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Friday, October 21, 2011

Shoe Buzz - Cascadia 6

So, I've been having weird issues with my feet recently... none of my shoes ever seem to fit right. I suppose all the running I've been doing recently has caused changes. Odd though, I've heard of people's feet 'shrinking' as they run more and the muscles in their feet tighten up, but I've never heard of people's feet growing. I'm up a full size since last year and another half a size in the last four months.

Anyway, long story short, I've been doing a lot more shoe shopping than I'd anticipated. Which is a blessing and a curse, I hate buying larger sets of my favorite shoes but it's a great excuse to go to the running store.

With all the great reviews that the Cascadia 6 has gotten I figured I would at least try on a pair. Which led to me buying a pair.

Since you can get the technical specs from a thousand sites around the web, I'm going to concentrate on the less quantitative aspects of the shoe.

First off, out of the box they fit like they were made for me. Honestly, I put them on and was immediately sold by the fit alone. It feels snug enough around the heel and across the arch laterally so that the foot doesn't slide around, yet just loose enough in the toes that they aren't crowded.

The uppers feel like those favorite, broken-in, old sneakers you have in your closet that are so worn and comfortable you can't bring yourself to throw them away... even though they scare your significant other every time she sees them. They're light weight but seem to have plenty of protection, as any good trail running shoe should have.

The only thing that jumped out as really different with the Cascadia is some elastic attached to some of the lacing holes. There is a cut-out in the upper that the laces go through, like a little island that is attached to the rest of the shoe by a stretchy elastic webbing.

It seemed like a weird addition to me, not seeming to add much while potentially weakening the fit if the webbing gets damaged or starts to break down. However, with the over-all comfort of the shoe, maybe it is making a significant difference and only time will tell how well it holds up.

The sole is far thicker than I would normally wear. My favorites right now are the MT101 and the NB Minimus Trail, both of which are significantly more thin and flexible. When I first saw the Cascadia 6 I honestly thought it would feel like a hiking boot considering how thick and inflexible the soul was. I was thoroughly surprised when I put it on and it felt light weight and extremely comfortable.

The shoe gives up some of the 'feel' and ground response of the minimalist shoes that I love but when I have need of a shoe with a great fit and a little more protection (say an upcoming 100k?), than I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorites.

The first step of any wear test for me is wearing the shoes around the house sock-less for a couple of hours. If I don't notice any discomfort than they're green-lighted for a run test (I instituted this practice after having to painfully walk several miles home when I took some new shoes out too far). The Cascadia passed with flying colors and I absolutely can't wait until this Saturday when I'll get to really put these shoes through the paces.

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