Brooks Cascadia 17 Review

An in-depth review of the Brooks Cascadia 17 trail running shoe.

By on August 10, 2023 | Comments

The Brooks Cascadia 17 ($140) promises versatility on “any trail,” a worthy aspiration for a trail running shoe.

My entryway is currently the home of my excessively foamy trail shoes, my trail shoes with spikes, my luggy trail shoes, my mud-specific trail shoes, my trail shoes that dry fast, and more. Whether my feet feel beat up, are headed to snow, sliding down shale, or dancing with high tide, I have a go-to shoe — but it’s rarely the same shoe.

So, can the Brooks Cascadia 17, which offers 8 millimeters of drop and has an actual weight of 11.5 ounces (325 grams) in U.S. men’s size 9, live up to its claim? Updated stabilizing technology and enhanced traction in this model are sure giving it the college try.

We love the Brooks Cascadia 17 so much that it’s a top pick in our Best Trail Running Shoes guide.

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Brooks Cascadia 17

The Brooks Cascadia 17. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Brooks Cascadia 17 Upper

The composition of the Brooks Cascadia 17 upper appears similar to its predecessor. Single-layer resilient mesh is encompassed by a TPU toe cap and mud guard, which both provide protection and durability.

The mesh on this model is PrintDyed, a process that apparently saves a significant amount of energy and water compared to the traditional dye process.

I ran several miles in these shoes on the Northern California Lost Coast Trail this spring; while it wasn’t actually raining, the coastal drip and relentless foliage had us saturated. In contrast to the shoes I had worn the day prior through these unique coastal elements, the Cascadia 17 drained well, awarded me zero blisters, and dried completely overnight under the vestibule of my tent.

The shoes lace up easily over a gusseted tongue and remain tied. While slippy laces was an issue I experienced with the Cascadia 15 — here’s our Brooks Cascadia 15 review for reference — this seems resolved now. A stretchy lace keeper is situated two thirds of the way down the tongue if you desire some extra security in that regard.

The shoes have housed my narrow midfoot nicely while the toebox continues to comfortably accommodate my ever-prominent bunions. However, fellow testers on the iRunFar team have reported a slightly sloppier fit through the midfoot compared to the past two renditions. I run most of my miles with custom orthotics, which the shoes accommodate very well, but may also fill the extra roominess noted by others.

The Cascadia 17 is not made with a built-in gaiter, but it does have front and back attachment points to secure gaiters to if you wish to use them.

After approximately 100 miles of testing, through an impressive amount of moisture and aggressive plant life, the uppers are looking as good as new.

Brooks Cascadia 17 - lateral view

A lateral view of the Brooks Cascadia 17.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Midsole

Brooks’s DNA LOFT v2 foam was added to the Cascadia 16 — look back at our Brooks Cascadia 16 review — for improved comfort and remains in this current model, the Brooks Cascadia 17.

What’s new is the Trail Adapt System, which uses an integrated midsole, rock plate, and outsole for enhanced control and stability. The rock plate is housed between two layers of the DNA LOFT v2 foam in an effort to provide the necessary protection while also preserving flexibility in the shoe.

If I compare my ability to manually flex the shoe next to a road shoe, there is certainly less flex. However, as has almost always been my experience with Brooks, the Cascadia 17 continues to prove comfy right out of the box, requiring no break-in time.

As mentioned, a drop of 8 millimeters has been maintained over the past few models of the Cascadia.

Brooks Cascadia 17 - medial view

A medial view of the Brooks Cascadia 17.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Outsole

The Brooks Cascadia 17 TrailTack outsole has been updated to what’s now called TrailTack Green Rubber, made with 25% recycled content and designed to provide versatile traction on wet and dry surfaces.

While testing these shoes, I was delighted to discover that the 4.5-millimeter lugs are oriented to mimic the anatomy of mountain-goat hooves for traction. While I failed to convince my favorite backyard goat to take them for a spin, turns out the lugs and her hooves do in fact look a lot alike. I plan to race her up our local peak erelong to further test just how well Brooks executed this marvelous little source of inspiration.

Brooks Cascadia 17 - goat approved

The Brooks Cascadia 17 is goat approved. Photo: iRunFar/Annie Behrend

The forefoot outsole is split in order to provide better grip on uneven surfaces. I’ve had the pleasure of running on most surfaces in the Cascadia 17 without any slip and slide of note. Their snow exposure has been pretty limited to the higher elevation residual June drifts and nothing extensive; I would likely return to my quiver for something a bit more aggressive if planning to run for a prolonged period on snow.

Circling back to Brooks’s efforts to create a shoe suitable for “any trail,” I would also argue that the Cascadia 17 is plenty comfortable to take on and off road if your commute to the trail requires a bit of pavement.

Brooks Cascadia 17 - outsole

The outsole of the Brooks Cascadia 17.

Brooks Cascadia 17 Overall Impressions

Any version of the Brooks Cascadia — including the Brooks Cascadia 17 — will no doubt always be a reasonably safe option; the company’s efforts to deliver versatility and comfort through this shoe’s many iterations have consistently meshed with my running style.

I’ve historically valued the Cascadia like a trustworthy commuter car, reliably fit for most terrain and a price point that most are willing to pay for. The effort of accurately predicting conditions and choosing the perfect trail shoe has one of my running buddies simply throwing up her hands and reverting back to her favorite cushioned road shoes to run all the things. While they’re not as fluffy as my marshmallow shoes, as stealthy or aggressive on the outsole as my technical trail and mud shoes, as great on snow as my studded shoes, or as flexible as my road shoes, they are one pair of shoes that can run on most surfaces well.

If you’re in the market for simplicity, these may be worth your while.

Do check out our Best Trail Running Shoes guide, to see why we’ve named this one of the top trail running shoes and see how we compare the Brooks Cascadia 17 to other top shoes on the market.

Shop the Women's Brooks Cascadia 17Shop the Men's Brooks Cascadia 17

Call for Comments

  • Brooks Cascadia afficionados, weigh in with your thoughts on the Brooks Cascadia 17!
  • How do you compare the Cascadia 17 with prior versions?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

Our Favorite Trail Running Shoes

Check out our Best Trail Running Shoes article to learn about our current favorite trail running shoes!

Brooks Cascadia 17 - top view

A top view of the Brooks Cascadia 17.

Annie Behrend

Annie Behrend is a gear reviewer for iRunFar. She’s been writing about running gear since 2020. Aside from iRunFar, she’s authored and co-authored nutrition and fueling-related publications in research journals. As a registered dietitian and ultrarunner, she’s worked one-on-one with athletes, primarily runners, since 2013 to optimize performance via fueling and hydration. Based in temperate southern Oregon, Annie has year-round access to marvelous trail systems and public lands that she shares with more wildlife than she does people … the perfect paradise.