For years, legendary ultrarunner Scott Jurek has been working with the gurus at Brooks to help design some of their most popular pieces of trail-running gear.
This season’s freshest crop, the Brooks Trail Collection, sports all the essentials for a summer in the woods—from the hardy, dirt-loving Cascadia GTX shoes to the rain-ready, innovatively designed Cascadia shell.
Below is a run-down of the collection that will beg you to get on the trail.
Brooks Cascadia 11 GTX Trail-Running Shoes
When I signed up for my first trail race nearly seven years ago, I decided to purchase a pair of trail-specific running shoes. The pair I landed on was the Brooks Cascadia, a classic, robust trail shoe developed years ago with Jurek’s input.
In the years since, the Cascadia has continued to thrive as a popular choice for trail runners around the world. It boasts a “Goldilocks fit” (the kind that miraculously seems to feel great on a wide variety of foot shapes and sizes) and rugged tread that shines best on gnarly, muddy terrain.
In this GTX rendition, a full waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex® membrane fends off rain, snow, mud, dewy grass or shallow puddles. This can be a huge boon for the blister-prone runner; the drier your feet stay, the less likely they are to develop blisters.
One thing to be aware of, though: GTX shoes tend to run slightly warmer than their non-waterproof counterparts, so they’re best for stormy days or mucky, cool-weather runs.
Shop the women's Brooks Cascadia 11 GTX trail-running shoes at REI.com.
Shop the men's Brooks Cascadia 11 GTX trail-running shoes at REI.com.
Brooks Cascadia Shell
Ever been caught in an unexpected rainstorm on a long run? I sure have!
While most running shells do a decent job keeping me dry, my hydration pack is always a soggy mess by the time I get home. Brooks’ solution was to design a water-resistant shell that can actually fit over a running pack, so it, too, stays dry.
The sides of the Cascadia shell are entirely open and vented (think semi-fitted poncho), so unlike many weather shells, its breathability is stellar. This means none of that unpleasant internal clamminess we all love to hate when running on a humid day.
When the weather clears again, the shell easily packs into its own front pocket for quick stowing.
Brooks Cascadia Shorts
The biggest problem I often face with running shorts is that they ride up and chafe the daylights out of my inner thighs. Happily, even on runs of up to several hours long, I found the Cascadia shorts to stay in place—feeling light and breathable on my legs.
If you prefer to keep your hands free while running, these shorts come flanked with a well-designed pocket on each hip (one zippered, one secure-envelope) for toting your keys, phone, gels or other small essentials.
And, thanks to their soft, wide waistband and generous inseam, these shorts offer a welcome bit of extra coverage beyond the traditional runner’s short shorts.
Brooks Cascadia V Neck Tee
Confession: I’m not generally a fan of tech tees, mostly because I don’t like the way nylon, polyester or other synthetic materials feel on my skin.
However, the Cascadia V Neck won me over simply because it doesn’t feel anything like a normal tech tee. Its relaxed fit and unique fabric blend (I believe lyocell is the secret ingredient here) helps it feel as cozy and worn-in as my favorite cotton tee. Yet, it doesn’t sacrifice any of the desirable performance benefits of synthetics such as moisture wicking and quick drying.
It’s a perfect shirt for summer running—if you don’t already find yourself donning it for daily wear. Seriously, it’s that comfy.
Now, it's time to hit the trails.