Brooks Catamount review: forget Adidas Terrex, these trail running shoes are the best of 2020 so far!

Brooks Catamount review: excellent trail running shoes that deliver unmatched performance and comfort

T3 Platinum Award
Brooks Catamount review
(Image credit: Brooks)
T3 Verdict

The Brooks Catamount is hands down the best trail running shoes in 2020 so far and deliver an amazing running experience for people who prefer to jog or sprint off the beaten path. The DNA Flash midsole is light and springy but thanks to the additional safety features underfoot, the Catamount also feels secure and under control. A sure-fire win for Brooks.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    DNA Flash midsole is still amazing

  • +

    Roomy toebox

  • +

    Laces can be tucked away

  • +

    Excellent traction

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    White trail running shoes?

Brooks Catamount Review – Key specs

(Image credit: Brooks)

Weight: 300 grams (men's size 10UK)
Drop: 6 mm
Price: £140
Colour: White/Iced Aqua/Blue
Fit: true to size
Characteristics: Padded, good traction, roomy, bouncy

I was really looking forward to this Brooks Catamount review, ever since I first laid my eyes on the shoes in January at the Brooks Innovation Camp. At the time, it was one of the many shoes that were announced and we couldn't even try them on but it didn't matter, I liked the way they looked and felt in my hands, not to mention the sound of the tech that was said to be included in these shoes.

• Buy the Brooks Catamount directly from Brooks, available form 1 August

Ever since then, I got even more excited as I love the DNA Flash midsole, used in the Catamount but also in the Brooks Hyperion Tempo, one of the best running trainer I tried in 2020. Including the soft and bouncy DNA Flash midsole in a trail running shoe sounded like a match made in heaven. I wasn't without concerns; the best trail running shoes need to be firm as well as somewhat flexible, a delicate balance to be found.

I'm happy to report that the Brooks Catamount delivered on my sky-high expectations, and then some. The shoes manage to provide enough stability and control on uneven terrain as well as being comfortable and just fun to run in. And don't be afraid of brilliant white colour of the shoes: they are meant to be dirty.

Brooks Catamount review

(Image credit: Brooks)

Brooks Catamount review: the tech

The Brooks Catamount was specifically designed for long-distance trail running and ultra-trail running. The new nitrogen-infused DNA Flash midsole is lightweight as well as being bouncy. Understandably, the overall running experience is different from the Brooks Hyperion Tempo despite both shoes use the same midsole technology, as the Catamount neds to ready to battle uneven terrain and therefore requires more protective elements underfoot.

One of these is the TrailTack rubber outsole that provides traction in all weather conditions. Admittedly, the weather was rather dry when I tested the shoes so I can only comment about dry-weather grip, which is excellent. I assume the pronounced chevrons will provide enough traction on wetter surfaces too. The segmented rock plate (a.k.a.Ballistic Rock Shield) offers even more protection for your feet all the while not making the shoes too rigid either.

Brooks Catamount review

(Image credit: Brooks)

Brooks Catamount review: the ergonomics

Being in control is paramount in trail shoes and the Catamount deliver on this front. The upper dries and quickly which is great since the shoes won't get too heavy when wet. It has a reinforced, rubberised area at the bottom of the upper which goes all around the perimeter and provides extra support for your feet, as well as helping them stay dry. This area also doesn't stain as easily, creating a gradient brownish look when the shoes have been used for a bit.

The Brooks Catamount has a generous toebox, not to be confused with them being loose, which they are not. The landing platform is wide too, letting your feet spread as you hit the ground for increaser ground control, something you'll want when you are trying to find the only stable spot in between a bunch of loose, wet leaves, branches and rocks.

The collar is padded and the heel counter is super firm. Not too firm, though, as if it was, it might push your heel in the wrong direction as you land, causing an ankle sprain. You know that the designers at Brooks know trail runners well: there is a little elastic band running across the tongue of the shoes to help you tuck away the laces. This way, they won't get caught up up in a loose branch and get untangled.

Brooks Catamount review

(Image credit: Brooks)

Brooks Catamount review: the aesthetics

Aesthetics is an important part of the Catamount experience. Straight of the box, the upper is brilliant white, a bit odd for trail running shoes you might think, but the colour is very much left blank.

You see, the idea is that the Catamount will get dirty and take on the colour of the dust and soil where you run. This way, every Catamount will look slightly different eventually and become sort of like a love letter to the area you run in most often.

This might sound gimmicky to some runners but I feel many trail runners feel closer to nature and will appreciate this feature. Also, on the medial side of the upper, there is an area where you can write the name of 'your crew', people who help or support you or just people you like and appreciate. This is on the rubberised area so the names won't get covered in dirt (that easily anyway).

Brooks Catamount review

(Image credit: Brooks)

Brooks Catamount review: verdict

The Brooks Catamount is hands-down the best trail running shoe on the market today. It is light, feels secure, comfortable and above all, it is also a highly functional trail running shoe.

The DNA Flash midsole brings its A-game here and provides just the right amount of bounce to make each stride comfortable. The TrailTack outsole and the Ballistic Rock Shield will guard your sole from protruding objects on the ground as well as provide a stable platform to land and take off from on uneven terrain.

• Buy the Brooks Catamount directly from Brooks, available form 1 August

The upper of the Catamount is white, brilliant white in fact, but it's not supposed to stay like that. Once you used it for a couple of weeks or months, it will take on the colour of the soil and make the shoes look unique. Granted, all Catamount will eventually take on a shade of brown, but each one will be slightly different brown.

I highly recommend the Brooks Catamount and if you are about to have your old trail shoes replaced or planning getting your first pair, you will find what you are looking in the Brooks Catamount.

Recommended for: long distance trail runners

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Brooks Catamount review: also consider

The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 GTX is a waterproof, comfortable and durable trail running shoe, the ideal choice for runners who appreciate functionality over looks. Not saying the Challenger ATR 5 GTX is an ugly shoe, but its main appeal is not aesthetics for sure, it will more likely win you over with just how great it feels to run in it. Guaranteed.

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail is for runners who don't like to be defined as 'road' or 'trail' runners, providing a decent running experience on both pavement and forest trails alike. It might not outperform the best road/trail running shoes, but for runners who often mix up their style, this is probably Nike's best value-for-money shoes to get. Read our full Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail review here.