Brooks Cascadia 8 Review

[Check out the most recent Cascadia in our review of the Brooks Cascasdia 15 and Cascadia 15 GTX.]

I know that as I set out to review the new Brooks Cascadia 8 ($120), I hold the hopes and dreams of millions, okay thousands, of non-minimalist trail runners. One harsh sentence or critique could send them frantically to obscure websites looking for old Cascadias on closeout in an effort to get through another summer trail running season in their favorite shoes. Of course I’m joking, but the Cascadia is a shoe that I consistently see on the trails everyday, and one that I count as a benchmark for other highly protective trail shoes. Like a standard in the music world, a song that every musician worth their salt knows how to play, the Cascadia is a shoe which most runners have had some experience with.

The Brooks Cascadia 8

Upper

For those of you Cascadia loyalists out there, the majority of the changes take place in the upper and in my opinion these subtle changes are positive. A breathable but durable microfiber is crisscrossed by welded-on overlays throughout the majority of the shoe. The interior of the shoe is void of seams or any abrasive points apart from where the tongue attaches, which didn’t give me any problems. A synthetic rand runs the length of the shoe and connects to a fairly beefed-up toe bumper that is plenty protective.

The Cascadia 8’s lateral upper.

An asymmetrical lacing system uses a combination of floating eyelets and traditional, punched eyelets and provides a tightening sensation throughout the mid-foot and a very secure feel. This asymmetrical lacing is similar to that of the Cascadia 7, but improved in my opinion due to eyelet construction. A well-padded tongue stays in place and is complimented by a firm, reinforced heel cup.

Everything about this upper is what I would expect from the Cascadia, and I have no doubts that you could get 1000 miles out of it. Gone is the somewhat sloppy fit of the Cascadia 7 and the 8 feels like a secure shoe ready to tackle any terrain. Although I would like to see a slightly wider forefoot to accommodate foot swelling, I didn’t experience any irritation in the toe box.

Midsole

Very little, if anything, has changed between the Cascadia 7 and 8. [Editor’s Note for Shoe Geeks: There were some minor changes.] BioMogo and Brooks DNA cushioning are used in conjunction with a heel and forefoot pivoting system (think dual-density foam posts) to provide stability for pronators. That being said, these stability features don’t seem to get in the way for me as a neutral foot striker and I think they help the shoe hold up well during a long run. The feel of the Cascadia is firm and locked down, and I felt like I could take this shoe over a talus field and feel stable. The downside to this feeling is during faster outings the Cascadia 8 felt heavy and the heel differential high (10 mm) for technical trail running. Granted, I’m usually running in sub-10-ounce trail shoes (while these are 11.9 ounces), but I’d like to see a bit more of an agile feel.

The Cascadia 8’s medial upper.

Outsole

The Cascadia 8 employs a fairly general but effective outsole lug pattern. I liked that lug height was not a factor when running on roads or flat trails and the Cascadia felt great on the roads as usual. A fairly substantial rock plate kept me feeling very bulletproof over any terrain and I would consider this one of the most protective shoes I’ve ever worn. Brooks puts in the extra effort to use recycled materials to make the tacky outsole rubber, which is very cool, and after about ten longer runs in this shoe the outsole is showing no wear whatsoever.

The Cascadia 8’s outsole.

Overall Impressions

Without a doubt the eighth Cascadia will be a crowd pleaser. I enjoyed running in the Cascadia 7 and I think that they dialed in the fit a bit more with this version. I really can’t think of anything about this shoe I would change outside of making the forefoot just a tad wider, but it never bothered me during runs. If you regularly run in Cascadias you’re in the clear, as Brooks didn’t depart from the tried-and-true formula here.

However, I have to wonder if the Cascadia will retain its heralded place as a favorite of the masses. Trail shoe companies are seemingly back to focusing on protective shoes and many of them weigh one or two ounces less than the Cascadia (namely the New Balance MT1210 Leadville). While I can’t help wonder what a bit more agile Cascadia would feel like on the trail, having a reduced upper might defeat the purpose and heritage of the Cascadia completely, which in my opinion is its durability. In any group long run I can always depend on many of the elder statesman, those experienced salty dog veterans of our sport, sporting well-worn versions of past Cascadias without giving lighter-weight shoes even a second thought. Maybe just like Brooks, those old guys got it right a long time ago.

Tom Caughlan: is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

View Comments (33)

  • I love these shoes. I was very disappointed with the 7's and would agree that they had a sloppy fit. I have been a Cascadia loyalist ever since I started trail running, when I bought the 3's and bought 2 pairs a year since. But the 7's sent me looking for other shoes to try on. When the 8's came out I was a little apprehensive, but when I tried them on it was like meeting up with an old friend after years of not seeing each other, and picking up right where we left off (w/ the feel of the 6's that is...)! If you want to make more music comparisons here, I feel like the 7's were like that album that your favorite band put out that you wanted to forget all about. So happy with the 8's!

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  • New trail runner, wearing Cascadia 8s as my first trail shoe. Love them. And they clean up really good too - after a long run, I hose them down and hang them up to dry, and they are good as new.

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  • I also run in the Cascadias. The 7's were a disaster. The fit was sloppy due to the offset lacing.

    They also seemed to run bigger than past models. I loved the 6's and I'm hoping the 8's feel the same. I did notice a $10 price increase.

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  • I didn't realize that there was a general consent that the 7's were sloppy. I never tried any Cascadias prior to the 7, and I hated the 7. I'd constantly roll my ankle in it. I have no reason to try the 8's because I've found that the Saucony Peregrine is a perfect shoe for me, and it it's not broke, don't fix it!

    Sorry Brooks, you had your chance. (but then again, the PureGrit is a darn fine shoe!)

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  • hmmm, first they said the 6's were bad, now they say the 7's were bad ... is this a conspiracy to get us (old dogs) to buy the latest version ??

    For me, the 7's were the best iteration of the Cascadia. I did not consider them sloppy once I laced them with the double eyelet holes at the top. The 7's felt an awful lot like a 10mm drop are you sure of your claim of 12 ??

    anyway, I really wanted to like the 8's because they are lighter than the 7's. but there is an unpleasant tightness across the top of the ball of my foot due to those overlays I think. and since I don't use Cascadias for short fast super technical I'd really rather have those 2mm of drop back.

    for now, I just bought an extra pair of Cascadia 7's to hold me till I can figure out the next move.

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    • Art,
      I didn't review the 8s, but I've run in (at least) the Cascadia 4, 6, 7 & 8. I found the 6 to be a great all around shoe for 95% of my running. The top floating eyelets, however, didn't work for me on steep, technical descents as they added some play to the upper. No major beefs with either the 7 or 8 for me. I do actually like the fit with the new eyelet system - for me it allowed me to lock my foot firmly down without a single tight point.

      Thanks for the catch re the change in drop - there was none. I was incorrectly informed during a meeting with Brooks personnel.

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  • Foolproof and bulletproof. On my third pair of 7's. I've worn them on everything: long no-trail rocky descents/10 mile treadmill tempo runs :( /city runs and, trails of all sorts and everything in between. No foot problems. I guess it would be nice to run in something a bit lighter, but I'll carry an extra 2 oz. in exchange for zero issues. And they're not just for hobby joggers like myself, as I believe Zeke Tiernan wore them to his second place finish at Leadville 2012. Sounds like the 8's won't disappoint.

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    • I'm no Zeke, but I wore (a well-worn pair of) Cascadias to a sub-20 at Leadville in 2009. All in all, the Cascadia has remained a great all-around shoe through the years.

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      • Just in from a run in my 7's and saw the review. I've tried the 8's on, and the fit is nearly identical. I run trails, mountains, and dirt roads in VT and they make the miles melt away. The 8's have some slight refinements, and I'm sure to switch to them when the 7's go.

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  • Although the 7's were super comfy (never got a blisters, ever) I never liked the offset lacing which kept kept coming undone ... so looking forward to the 8's, as at 58 years old I guess I'm classed as a salty dog!

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  • Salty dog/ old ultra runner = experience. I tr to take a lot of my cues from folks with a lot of ultras in their legs.

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  • I loved the 7s, and I recently bought a pair of 8s. During my third run with the 8s on some very rocky San Diego mountain trails, I ripped the lugs on the ball of the foot completely off on my left foot and partially on my right. So, the durability of the outsole on very rocky terrain is definitely questionable. I hope that I had a defective pair because they are extremely comfortable.

    What isn't questionable if Brooks' customer service which is nothing short of outstanding. They sent me a brand new pair in three days.

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    • Great to hear Steve! Thanks for posting as customer care isn't something I get into much in these reviews. Glad to hear they took care of you.

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  • If anyone needs a 2E width shoe and/or wider toebox than the Cascadia, the New Balance Leadville MT1210 has not disappointed me! Very well engineered and fit my feet very well. Everything from the vibram sole to the almost-seemless shoe liner seems to make this a shoe for the long haul, but only time will tell.

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  • Tom,

    Great review. I have heard great things about 8's. I would love to try them out. You looked so fast going up Rampart Range Road on these shoes. Keep it up. You are my hero!

    K.

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    • Thanks Kat! I normally would not wear the Cascadias for tempo work but I suffer for my art ;) Thankful to have a great group of folks that like to get after it at 6am when its blowing snow.

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  • The Cascadia 8s are just too narrow. I never have blister issues and these shoes just tear up the sides of my feet. Recently, the best all around trail shoe out of the box for me has been the Montrail Bajada. Unfortunately, I've gone through 3 pair of them and they just don't hold up; I haven't been able to get more than 150 miles out of a pair. Anyway, I was hoping the Cascadia 8s would fit the bill. They're definitely well constructed compared to the Bajada but the narrow fit is a killer. It looks like the Leadville 1210s might do the trick...

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  • Did they get rid of the rough stitching seam on the inside of the shoe right at the outside of the little toe? It's right where they stitch thru to the outside of the shoe to secure the soft rubber (basically where they printed C for Cascadia on the first picture you show in this article) ... That little bit of stitching will rub you wrong over a long run ... The 6's and prior versions didn't have this issue ... If you have a pair of 7's stick a finger in there it is any easy issue to find

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    • I have noticed this problem on both the 7's and the 8's. For me it's pretty much a fatal flaw in an otherwise awesome shoe.

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  • Bryon, any plans to review the Peregrine 3?

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    • Yes Jeff, its coming. Should be a couple of weeks.

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  • Bryon or Tom, is there any plans to review the New Balance 1210 Leadville? They are very similar to the Cascadia 7s.

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      • Yeah, I saw that, but I was hoping for a more in-depth review like the one above. I know they can't review every shoe, but worth asking. It is a pretty sweet shoe.

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  • Even though I've ventured into different brands - Inov8 and New Balance,the Cascadia has been the go to shoe for me over the years. I'm happy with the some of the mentioned tweaks on the 8s - ex. the fabric change.

    My biggest issue with the 7's was the tread - clumpy clay accumulation. The reworking of the Cascadia's tread on the 8's has reduced slippage/dirt accumulation on the fore/mid foot. The heel region needs to be reconfigured to minimize mud accumulation, as I still have come back with a layer of mud on the heel. Overall - traction is better and I would take the 8's over the 7's on this note.

    Now if they would only reduce the heel to toe ratio to 4-5mm - I'd be stoked.

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  • Steve,

    I had the exact same problem. I live in the Phoenix area and run a local mountain that is very rocky. In less than 150 miles I had ripped off lugs on both shoes, with a second and third one ready to go on one of them. Luckily the shoe store I go to exchanged them for another pair. The only problem was that 2 weeks later I had ripped off another lug (less than 70 miles). I turned those back in and switched over to the Hoka Mafate.

    The Mafate had some very similar problems after 2 weeks, and another exchange. So it's time to find a more durable shoe. I'll save the Hoka's for when my feet need a pillow, but I'm really wondering what shoe to try now. I think I need sole that is one solid surface with no gaps to the mid-sole.

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  • Pat,

    I ended up with a pair or the New Balance Leadville 1210. They seem pretty good do far, and all of the lugs are still there.

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  • Do the Cascadia 8's offer enough support for mild over pronation? I wear an Adrenaline for my road shoe and am thinking of trying the Cascadias for my trail shoe, especially given the positive reviews and comments.

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    • For mild pronation, I'd say "yes" without hesitation.

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  • I did the Adrenaline-Cascadia combo for a long time and it worked out swell for me. Now I've switched to the Launch for my road shoe due to changes in my mechanics, but the Cascadia is still my go-to, all purpose trail shoe.

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