Brooks Cascadia 14 Trail Running Shoes Review

The Cascadia is Brooks’ signature trail running shoe. A well-cushioned, neutral support shoe with reliable traction, I’ve hiked in every version of the Cascadia since the 3rd edition was released in 2008. Over the years Brooks has made a lot of design tweaks to their much-loved trail stalwart  – some good, others not so much. However, I’m happy to report that after logging more than 1,200 mi (1,931 km) in three separate pairs of the Cascadia 14, I think that this current incarnation is the best to hit the market since the 9’s came out in 2014.

Cascadia 14’s in Mexico’s Sierra Madre | May 2020

At a Glance

PriceUS$130
Weight10.7 oz (303 g) – Men’s Size 9 // 11.9 oz (338 g) – Men’s Size 12
Heal to Toe Drop8 mm
Stack Height (heel & forefoot):  26mm – 18 mm
Support:  Neutral
Arch:  Medium/High
Fit: True to size. Standard size (D) is best for medium-volume feet. Also available in Wide (2E).

Field Experience

I’ve been wearing the Brooks Cascadia 14 since September last year. I wore them in the Austrian and Slovenian Alps last fall, and have used them extensively on the rugged trails of Mexico’s Sierra Madre in subsequent months.

Approaching a snowy pass on Austria’s Stubai Hohenweg | October 2019

Cascadia 14 Vs Cascadia 13 

  • Weight The Cascadia 14’s are significantly lighter than previous models, tipping the scales at 10.7 oz / 303 grams (Men’s size 9), compared to the 13’s which come in at 11.9 oz / 337 grams.
  • Heel Drop: Reduced from 10 mm to 8mm.
  • Outsole – The new “TrailTrack Rubber” outsole with its multi-directional lugs are more durable (see below) and grippier on slippery terrain than recent editions of the Cascadia.
  • Upper – The integrated saddle system helps lock down the midfoot area and gives the shoe a snugger (but still not restrictive) feel than previous models.
  • Toebox – Roomiest toebox since the Cascadia 9’s. Well sized for medium-volume feet.

Cascadia 14s in Mexico’s Sierra Madre (January 2020)

Upper

  • The Upper uses Brooks’ Element mesh which is breathable, stretchy, comfortable, and I’ve experienced no pressure points or associated tearing in the material.
  • The internal saddle system gives the upper a secure fit; I’ve had no issues with my foot sliding around when negotiating rugged terrain (Note: It helps that Size 12 fits me like a glove).
  • The redesigned Cordura mudguard helps keep out debris and mud to a certain extent, though as with any mesh upper, dirt will eventually get through. To mitigate any rubbing/blister issues, I’ll generally combine my trail runners with Dirty Girl Gaiters (Note: The most recent two versions of the Cascadia have included gaiter traps on the heel).
  • Overall I’ve found the 14’s combination of Element mesh and the Cordura mudguard strikes a good balance between breathability, keeping out trail dreck, and still allowing for drainage when hiking in wet conditions. They also dry relatively quickly after a drenching.
  • The Tongue Pocket is useful for keeping the laces out of harm’s way when hiking through overgrown terrain.
  • As with every iteration of the Cascadia, the 14 has a solid heel counter that provides excellent rear-foot stability while helping to anchor the foot to the midsole. Speaking of which………

Midsole

Unlike the upper and outsole, the midsole of the Cascadia 14 has remained mostly the same as its predecessor:

  • The BioMoGo DNA midsole compound provides soft but responsive cushioning throughout the shoe’s platform. In regard to protection, the 14 also has a built-in rock plate in the forefoot which is particularly useful if a lot of your hiking is done in rugged terrain. Overall I’d give the midsole a “Goldilocks thumbs-up” – not so cushy that you can’t get a feel for the terrain, but not so firm that you feel every sharp or hard object with which you come in contact.
  • The four-point Pivot Post system helps provide stability, helping to keep your foot level from landing to push-off. The pivot points (two on each side of the shoe) are slightly smaller than the 13’s, but I haven’t noticed the ride of the shoe being any less secure.

The Berliner Hohenweg is one of Austria’s most renowned multi-day treks. During the summer months it can be fairly crowded, but in mid-October there was virtually no one the trail (Note: In addition to the Cascadia 14s, I used Kathoola Microspikes on all of my Alps hikes during October).

Outsole

  • I’ve found the new TrailTrack Rubber outsole with its multi-directional lugs to be more durable (see below) and grippier than recent editions of the Cascadia.
  • The lugs are (fairly) deep, numerous, and distributed across the entire sole for maximum traction. They work well on multiple surfaces including rock, sand, mud, roots, hardpack, and snow.

Descending an icy Mount Triglav (Slovenia’s highest peak) during a high route across Triglav National Park (October 2019).

Durability

Each pair of Cascadia 14’s has lasted me at least 400 miles (644 km) before showing significant signs of wear on the outsole and/or loss of cushioning and support. By the time I’ve put 500 to 600 miles (805 km-966 km) on them they are ready to be retired.

(L to R) Outsole Comparison: Cascadia 13 after approximately 400 miles (644 km) and Cascadia 14 after approximately 300 miles (483 km).

Suitability

Terrain

The Cascadia 14 is a neutral trail shoe that I consider to be an excellent all-rounder. It’s the footwear equivalent of an accurately rated 20°F sleeping bag (or quilt) for thru-hikers, or a jack-of-all-trades internal frame backpack such as the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 2400. And by that I mean it’s versatile – the Cascadia 14 not only provides mixed-surface traction and stability out in the woods but also offers sufficient support and cushioning for the occasional cross-over on to the roads.

“Will the Cascadia 14 work for me?”

Of all the gear in a backpacker’s kit, arguably the most individual-centric item is footwear. Factors such as foot type, injury history, terrain, and pack and body weight all (should) take precedence over how much the shoe weighs, what it looks like, and/or what company produces it when deciding on what shoe is right for you.

If you’ve got medium-volume feet (or slightly wider if you go with the 2E**) and are looking for a neutral trail shoe that is comfortable, versatile, and durable, then there is a fairly good chance that you may find the Cascadia 14’s to be suitable. However – and this is a big caveat – the only way you will know for certain is to give them a try in person.

**(Note: I haven’t personally used the Wide 2E version of the Cascadia 14, but from the reports I’ve read they are slightly wider than the standard sized models, but still not as wide as Altra trail shoes).

Mexico’s Sierra Madre (February 2020)

Conclusion

Brooks went back to the drawing board with the Cascadia 14. The result? I think they hit it out of the park with the design changes. The 14 feels lighter, more flexible, and has superior traction when compared to its recent predecessors. All of which has been accomplished while still retaining the stability and support for which the Cascadia trail shoe has always been known.

Related Posts

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20 Replies to “Brooks Cascadia 14 Trail Running Shoes Review”

  1. Thanks for the review. Footwear is such a critical issue and with a host of options out there, options that change annually, it is helpful to read something that is practical and straightforward.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. Believe it or not, after ten years and hundreds of posts, that was the first in-depth footwear review I’ve done.

  2. The is the best shoe for my feet as well — great traction & grip, lots of room for toes and forefoot, very comfortable- About 100 miles so far – mix scrambling and rocky surfaces — climbing 40% slopes.

    Bought a second pair says it all.

    Thanks for the review – think I’ll order another pair before they are sold out 🙂

  3. Hey, thanks for the review! One thing I have to ask regarding durability- did the mesh around the toe or the padding in the inside back of the heel show any wear when you retired them? I hiked 1600 PCT miles in 1 pair of cascadia 8’s, and the entire AT in 1 pair of 8’s as well, and I’ve been dreaming of finding a shoe that is as durable in the right places ever since. Could this be the one? My 11’s only survived 1000 PNT miles before the toe ripped wide open. Most shoes wear out in the heel way too early. Looking forward to trying these! Thanks as always, Swami. You will forever be my inspiration!
    – Guy on a Buffalo

    1. Hey Buffalo,

      Always great to hear from you. I remember being blown away by how many miles you’ve gotten out of your past Cascadias – to do the entire Appalachian Trail in one pair of trail runners is amazing!

      In regard to your question, on both pairs of retired 14’s I had no significant issues of wearing and/or tearing of the mesh around either the heel or little toe. In each case, the reasons I put them out to pasture was that the lugs on the outsole started to lose some of their grip, and I noticed a loss of cushioning and support in the midsole. That said, I should note that I tend to retire my trail shoes a bit earlier than most hikers due to the fact that I wear custom-made orthotics due to some lower leg issues I’ve had over the years. I suspect you could have probably got at least another 500 miles out of each pair!

      Thanks for the kind words, and I hope you and all your family are safe and healthy.

      Swami

  4. Thanks for the great info! Am desperately looking a trail running shoe that lasts beyond the 400-500km mark – just binned my 2nd pair of Speed Cross 4’s in 24 months. Will give them a try.

  5. Cam, I’m not finding a lot of information regarding trail speed. I’m starting to train for a thru hike and it seems a faster pace makes sense. For example, today I did 12 miles with a 24 lbs pack weight at 4.2 mph however, with only 2,100 elevation gain. I took breaks that totaled 15 mins. When you are averaging 30 miles per day, what is your average pace, while hiking?

    1. Hi Steve,

      Hiking speed and mileage depend on a multitude of factors such as terrain, pack weight, fitness, experience, season, tread, and motivation. For example, a lot of folks can clip along at 4 mph on well-maintained, gently graded trails. Put many of those same hikers in steep, rugged and/or trailless terrain, and they may only average a fraction of that. Another important consideration is pacing – doing big mileage days week after week, and month after month (without needing too many rest days) is not so much about hiking at a fast speed, but instead finding an “all day” pace which you can replicate without overly stressing and straining your body and mind.

      Hope this helps. Best of luck with your training.

      Cheers,

      Cam

  6. Thanks Cam, very helpful. Guessing then on your big days (40 plus miles), you are hiking 13-15 hours?

    1. No worries. Yes, if I’m regularly doing 40’s on a relatively mellow trail (e.g. PCT, CDT, etc) in three-season conditions, chances are I’ll be taking between 13 and 15 hours (including breaks).

      I rarely have my break times set in stone, but more often than not I like to have a couple of 30-minute stops throughout the day for bigger meals, in addition to some other mini-breaks where I may take my pack off and do some stretching and/or have a snack. Often these will coincide with particularly scenic places or water sources.

      1. Thanks Cam. I read your review on the Brooks Cascadia 14’s and ordered a pair yesterday.

        Best,

        Steve

        1. My new pair of 14’s arrived yesterday. I wore them around the house and did a 20 mile trail hike today. I love these shoes! Light, supportive and responsive!

  7. Just bought a pair and was curious what you think about custom insoles vs thin insoles that come with these shoes. I will be using these for a thru hike
    Thanks

    1. Hi Paul,
      I wear custom-made orthotics in all my hiking footwear, so I can’t speak from experience in regard to the performance of the thin insoles. All I can say is that custom orthotics and over-the-counter insoles will generally take up more space inside the shoe, and can provide the user with a bit more in the way of cushioning and support.
      Cheers,
      Cam

  8. Thanks for this review! I have been hiking and road running in Hokas for the past couple years. I’ve loved them, especially on roads, for their ability to dampen the repeated impact of harder surfaces. I have bony feet and sometimes it huuurts lol. But. Doing more hiking than roads lately, in Challengers, and I am becoming suspicious that the Hokas are causing secondary problems- like hip sciatica.
    I’m training for a PCT thru next year (if that’s possible obvs, we’ll see), and I want to try out a couple other options first. The Altra Olympus felt… I dunno, wrong. Just not “foot-shaped” when it came to my feet. So I’m trying these out next. Thanks again!

    btw everyone they’re on sale for 84 in some sizes on Brooks’ website right now.

  9. Just got my first pair I love love love Brooks did I say love? I have two pairs of ghost 12 , two pairs of Ariel and now my first cascadia can’t wait to go out there, brooks are the only sneaker 👟 I ware after my diagnosis of plantar fasciitis

    1. I hear you. I started wearing Brooks in the mid-90s when my podiatrist recommended them, and they’ve been a go-to of mine ever since.

  10. Hi Cam! Just wondering if you had a chance to look at newer models of the Cascadia? I can no longer find the 14 version and am hesitating between 15 and 16. Do you have an opinion on these two newer versions by any chance?
    Thanks in advance,
    Fred

    1. Hey Fred,
      I own a pair of the Cascadia 15 (which I like), but not the 16 (which also seems to get positive reviews). Honestly, if they are a good fit for your foot type, I’d just go with whichever model you can find the best deal on.
      Cheers,
      Cam

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