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Is the Brooks Cascadia 11 worthy of the High Sierra and the John Muir Trail?

February 08, 2016 2 min read

Ripped purple shoes

The Cascadia has been my go-to trail running and racing shoes for several years. I have done almost all of my big Sierra adventure runs using them, such as the Sky Marathon, scrambled peaks in them (Mt Agassiz) and raced the Wild Wild West 50K down in Lone Pine and many other ultras wearing the various iterations of the Cascadia. The 10 was a huge disappointment for many, including myself, primarily because of a defect in the forefoot upper that caused it to tear along the flex point prematurely. With the 11 comes the anticipation of a return to the high performing and reliable shoe the Cascadia has been for many trail runners over the past decade.   

brooks cascadia shoe sole

 Except for the fact that the toebox could be a bit wider, especially over the front "pivot posts," the Cascadia 11 feels like a winner. It appears as though the design team re-tooled the forefoot upper to eliminate the problems many had with the 10. All of the features that made the Cascadia a solid and stable workhorse of a trail shoe remain: 4-pivot post "suspension" system to keep your foot stable in uneven terrain, a ballistic rock plate to protect from stone bruising and a 10mm drop for those who need/want a little heel rise.                                             




brooks cascadia on rock

The outsole is the same, durable and well-lugged, but perhaps sacrificing some grippiness in wet/slippery conditions for the higher durometer and, therefore more durable, rubber. This is consistent with previous models of the Cascadia and is something that I have rarely noticed in the often dry conditions of the Eastern Sierra. On a recent snowy/wet/muddy run though I did have to admit that the grip of the Cascadia just wasn't as reliable as that of other trail shoes (Speedgoat, Olympus, Lone Peak, etc).

But, when it comes to the sure-footed, stable and protective demands of long hauls on demanding backcountry terrain the Cascadia delivers as well as any trail shoe out there. It is not as responsive or well-cushioned as other trail shoe options for mixed terrain when switching it up from pavement-to-dirt roads-to-trails-and-back but it works well as a jack-of-all-trades shoe.

For fastpacking this shoe is a great option. Whenever I finally do get to do the John Muir Trail as fast as I can I can't see myself choosing anything but the Cascadia.

Give the Cascadia 11 a look if you want a tried-and-true "standard" trail running shoe: at 11.8oz it's neither ultralight nor a heavyweight, at 10mm it has more of a traditional drop, adequate cushioning but not "pillow-esque," protective but not a tank, and stable as any trail shoe available.

Cascadia 11 specs:

  • 11.8oz
  • 10mm drop
  • neutral but does have a noticeable arch contour
  • protective rock plate
  • 4-pivot post system for stability
  • durable outsole but not as grippy as other trail shoes
  • slightly narrow toebox

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