Originally posted on: December 8, 2014
Hey, a shoe made it to 50 miles - do the happy dance!!!! Yeah, it seems like it has been a while since a pair of running shoes actually made it to the 50 mile review, but sometimes that is how things workout.
Brooks Cascadia 8's 12-9-14 with Joey in the background
The Brooks Cascadia 8’s did it.
Yes, this is last year’s model and the Cascadia 9 has been out for a while.
However, Cascadia model line is one that I have wanted to run in for several years. Ever since I first saw them at the old (now closed) Eastern Mountain Sports store in Augusta. Unfortunately, while I tried them on more than a few times and always looked at them when I go to an EMS, I never got around to getting a pair, which is something that I am learning was a mistake.
How much did I pay?
I bought them at Sierra Trading post
You can still get the Cascadia 8’s in many of the online stores with prices ranging from $60-$110.
The Cascadia 9’s are available with a list price of $120 on the Brooks Running site, but you can find them cheaper with discount codes or sales going on now. Last time I looked EMS still carried the Cascadia line.
How have they worked out for me?
They have surprised me.
For some reason or other, I haven’t had much luck with Brooks Running shoes over the years. It seems that I just haven’t found the model/style in their running shoe line that works well for me - until now (maybe, possibly or is that hopefully).
Usually the biggest negative about trail shoes is when you run on the roads with them - to be blunt they suck and are uncomfortable to run any longer distance in them on roads. However, this is not the case with the Cascadia 8’s, they are as comfortable to run on roads as they are the trails for me.
They are smooth and quiet to run in, which to be honest I didn’t expect.
Brooks Cascadia 8 in snow
So far I have also run in some pretty nasty conditions and they have handled the nastiness with aplomb and no issues. When I ran in crusty snow, they didn't come apart or rip at all (which some of my trail shoes have), while running in snow, slush, sleet, single track with rocks, mud and wet leaves, they do fine. Deep mud they aren't great, but they get you through, but they don't do well on ice without some help (which normal for almost all running shoes without studs/spikes embedded in them).
So far so good.
For consistent measurement purposes, I am a size 7 on the Brannock Foot measuring device and when you add-on a thumb’s width, it usually puts me in an 8.0 to an 8.5 running shoe. Below is a photo of the Cascadia 8’s and my thumb showing where my right big toe is inside the toe box to show how it actually fits my foot.
Brooks Cascadia 8's - the thumb test
The length is where it is supposed to be and the toe box is wide enough that, I am not having any issues with my right foot hurting during a run, due to a narrow toe box (which I thought might be an issue), due to the taper there and the overlays on the upper.
One thing that I am struggling with is getting the right fit for the top of my foot - to the laces. When I snug up the laces too much, I can feel pressure on top of my feet and when I leave them too loose my foot doesn’t feel secure in the shoes. It is a minor issue, but one that might become more of one on a double-digit run, but I finally seemed to have gotten it right this past weekend - finally.
The heel cup feels good and my heel isn’t bobbing around in there, in other words I feel well-locked down in the heel area - a must for me.
The size is where I want it to be.
Feel (different from fit)
I compare all shoes to how quiet the Skechers GoRun Ride 2’s were for me and while the Cascadia’s are trail shoes, I have been amazed at how quietly I run in them. They are probably the quietest trail shoes that I have ever run.
The Cascadia 8’s feel cushioned, but not marshmallowy or sloppy. I like how they feel when I am running on the roads as well and on the trails they feel protective - more like riding around in a Jeep Grand Cherokee versus the old Jeep CJ-7. It is almost a luxurious ride and you tend to just go over crap, instead of feeling like you have to avoid it.
Brooks Cascadia 8's
The Cascadia 8's are heavier than other shoes that I normally run in and are definitely not a a “fast” shoe, that I would use for dry roads, speedwork or racing. However, they worked well during a race where we had 12” of snow the night before and the roads were a mess, racing flats that day would have been a bad idea for me - I don’t enjoy my butt hitting the ground. They kept me upright and I was able to keep up an 8:00 minute pace in conditions that I would normally be slower in.
I have a feeling that due to the weight, that I might be a little more tired towards the end of a long run, but at the same time it should also strengthen me for the spring when I switch back to lighter shoes.
I have always liked the looks of the outsole of the Cascadia line, it was always one of the things that drew me towards it - it just seemed like it would work well for me. Now that I have run in them in some pretty crappy conditions, I like the outsole a lot.
The ability run smoothly and quietly on tar and then be able to trust that you have at least a chance of getting good grip in whatever nastiness is in front of you, mud, single-track, rocks, snow, slush provides a lot of confidence for me as a runner.
I run a lot with a spastic Jack Russell Terrier. Actually he is my running partner, but one who is easily distracted (I had someone describe him as ADHD on crack). So knowing that I will have good traction in just about any condition, except ice - is important and allows us to run on days that in the past we would have just walked.
Having a rock plate and plenty of sole between me and the road, means that there is not a lot of road feel, but as I have said in the past. I really don’t give a shit about road feel and care more about my running shoes being protective. Which the Cascadia 8’s definitely are.
One thing about running in the winter in Maine is that the cold weather can negatively affect the midsole material on some shoes. The single digit temperature days that I have run in the Cascadia's, the midsole did not get so hard that it felt like I was running on boards. Definitely a good thing.
After 50 miles there is no noticeable wear on the outsole.
Initially, I was worried by the amount of sewing and overlays on the upper and how it would affect my Tailor’s Bunionette - so far there haven’t been any issues with it. Also, I am finding that my feet do not get cold in them and the wind just doesn’t blow through and cause my feet to freeze. However, this good thing in the winter, might not be so great on a hot summer day when your feet are hot and sweaty on a trail run.
Brooks Cascadia 8's - Uppers
The stock laces just were not for me - the brownish color didn't match the Black/Red/Yellow colorway of the shoe, so I put in a brighter color set of laces, which helps the looks of the Cascadia's in my opinion.
However, I did have some issues with the top of shoe - finding/getting the right feeling of snugness, while not feeling overly tight and distracting me during a run. It was only a distraction, but it takes away that put ‘em and forget ‘em feeling that I want/expect from a shoe. It seems to have resolved, but it took longer than usual to get it right.
The one thing that I do not like is that the tongue itself is a little too short, I find myself thinking too much about where the laces are when I am tying the shoes. If am not careful the lace will slide over the end of the tongue and I have to stop to re-tie the shoes again, to avert what could be an issue later on.
Brooks Cascadia 8's - Uppers
While the Black and Red colorway is pretty conservative for me, it still is a great looking running shoe and does look good in jeans or around town. Style is not obviously my strong point or something that I worry about too much, but for some runners it is a consideration and these do look good.
If Bennie Chewed Up These Shoes Today, What Would I Do?
To be honest, I think that I would go ahead and re-order a pair of Cascadia 8’s in a heartbeat, especially if I was able to find the same bargain that I did last time. They have worked well for me and I like running in them.
The Reality is that
In the winter, my trail shoes become my primary running shoes for running outside. This means they have to be able to run well on tar, trails (single track, groomed, etc.), snowmobile trails, different types of snow, mud, slushy roads, in extremely cold weather and do all the distances I run. It doesn’t mean that they have to be light-weight or a “fast” shoe, but they do have to be comfortable and able to run in different conditions.
So far the Cascadia 8's have done this with no problem.
They are comfortable, have great traction, run quietly despite being trails shoes and give me a lot of confidence that I will remain upright and able to keep moving forward - when I am running in a variety of terrains and/or nasty conditions (tar, dirt roads, single-track trails, mud, snow, etc.).
Although I only have just over 50 miles on these shoes, the more I run in them, the more I like to run in them. The Cascadia 8’s may not be a “fast” shoe, but they have performed well in the winter conditions that I actually got them for.
The bottom line is that they are good shoe, that seem to be bomb-proof. It will be interesting to see my observations in my 200 miles review, because I have a feeling there will be one.
From what I could see from the Brooks website there are not a lot changes between the Cascadia 8 and the Cascadia 9, so I would think that the differences between running in the two, wouldn't be that big of a deal.
Disclosure of Material Connection: These shoes are a personal purchase from Sierra Trading Post. The opinions I have expressed are my own and your experiences with this product might be different from mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”