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The women’s Brooks Cascadia 12 is a trail running shoe that provides the comfort of a sneaker but the durability of a hiking boot. I recently made the switch from my Salomon trail runners to the Cascadia. Given the mega popularity of the brand and more specifically the shoe among hikers, I’m surprised it has taken me this long to become a Brooks convert!

Working with Scott Jurek, the trail-running ultra-marathoner, Brooks designed the first trail running shoe – the Cascadia. So it’s not a surprise that this shoe has trail optimized features while still providing comfort and flexibility. I’ve owned my Cascadia’s for close to a year and have put these shoes to the test on several types of terrain, each of which the shoe handled smoothly. Despite the stiff sole that allow the shoe to function well on all terrain, these shoes are not aggressive. In fact, they are surprisingly nimble. They also have excellent cushion, a staple of the Cascadias, which provide extra comfort. The Pivot Post System is a new flexibility feature of the Cascadia 12, which ensures every stride is fluid, regardless whether you are running or hiking and offers stability points in five areas including the toes for greater balance.

Each part of the shoe is constructed with thought and care. The hexagon shaped multi-directional lugs provide traction and prevent sliding. I recently wore these shoes on a hike that involved several hard rock scrambles. As expected, the Cascadia gripped extremely well all the while providing comfort and stability. The multi-directional lugs on the outer edges (rear, front and sides) of the shoes provide increased traction and breaking support. The rear foot breaking are especially great for steep downhill slopes. at the heel provide rear foot breaking for greater traction on downhill slopes. The shoes remain comfortable even during my short runs (3-6 miles) on paved roads in part because of the even spread of the lugs. Cascadias also have full-length segmented crash pads, which accommodate any type of foot landing. I have a tendency to role my ankles while hiking, and even while walking sometimes, and the Cascadia’s have dramatically reduced this problem.

As I mentioned earlier, the Cascadias performed well for me on multiple terrains. I really appreciated the tight mesh uppers of these shoes during my rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon. The helped me feet breath and kept them cool and dry, despite the searing late summer temperatures. The synthetic and microfiber overlays help the shoe dry quickly, if it gets wet. Last spring, many trails in Yosemite National Park were flooded with water and mud. I lost my foothold several times while hopping on logs. My Cascadias got fairly wet but dried within 15 minutes. With a change of socks, I always felt like I was wearing a dry shoe. I’ve also worn these shoes to run in the city during light rains and again they’ve dried within 15-20 minutes.

The Brooks Cascadia 12 is designed for the rugged terrain of trails and several features ensure comfort and smoothness. It is by far one of the most comfortable pair of shoes that I have worn. One of the best known features of Brooks’s running shoes is the fantastic cushioning and the Cascadia’s have plenty of it. The midfoot saddle and lace up closures comfortably wrap around your feet and ensure midfoot lockdown, both of which contribute to the comfortable fit of the shoe. The padded tongue and collar of the shoe also provide extra comfort. The shoe is built to protect your feet from rocks – rubber sole is abrasion resistant and has a rock shield and the toe guard will also provide protection against rocks.

Brooks is known for their sleek design and the Cascadia’s will not fail you. Often women’s shoes are made in bright oranges and pinks. Brooks has managed to buck that trend by sticking to darker colors with the Cascadia 12. I can live with the dark purple and touches of turquoise. In the last couple of years, Brooks has provided several design options for the Cascadia including the Scott Jurek Appalachian Trail edition and most recently the National Parks edition. My Cascadia’s are not waterproof but there is a Gore-Tex version of the shoe.

The Brooks Cascadia is a top of the line trail running shoe without the hefty price. At a $130, it is within the average cost for a solid running shoe. I highly recommend this shoe for a range of strenuous activities on rugged terrain. If you are purchasing a multi-purpose shoe for regular hikes, short runs on paved roads and everyday use, you will not do better than the versatile Brooks Cascadia 12!

Want to hear more or see the shoes in action? Check out the video review!

Written by Nalini

I love adventures that take me away from the hum drum of my regular life! Mine are usually filled with funny stories of common sense mistakes and miscalculations and involve the open roads, getting dirty, sleeping in tents and sweating and panting my way to the top of mountain peaks.

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