Over the past few years, Brooks has whittled down their performance trail shoe offerings to just three lines: the Cascadia, the Caldera, and the Catamount. What these three models essentially represent are a supportive all arounder in the Cascadia model, a maximal trail shoe in the Caldera, and a lighter performance trail shoe in the Catamount.
While some other trail shoe companies seem to inexplicably expand the number of models offered, Brooks has contracted their line in a simple fashion which allows a trail runner to match preference with distance and terrain. The Brooks Catamount 2 ($170) is their first plated trail running shoe offering a lighter-weight package and responsive cushioning. The Brooks Catamount 2 has an actual weight of 9.6 ounces (271 grams) in a men’s size 9, a 6-millimeter drop, and a stack height of 30 millimeters at the heel and 24 millimeters at the toe.
The iRunFar team loves the Brooks Catamount 2 so much that it’s a pick in our Best Trail Running Shoes guide for 2023.
Brooks Catamount 2 Upper
As is typical of most Brooks trail running shoes, the Brooks Catamount 2 upper definitely has a road-shoe feel. The fit is true to size with a somewhat elongated toebox that, if anything, fits a bit larger than my typical size. A secure heel and moderate midfoot hold expands to a generous toebox typical of Brooks shoes. One mild complaint that some might have about the Catamount 2 upper is the shallow depth of the toebox. This is something I noticed if I wore thicker socks, and if you might also if you’re a runner who likes a lot of vertical toe room.
The dual-layer upper is quite well designed with a hydrophobic outer layer that provides both structure, moisture repellence, and abrasion resistance, over an inner layer that is recycled polyester. I found this mesh upper to be very durable throughout both winter snow and late spring slop conditions, and my pair continues to look unblemished. A TPU toecap adds additional protection during the occasional clipping of a toe on a rock.
What stood out most for me, and others, about the Catamount 2’s upper is the look of the shoe. This is definitely the coolest Brooks running shoe since the Brooks Green Silence Racing Flat — c’mon Brooks, bring it back! — and I received a lot of compliments from other runners.
While the laces on the original Brooks Catamount were great, some members of the team have problems keeping the laces tied in this second edition, even when double knotted.
Brooks Catamount 2 Midsole
Brooks employs their DNA FLASH midsole foam in the Brooks Catamount 2, which is a “nitrogen infused compound,” into a stack height of 30 millimeters at the heel for a responsive feel. While that term can be confusing, responsive typically refers to cushioning being somewhat firm, but energy producing. If you’re a Brooks fan, the feel of the Catamount 2 cushioning won’t differ too much from something like the DNA Loft foam in the ever-popular Brooks Ghost line, and the Catamount 2 is definitely more nimble rather than maximal.
There is some trail feel underfoot and protection from the SkyVault propulsion plate, which doubles as a lever and rock plate simultaneously. Brooks claims that this propulsion plate aids in uphill running, and my impressions of this shoe is that it does feel good running uphill.
What kind of distances does the Catamount 2 midsole lend itself to? For the fleet-footed, the Catamount 2 could be a 50- to 100-mile shoe for non-technical trails, or courses with a lot of road-to-trail sections. In my opinion, the Catamount 2 will work well for most runners in the 50-kilometer range on mellow trails where being fast is more important than foot protection. One note, members of our team have found we can run longer and farther in this edition than we could in the original Catamount, perhaps because of its extra protection via the SkyVault plate.
Brooks Catamount 2 Outsole
The outsole of the Brooks Catamount 2 is about as simple as they come for a trail shoe. Brooks uses its TrailTack rubber outsole, with approximately 2-millimeter lugs. This makes it a great road-to-trail option and the Catamount 2 does best on hardpack, non-technical trails. I did find that that the outsole collected mud and clay in wet conditions which it did not shed well. On the upside, it sticks quite well to a lot of different rock types, including some when wet.
Brooks Catamount 2 Overall Impressions
Honestly, over the years I’ve been less than impressed with Brooks shoes, both road and trail. As a company, Brooks seems to eschew shoe design fads, only dabbling before returning to their tried and true models. You can see this with trail shoes such as the Cascadia line and road shoes like the Ghost, Launch, and Glycerin lines. While a few Brooks shoes have made the cut in my rotation over the years, I certainly favored other brands. However, I think I was missing the mark with some of these models, including the Brooks Catamount 2.
Where Brooks excels in design is their adherence to something that works. I know that I can happily run in a Brooks Launch or Ghost road shoe from iteration to iteration simply because they don’t change too much. There doesn’t seem to be some overwhelming marketing push to completely redesign their shoes every few years, and that is a rare philosophy in the running industry.
I imagine that the Catamount line will continue to be a trail shoe that I enjoy running in for moderate length, uptempo, trail runs, and races. The Brooks Catamount 2 is recommended because it doesn’t have any defining design factors and it is devoid of unnecessary bells and whistles, leaving a very responsive, durable, and comfortably quick trail shoe.
Be sure to check out our Best Trail Running Shoes guide where we named the Brooks Catamount 2 a top trail shoe for 2023.
Call for Comments
- Have you run in the Brooks Catamount 2 or its original version? What do you think of this shoe overall?
- If you trained in the original Brooks Catamount, what do you think about the updates in this second edition?
[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!]