Brooks Cascadia 15 - Women's Review
Cons: Poor on sloppy surfaces, fit isn't precise, heavier design
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Brooks Cascadia 15 is a durable and comfortable trail shoe boasting an 8mm heel-to-toe drop with ample cushioning underfoot. It's an excellent choice for those that long for a protective and comfortable ride, with built-in stability elements. We only wish the fit could be locked for a more precise ride.
The Cascadia is renowned for its protective elements including a ballistic rock plate and thick underfoot cushioning. The midsole has 18mm of cushioning in the forefoot, with 26mm in the heel. The toe cap is hard, protecting against unsuspecting stubs on the trail. We also appreciate the upper mesh designed to keep out pesky debris. It doesn't have a water drainage system, but the mesh does squish out water decently on the trail after running through a rogue stream. Overall, this is a protective shoe and earns a higher score in this category.
The outsole on the Cascadia 15 is made from Trail Track rubber which is sticky and soft with 4mm lugs. It offers a moderate level of traction across surfaces. We tested it while running on a single track littered with rocks, gravel, and pine needles. We also tried it while scrambling on rocky ridges. In all conditions, the outsole performed well. However, it doesn't earn top marks because the lugs aren't spaced far enough apart to shed mud and it struggles in colder winter weather.
Since this contender is protective, it has a sensitivity that is less than average. However, you can still detect what is underfoot, allowing you to adjust positioning as need. It doesn't earn top marks in this metric but will still help you feel confident on most types of terrain.
We appreciate the stable ride of the Cascadia 15. This is in part due to the new wider forefoot that offers nice balance while you head down the trail. The pivot post system offers four points of rigidity on the shoe that is said to enhance stability overall.
While it earns a pretty excellent score in this category, it doesn't deserve the very highest marks. This is mostly related to the lack of a precise fit, allowing the foot to move around in the shoe. Though the stability elements and design mostly counteract this, it's something to pay attention to.
Comfort and Fit
We love the new design of the 15. This overhaul touts a more comfortable fit that doesn't have any pinch points or places of discomfort, as we noted in the previous version. It has a wider toe box with lots of wiggle room and a larger volume in the toe box. It touts a neutral fit without any arch support with an EVA-infused midsole that is reactive on the trail.
The cushioning is a little more rigid than other contenders, which takes away from its comfort rating. Additionally, we couldn't find a way to get a precise fit. The wider fit in the body and heel cup can't be locked down in position, no matter what lacing style was tried. Still, the ample cushioning underfoot is comfortable for the long haul, especially if you like the fit and want a harder and more reactive midsole.
While the 15 is a little lighter than it's been in the past, it still feels heavier on the trail and isn't very streamlined. A size 9 weighs in at 10 oz per shoe. The undercarriage feels like a heavier brick with an ultralight upper, so the weight distribution was, for us, a little off.
The Cascadia model is renowned for its durable elements that will last for a few hundred miles before needing retirement. If you are looking for a stable and protective trail runner, and don't need it to be ultralight, this durable contender is a great value. That said, other options perform better for the same price. So while it has its niche purpose, there are better deals out there.
The Brooks Cascadia 15 saw another overhaul during this iteration with updates that we like. It's a protective and durable trail shoe that boasts comfort and stability. The toe box is much wider, offering a more stable ride for long days on the trail. Just know that getting a precise fit can be tough.
— Amber King
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