async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: 5 Things I Considered When Buying My First Pair of Trail Shoes and A Review of the Brooks Cascadia 14 XT

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

5 Things I Considered When Buying My First Pair of Trail Shoes and A Review of the Brooks Cascadia 14 XT

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I almost never post shoe reviews. Why would I? There are plenty of shoe reviews available online, right? Runner's World has become nothing but shoe reviews. I received the new edition in the mail yesterday and yep, 30 new shoes!

With so many reviews and so many shoe companies vying for our business, who can we trust for an honest review? When I was shopping for trail shoes, I came across so many differing opinions. One website gave the shoes I eventually bought 5 stars, another 2.5 stars. I was so confused and I didn't know what shoes to pick.

So, I turned to my running friends for advice. Marcia, who is my go-to expert for all things running and who runs trails regularly, told me to start with the brand of shoes I normally run in--solid, common sense advice. Another blogger, Shiastho, who regularly runs trails with her husband, shared on a blog post that her husband bought the Brooks Cascadia, the model I was considering, and was really liking them. Based on those 2 trusted opinions, I made my decision and bought the Cascadia, opting for the XT model, which is made with GoreTex and provides protection from water.



After sharing on social media that I've been running local trails in my new shoes, I've heard from other runners wanting to know what I thought about the Brooks Cascadia. After running in them for about 30 miles over several weeks, on a variety of terrain including snow, ice, mud, dirt, gravel, and pavement, the verdict is in.

I love them.


Being a newbie to trail running, I didn't really know what to look for when buying trail shoes. So I found this list and this list, and used them to come up with my own list of 5 things to consider when buying trail shoes. For this post, I reviewed the Brooks Cascadia 14 XT based on this criteria.
  • Tread: The Brooks Cascadia 14 XT have rugged soles that have given me excellent traction on snow, mud, and uneven surfaces. As a long-time road runner, I was admittedly a little anxious about running on uneven terrain. After putting these shoes to the test, I'm feeling much more confident running trails in them. They are more stiff than road shoes and I definitely miss my road shoes when I have to run in the Cascadia on pavement. 
  • Cushioning: The Brooks Cascadia 14 XT are cushioned and they are a comfortable ride! I have rheumatoid arthritis and sometimes my knees bother me, so I usually like to opt for a more cushioned shoe to help reduce impact. Several other people recommended Hokas for the same reason. 
  • Fit: Fit is probably the most important consideration, for obvious reasons! The best advice is to get measured professionally. Since I already run in Brooks, I hoped that I'd be safe ordering trail shoes in the same size as my road shoes. The online reviews seemed to agree with that. The Cascadia fit perfectly. Like I do with all my running shoes, I put my Spenco soft orthotics in them for extra arch support.
  • Heel to toe drop: On the road, I run in Brooks Adrenalines, which have a 12mm drop. The Cascadia 14 XT have an 8mm drop. It made sense for me to stick with a shoe that had a heel-to-toe drop similar to my every day running shoes. 
  • Waterproof features: Since we have the craziest weather here, from snow to rain, I wanted the GoreTex feature (GTX). The Cascadia 14 also comes without GoreTex and if you live in a dry, warm climate, you may want that option as it is more 'breathable' than the GTX. I ran through a creek in the Cascadia and my feet did not get wet. Granted, it was a small shallow creek, but I didn't feel any water in my shoes. 
Since I normally run in support shoes, which control for pronation, I was concerned about finding the same feature in a trail shoe. I learned that there aren't any trail shoes that offer motion control, but that is because trail shoes are constructed to prevent excessive foot rotation. Also, trail running involves adjusting your stride frequently to accommodate changing terrain, so pronation control isn't a big deal. I haven't had any issues with that like I do with neutral road running shoes.


Other features of the Brooks Cascadia 14 XT worth mentioning: both models have a "mud guard" which is designed to prevent debris from getting in the shoe. I haven't had an issue with rocks or dirt getting in the shoe so far. The shoe is surprisingly light weight, with the women's shoe weighing in at 10.3 ounces. I was really surprised at how light it feels on my feet because it is so supportive! I also like the way the shoe looks--not that appearance should be a consideration, right?

As an aside, I found it interesting that the Cascadia 14 (without GTX) has been reviewed so much less favorably than the XT. Not sure why that is, but I'm glad I went with the XT! I've been really pleased with them so far and I'm looking forward to running many trail miles in this shoe.

Considering trail running? How do you know what shoes to pick? I've got 5 considerations plus a review of the Brooks Cascadia 14 XT /via @oldrunningmom @Brooksrunning #runchat #running #trailrunning 


Do you run trails? What shoes do you run in? Have you tried the Brooks Cascadia (either model)? 

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics and with the Runners' Roundup: DebbieDeborahSmithaJenRachel, and Lisa.

 

29 comments :

  1. Back when I was looking for trail shoes I did try on the Cascadia, since I've also run in Brooks a lot. I went with a different shoe, I don't even remember the brand, I won't mention the problem I ended up having with that shoe since it would no doubt freak you out.

    I ran a lot where there was sand -- that's when I got gaiters, because I'd be emptying out tons of sand from my shoes post run! They help a lot.

    Never had a Goretex shoe. I'd love to, but just too much $$ for something I can only use for half a year, atlhough I will admit I'm still running in the same trail shoes like 2 years later, but I do need new ones (mainly because I don't run trails as much).

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    1. I considered the extra cost for the GoreTex, but since I was already spending $$ for trail shoes, the extra $30 wasn't a big deal.

      Yikes to the big problem with your first shoes! I can't imagine a shoe issue so big it would freak me out! Except for the time we found a dead mouse in one of my son's shoes...now we're talking freak-out!

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  2. I'm so glad you found a trail show you love! Trails are a different animal for sure and the right shoe is crucial. Great for ice and snow too.

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  3. Thanks so much for the review Wendy! I'm not sure that I'll ever make the transition to trail running (#iamaklutz)but it's good to know that Brooks offers such a great sneaker for the trails.

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  4. Yay!!! So glad you loved them! That first point about tread, Ditiro still goes on about them! They can truly take any terrain.

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  5. Glad you found a shoe that works for you. it's so hard...

    Last year was my first year running trails and I did not race any. I bought a cheap NB pair...they were uncomfortable.

    I don't run on them seriously and I now have a Altra Lone peak pair that I bought on sale. I have run in them (on the snow and ice) and I think they will work.

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    1. I'm really happy for the guidance I received! These shoes are perfect for me.

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  6. Excellent points to look out for in a trail shoe. I use an Asics model for my trail running. I have never tried a Brooks shoe, but if the tread works well and it is making you feel confident, it's a win!

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  7. I have the exact same trail shoe and chose it for the same reasons. I've run in Brooks Ghosts since I started running, so wanted to stick with the brand I know. And Pom at Runners High recommended them, and she's never advised me wrong before, so. Having already run enough trails, the Goretex model was a no brainer. I also have the Brooks Ghost road shoe in Goretex and I'm still pleasantly surprised at what a great job they do with cold and wet conditions.

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    1. I didn't know Brooks made a road shoe with GoreTex! Although I'm not so sure I'd need that. Glad to hear you like the Brooks Cascadia too.

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  8. Hi Wendy. It's Linda from IG. I didn't know that you had a blog. I look forward to reading. Thanks for the review. Great job on it.

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    1. Happy to find out you have a blog too! Looking forward to reading more!

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  9. So glad you found trail shoes that you like! I dont run trails so I've never worn trail shoes. But I love my Brooks!!

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    1. This is a first for me! Trails are perfect for me right now--I'm enjoying those runs immensely!

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  10. Good info! I have considered trail shoes, but have not bit the bullet yet. These would be a better option for me than Yaktrax (which I have not tried) due to the mix of roads and snow I encounter in the winter months.

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    1. YakTrax definitely have their place--when I was out on the icy trails, a lot of people were wearing them.

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  11. I have not tried trail shoes. I thought about them for snowy or icy runs and then we did not have any this year. I would probably start w Brooks as well since my regular shoes are Brooks. Thanks for the review. Now to get myself to not be afraid of trails! Thanks (in advance) for linking up

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    1. Don't be afraid of trails--the best part is that you can walk and there's no shame!

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  12. All great things to consider when buying trail shoes. You put a lot of thought into your purchase, where as I just bought a pair that had a good review of the same brand I wear on the road and hoped for the best. Turned out they are fine but those Brooks sound great.

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    1. Trail shoes are so expensive and plus I knew next to nothing about trail running. I can't afford to be injured, so I wanted to hopefully make the best decision I could.

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  13. Believe it or not considering all the trails I run on, I don't own a pair of trail shoes! I look, then talk myself out of them Thanks for the reveiw. I don't usually wear Brooks but I would love to find a pair of trail shoes that fit (they rarely come in the half size I need).

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    1. I wear 8.5M and Brooks carries all the sizes! I'm surprised you don't wear trail shoes!

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  14. Shoe reviews are tricky because everyone is so different. I've only run in trail shoes one time - on loan at a Ragnar trail event. I really loved them but there are so few technical trails around here that it wasn't worth the investment. We can run most of our trails in road shoes with no problem.

    I'm glad you love these.

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    1. A lot of our trails are fine with road shoes, but I'm looking for really rugged trails. There are a few around here, believe it or not! This morning, I hit the mud and while I slid, I stayed upright. Would my road shoes have done that for me? Good question but I don't want to find out. Plus my feet stayed dry!

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  15. I always value your opinion so thanks for sharing this with us. The times I've run at Waterfall Glen I run in regular running shoes. I don't run there enough to consider buying a pair but still this helps in case one day I do. Thanks for linking up with us!

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