Friday, July 25, 2008

Shoe Test and Review - Brooks Cascadia 3

Brooks Cascadia 3
Although I like my Merrell Overdrive trail shoes (see reviews) I am not 100% satisfied with them. I have been looking for a replacement shoe for a while and have settled on the Brooks Cascadia 3. Sweet! Runner's World awarded the new Cascadia 3 "Editor's Choice" in its Spring Trail Shoe Review published April, 2008. The Brooks website promotes the Cascadia 3 as “100-percent pure trail running shoe, with no artificial ingredients. Its groundbreaking Pivot Posting System is configured to enhance balance on uneven surfaces, helping prevent ankle sprains. Ballistic rock shield technology helps protect feet from rocks and blisters. Durable and long-wearing outsole compound results in premium wet-dry traction for excellent skid-resistance. Smart shoe upper keeps you comfortable in wet conditions: Breathable shoe mesh flushes water and dries quickly; hydrophobic foam in the shoe tongue and collar lining doesn't absorb water when wet. Full-length MoGo midsole provides a soft cushy feel without sacrificing stability. A great fit for neutral runners and mild overpronators, this off-road roamer is tough enough to take on any terrain--no matter how rough, wet, or steep”.

I don’t know about all that marketing talk but I do know I like these shoes. I took them on a 2+ hour run, right out of the box, over varied terrain and trail conditions, without encountering any major problems. How many shoes can offer that? I ran at one of my favorite locations,
Breakheart Reservation in Saugus, MA. My route consisted of mostly single and double track (technical and easy), rock outcroppings, some dirt fire roads and a small amount of paved road. The trail conditions were varied as well including, dry hard-pack, loose rock/dirt, mud, water and slick rocks. These terrain and surface conditions offered a true test of the shoe as they represent almost any situation you will encounter on a trail run.

I purchased the
Brooks Cascadia 3 1/2 size larger than what I normally wear. I felt I had more room in the toe-box by doing this without compromising fit. The shoe still fits snug in the mid-foot and heel. I did not get any blisters even though my feet were wet for most of the 2 hours and the shoes were not broken in. This is very important to me because I am prone to getting blisters. Speaking of wet feet, I ran through several deep water puddles during my run. The shoes drained very well and did not keep that wet, heavy feeling for long. One annoying thing was the squish, squish, squish sound coming from the wet shoes with every foot strike. It lasted longer than it should have but I did get used to it.

The shoes look a bit bulky and heavy but don’t perform that way. I actually had very good feel for the trail and the weight of the shoe seemed about average to me. The Cascadias have better shock absorption than the Merrell Overdrives I have been wearing the past few months. If fact, the Cascadias excel on hard trail surfaces providing good traction and impact protection. They also felt good on the small sections of paved road I ran. Certainly not as good as a road shoe but better than many other brands of trail shoes I have worn in the past. The shoes are well constructed and they appear to be very durable. Time will tell.

There were two areas were the shoes did not perform well. They are absolutely dangerous on smooth, wet rocks!! The first time I ran on wet rock my feet nearly came out from under me. It felt as if I was running on ice. Fortunately, I didn’t go down. Whenever I crossed over the granite outcroppings that are prevalent on the Ridge Trail in Breakheart, I had to slow down to a snail’s pace. Do yourself a favor and don’t wear the Brooks in wet conditions. I also had problems getting any traction on uphill sections where the trail was a combination of loose stones and dirt. This can be very exhausting if the hill is either long or steep. Going downhill was not any better under these trail conditions either. The shoe was not very sure-footed and kept sliding out from under me. I had to reduce my speed to maintain control. Not something you want to do when racing. As I said previously, the shoe is very solid and I’m sure the sole will last forever. I just wish Brooks sacrificed some durability and made the sole a little softer. This would give the shoe more grip on wet rocks and loose dirt/stone.

Although it has some flaws, I am very pleased with the new Brooks Cascadia 3. It is a very solid training shoe over a wide variety of terrain and surface conditions. I’ll update you on the shoe’s performance after I have logged more miles in them.

Enjoy the weekend…


  1. Thanks! My last pair of shoes was the Cascadia 2 and I have been trying to decide whether to go for this newer model or look elsewhere, and I found this review to be enough of a selling point to try the Cascadia 3.

  2. Hey Anon
    I ran in the 2s also but I think the 3s fit and perform better than it's predecessor. I'm glad my review was helppful and I hope they work out for you.


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