Brooks Cascadia 7 Review
The Brooks Cascadia 7’s have had me “Running Happy” this Spring on the trails. Colorado has had an incredibly dry Spring, which has allowed me to get out on the local trails and put the Cascadia’s through about 150 miles or so.
I have run in the last four generations of Cascadias, and this experience allowed me to compare this new model with its predecessors. I was a big fan of the Cascadia 4s, the 5s were generally good, however the 6s represented a large step backward for the brand. The lugs wore out by about 100 miles, and the midfoot felt lose and sloppy; I turned them into my dog park shoe after getting fed up with slipping around on the trails.
Thankfully, Brooks listened to the widespread discontentment with the Cascadia 6, and made some major, ground-up improvements with design of the 7s. The Cascadia 7 has a Pivot Post System, which is essentially four points of independent suspension that keep your foot stable on uneven terrain. Brooks returned to their traditional triangular lug shape, and they look brand new despite 150 hard miles of testing (see below photo). The grippy outsole and multi-directional lug pattern gave plenty of traction on a variety of terrain; loose gravel/crushed limestone, slick rock, inches-deep mud, and snow-packed North-facing trails. The outsole felt smooth on the pavement as well as on the trail, which is helpful for mixed-surfaces races, or if you have some asphalt to endure in order to get to your trails.
Next up, the midsole. I have yet to make the transition to minimalist shoes for the trail (a decision I am completely ok with). The Cascadia 7s are by no means minimalist, and offered plenty of protection on the various test terrain. The forefoot ballistic rock shield is just enough for the trails in my area, and still allows the midsole to remain highly flexible. BioMoGo polymer alloy foam provides a perfect amount of cushion in the heel and forefoot. Brooks also incorporates DNA cushioning in the Cascadia 7s, which means it adapts to individual needs; I can’t claim to have noticed a difference with the incorporation of this technology. Potentially the fact that I find the Cascadia 7s to have the perfect amount of cushioning is, in itself, a reflection of this technology. One thing is certain, the cushioning is enough to avoid foot fatigue, but not too much that you lose the sense of the ground beneath you and and the small undulations in the terrain.
The upper of the Cascadia 7s is comprised of a nylon/polyester mesh combo. These mesh areas feel lighter in weight than previous models, even a little more pliable. The upper is highly breathable and kept my feet dry on runs when temps were in the 80s (yes, it is already 80 in Colorado!) River crossings are also a cinch with these; the mesh upper dries quickly and helps to eliminate the soggy feeling faster than previous models (and many competitive models in my closet). The upper also features an anatomically-correct, asymmetric lacing pattern which helps offset some of the pressure that you can feel when running down hill. The midfoot overlay has also increased in size for this model, this does not impact its breathability, however, the expanded overlay helps to keep your foot centered or fixed with in the shoe, a problem that many experienced with previous models. This upper design successfully minimizes foot motion within the shoe, which ultimately delivers more confidence.
The fit of the Cascadia 7s runs true to size. The toe box felt roomy and the shoes were ready to go right out of the box, i.e. there was no break-in period required. During my 150 mile test period, I did not develop any hot spots or blister areas (I have a normal foot width and arch height). Overall, I was very glad to see that Brooks has returned the Cascadia to its leadership roots, and I look forward to using them in upcoming 50km races later this Spring.
Available colors: Women’s: navy/turquoise and green/orange, Men’s: gray/orange and green/yellow
Type: Trail Running
Heel-Toe Differential (Drop): 12 mm
Weight: 10.2 oz. women’s / 12.2 oz. men’s
Gender Availability: both Men’s and Women’s models