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Brooks Catamount - Women's Review

This protective and well-tractioned shoe has a semi-narrow and unforgiving fit, so it isn't the best choice for long-distance excursions
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brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review
Credit: Brooks
Price:  $160 List
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Manufacturer:   Brooks
By Ally Arcuri ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 14, 2022
70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 21
  • Foot Protection - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 20% 7.0
  • Sensitivity - 15% 6.0
  • Stability - 15% 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 5.0
  • Weight - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

If a rigid and protective shoe is what you are after, you might love the sensation of running in the Brooks Catamount. This lightweight trail runner has a 6mm drop with a TrailTack rubber outsole and a strong rock plate. The multidirectional lugs grip the dirt underfoot to keep you confident on slippery terrain. Sitting at 32mm at its highest, the Catamount is stacked with protective features, not fluff. While not the kindest feeling trail running shoe in our collection, the protective elements of the Catamount make for a safe, sticky, and mostly enjoyable ride.
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Protective
Well-tractioned
REASONS TO AVOID
Rigid
Somewhat uncomfortable
Unforgiving
Laces grab branches and sticks

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award 
Price $160 List
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Pros Lightweight, protective, well-tractionedComfortable, great traction, affordable, durable, packs out to fit your foot shapeGreat weight distribution, stable architecture, breathable upper, well-tractionedLight, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stableAffordable, responsive, beginner-friendly, familiar fit
Cons Rigid, somewhat uncomfortable, unforgiving, laces grab branches and sticksMight be too cushioned for some runners, slightly less sensitiveLace pocket is difficult to use, tight collar can bite into the ankle, pricyNarrow fit, runs small, rigid construction, takes time to break-inLess aggressive traction, runs slightly narrow
Bottom Line This protective and well-tractioned shoe has a semi-narrow and unforgiving fit, so it isn't the best choice for long-distance excursionsA great all-around trail shoe that hosts some of our favorite protective features, all for a relatively affordable priceA great trail shoe that offers a streamlined fit with a grippy, confidence-inspiring outsole built to tackle the most technical terrainStable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alikeAn affordable shoe that is perfect for novice runners who want to take their trail legs for a spin
Rating Categories Brooks Catamount -... Hoka Torrent 3 - Wo... Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Dynafit Feline SL -... Brooks Divide 3 - W...
Foot Protection (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Traction (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
6.0
Sensitivity (15%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Stability (15%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort and Fit (15%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
7.0
Weight (10%)
7.0
8.0
4.0
3.0
6.0
Specs Brooks Catamount -... Hoka Torrent 3 - Wo... Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 Dynafit Feline SL -... Brooks Divide 3 - W...
Measured Weight (per shoe) 7.94 oz (size 7) 7.48 oz (size 7) 8.68 oz (size 7) 9.45 oz (size 7) 8.04 oz (size 7)
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) 32 mm, 26 mm 21 mm, 16mm 26 mm, 18 mm Not disclosed 20 mm, 12 mm
Heel-to-Toe Drop 6 mm 5 mm 8 mm 8 mm 8 mm
Upper Engineered Mesh Mesh Anti-Debris mesh with sockliner Mesh, continuous nylon Mesh
Midsole DNA Flash EVA Energy Save PU foam with Profeel Film rock protection Feline SL midsole EVA
Outsole TrailTrack rubber Rubber Salomon Contagrip MA Sticky Pomoco Outer TrailTrack rubber
Rock Plate? Yes No Not disclosed Not disclosed No
Wide Version Available? No No Yes No No
Sizes Available 5 - 12 US 5 - 11 US 4 - 13 US 5 - 11 US 5 - 12 US

Our Analysis and Test Results

Despite its 32mm stack height, the Catamount is a rigid running shoe with a low sensitivity rating. This pair of trail shoes feels stable and protective in motion, but we don't necessarily recommend them for long-distance excursions because of how stiff they are.

Performance Comparison


brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - these stiff trail shoes are well-tractioned enough to grip to...
These stiff trail shoes are well-tractioned enough to grip to surfaces that might otherwise feel slippery.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Foot Protection


This metric is one of the best categories for the Catamount, as its protective features are tougher than many we have seen. The Catamount features a Ballistic Rock Shield between the midsole and outsole. This rock plate provides fantastic protection, but it is super noticeable while you run.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - the stiff rubber casing of the catamount helps make for a very...
The stiff rubber casing of the Catamount helps make for a very protective trail running shoe.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The stiff toe cap doesn't provide as much vertical wiggle room as we prefer, but it does a great job protecting toes from accidental rock stubs. A similar rubber runs around the entire lower body of the shoe, which adds an extra layer of protection from rogue sticks.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - the catamount doesn't provide the most well-cushioned landing...
The Catamount doesn't provide the most well-cushioned landing, despite its tall stack height.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The rubber-coated base and the engineered mesh come together atop the shoe to create a really protective outer body. Even after running super sandy trails, our feet hardly had any sand on them. We love the way the Catamount deflects water, sand, and other debris, especially because it further secured its place as one of the most protective shoes we tested.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - the rubber and engineered mesh upper is more protective than we...
The rubber and engineered mesh upper is more protective than we expected it to be.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Traction


The traction of the Catamount is really good for having such understated lugs. The lug shape and pattern provide a grippy surface that stands up to scree-covered trails. The three-pointed star-shaped lugs extend all the way up to the toe cap, a feature that we have grown to love. Having extra grippy components on the toe helps when you are trying to navigate tricky terrain.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - the traction pattern and lug shape create a grippy outsole. because...
The traction pattern and lug shape create a grippy outsole. Because these shoes didn't fit our feet exactly right, we never felt like we had the best control on technical terrain.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

We found that the traction of the Catamount wasn't as powerful due to the super rigid sole and lack of sensitivity. Toes need to have space to splay and act as grabbers for the terrain below. In our controlled tests, the traction on the Catamount scored amongst the most rugged trail shoes we tested. Unfortunately, when we took these trail kicks out into the field, the struggle to feel the trail beneath us led to more slips and twists than we are used to.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - since the lugs cover a multitude of directions, the catamount is...
Since the lugs cover a multitude of directions, the Catamount is much more well-tractioned than it appears.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Sensitivity


As we have mentioned, the Catamount sits at a high 32mm off the ground, and this is a fairly standard stack height in maximalist running shoes that boast a lot of underfoot cushion and protection. It has a rock plate embedded into its sole for protection, but the shoe's platform is just epically hard. This is, by far, the most rigid platform out of all of the shoes we've tested. When combined with its naturally thick stack height, the result is a shoe that lacks sensitivity. There is very little arch support, and this melds with the shoe's unforgiving exterior to inhibit foot movement. We felt like the thick sole, overall rigidity, and intrusive rock plate totally dampened any bit of sensitivity that this shoe had to offer.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - for short treks, the catamount is perfectly fine. but on our long...
For short treks, the Catamount is perfectly fine. But on our long testing runs, we found that the rigid structure began to make our feet hurt.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Stability


The Catamount is a super stable shoe if it fits your feet. Its polarizing and structure-forward design makes it a shoe that will either be stable or not, depending on the anatomy of your feet. For us, the shoe fit and provided us with a stable, albeit punishing, lineup of trail excursions. The Catamount has a 6mm drop, which is right within the realm of what we find to be incredibly stable. The heel only sits slightly higher than the toes, which keeps opportunities to roll ankles at bay. Because of the narrower-than-standard fit, this shoe holds your feet snug for added stability.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - while we didn't love the catamount as a whole for long-distance...
While we didn't love the Catamount as a whole for long-distance runs, they do provide pretty solid stability - as long as they fit your feet comfortably.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Comfort and Fit


On the surface, the Catamount is stiff and narrow. Unfortunately, neither of these elements changed, softened, or loosened up after our break-in period.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - the velcro gater trap is a nice feature.
The Velcro gater trap is a nice feature.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

The toe box is decently wide, but the firm edges don't entice your toes to splay while running. In fact, after a few runs in these shoes, we found that the outer edges and soles of our feet were incredibly sore. We run a lot of trails, and it is uncommon that we ever end up with sore feet or blisters. The heel cup on the Catamount is comfortable and snug, which did prevent slippage, so heel blisters weren't a problem.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - the heel cup is well-cushioned and pretty snug, which prevented it...
The heel cup is well-cushioned and pretty snug, which prevented it from slipping and sliding around while we ran.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Brooks advertises the Catamount as a responsive trail shoe, and for short jaunts, we found that the stiff platform is indeed quite responsive. For us, though, comfort is key for longevity on runs and in running as a sport. It just didn't feel worth it to pound trails in a shoe that left us feeling sort of desperate to take it off of our feet. This is especially true since other trail running shoes provide the same snappy launchpad without the pain.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - even without knowing about the strong launchpad embedded between the...
Even without knowing about the strong launchpad embedded between the midsole and the outsole, the Catamount looks speedy and narrow when compared to many of our other trail shoes.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

If you like a stiff shoe and have a narrower-than-average foot, you'll probably enjoy the sensation of running in the Catamount. It's not a bad running shoe; it just wasn't for us. Our final criticism is with the laces. To be clear, the lacebed is one of the more comfortable elements of the shoe, but the laces are very soft. Because the laces are so much softer, they attract everything that you pass. We struggled with getting tangled up in sticks, manzanita bushes, and more while running in the Catamount.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - wide, sandy trails like this one were pretty doable in the...
Wide, sandy trails like this one were pretty doable in the Catamount. But trails shrouded in thorns and bushes made us nervous as the laces attracted many trail accoutrements.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Weight


For all of its protective elements, the Brooks Catamount weighs in below average. With each womens' size 7 shoe weighing 7.94 ounces, this trail shoe earned great marks in this metric. We never felt like the weight of the Catamount was problematic as we ran. It is quite a lightweight shoe for having such great traction and a protective casing.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - though not the lightest shoe in the trail running world, it feels...
Though not the lightest shoe in the trail running world, it feels pretty light underfoot.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

Should You Buy the Brooks Catamount?


As is often the case, we recommend trying on your trail running shoes before you buy them. This is especially true for a shoe like the Catamount. This shoe is tricky. On the one hand, it has so many awesome features and is overall a great shoe. But on the other hand, it didn't fit us properly, so we had a really hard time settling into running in it. If the Catamount fits you and satisfies your trail running needs, it's likely to be a fantastic shoe. If you have wide feet and are prone to blisters, skip the Catamount and opt for something softer with a bit more space instead. But if a narrow and rigid shoe sounds like it might be the perfect match for you, enjoy the Catamount and all of the protection it offers.

brooks catamount for women trail running shoes review - we had pause in the catamount simply because it didn't feel quite as...
We had pause in the Catamount simply because it didn't feel quite as natural on our feet as many of the shoes we have grown accustomed to testing.
Credit: Ally Arcuri

What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?


We have fallen in love with other running shoes with narrow platforms and rigid exteriors — the Dynafit Feline SL is the top scorer in that category. The protective elements of the Feline are a bit stronger and, while narrow, the overall fit feels a bit more tailored. If the idea of a rigid shoe doesn't sound appealing, take a look at the Hoka Torrent 3 and the Saucony Peregrine 13. Both offer fantastic traction with a more flexible outsole; the Torrent has much more cushion than the speedy Peregrine. If you want a completely flexible shoe, check out our best overall trail running shoe for women, the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3.

Ally Arcuri
 

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