Brooks Cascadia 17 Running Shoe Review

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The Cascadia 17, Brooks’ classic trail shoe, features excellent traction and cushioning, making it versatile enough for anything from light hiking to road runs.

It has a durable yet breathable upper and a plastic rock plate to keep your feet protected no matter where you’re running. It is also eco-friendly, using recycled materials.

Read through our Brooks Cascadia 17 running shoe review to find out exactly how it compares. We’ll cover who it’s best for, who should avoid it, and all the nitty-gritty details about each part of this rugged trail adventurer.

PROS AND CONS

Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of the Brooks Cascadia 17

PROS:

  • Versatile enough for trail running, light hiking, and occasional road run
  • Excellent outsole grip
  • Great cushioning
  • Solid plastic rock plate in the midsole protects your feet
  • Made with highly sustainable and eco-friendly materials
  • Fantastic breathability, especially for a trail shoe
  • Really good price point for its quality and versatility

CONS:

  • Slightly heavy compared to other trail shoes
  • Heel counter is quite rigid
 

Who Should Run in This Shoe?

The Cascadia 17 is an excellent option for those who want a versatile shoe for different types of terrain. It can easily handle technical trails but isn’t too hardcore for lighter ground.

A decent amount of cushioning in the heel makes it a great choice for heel strikers. The breathability works well for you if you live in a hot place and need extra airflow.

Who Should Not Run in This Shoe?

Trail runners who want something light and responsive probably won’t enjoy the weight of the Cascadia 17. It’s also a little firm, so if you’re looking for marshmallowy comfort and softness, this isn’t the shoe for you.

We found the fit to be a bit boxy. That will vary depending on your specific feet.

Upper

The upper is made from finely crafted mesh, designed to be structured enough to hold its shape and provide external support while remaining breathable thanks to tiny perforations throughout.

The airflow through this shoe is one of its biggest advantages. It might not be a good choice for winter running. But in warm weather, the breathability is welcome.

Another thing that gets a thumbs-up from us is how sustainable it is. It’s made of more than 50 percent recycled materials, which makes this an eco-friendly shoe, especially when you factor in that it uses a “green” dying process as well.

A tough toe bumper protects your toes if you trip over a rock or catch your foot on a root and extends the lifespan of the upper as well. It runs around the sides of the toe box as well for even more protection. There are two small gaps in the overlay to allow for flex, which is a nice addition.

As for fit, the toe box is generous in volume but doesn’t feel sloppy. A gusseted tongue locks your foot in, working in conjunction with a firm heel counter. The heel counter might feel too stiff for some, but it keeps your foot right where it should be.

Midsole

The Cascadia’s midsole features a thick slab of DNA LOFT foam. This is Brooks’ softest foam, but it’s still exceptionally durable thanks to being combined with rubber and infused with air and nitrogen for softness and bounce-back-ability.

The 17 has gained a few millimeters of heel height since the 16, featuring 36 mm under the heel and 28 mm in the forefoot. They’ve also added a plastic rock plate to the midsole for extra propulsion on the trails.

Due to the rock plate, it might feel a touch firm despite the soft foam. However, it’s not uncomfortable stiff—your foot will still be able to move naturally and easily without being restricted.

The cushioning, rock plate, and segmented outsole—see next section—combine to form what Brooks calls the Trail Adapt system, designed to work together so you can perform better on uneven ground.

Outsole

The outsole of the Cascadia 17 is segmented, with six distinct pieces of rubber separated by a vertical groove and two smaller horizontal ones. This goes a long way towards flexibility, allowing your foot to move more naturally through its heel-to-toe transition.

The lugs on the outsole are strategically scattered across these six sections. They’re chunky lugs, at 4.5 mm, and made of TrailTack Green rubber. This compound is grippy on numerous types of ground, including wet rock. And it’s also sustainable, made of 25% recycled silica.

Other Features

Weight

The Cascadia is a robust shoe. It weighs around 11.6 ounces—329 grams—which is fairly heavy compared to others.

It’s gained about 0.6 ounces from the 16, so if you’re used to its weight already and love the shoe, you won’t notice the extra tiny bit. But if you’re looking for something light and easy to run trails with, this isn’t it.

Durability

With a 2 mm outsole and 4.5 mm lugs, the rubber under this shoe should last many miles.

The unique midsole foam also doesn’t flatten easily, so you should be able to pump out the miles in these shoes without them compressing and leaving you unsupported.

Of course, it depends on the trails you run on, how many miles you do weekly, and your body weight.

Price

The Cascadia 17 sells for $140 at the time of this writing. It’s about average for a good trail running shoe.

Other Factors

Gaiter Attachment

The Cascadia 17 is designed for easy gaiter attachment. This is a bonus for trail running shoes because gaiters help keep debris from landing in your shoes as you run on loose ground. This not only improves comfort but can also improve the longevity of your shoes.

Lace Stow Strap

This handy little feature provides a safe place to tuck your laces away once you’re ready to hit the trail. No more flapping shoelaces while you run, and there’s less chance of tripping or needing to stop and retie them.

Wider Sizes

The Cascadia 17 is available in wide sizes, so most runners should be able to find a good fit. However, it doesn’t come in narrow, so runners with narrow feet might find their feet swimming around in these shoes.

Gore-Tex

If waterproofing is important to you, the Cascadia is also available in Gore-Tex versions. However, if you choose a GTX version, the shoe’s breathability will be compromised, so prioritize carefully!

Various Unique Colorways

Men’s and the women’s Cascadia 17 come in around 5 different colorways.

Summary

The Brooks Cascadia 17 continues the tradition of providing an all-around durable trail runner. It’s ideal for runners who want something versatile, knowing you give up specific qualities like a lightweight design or super sticky outsole.

It’s great for new trail runners or someone who wants a shoe for trail running and hiking. We’d avoid using it for races or if you want a more specialized shoe.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.