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Hands-on Gear Review
Brooks Cascadia 12 - Women's Review
Cons: Heavy, does not do well in wet weather
Bottom line: This classic traditional trail runner provides unbeatable comfort and protection on the trails all day long.
The Brooks Cascadia 12 is a wonderful update for the Cascadia which has earned a strong reputation for its comfort and rugged versatility. This traditional shoe features a new trail outsole that has been updated for better stability and flexibility (and overall comfort) with a new pivot post system. In addition, the shoe feels a little wider than its predecessor with a wider fit through the arch and an updated upper that both breathes and protects well. We love its traction over a variety of surfaces and truly believe that it can go anywhere. Our caveat with this shoe is that it's one of the heaviest in this review but it sheds mud better than past models! In addition, it's highly absorbent and does not dry out quickly, which makes it a better option for dry weather. Other than that, it's built for a plethora of trail surfaces and does well in most environments that aren't super wet. Take it for short training runs or ultra distances through the mountain.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's Trail Running Shoes for 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
A traditional and super classic trail running shoe with a wider toe box and unique sensitivity, the Cascadia 12 can go anywhere from technical trails to the road.
The Cascadia 12 sports all the best components of a protective trail runner. Scoring eight of ten in foot protection, it comes outfitted with a protective forefoot rock plate, rigid sole, and BioMoGo DNA foam blend though the midsole. The stack height is 27 mm, much higher than most shoes tested, which offers optimal protection in the form of cushion.
The forefoot has great flexibility with a harder toe cap comparable to the New Balance Leadville v3 - Women's that protects from unsuspecting stubs. The updated upper provides great protection from trail debris and is recommended for all types of terrain; in addition, we've found it's much more breathable than previous iterations.
Scoring a seven out of ten for traction this shoe has above average traction and performs well on most surfaces. The 4 mm rubber lugs have a variety of shapes that has changed with this iteration. We've found this new outsole to be quite bitty without having to dig in too much.
The only surfaces this outsole did not exceed on is wet, rocky surfaces. We found the shoe to slip and slide (much like many of the contender). While traction is great, they don't provide as much traction as the Salming Elements and Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's on soft surfaces like mud and deep snow. That said, this iteration did a much better job at shedding mud, but not as good as the aforementioned shoes in this section.
This shoe maximizes stability by combining and (in this year's model) connecting four stability posts. This new model is indeed much more flexible and nimble, adding to its stability overall. With a 27 mm of cushion in the heel and 17 mm in the heel, this is one of the highest shoes tested. That said, with a wider forefoot the width: stack height ratio is about average. It's not as unstable as the Merrell Agility Peak Flex, but more stable than the Saucony Peregrine 7 and La Sportiva Bushido. Scoring a seven out of ten for stability, we think this shoe is a great option for all sorts of terrain - technical to mellow trails.
Comfort & Fit
The Cascadia 12 offers great comfort and is recommended for those with medium to high arches. The midsole provides ample cushioning that allowed us to lace up and charge through 10 miles of running - out of the box. With 28 mm of cushion that is firm and responsive, we awarded this shoe with a seven out of ten for comfort. If you're looking for a shoe that offers softer cushion, check out the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR 3 - Women's.
This year's iteration feels wider than its predecessor. As a result, we'd recommend it for those with medium to high arches (there is arch support!) and for feet that are narrow to wide. This shoe is a great alternative to the Saucony Xodus ISO 2 if you're looking for burly protection, but need a wider, more comfortable fit. We also found that this is a great shoe for both heel and forefoot strikers alike because of the ample cushioning throughout.
Probably one of the biggest downsides to this classic trail runner is its weight. Earning a four out of ten, this shoe is heavy when wet and dry. Weighing in at 11.2 oz (dry) and holding 5.5 oz of water when wet, this shoe is not our top recommendation for feeling light or fast on the trail. It also took really long to air dry in comparison to the rest (~2 days). If you're looking for a super lightweight shoe, be sure to check out the Nike Terra Kiger 4 - Womens (8. 55 oz) or the less absorbent New Balance Leadville Trail v3 (absorbing only 3.1 oz of water).
Scoring a seven out of ten, we were surprised at the sensitivity of this shoe! Even with 27mm of stack height in the heel and 21 mm in the forefoot, we still felt like the forefoot is flexible enough to be nimble and quick. The added cushion does takes a little bit away from the "trail feel," which is an implicit trade-off for a cushioned ride, but not like the Saucony Xodus ISO 2. Needless to say, Brooks does a great job balancing just the right amount of sensitivity with comfort.
This is a highly versatile shoe that performs just about anywhere and fits those with wide to narrow feet! Yay! We liked it most for all trail surfaces (that weren't too sloppy) and all distances. We especially thought it was a great crossover shoe that could also take the technical trails!
For only $130 (a small increase from its predecessor) you get a classic trail shoe that does well in most terrain. Despite the lower score for this shoe (there is some seriously stiff competition), we still think this is a great value for its performance.
The Brooks Cascadia 12 is a reliable traditional trail runner that is incredibly versatile and protective. The new outsole provides more stability and flexibility while grabbing most surfaces that aren't too sloppy. If you're in need of a wider traditional shoe that can go anywhere for any distance, we recommend trying this trail runner - just avoid it for wet weather.
— Amber King
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