventures. 

Overall, the Agil's outsole lives up to the hype, delivering exceptional grip and traction on diverse trail conditions. This, coupled with the added protection from the plate, makes it a reliable companion for technical trails and adventurous runners.

Jeff V:  Along the lines of Renee and John’s observations, I have found the Agil’s TrailTack Green outsole to be very good on a wide variety of terrain and conditions.  Having run on wet and dry trails, rocky slab, loose dirt, snow, ice, slush, mud and loose off trail, dirt roads, paved roads, they do quite well overall. That said, while the outsole is overall very effectively versatile and great for a wide variety of trails/conditions, I wouldn’t pick the Agil for extended use over truly loose, rugged high mountain terrain or very challenging off trail.  So far, durability seems to be average, with just minimal wear on the front most forefoot lugs from running up steep, rocky trails

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: The Agil is a fun shoe for its purpose. Runners who like ground feel and lots of control will enjoy this shoe. There’s not a lot of cushion underfoot for long runs, but when constantly climbing or hitting switchbacks, the shoe worked fine for me up to 3.5 hours and I imagine more efficient runners can go farther. Brooks lists the shoes for up to 40k, so it’s clearly not their ultra distance option anyway; look to the regular Catamount or Caldera for that. 

The upper is super secure, and my one nitpicking comment is the overlay on the already non-stretch mesh upper is a bit harsh across my big toe. Personal problem. For daily training or longer efforts, the regular Catamount is a better shoe. For shorter and faster efforts, and especially anything technical, the Agil wins. Both Brooks shoes are great. 

Renee’s Score: 9.3/10 (-.20 distance/terrain specific, -.50 overlay/non stretch upper)  


John: The Catamount Agil prioritizes agility and responsiveness, targeting runners who want speed and agility on challenging trails. Its strengths lie in its lightweight construction, responsive midsole, aggressive lugs, and secure upper. It excels for short-distance races and on technical terrain, offering a fun and engaging experience for performance-focused runners. That said, the low stack  of cushioning might not be ideal for long distances or flat surfaces. 

For a plusher ride on longer distances, flatter terrain, wider feet, or a more forgiving fit, the original Catamount might be a better choice. 

The Catamount Agil is a niche shoe designed for a specific type of runner. If you prioritize lightweight performance and technical prowess, it's worth considering, but other trail shoe options might be better suited for comfort-seekers or those tackling longer distances or flatter terrain.

John’s Score:  9/10


Ride: 9 - Agile and fast on the uphills

Fit: 9 - Perfect glove like fit for my slightly narrow foot; if I had a wide foot, I would rate lower

Value: 8 - Decent value, but a bit unidimensional

Style: 10 - Feels like a nod to the ‘90s and I love it

Traction: 9.5 - great lugs that dig into varied terrain

Rock Protection: 9 - decent ground feel + protection overall

Jeff V:  I find the Agil to be a blast to run in, as they are light, responsive, nimble, “Agile”, well protected and well cushioned given the lower stack and more minimal nature of the shoe.  They are super quick uphill, on rolling terrain, good on the downhills and have enough traction to perform well on most trails and in most conditions.  

The Agil is ideal for a shorter, to mid distance race shoe or high tempo training or PR effort sort of shoe on moderately technical terrain or even some technical terrain in the mix without any issues.  

The booty style upper and glove like fit adds to the experience, making the Agil feel like an extension of your foot.  While I notice a bit of a creasing of the overlays as the shoe flexes, it seems to break in a bit over time and becomes less noticeable (and has not been a problem), but would like to see this softened a little on the next version.

Jeff V’s Score:  9.3/10


Ride: 9.5 - Energetic, light and fast with good cushion for the weight

Fit: 9.5 - Glove-like fit and very precise, yet comfortable.

Value: 9 - $180 is pricey, but you get a very high level of performance

Style: 9 - They are definitely sporty and fast looking

Traction: 9 - very good all around traction

Rock Protection: 9 - a great blend of protection and flexibility

6 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE

Catamount Agil

Weight: men's 7.7 oz  / 218 g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 26 mm heel / 16 mm forefoot ( 10mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: 80 mm heel / 60 mm midfoot / 100 mm forefoot


Merrell Skyfire 2 Matryx (RTR Review)

7.6oz  / 215g (US9)

31.5mm heel / 24mm forefoot  (6mm drop spec) 

Platform Width: Someone please measure


Renee: Probably the closest comparison. Both shoes have minimal cushion and fantastic ground feel. Both work great for fast uphill sor technical terrain efforts. I have a preference for the Matryx upper. It’s secure, comfortable, and so far indestructible. The Agil upper is great, but the toe box overlay dug into my big toe. For flatter terrain, the Agil has a slight amount of additional comfort and a broader platform. Sizing was similar for me. 

Jeff V:  Agreed with Renee.  I will add that the Agil in my opinion has a bit better cushion (softer and slightly better protective underfoot), so I feel like I could go a bit longer in the Agil than I could the Skyfire.  I also find the Skyfire has better traction in more loose, technical terrain.

VJ Lightspeed (RTR Review)

Renee: Sizing for the Lightspeed was tricky for me. I’m probably between half sizes in this shoe, and had significant issues with the thick upper creasing uncomfortably across my big toe. I had a minor issue with this on the Agil because of the overlay. For speed on more mellow terrain, the Lightspeed has more cushion and propulsion from the plate. The shoe was difficult for me to control for that reason while on uneven terrain. 

VJ MAXx2 (RTR Review)

Approx. weight: men's 8.47 oz  / 240g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

Stack Height: men’s 31 mm heel / 25 mm forefoot ( 6 mm drop) 

Platform Width: 80 mm heel / 60 mm midfoot / 100 mm forefoot


John: The lighter Agil, with its flexible plate, prioritizes explosive speed for short races and climbs. In contrast, the slightly heavier plateless MAXx2 balances responsiveness with cushioning, offering a more comfortable ride for both racing and training runs, particularly on longer distances. 

Jeff V:  Agreed with John and will also add that I find the MAXx 2 to be more competent in technical terrain with superior grip.

Salomon S/Lab Pulsar SG (RTR Review)

Estimated Weight: men's  6.9 oz / 195g (US9) 

  Sample: men’s 7.13 oz / 202g (US9.5)

Full Stack Height: unisex heel 32 mm (measured)  / 26 mm forefoot, 6mm drop


John: The Catamount Agil and S/Lab Pulsar SG prioritize lightweight performance for short, technical runs. The Agil offers a slightly more forgiving ride and broader platform with a flexible plate and moderate cushioning, while the SG emphasizes an aggressive, propulsive feel with better traction on rock surfaces and comparable cushion.

Jeff V:  John gives a great comparison.  I much prefer the Agil between the two for just about any run outside of a pure uphill all out effort.  I find the Agil to be more stable, better cushioned for longer distances and with a more comfortable upper overall for longer distances.

NNormal Kjerag (RTR Review)

Weight: men's 7.59 oz / 215g US8.5 given fit equivalent US9  

Stack Height: men’s 23.5 mm heel / 17.5 mm forefoot (6mm drop spec) 


Jeff V:  Close in specs, both are great shoes and quite fast, but I  find the Agil to overall be more fun, secure and better in technical terrain than the Kjerag, as the Kjerag can feel a bit thin underfoot at times and the Agil has much better traction on a wider range of surfaces.

Hoka Zinal 2 (RTR Review)

Approx.weight: men's 7.4 oz  / 209g (US9)  /  women's oz / g (US8)

Samples: men’s 7.15 oz / 203g US8.5 (v1 8.18 oz / 232g US8.5),7.5 oz / 214g US 10, 8.4oz /       239g US 12

Stack Height: men’s 30 mm heel / 25 mm forefoot ( 5mm drop spec)


Jeff V:  Probably the closest comparison with the most similar design.  I could perhaps flip a coin on either of these two, with perhaps an edge to the Agil with a more dynamic and exciting midsole.

Please Watch Mike Postaski's Catamount Agil Video Review with Detailed Comparisons

The Catamount Agil is available now

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Tester Profiles

Renee is a former U.S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

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 every day.

Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not.  On the side he loves to ski (all forms) bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.

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'.

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

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1 comment:

Charly said...

The mesh issue around the toes is actually a lot more problematic that that. Got a blister there every time I do steep uphill, which essentially makes it unusable for any fast steep uphill... quite an issue for a shoe designed for VK and short races. The white upper also very easily gets stained, which is a shame cause the shoe looks great otherwise. I was expecting a great race shoe, will likely turn to a hill workout at best, unfortunately!