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BROOKS CASCADIA 7


I loved the Cascadia 6s. A lot of Cascadia fans apparently didn’t. So Brooks took notice and rejigged the new model to create a classic trail shoe that ticks nearly all the boxes, the Cascadia 7. The result is the right blend of traction, stability, protection and just enough cushioning to take on just about any surface. 
I hadn’t worn Cascadias prior to the 6’s and was massively impressed by them. Inevitably I cringed when the new model came out, fearing the worst. Well, apparently I am the inverse of most Cascadia fans. Apparently if you loved the earlier models up to about the 4, you likely didn’t approve of the 6. Good news: the 7 is a return to the formula that made the earlier models so successful. Consequently, I found this shoe didn’t really suit my feet. Which is a shame, as it is a really well built trail shoe.
While the differences appear marginal they are significant. A new curved lacing system arcs across the top of your foot and creates a more snug feel. The ‘floating eyelets’ on the 6’s have gone but double loop-holes in the tongue coupled with this curved lacing arrangement and fully webbed tongue make for a secure fit and less pressure on the top of your foot. The upper also sees the outer overlays extending further to the front and back. This adds to the firmness and protection and likely increases the stiffness of the upper.
Some argued that the lugs on the 6 were inadequate and lost traction. I felt they did a pretty good job. But a popular return to the triangular lugs of earlier models on the new 7 means even better grip. I like that the mini fins through the arch region have been retained as they work great when you hit a root or rock midfoot. The low profile of the lugs works well on bitumen and pavement. Brooks have hit a sweet balance with the tread providing a really serviceable pattern that works on most surfaces with really only the dedicated mud-runners out performing in the wet. The BioMoGo is retained and although I have no idea what it is I am a big fan. The ride is firm but cushioned if that is at all possible. Despite a traditional 10mm heel-to-toe drop (down from 11.3mm in the 6s), these guys feel low-set and there is plenty of feedback from the trail. 
The low-volume snug fit stops your foot sliding around on the steep descents. Unfortunately that means that if you have a wide forefoot you will find these run a little narrow. The tapered upper is almost scalloped over the little toe and can cause pressure, especially if you are used to your toes spreading out.  And this was my major disappointment with this new model. Brooks has definitely improved on an already bombproof shoe but they didn’t address the lack of toe-box room.  And this fit issue meant I had to limit the length of my runs in them.  The increased wrap and snug feel means I don’t like these as much as I did the 6. If Brooks would just build a bigger toe-box or offer width sizing these could become my go-to ultra shoe. As they are I can only wear them short distances and then I find I tend to grab a lighter, minimalist shoe.

I like the new colour scheme, being provided with the grey and contrasting orange trim model. At a listed weight of 338gm for men’s size 9 these are by no means a minimalist shoe. But they don’t claim to be. The protective rock-plate pretty much covers just the forefoot but does a great job of deflecting sharp rocks. A solid toe bumper adds to the protection. The technology includes a four-point pivot post set-up that works like a suspension system. There is still plenty of flexibility with flex grooves carved into the outsole. And the smooth ride I enjoyed in the 6s is still there.  
If your feet are wide forget this one. But if you are lucky enough to fit into these you will be treated to a great all round trail shoe. In a market flooded by a wave of minimalist trail runners, if you are looking for a more conventional approach including a regular heel height and heel-to-toe drop of 10mm it is hard to go past the Cascadia 7. If you want a classic style trail shoe with grip, cushioning, protection and comfort in a good looking package this is your best bet.

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