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Shoe Review: Brooks Catamount

A runner wearing the Brooks Catamount

The Brooks Catamount was engineered for your fastest miles on trail, and it delivers on that promise.

The Catamount sits atop a featherweight DNA FLASH midsole and wears a sleek engineered mesh upper. Underneath, a host of lugs molded from sticky TrailTack rubber give you grip when you head off road.

Fleet Feet reviewers stomped through streams, ran through mud and climbed slick rocks to test out the Brooks Catamount. Here’s what they thought of the speedy trail running shoe.

Tech specs

Brooks Catamount

Weight

8.8 oz (W), 9.3 oz (M)

Upper

Mesh

Midsole

DNA FLASH

Outsole

TrailTack

Use

Racing

Surface

Trail

​Brooks Catamount Fit and Materials

A pair of Brooks Catamount trail running shoes

The Brooks Catamount is a premium trail running shoe powered by some of Brooks’ latest and greatest technology.

The lightweight construction accentuates the Catamount’s streamlined feel, and the snug fit gives it that fast-day mentality. Here’s everything you need to know about the Catamount’s fit and materials.

Upper

A minimalist, single-layer mesh upper—and, yes, they made it white—provides a sleek, fast feel.

It’s thin yet supportive, thanks to material that doesn’t stretch with wear. A grid of perforations over the toe box and midfoot let your feet breathe even on the muggiest of days.

A transparent Mud Guard also rims the Catamount. This second skin covers the mesh where it meets the midsole, and it wraps all the way around the shoe to protect your foot against sharp rocks, roots or other debris on the trail (a feature our testers vouched for).

And trail running can mean crossing streams or stomping through puddles, so Brooks included a smart detail: small slits in the Mud Guard. Instead of acting like a seal that keeps water in, the slits help water drain quickly from the shoe.

“I run through a lot of water where I live, and I had no problem with water pooling in my shoes after traversing creeks and streams,” one reviewer says. “They drain really well.”

One big question reviewers had with the Catamount was the pure white upper, as it gets dirty quickly. However, one Fleet Feet reviewer thinks the Catamount looks even better with some mud on it.

“White seemed like an odd choice for the upper until I got them dirty,” she says. “Maybe because the dirtiness was so pronounced—it felt like a badge of honor.”

Indeed.

Heel and Tongue

A streamlined heel cup and minimalist tongue helps to maintain the Catamount’s fast feel, while a rigid internal heel counter creates a secure fit. Fleet Feet reviewers say the heel counter works well to keep their heels from slipping.

A touch of extra padding around the heel collar makes the heel fit more comfortable, and it also gives it a little bit extra hold for additional security.

The tongue, like the rest of the shoe, keeps weight to a minimum. The thin tongue molds over the top of your foot, and it’s sewn into a bootie that helps seal out small rocks and debris from the trail.

Overall Fit

Overall, the Catamount is snug, secure and lightweight.

Testers say the heel fits tightly and doesn’t budge in the transition toward takeoff, and the laces create a snug feel. The toe box is not especially wide, nor is it too narrow, but it does give the shoe a slimmer feel than everyday training shoes, like the Brooks Ghost 13.

The Mud Guard also adds a touch of structure to the toe, which creates more space above the toes. The extra rigidity also protects your digits if you kick a root or rock in the trail.

Brooks Catamount Ride and Performance

The outsole of the Brooks Catamount

The Brooks Catamount’s sleek, minimalist vibe leaves plenty of room for the performance to shine.

The Catamount is powered by Brooks’ premier DNA FLASH midsole. The top-of-the-line foam is infused with nitrogen for a lighter and springier ride, while a coating of TrailTack rubber studded with directional lugs creates confident footing.

Underfoot Feel

The foam feels very light, according to reviewers, and it’s firmer than many popular trail running shoes. One reviewer who typically likes softer shoes for the trail liked the Catamount for it’s confident foot placement and snappy off-road response.

“The underfoot firmness helps to keep my feet safe from sharp rocks, while also offering a bit of a feeling of pop,” she says. “In short, I feel fast when I wear these shoes.”

Part of the firm feel comes from Brooks’ Ballistic Rock Shield. The rock plate embedded into the midsole helps defend your feet from sharp rocks and roots that litter the trail while still staying flexible for a natural roll.

Even though the rock plate allows for some flex, the Catamount is still stiffer than typical everyday training shoes.

Traction

Beneath the shoe, the sticky TrailTack rubber and directional lugs add confident traction. One tester who took the Catamount on a 13-mile run through the mountains says she only had minor trouble, once on a sharp turn in soft mud and another on a steep, slippery rock.

“No shoe is going to be perfect on wet rocks and slippery mud no matter how grippy the lugs are,” she says. “With that said, I felt comfortable in the Catamount bombing down the trail, hopping from rock to rock.”

Because there are more lugs and they are shallower than some more aggressive shoes, it doesn’t feel like they pick up mud or hold onto rocks. One tester ran through gravel, hard-packed dirt and sloppy mud without problems.

Conclusion

The heel of the Brooks Catamount

The Brooks Catamount is a lightweight trail running shoe that’s primed for fast miles.

A light and responsive DNA FLASH midsole delivers a quick, engaging ride, while Brooks’ proven TrailTack rubber gives you purchase when you head off road. The snug fit enhances the shoe’s fast feel, and clever details, like a protective mud guard and drainage slits, show designers’ attention to detail.

When you’re hammering miles in the mountains or lining up for a trail race on soft dirt, the Brooks Catamount provides a fast, spirited ride.

Still not convinced? Don’t sweat it. Fleet Feet's return policy means you can test drive your shoes and gear without risk. If you’re not happy with the way your gear performs, looks or fits, we’ll take it back within 60 days. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $99 and free return shipping on all fleetfeet.com orders. That's our Happy Fit Guarantee.

By Evan Matsumoto. Evan played many sports growing up but didn’t go pro in any of them. Now, he’s the digital copywriter for fleetfeet.com and editor for the Fleet Feet blog where he writes about different foam densities and engineered mesh uppers.

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