The Saucony Peregrine ISO and Brooks Cascadia 14 are two of the top trail running contenders on the market at the moment. Not quite top of the range, but people seem to love their versatility and value for money. Both shoes offer incredible technology in terms of flexibility, responsiveness and support. At similar price points, making a decision between these two favourites can be tough. Let’s dig a little deeper to reveal which shoe will be the best choice for you.
As the successor to the Peregrine 8, the Peregrine ISO is an incredible trail shoe built for every terrain. According to Saucony, this shoe provides a perfect blend of cushioning, durability and traction with its combination of EVERUN topsole, PWRFOAMmidsole, and PWRTRAC outsole. Additionally, the Saucony Peregrine ISO has been awarded “Editor’s Choice” by Runner’s World.
The first thing you are bound to notice about the Peregrine ISO will be how comfortable it feels on your foot the moment you put it on. There is an incredible amount of cushioning around the Achilles tendon region of the heel supplied by the padded heel collar. Plus, the stretchy laces and gusseted tongue comfortably hugs your midfoot for an impressive fit.
The ISOFIT dynamic upper will morph to the shape of your foot with every stride, making the Peregrine ISO incredibly suited for multiple surfaces. Attached to the laces, you will notice wings on each side of the upper portion of the shoe that comfortably embrace your foot when laces are tied. These are especially useful on long runs when you need a shoe that will accommodate the changing (and often swelling) shape of your foot.
Made of lightweight mesh, the Peregrine ISO may fall slightly short in providing an overly protective upper. It seems to lack the TPU overlays that provide durability in the forefoot where most wear and tear takes place.
However, what this shoe lacks in durability, it makes up for in comfort. You’ll even notice that some of the blister-causing seams (from previous versions) that rested over the heel counter have been eliminated.
Featuring the EVERUN technology, the Saucony Peregrine ISO topsole features TPU material beneath the sockliner and above the midsole - which is said to be three times more durable that EVA, according to Saucony. This characteristic greatly contributes to the responsiveness of the shoe, for a bouncier ride than typical foam. Saucony guarantees “enhanced energy return and continuous cushioning; with smoother landings and stronger takeoff”.
Next, the PWRFOAM midsole further contributes to added rebound for a smooth and comfortable ride on all terrains. Featuring a soft, thin foam - this technology absorbs impact with added rebound, while still providing a sensitive feel underfoot. However, this shoe seems to do a poor job of absorbing direct blows to the feet from large roots and rocks. This is no concern for flatter, less rocky trails - but should definitely be a concern if you’re into rocky or ultra distance trails.
At a 4mm heel-to-toe drop, Saucony promises a close-to-ground feel, facilitating a more natural ride. The Peregrine ISO seems to do well on most surfaces, and the shoe easily bends and moulds to the shape of the ground. However, this flexibility can often come at the expense of take-off stability.
Undoubtedly, the best feature of this shoe is its super aggressive PWRTRAC outsole. Built for optimal grip and traction, the outsole features a whopping 78 lugs that can handle all the elements at once. This deep-lugged outsole even extends to the side, allowing exceptional grip even when running laterally along steep inclines. The Peregrine ISO offers incredible traction and thrives on grassy, muddy and snowy surfaces.
The new Cascadia 14 ticks all the right boxes when it comes to providing avid trail runners with incredible responsiveness, traction, flexibility and overall performance. Brooks really had to build from the ground up following their previous models, and really outdid themselves by simplifying the upper, improving fit and even shaving off an ounce (28g) from their previous version.
The upper provides the perfect balance between comfort, durability and breathability with its specialised mesh designed to optimally manage moisture levels. The Cordura MudGuard lines the bottom portion of the upper and greatly improves durability, while simultaneously protecting the foot. Essentially, it keeps dirt and unwanted debris out, while allowing water to move in and out - making it an ideal choice for wet and muddy terrain.
The Cascadia 14 features a Full Internal Saddle system specially made to provide a close-to-foot fit. This is where most of the support originates - and also keeps unwanted debris at bay while adequately holding your foot in place.
The heel collar area is well padded - however, potentially slightly less than the Saucony Peregrine ISO. Furthermore, the tongue is also less padded but enough to avoid too much discomfort. It also features a very handy pocket where laces can be stored to avoid catching between rocks. These are incredibly sturdy - according to multiple online reviews. Made from a sturdy felt material, the laces come with perforations for improved breathability, providing just enough stretch without the need to overtighten. 3D-Printed overlays present on the upper further work to reinforce mud guards and lacing system.
In terms of fit, the Cascadia 14 features a somewhat roomier toe box - which leaves extra room for wide feet and splaying, while ensuring secure lock down.
Featuring a BioMoGo DNA midsole, this shoe boasts incredible cushioning. Not only does the DNA technology mould to your individual foot shape, it is also long-lasting and biodegradable. Essentially, you’re getting next-level cushioning that is firm and supportive. This provides wonderful flexibility that allows your foot to move naturally over mixed terrain.
The Cascadia 14 comes with a ballistic rock shield that protects the foot from sharp rocks. This rock shield is basically a thermoplastic sheath layered between the midsole and outsole.
Furthermore, the Cascadia 14 features an upgraded Pivot Post system marked by 2 rubber pillars on either side of the midsole. This keeps your foot level from landing to push off, and facilitates improved posture and prevents unwanted foot movement within the shoe.
The Cascadia 14 features a TrailTrack rubber outsole which increases traction on wet and dry surfaces. Essentially, it is made of a sticky, durable rubber compound that performs well on all terrain.
Additionally, you will notice multidirectional lugs that further improve traction on various surfaces. Many reviews feel that the outsole is the greatest improvement from previous versions of the shoe.
When it boils down to making a call on these two trail running shoes, you’ll really need to evaluate the terrain you’ll be running on most frequently.
If you’re looking for a comfortable shoe for mid-distance, grassy or muddy runs - the Peregrine ISO may be just the shoe for you. By far, its best feature is the incredible traction offered by 78 lugs on the outsole. Although the Peregrine ISO offers incredible grip - it is best for smooth trails, focusing more on sensitivity by keeping you connected to the ground, and less on foot protection. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a durable shoe that can tackle longer runs and rockier terrain - the Brooks Cascadia 14 is an obvious choice. With a thicker midsole and 8mm offset, you’re getting incredible support and protection from this shoe.