I’ve tested the Brooks Catamount on fast trail races, long multi-day hikes and even an FKT and I cannot put into words how much these shoes have surprised me. 150 miles later and I think these might be the best trail shoes I’ve ever laced up.
Disclaimer time; while I was part of the Brooks Run Happy Team (post on that soon) I brought these shoes with my own money and as always; my opinion is my own.
In my initial thoughts post my main problems with this shoe were down to its colour and the multitude of marketing touches emblazoned on every part of the shoe. I still have an issue with the marketing as I do think it may actually make some potential buyers think it is not a shoe for them, however, as soon as I got the shoe on and took it on some muddy trails this gripe was forgotten. The shoe speaks volumes in its actions, not in its words as the mud covered the marketing in minutes and I was lost in the joy of running in the shoe.
Now the colour; a white trail shoe seems to be an unspoken taboo in the running world. When I first posted about this shoe I received about 50 messages from runners on Instagram asking me why on earth I brought a white trail shoe. I must admit I was equally as sceptical, Brooks say it is so you can paint the shoe with your own adventure and as you can see by these photos I took of them; I got that brown paint and went to town. They do photograph well with fresh mud caked on them like a Van Gough painting but when the mud has dried the colour resembles that of those old white plimsolls you wore as a kid that you mum still has. I’d describe it more like aged beige than adventure adored.
Besides the colour the upper is a great combination of breathable materials and protections from the trails. One touch that has now been removed from the Brooks Cascadia but kept here is somewhere to tuck your laces away. On the Catamount it is a stretchy loop hidden under the laces and it does a great job of keeping the laces out of the way and safe from snagging. This was a must as the laces are made of a stretchy material that does very easily catch on things and I have noticed quite a few areas on the laces that have frayed off. For future races in these shoes I think I might actually remove the laces and put in a more traditional, hardwearing lace.
The breathable, single mesh upper means that it will dry quickly in the wet and the transparent mud guard which you can see above tried its best to protect me from the mud I trudged through!
The toebox is similar to most Brooks shoes; a wide enough fit to allow for your feet to splay naturally but secure enough to avoid slippage.
Cushion vs Speed
The midsole features the DNA Flash material that I loved in the Brooks Tempo and it transferred well on to a trail shoe which did surprise me. The nitrogen infused foam still offers that fast responsive feel but in a shoe that still makes you feel like you could go fast or slow in comfort. You can feel the slight give that the DNA Flash offers when your foot is planted and the spring forward even on muddy and soft ground. Even though this shoe is designed with Western States 100 in mind, the longest run I have done in this shoe is 37 miles and I was starting to feel like I needed more cushioning near the end which is why I would still reach for the Brooks Cascadia for ultra distances at the moment. However, I attempted a sprint finish for the final miles and it still offered that kick of speed even after all those miles. I do want to test it again during a 50 mile distance to see how it holds up and when I do I will update this review on how it held up.
Grip and Durability
I initially thought that the outer wasn’t aggressive enough and would wear away quickly in the multitudes of terrains I was going to test it on. In terms of grip the Catamount’s short 4mm lugs dug their claws in like the wild cat it is named after, offering surprising levels of grip that out classes shoes I’ve run in with far more aggressive looking lugs. I ran in a slate quarry, walked up Snowdon and ran through the mud slathered Chilterns and they conquered all terrain with ease thanks to its grippy chevron style lugs and the sticky TrailTack rubber. The rock plate also meant that I never felt uncomfortable underfoot on rocky and root infested terrain.
I tested the Catamount on runs that included road sections too as most runs we go on include parts on roads or pavements and I thought after 50 miles I would have noticed signs of wear, I was completely wrong. Even after 150 miles they have no sign of wear at all. There are no shoes I have ever run in; road or trail, that could say the same.
My initial reservations on these shoes faded away like it’s bright white colour as soon as I ran in them and honestly I can’t recommend the Catamount more. They have excelled at every situation I have put them in and so if you can afford the £125 price tag I urge you to head over to Brooks and buy them. While I still think there is no perfect shoe out there for all trail conditions this shoe comes dangerously close to proving me wrong. The future of trail running is bright, the future of trail running is Catamount.