Brooks Cascadia 17 & Cascadia 17 GTX Review
Many Brooks customers have been looking forward to our Brooks Cascadia 17 review. The Brooks Cascadia 16 was very different to the previous generations. The Cascadia 17 has kept many of the changes that were made to the 16 but they have been tweaked a bit. Depending on your foot shape and the terrain that you are running on, these changes could be positive or negative.
The fit has changed. A snugger, more locked in fit has been created by a reduction in volume in the forefoot of the Cascadia 17 than there was in the Cascadia 16. They are also a little narrower. The toe box still has a nice straight toe line but the roomier fit of the 16 has changed. The lockdown from the laces is better in the Cascadia 17, so your foot doesn’t move around inside the shoes as much.
The midsole height is still 20mm at the heel and still made from Brook’s DNA Loft v2 midsole. It offers a good level of cushioning for those harder trails. There is still a rockplate in the midsole to protect your feet from sharp rocks or thorns, but it is now in the middle of the midsole, rather than sandwiched between the outsole and the midsole. This has made the Cascadia 17 a lot stiffer through the midfoot and toe. It has also made the midsole feel a bit firmer, in my experience.
The heel to forefoot drop remains 8mm, so it’s designed as a shoe for heel strikers and the increased stiffness pulls you down onto your heel too. The previous version had more give in the midfoot, so you could land midfoot if that was your natural gait. It’s simply the same heel-landing feeling that I get running in Brooks Ghost, Adrenaline, and other shoes from their range, which have a higher heel to forefoot drop and are somewhat stiff shoes. They feel very similar and would therefore be a trail shoe to consider for fans of Ghost, Adrenaline and other on their road runs.
The outsole has had a makeover. The one-piece rubber outsole has been replaced with multi-directional lugs designed to give better traction. The rubber that Brooks calls TrailTack Green (as it has a 25% recycled material content) is softer and designed to grip better on wet and dry surfaces. I found that the shoe was stickier in the wet than the previous version. However, the lugs aren’t as deep (Cascadia 16 has 5mm lugs the Cascadia 17 has 4mm lugs at the deepest point) and despite the additional flex grooves, the midsole is a lot stiffer so it doesn’t fully bend to take the curvature of the trail. This means that if you are running on a camber or on uneven ground then there isn’t a lot of surface area in contact with the floor, so you don’t get as much traction. For this reason, the Cascadia 17 is best used on firmer tracks and trails. This was the same for the original Cascadia up to version 15. Better for road to trail but don’t work as well on steeper, more broken ground.
The Brooks Cascadia 17 comes in two versions. A mesh upper version that has a light, breathable and tightly woven mesh upper and a Gore-Tex waterproof version. The mesh upper is lighter and feels softer than the mesh used for the previous version. The overlays around the side of the shoe designed to stop the upper from getting cut or rubbed by rocks on the trails is still as deep and protective. The toe bumper is also quite deep and firm enough to offer some protection, should you have the misfortune to kick a rock or root. The tongue is comfortably padded so even on long runs you shouldn’t have any discomfort from the laces. The tongue also has an elastic loop part-way down. This is so you can tuck your laces under the loop once tied. It stops them from getting untied by the undergrowth or catching on anything. The tongue is gusseted part-way down to reduce the chance of any debris from getting into the shoes.
The Gore-Tex used to make the waterproof upper version of the Brooks Cascadia 17 is Gore-Tex Invisible Fit. Standard Gore-Tex shoes have a layer of Gore-Tex that is stuck to the mesh upper of the shoes. This reduced the amount of volume inside the shoes and reduces the breathability of the shoes as well, as making the upper stiff, so it doesn’t fit the contours of the foot as well as a mesh upper does. Gore-Tex Invisible Fit is where the Gore-Tex is used to make the upper of the shoe, so the volume inside the shoe is the same. The sizing and width of the Cascadia 17 GTX is the same as the Cascadia 17. The material is slightly thicker and not quite as breathable. Like all waterproof shoes, they are too warm to be used in the height of summer and are best kept for when the temperature drops. In the UK that is never long! The gusset on the tongue is half-way down the tongue, the same as on the mesh version, so the Cascadia 17 GTX will only keep the water out of the shoes up to this point. That might be an issue if you are plodding through streams but shouldn’t affect you when running through long grass or in the snow.
Both the Cascadia 17 and the Cascadia 17 GTX have a plastic heel counter. This together with the firm midsole and the stiffness through the midfoot will help reduce pronation, although the Cascadia 17 is a neutral shoe.
The men’s Cascadia 17 weigh’s 312g in a UK8 with the mesh upper and 332g with the Gore-Tex Invisible Fit upper. In the women’s UK5 the weight is 278g in the mesh upper and 289g in the Gore-Tex Invisible Fit upper.
In summary, for those that love their Brooks Ghost 15 or Adrenaline GTS 23, the Cascadia 17 offers a similar fit and feel with added traction and foot protection for harder tracks and trails and potentially some tarmac use. There’s also a waterproof version for those wanting to keep warm and dry whilst we fast-approch winter.
NNormal Tomir: More of a trail shoe that can do some road than a road shoe that can do some trail. The shoes are more flexible so ride rougher ground better. The outsole offers more traction in a bigger variety of terrain. Same 8mm heel to forefoot and also available in a waterproof version. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/nnormal-tomir-review/
La Sportiva Akasha ii: 6mm lugs offer much better traction in the mud. Firm responsive ride and flexible enough to give good traction on steeper more broken ground. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/la-sportiva-akasha-ii-review/
Hoka Torrent 3: A more zippy shoe but, with enough cushioning to be worn for longer trail runs too. The rocker gives a smooth ride on firmer trails. Similarly stiff with a more pointed toe box. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/hoka-torrent-3-review/
Altra Lone Peak 7: A broad rounded toe box gives your feet much more room to function inside the shoes. The flexibility and natural feel of the shoes allow your feet to respond to the underfoot conditions better. Available in two width Women’s in 2024 and two width Men’s. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/altra-lone-peak-7-review/
Topo MTN Racer 2: A broad round toe box, good level of cushioning and good grip. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/topo-athletic-mtn-racer-2-review/
Karhu Ikoni Trail: Softer cushioning. Great for road to trail. Lugs are a good versatile depth. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/karhu-ikoni-trail-review/
Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 280: A very bouncy cushioned midsole. Not what you usually get from Inov-8 which is what makes these a good versatile shoe that can do some tarmac and hard packed trails. They are easier to run quickly in than the Cascadia and more flexible to cope with the trail. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/inov8-trailfly-ultra-g-280-review/
New Balance Hierro v7: A very soft midsole. Essentially a road shoe with some grips. Available in three width Men’s and two width Women’s. https://www.northernrunner.com/blog/new-balance-hierro-v7-review/