Brooks Cascadia 13 Trail Running Shoe Review
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The Brooks Cascadia has become a constant over the years among a world of change and chaos. While this shoe continues to evolve through steady innovation, it hasn’t forgotten its core discipline, to provide trail runners a shoe that provides cushion, traction, stability and protection.
The Brooks Cascadia 13 has seen many iterations over the years without freaking out runners with huge changes to this trail running shoe. Most changes have been subtle and positive, but over the 13 years, you’re not always going to get everything 100% right. There have been some minor goof ups including durability issues in the past, but to get better, we need to take some calculated risk to push the envelope and get better. I as a Brooks Cascadia veteran tester and user am still loyal to this shoe as it remains something that I can depend on for my trail running shoe needs. These needs include cushion, traction, stability and durability.
Brooks Cascadia 13 – New Features
The Cascadia has a few notable updates that I welcome. The first is a 3D printed mud guard that wraps around the front of the shoe to the beginning of the heal section in the rear. For most of us trail runners, we encounter mud and debris that finds a way to sneak into the footbeds of our shoes. To prevent some of this from happening, there is a thin layer of rubber that goes about 3/4 of an inch up from the midsole. For those who run in wet climates where you have puddles and sitting water, this can really help in keeping your shoes from getting saturated with water. This standard version is by no means waterproof, but it offers a little bit of protection from moisture getting in. For those looking for a waterproof trail running shoe, there is also a Gore-Tex version of the Brooks Cascadia 13.
To help with keeping debris out, the Brooks Cascadia 13 has added a gator strap on the back of the shoe. Gators are helpful on long trail runs to keep dirt and snow from getting into your shoe.
Another smaller feature/update in this shoe is a small cutout in the mudguard layer where your forefoot pivots. This is an area on almost all running shoes that is the first to wear out or get a whole in the fabric. This is not to say that you won’t get a hole in this section of the shoe after 400-500 miles, but you it shouldn’t cause any issues in the first few hundred miles.
It’s been said that the Cascadia 13 has a little more cushion, but I am finding it hard to distinguish the added cushion from previous models. I am a little jaded in the cushion category as I also run in the Brooks Cascadia and other highly cushioned running shoes such as Hoka.
The tongue of the Cascadia 13 now uses a material called Airaprene, think of neoprene (similar to what is used in wetsuits) but breathable. This reduces some of the bulk that is in the tongue of the shoe, although I haven’t noticed a big difference in the fit or performance.
The outsole of the Cascadia 13 provides plenty of traction for all types of trail conditions. I’ve tested this shoe in rocky and rooted trails, loose rock trails, snow and ice, and pavement. I’ve also been happy with the traction the Brooks Cascadia has offered and the Cascadia 13 is no different. For durability of the outsole, most outsoles outlive the upper of trail running shoes these days and I expect this will be the case for the 13.
Midsole Cushion and Stability
The Cascadia 13 offers plenty of cushion and stability for most trail runners. It falls in the middle of minimal and max cushion trail shoes. I would put it at a 7/10 for cushion in the range of shoes out on the market today. To keep the shoe a little more stabile on technical terrain, Brooks uses their Pivot technology that is a connected piece of stiffer EVA that sits on the back of the midfoot and the middle of the forefoot. This technology has been used for years in the Cascadia and offers the perfect blend of stability for most trail runners while still providing a smooth cushioned landing on each foot strike.
Reinforced 3D printed Upper
The upper of the Brooks Cascadia 13 trail running shoe has small stripes of 3D printed rubber material that sits on top of mesh fabric to provide structure to the upper. This goes from the rear of the shoe all the way to the front of the midfoot. The top of the forefoot remains an open mesh to allow for some flexibility and breathability. I am not sure all of this printing is needed near the rear of the shoe, but I also don’t see it to be an issue. At the end of the day, it if it provides a structural sound upper that isn’t too bulky and doesn’t weigh too much, I am happy.
The Fit of the Brooks Cascadia 13 is similar to it’s recent versions. I found it to the toe box to fit the average forefoot width well and it was a little snug, but not overly snug for wider feet. My second time out testing these shoes was on a 50k trail race with 4500 ft of ascent and 4500 ft of decent. Through the race, I never felt my foot sliding around and I didn’t get any blisters which is always a nice feeling in the 2nd time out testing a shoe. I tested out a size 12.5 and found the length of the shoe to be a smidge long, but not to the point that I would want to size down to a 12.
Overall, I think the Brooks Cascadia 13 has some welcomed updates and the shoe has performed similar to previous models in that it provides cushion, traction, and durability. Visit brooksrunning.com or rei.com/brooksrunning for more info.