May 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm #1316432
Hello Helpful BPL Members!
Based on the insight of many members at BPL and other places around the web, I had been thinking of going to a trail runner for my next pair of hiking/backpacking shoe. After wearing out my Merril Moab Mids much earlier than expected (~250 miles), I took the plunge. After a lengthy try on session a month ago at a REI (Santa Monica, CA), I decided to grab a pair of the LaSportiva Wildcats 2.0.
Admittedly, I only tried on LaSportiva models. I was looking for hiking/backpacking specific trail runners and not trail runners for actual trail running. I had already experienced some painful feet due to the minimal protection of the Merrils and rocky all day hikes in the San Gabriels so I wanted to make sure I was getting some underfoot protection. After much research, which perhaps some of you could relate to, it seemed LaSportiva or Salomon would be the best for the task and my feet. I decided against the Salomon because of my foot type (described below).
I haven't had a chance to try out my Wild Cats yet. My last day hike with my worn down Merril soles left me with a painful IT band that required some rest and I've haven't been able to get to the mountains since it healed. In the mean time, however, I picked up a pair of Brooks running shoes, GTS 14, to replace a worn out pair of New Balances (I also picked up a new pair of dress shoes for work which led my girlfriend to make some cracks about a shoe fetish – hey! feet are important and you have take care of them!).
And, oh goodness, do I love my new Brooks running shoes. The best running shoes I've owned. This development has lead me to reconsider my Wild Cat purchase, especially since I haven't worn them yet. I'm now thinking about the new Cascadia 9. Generally speaking, I've only heard good things about the Brooks Cascadia line, but those comments come mostly from trail runners and day hikers. I haven't heard a lot from those who use the Cascadia for backpacking.
I plan on trying on the Brooks Cascadia 9 to make sure they work for my feet, but I also want some feedback from those with some experience. I'm looking for anyone who has used the Cascadia 9 or the predecessors and ideally someone who has used both the Cascadia 9 and the Wild Cat 2 and can provide a comparison. Of course, any feedback from Wild Cat users or other trail runners will be most welcome.
My feet are slightly wide, though not excessively so – definitely not narrow. I also pronate slightly so I need a little support. Because of my feet I eliminated Salomon options because the shoe lasts looked narrow and while I haven't seen any Inov 8 trail runners in person, their lasts also look narrow.
My Backpacking Style
I'm in the final steps of buying a light backpacking setup. I'm not completely ultra-light – a good estimate of my finalized base weight is 15 lbs. The MAX trip length I see in the foreseeable future is 7 days. Most of my trips will be in the 3-5 day range. Total pack weight will MAX out around 25 lbs.
ScottMay 4, 2014 at 9:44 pm #2099261
christopher smeadBPL Member
@hamsterfishLocale: San Jose, CA
I made the same switch. Merrell moab to wildcats to cascadia 9's. So perhaps our feet are similar?
Cascadia 9's are definitely my favorite so far except that I noticed they made my lower back hurt for the first week or so…then my body adjusted…I think.May 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm #2099275
Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
According to Carrot Quinn
In 2012 the most popular thru-hiker shoe by far was the Brooks Cascadia trail-running shoe. People were nuts about this shoe, wearing through pair after pair and never getting blisters, even after thousands of miles.
If Cascadias fit you well, they will probably work for your hiking.
I just bought a pair of Brooks Cascadia 9s. Haven't had them on the trail yet. Wore ASICS GT-21XX Trail Runners for 10+ years before that and loved them. We'll see.
— RexMay 5, 2014 at 9:50 am #2099384
Peter BakwinBPL Member
I've backpacked and run in both Cascadia 5 & Wildcat 2. Both are great. Sounds like for your purposes you may prefer Cascadia. They will probably be more durable and provide a bit more medial support out of the box. The Wildcats will have a grippier outsole on rocks (unless the Cascadia 9 is using grippier rubber than the older models). One thought if you are having trouble with mild overpronation is to replace the insole with a more supportive OTC insole such as the Superfeet (Green). Overpronation is a known factor for ITB problems, and many other problems, so it might be worth experimenting with insoles.May 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm #2099464
"After wearing out my Merril Moab Mids much earlier than expected (~250 miles)"
"My last day hike with my worn down Merril soles left me with a painful IT band that required some rest"
I have a version or another of all three of these in my closet: Merrell Moab Ventilator shoe, Brooks Cascadia 6,7, and 8 (yes I do love these) and the La Sportiva Wildcats (not sure if version 1 or 2).
All three of these feel great on my feet and have their place in my outdoor shoe collection, but they are very different shoes. The Wildcats and Cascadias are runners, just lacing them up will make you want to go for a jog. The Merrells feel like a substantially heavier shoe, great for hiking, but nothing you would ever want to run in. The fact that the Merrells are a beefier shoe also means that they have lasted me for several years and feel very protective on my feet.
So if you are replacing your Merrells with Cascadias because you want a longer lasting, more protective shoe, you will be disappointed. The Cascadias wear out quickly and yes you will feel the shape of the rocks under your feet. But they are fabulous shoes for running and fast-packing.
Edited to add the Scotts quotes about his Merrell Moabs.May 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm #2099504
Thanks for everyone's responses. This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for.
Christopher – it seems like I'm following your footwear journey. Maybe I'll skip step B and go straight to setup C (Cascadia). Thanks
Rex – thanks for link, very informative. Good luck with your Cascadias.
Peter – the lesser grip is the only negative I've heard about the Cascadia. I'm still weighing the value of that. I don't always use nice trails and I will be heading to the Eastern Sierra at some point. Regarding insoles, this was the only time I've had an ITB problem. I chalked it up to rushing back (down hill) and over extending myself on a trail that was substaintially washed out due to recent rain with worn down shoes. But Superfeet are on my radar – maybe they will help prevent the sole wear being worn down in certain areas?
Katy – I either got a defective pear of Merrils, or my actually running parts of the trail in them caused them to wear down quickly. I'm not necissarily looking for a longer lasting pair of shoes, though I was disappointed with 250 miles, or more protective. I do want some under protection – ideally not much less than the Merril's and I do tend to move fast so the extra agility from a trail runners sounds appealing. I will admit, until my Merril's wore out early, I did like them a lot – fairly light, breathable, nice under foot protection, and I didn't experience any real blister problems.
How does the under foot protection against rocks compare between the Cascadia 9 (or others) and Wildcat 2(in comparison to Merril Moab Mids if you know) for those who have experience? I'm also thinking that being more conscious of where I step might help? Do you agree?
Thanks Again!May 6, 2014 at 1:09 pm #2099812
Our local REI is pretty small but fortunately they carry both the Cascadias and Wildcats. After trying them both on, I found the Wildcats were more comfortable on my feet. Shoes are highly personal so ymmv.
I'm on my third pair. I wear them almost every day so it's difficult to say what kind of mileage I'm getting out of them. After six months, my back starts to hurt which is my telltale sign that they need to be replaced. I spoke with a CDT veteran on the Wonderland last year. I can't remember exactly but she said she was getting 500-700 miles from a pair of Wildcats. Between my personal use of backpacking and wearing them around town for six months at a time, 500+ miles seems about right.
They are nearly perfect for me on the trail. Very comfortable and paired with Wright Coomax Socks and green Superfeet insoles, I've never had a blister. I did rip the fabric on some talus (shoes were at the end of their useful life anyways and damage was only cosmetic) last year as I hiked through The Enchantments so if you're planning on hiking the SHR or something similar, I'd look for another pair of shoes. On an otherwise rocky trail where I'm not kicking through scree and talus hopping for hours at a time, they're fine for me.May 9, 2014 at 10:45 am #2100828
Drew R.BPL Member
I own the Brooks Cascadia 9 and the LaSportiva Ultra Raptor (similar to the Wildcat). I have a somewhat similar foot, narrow heel, wide forefoot, and low volume. I have slight pronation in my left foot.
Both shoes are very comfortable and feel great (no break in needed), but I've gone with my Ultra Raptors for backpacking and stick with the Cascadias for shorter day trips and running. The Ultra Raptors are a little less flexible, but not overly stiff. I prefer this in a backpacking shoe. The outsole is a little less aggressive, but incredible sticky. It shows signs of wear due to the softer sticky rubber after one day out, but has held up well since then. It's very rocky here in the San Gabriels, but so far so good.
My first day out in the Ultra Raptors was for 20 miles with 8k of gain, Bear Canyon to Baldy and 3 T's trail. These shoes are everything I could want in a backpacking shoe (I pair mine with Superfeet Blue).
You're right on about the Salomons, too. I wore through 5 pairs of the original Crossmax, but have had no luck since then. Their shoes are a little too narrow in the instep and forefoot.May 10, 2014 at 4:23 am #2101028
M GBPL Member
I have both Wildcats and Raptor. Wildcat I prefer for day hiking or trail running. While I have put serious mileage with pack on the Raptors including lots of off trail Sierra granite in the SHR. Great durability on the raptors. My only complaint is the lack of traction on the slanted back part of the shoe's sole, below the heel. I've come close to losing my footing many times as it is quite slippery despite the sticky rubber when my heel haspens to hit a certain way, mostly when heading downhill. To the point where I need to think about it. Not a good thing. A well built shoe otherwise.May 10, 2014 at 6:41 am #2101050
Randy MartinBPL Member
I tried both Wildcats and Cascadia on in the store and went with the Wildcats since the sole was stiffer/harder. For running or backpacking where you may have rocky ground I wanted some protection and support. The Cascadias were more comfortable but just too flexible.May 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm #2104088
Thanks again for all the insight. This was my first post on the site and your feedback was tremendously helpful.
Although my original question was the Brooks Cascadia 9 vs La Sportiva Wildcats 2, I ended up choosing the LA SPORTIVA ULTRA RAPTORS. I had tried on the Raptors when I first purchased the Wild Cats, but REI didn't have my size so I choose the Wild Cats for my first purchase.
I tried all three models on a the same time and all three were very nice. Pre-try on, I was thinking I'd trade in the Wildcats for the Cascadias. The Cascadias were the most "comfy," aka cushioned,however the Cascadia had less underfoot protection. They basically felt like running shoes compared to the two La Sportiva models. While they might be enough, I'm not just not comfortable enough going from mid-boots directly to that feel, especially with the small rock terrain in my area so I quickly eliminated the Cascadia from the options.
Choosing between the La Sportiva Wildcats and Raptors was a harder choice. The Wildcats have lesser upper protection, which wasn't a huge deal for me. They were also noticably lighter than the Raptors. However, the Raptors fit my feet like a glove – just amazingly well. And while I'm not on the minualist band wagon, because my feet need some support, the smaller heel to toe drop of the Raptor felt better. I was also worried about the Raptors sole material. Based on La Sportiva literature, the Raptors have softer sole rubber than the Wildcats and therefore wear down quicker.
The fact that the Wildcats were lighter and had a more durable sole made the choice hard, but I decided to get the Raptors because of how well the fit my foot (do partly to the upper material near the sole which ensures a tighter fit). I figured that I couldn't go wrong choosing the best fitting shoe, regardless of the other shoe features. I haven't been to the mountain yet, but I will make another post after I put some miles on them and know how I think they function on the trail.
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