For those looking for a tough trail running shoe for rugged terrain but who still appreciate a lightweight, nimble shoe, the Brooks Cascadia 6 is an ideal choice. Brooks recently updated the Cascadia to help provide supreme comfort and better traction across a wide variety of terrain, and the outsole features a bi-directional lug pattern and a "ballistic rockshield." Reviewers say the shoe provides excellent traction and support, and protects against rocks and trail debris, but has a good road feel and allows the runner to still feel the trail below. The Brooks Cascadia 6 also features the brand's much-touted adaptable "Brooks DNA," which is used along the heel and forefoot. Reviewers say the shoe is incredibly comfortable; the improved cushioning is soft but still responsive. Where the Cascadia 6 doesn't perform as well is in the upper. Some testers say the shoe doesn't lock well onto the foot, the arch lacks support and the laces don't stay tied. A few users also note that the toebox is too roomy, which causes the foot to slide and doesn't provide enough stability, they say.
Essentially, the Brooks Cascadia 6 offers a great balance between comfort and cushioning and great traction and foot protection. For those looking for an even tougher trail running shoe, the Montrail Rockridge (*Est. $75) is an excellent option.
The Cascadia 6, the latest incarnation of this award-winning Brooks style, was introduced in February 2011. The update earns high praise from Runner's World, Running Times, Outside, Canadian Running and Fitness magazines; collectively, these publications are known for their well-balanced, wear-tested reviews. Unfortunately, there are far fewer user reviews of the Cascadia 6, due primarily to the release date's proximity to this report's writing. REI, however, features 10 user reviews online. Reviewers are generally positive about the shoe, but some more-experienced runners cite several issues.
1. Runner's World
Runner's World's annual shoe guides are considered the gold standard in running shoe reviews, and Warren Greene and Martyn Shorten are arguably two of the most well-versed experts in the market. Nine models are wear-tested and evaluated in the 2011 installment. The Brooks Cascadia 6 earns praise for its good traction and stellar protection. Wear-testers say this shoe is ideal for rugged, technical terrain.
Review: Ground Breakers, Warren Greene and Martyn Shorten, April 2011
Running Times is a strong source for running shoe reviews. Here, 12 new trail shoes are divided into four categories: barefoot-style, minimally cushioned, lightweight cushioned and protective/durable. The Brooks Cascadia 6 falls under the protective/durable category. The reviewer says the shoe allows for "semi-nimble running" thanks to decent flexibility. It's not as lightweight as comparable models, but offers stellar protection on super-rugged terrain.
Review: 12 New Trail Shoes Reviewed, Brian Metzler, June 2011
3. Fitness Magazine
In this Spring 2011 guide to the best women's running shoes, Fitness magazine editors select eight shoes (four winners and four runners-up) as testers' top picks. Shoes are divided into four categories: the best running shoes for mild stability, flat feet, high arches or trail running. The Brooks Cascadia 6 wins the trail-running shoe category. Reviewers say the shoe features "incredible traction," and praise the weather-resistant upper and rock shield beneath the forefoot.
Review: Spring 2011 Sneaker Guide: The Best Running Shoes, Lindsey Emery, April 2011
In Outside magazine's 2011 Summer Buyer's Guide, editors select 12 shoes as top picks for trail running shoes. Each selection is accompanied by a short review. Editors say the Brooks Cascadia 6 offers excellent traction, a secure fit and ample cushioning, and the shoe is well suited for most terrain and long distances. Unfortunately, there's no information online as to how each shoe is tested.
Review: Summer Buyer's Guide, Editors of Outside, May 2011
Jason Mitchell, the proprietor of FeedTheHabit.com, writes detailed personal reviews of the latest trail running shoes. Here, the Brooks Cascadia 6 earns high marks for good breathability and "grippyness." Mitchell says the shoe balances nice protection with good trail feel, but adds that it doesn't perform as well on wet terrain.
Review: Brooks Running Cascadia 6 Trail-running Shoes Review, Jason Mitchell, June 15, 2011
6. Canadian Running
As in previous incarnations, Canadian Running magazine's annual trail-running shoe guide features numerous pairs of trail shoes, but there's no indication that they were tested. Still, the Brooks Cascadia 6 is hailed for the improvements made over its predecessor. The reviewer appreciates the balance between enhanced traction and a more nimble, closer-to-the-ground ride.
Review: Making Tracks: Trail Shoe Review, Gus Alexandropoulos, April 1, 2011
REI features more than a dozen user-generated reviews of the Brooks Cascadia 6, which earns 4.5 stars out of 5. Reviews are somewhat mixed; some owners say the great traction and tough outsole make this a good shoe for any terrain, while others say the toebox is too wide and makes the foot slip.
Review: Brooks Cascadia 6 Trail-running Shoes - Men's, Contributors to REI.com