Brooks Cascadia 12

9.7 score
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Editor rating: 9.7 / 10
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Brooks Cascadia 12 Review Facts

Those in search of a running shoe designed for more rugged trails may find solace in the Brooks Cascadia 12. This is a trail running shoe. It is with a carbon/blown rubber outsole and synthetic mesh upper. Owners seem to enjoy the shoe’s stability, comfort, and performance. There are a few complaints regarding the fit and durability. We will discuss these issues further in this comprehensive review.

One of the more interesting comments, several customers make, is that shoe does not “feel” fast. That’s not because it’s a slow shoe, at all. It’s because they are so comfortable, according to online reviewers. One customer wrote that downhill the shoe is exceptionally fast because it is so stable. If you’re looking for a high-performance trail shoe, Brooks Cascadia 12 sets the pace.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Very stable
  • Well-cushioned
  • Good support
  • True Fit 
  • Withstands rugged trails
  • Not waterproof
  • Do not expect them to stretch


Brooks has been in the sporting goods business since 1914, making ballet and bath shoes (yes, that was a thing). Then Frank Shorter focused the world’s attention — and Brooks; — on running, when he won the gold in the marathon, at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Brooks soon began producing shoes and apparel for running. Three decades later, in 2002, Brooks renamed itself “Brooks Running.” The company now devotes itself exclusively to the sport of running.

The people at Brooks Running seem passionate about the sport. That fanaticism translates into a top-quality shoe. Over the years, Brooks has been very innovative in the world of running shoes.

Remember when shoe fitters tried to convince you that a shoe would “correct” your biomechanics? Ouch. Brooks Running’s philosophy is for their shoe design to fit the biomechanics of your foot, for the running you’re doing. Not the other way 'round.


Some will probably familiar with earlier versions of the Cascadia, particularly the 9, 10, or 11. Lots of people have been asking about changes. Well, two significant grades were made to version 12. Trail runners are likely to enjoy this upgraded version.

Brooks has widened the toe box in the 12, compared to the 11 and past versions. If you’re not familiar with the Cascadia, reports are that its fit is similar to the Ghost. The toe box in the 12 is still narrower than the Glycerin.

Also, Brooks has added it’s Ballistic Rock Shield™ to the 12. Brooks’ shield is made of a thermoplastic (toughened by heating and cooling) ethylene-vinyl acetate or EVA “sheath.” The sheath is a layer of this EVA sandwiched between the outsole and the midsole, towards the front of the foot. This is where your foot impacts the ground. In Cascadia’s case, the trail floor, where the ball of your foot is pounding on rocks and sharp objects.

The Ballistic Rock Shield distributes the pressure of the impact across a wider surface area. Thus, reducing stress,, strain, and injury to soft tissue. This lessens the likelihood of bruising a bone, or even worse.

Key Features

-Cushioning is moderate
-10mm Heel-To-Toe Drop
-Synthetic mesh upper
-Synthetic lining
-EVA Midsole
-Carbon/blown rubber Outsole
-Ballistic Rock Shield
-Neutral support

Basic Features

The basic feature of the Brooks Cascadia 12 is its purpose. It is designed for running on rugged trails, which it does very well. Keep in mind that, while it is a versatile shoe, it is not intended to be used in all conditions.

Nothing spoils a run down a woodsy trail than a discarded shoe or other human flotsam. Brooks puts a lot of thought into the environmental impact of its products. One of the advanced features of the Brooks Cascadia 12 is the BioMoGo DNA technology. This means that while the cushioning is quite durable, it breaks down in the environment much faster, thus reducing the need for landfill.

Other advanced features include HPR Plus rubber makes the outsole more durable. Also, it has a sock-liner that is removable.


When running on a track or paved surface, you’re thinking about a lot, including about how you feel, your strategy, avoiding other runners, and maybe traffic. When you’re running on a rugged trail, you’re a lot more pensive than you think you are. A lot of a trail-runners' thinking is taking place in the background of consciousness.

You’re not looking at every rock, twig, hole, or divot, on the ground. There’s a lot of communication going on between your foot and your brain about these seemingly minor obstacles.

Add speed into the equation, and that means you need a responsive shoe. A responsive shoe is not merely one that does what you tell it to do, but one that does it consistently. Without consistency, your brain has difficulty making reliable predictions. That’s what slows you down.

There is near-universal agreement, among owners and reviewers, that the Brooks Cascadia 12 gives you stability, comfort, and responsiveness all in one sweet package. Owners say they use this shoe not just for running rugged trails but obstacle courses, walking, and backpacking as well.


This shoe is not designed for being the fastest thing on the track. It’s designed for running rugged trails at winning times. The Brooks Cascade 12 is a deceptively fast shoe, claim some people online.

One woman says that when running downhill in this shoe, it doesn’t feel as though she’s moving very fast. She said it is because the shoe is so stable and comfortable.


According to the manufacturer, this shoe offers “neutral” support. That means the shoe does not correct for pronation (striking the ground on the inner edges of your shoe) or Supination (striking the ground on the outer edges of your shoe). A neutral strike means your foot is landing evenly across the balls of your feet, and on the outer sides of your heal. “Neutral support” means the shoe assumes your foot strike is neutral.

To get an idea of how your foot strikes the ground is an old pair of shoes. Look at the underside. The wear pattern should be fairly obvious. A word of warning, changing how your shoe strikes the ground is not the same as correcting your foot’s natural inclination to pronate or supinate. If you’re in pain, see a foot specialist.


Brooks incorporates a Four-Point Posting technology that is specific to trail running. This system increasing stability side-to-side and toe-to-heel. This is a trail-running shoe, intended for rugged terrain. The midsole is made of a durable, cushioning EVA. The added straps of the Brooks Cascadia 12 are attached to the laces and add to the stability.


Quite several customers had reported an issue with the durability of the upper part but on the previous versions of Cascadias. Thus, a large number of them approach with attention when it comes to the upper part of Brooks Cascade 12.

However, Brooks Cascade 12 upper had proven to be different as even after a period of wearing them, they show no signs of wear and tear or ripping. The shoe also has new straps on the inside part. They are interwoven with the lacing straps, thus adding to the support and secure wear.

Heel-to-Toe Drop

The heel-to-toe drop is 10mm. If you’re not familiar with the terminology, if you take the height of the toe and the height of the heel, it is the difference between the two figures. Most runners consider 10-12mm to be high-drop shoe. That means when your foot is more likely to strike the ground on the heel. In shoes with a low to medium drop, less than 10mm, you’re more likely to strike the ground on the heel or forefoot, respectively.


If you’re looking for protection for your foot, from rugged trails, Brooks has a lot to offer. First, there is its Ballistic Rock Shield. A tough layer of EVA Thermoplastic disperses pressure against the sole of the shoe across a full area. A wider dispersal area across the shoe means less stress on the soft tissue and bones of your foot.

You also get the Four-Point Posting technology. This system distributes your balance more evenly front-to-back and side-to-side. That means you’re less likely to slip, twist an ankle, or slow down to avoid a fall.

This adds up to less time recuperating and more time running. All of this technology translates into less fatigue and injury, and a more comfortable run. You’re getting a faster, safer, more comfortable route.


Like style, color is essential. It’s not just affectation. Color influences our mood, how we feel about ourselves. It affects the image we project to others.

Maybe you want to stand out from the crowd or blend in. Perhaps the right color will psyche you up just enough to go a little farther or fast. Color plays a significant role when it comes to choosing a pair of shoes you'll want to wear for a long time.

You’re putting down good money for a shoe. Take the time to pick out the right color for you. Luckily, Brooks shoes come in some beautiful looking colors, not just the predictable two-tone patterns.

Those are some pretty wicked color combinations. Even the shoelaces coordinate. Hey, if you’re going to kick your game up a notch, you might as well kick it up in style.


This is not a waterproof shoe. Owners, however, report dirt and mud clean off the shoe easily. If you need a shoe that keeps you dry from the rain or standing water, consider one of Brooks’ GTX models.


Is styling important in a running shoe? The owners and reviewers don’t spend a lot of time, either complementing or complaining about this shoe’s style. That’s too bad, really. A shoe’s design says a lot about a company’s commitment to its product and to the customer.

The patterning on the different materials from which the shoe is constructed, for instance. Part of that is pure style; different shapes and sizes create a pleasing look. It’s also functional. Different surface patterns protect against abrasion, shed dirt, provide traction, wicks away moisture, or controls how the fabric breaths.

Looking at the seams, do the edges line up? Is there space for something to wedge in there and pull the two pieces apart? Look at the stitching. Is tight, smooth, and uniform? Are the holes for the laces smooth or raggedly?


If you look at a purchase in terms of what you get for your dollar, that’s the cost-to-benefit ratio. You can buy a more expensive shoe, but how much more value will you derive from the additional expense? All other factors aside, how many more miles do you need to get out of a show to spend, say, twice as much? Twice the miles? Thinking about your shoes in this way, the Brooks Cascadia 12 gives you a very positive cost-to-benefit ration or value for your dollar.


“Under normal wear and tear,” Brooks says their running shoes should last from 300 to 500 miles, and from 3 to 6 months. Brooks backs that claim up. If you feel that your shoe is not performing over its expected lifetime, you need to contact Brooks. If they finds that a manufacturing defect is involved, they will replace it.


The Brooks Cascadia 12 uses both a Universal Sprung Platform and a Segmented Crash Pad that runs the full length of the shoe. (The later design is inspired by the caterpillar.) Thus, no matter what your stride is like, or how your foot lands, this shoe is superior at absorbing shocks. The BioMoGo DNA midsole gives you a very durable cushion.

Bottom Line

The bottom line looks good, taking all things into account. According to reviewers and customers’ comments, the Brooks Cascadia is a good value for the dollar, is durable and comfortable, and gives you excellent performance on the trail. You’re also backed up by Brooks’ “True Blue Guarantee.”

Use the shoe for 90 days and if you’re not satisfied, return it. If you never use the shoe, and it’s still in the original packaging, you can return it within 365 days. Also, if the shoe fails to meet its life expectancy, and there’s a defect involved, contact Brooks for assistance. If you’re in the market for a shoe for trail running, be it rugged trails or obstacle courses, the Brooks Cascadia 12 may be just the shoe you’re looking.