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Brooks Catamount 2: A Different Cat
By Andrea Myers and Matthew Klein

At the time of its release, the original Brooks Catamount was one of the lighter trail racing shoes on the market. It was nimble for the time and the moderate stack height made it still feel quick. Fast forward to the current situation where an explosion of lighter trail shoes on the market featuring newer foams, lighter weights and higher stack heights into the low 9 and height 8 oz ranges (men's size 9) has occurred. The Catamount 2 returns in a different market, still as a trail racer for Brooks but more of an uptempo trail shoe in current times. It can still move thanks to its design but solidifies its place as a lighter trail shoe for those who want a narrow/performance fit. 

Brooks Catamount 2
Price: $169.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.7 oz, 275 g (men's size 9), 8.6 oz, 244g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: Not Provided
Drop: 6mm
Classification: Uptempo/Lighter Trail Shoe


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 2 is a lighter/racing trail shoe with a moderate stack height of DNA Flash, moderate traction, a decently snappy forefoot, and a secure slightly snug upper. A SkyVault plate acts far more like a rock plate than a propulsion plate, providing protection and a decent transition off the front. The ride works best on moderate trails and light roads but does not have enough traction for aggressive trails. The upper is stiff and narrow, needing some time for a break-in, but is secure and locks the foot down well. The Brooks Catamount 2 is a neutral trail shoe for those who want a soft surface shoe that can handle training, uptempo miles, workouts and maybe races for those wanting a secure upper.

The Brooks Catamount 2 is a lighter weight trail shoe with a DNA Flash midsole, some decent forefoot flexibility, and a secure fitting upper. It's 6mm drop makes it feel a little more nimble than many of Brooks' higher drop offerings, and I enjoyed testing it on a variety of trails here in CT. Brooks touts their SkyVault propulsion plate as a main feature of the shoe, but my experience was more of midfoot stability as opposed to propulsion. I was also happy to find the shoe perfectly comfortable for some dirt and paved road miles, which is not always the case with trail shoes. The Catamount 2 will be a nice option for trail runners looking for a neutral, lower-drop trail shoe for mild-moderately technical terrain.

: Salomon Sense Ride 5, Saucony Ride TR


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 2 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The width is on the narrow side, especially at the forefoot. I also found the volume at the forefoot to be quite low and there was a decent amount of pressure on the top of my toes and on my 5th metatarsal. This has gone away slightly with breaking the shoe in but the low-volume feeling is still present. The toe box feels tapered due to the additional reinforcement from the toe guard. The stiff toe guard is also the major reason that anyone trying this shoe should wear socks as I got blisters from it trying to go sockless.

The midfoot is snug and features a moderately thick gusseted tongue. The gusset wraps the foot well and the tongue protects the top of the foot easily. I only had to lock down the laces a little due tot he snugger fit and did not experience any lace bite. The heel widens to a normal to slightly snug fit. There is mild heel collar cushioning and a stiff heel counter. The counter was immediately noticeable to me, so those who want a stiff counter will do well and those with heel sensitivities will likely not do well. The security of the upper is great and I did not have to lace lock or readjust the lacing on my runs. The narrow/snug fit, overlays, external reinforcements and gusseted tongue lock the foot down well.

The Brooks Catamount 2 fit true to size, if not a touch long, in my usual women's 9.5. I prefer to get the men's version of Brooks shoes to get additional width, and I did find the women's Catamount a touch narrow for the ball of my foot. It was fine for runs less than 1 hour, but I would avoid doing anything longer in the shoe due to mild pressure on my 5th MTP. The midfoot is on the narrow side and fit snugly, but comfortably. The rearfoot widens somewhat from the midfoot, but I found the fit of the rearfoot to be secure and comfortable. The upper is a thicker mesh material that is reinforced by overlays almost the entire perimeter of the shoe. The Brooks logo on the medial and lateral sides of the midfoot provide additional structure to the upper. The tongue is gusseted and lightly padded and integrates quite nicely with the upper. The laces are flat and there is a lace loop on the middle of the tongue, which helps hold the tongue in place. I did not experience any shifting of the tongue while running in the Catamount 2. There was high step in comfort from the first time I tried on the shoe (minus the mild toe box width issue). The small, rigid heel counter is present at the inferior half of the heel and is reinforced on either side by the overlays. The heel collar has moderate padding and I found heel security to be excellent in this shoe. This was one of the few shoes I didn't have to stop to re-lace several times on my first couple of runs. I am really pleased with how this shoe fits and I think having the men's version for additional toe box width would make it a great fitting shoe for me.


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 2 is an uptempo trail shoe that does best on mild to moderate trail surfaces. The ride of the DNA Flash is on the firmer side of being cushioned. Like previous versions of DNA Flash (except in the Hyperion GTS), I have felt this foam to be a bit flat and the midsole of the Catamount 2 is on par with that. It feels like a heavier road flat with a 6mm drop that is noticeable. The underfoot feel was stiff initially but has broken in to flex just in front of the SkyVault plate. If I did not read about it, I would not have known the plate was for anything but being a rock plate. It does add some snappiness to the front at higher speeds, but at training paces just feels like it adds stiffness initially and then breaks in. The heel is a little clunky despite a decent heel bevel for Brooks. The bevel angle is centered which adds some lateral flare. This causes some medial pitching initially until I wore down the lateral lugs. Transitioning to the midfoot is fairly smooth and the forefoot transitions well after a break-in period.

The Catamount 2 does feel better at uptempo paces. I have done several trail hill workouts, a trail fartlek, and a short trail tempo. The DNA Flash and SkyVault seem to do better at these speeds, whereas slow efforts can make the shoe feel a bit stiff. Supposedly, the plate is supposed to help with uphill propulsion. It does seem to pop a bit more with faster efforts, but I can't say that it is specific to uphills. The lugs and outsole are moderate in depth, which adds some versatility onto shorter periods of pavement. The lugs have worn down quickly in my normal spot (posterior-lateral) from this, so I would try to keep this on trail as much as possible.

The durability is fairly average for a shoe of this nature, so I would expect a normal amount of miles out of these unless you use them excessively on road. The ride and lugs do great on flatter or mild to moderately technical terrain. On flat XC-type courses, single-track trails, and fire roads it did well. On rocky, uneven or steep surfaces the Catamount 2 struggled. I did not feel it was stable or grippy enough for these surfaces and slipped plenty when trying to take it on them. So the Catamount 2 works best during uptempo efforts on well-groomed to moderate terrain where it is easy to get into a rhythm. 

Andrea: I tested the Catamount 2 on everything CT has to offer: technical, hilly singletrack; a dirt rail trail with some rocky and rooty sections; dirt roads; and some pavement. I would say the Catamount 2 performs best on light to moderate terrain, but I didn't have complete confidence in it on very technical terrain with a lot of rocks and roots. The geometry of the shoe didn't feel stable or nimble enough for me when on such an uneven surface. I most enjoyed testing the shoe on the dirt rail trail and on dirt roads. It is light enough that it feels like a road daily trainer and it has plenty of grip, even on loose, sandy dirt. I think one reason it didn't feel great on technical terrain is that the SkyVault plate makes the narrow midfoot feel stiff. This worked fine on less technical dirt trails or roads, but when landing on a rock or root, the shoe needs to be a little more adaptive. The forefoot is flexible enough that it makes push-off feel pretty natural, and contributes to greater comfort on pavement. 

I like the feel of DNA Flash, with the Hyperion Max and Hyperion Tempo being two of my favorite road shoes. The DNA Flash in the Catamount 2 feels similar to the Hyperion Max, with enough stack height to cushion landings without feeling marshmallowy or unstable. The shoe feels like a 6mm drop shoe and midfoot landings feel quite comfortable. The heel does not feel like it gets in the way, despite having a small heel bevel. The forefoot rocker in combination with the flexible forefoot makes push off feel smooth and comfortable.

This shoe felt most comfortable at easier paces on both technical terrain and on dirt roads/rail trails. The less confident feeling that I had on technical terrain made me hesitant to try picking up the pace on those trails. I think the Catamount 2 will be a great shorter distance trail shoe that will also work well on dirt roads (perhaps a new entry to the gravel shoe category). The multi directional lugs provided good grip on loose dirt and sand, but did not provide the best grip in muddy sections. Even with several roads miles on my pair, the outsole shows minimal wear. As with many Brooks shoes, I would expect excellent durability from the Catamount 2.


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 2 is a neutral trail shoe with a few methods that provide mild guidance, but are offset by other factors. The heel features DNA Flash sidewalls on the medial and lateral sides. This helps lock the heel in but are offset by the central heel bevel and lateral flare. The midfoot is narrowed compared to the rest of the shoe and feels highly neutral. The forefoot is better thanks to the SkyVault plate which adds torsional rigidity up front. While the upper does lock the foot down well, the shoe is quite neutral and will work best for those without major stability needs. 

The Catamount 2 is a neutral shoe with a few features that provide mild stability. The SkyVault plate, which is supposed to be for propulsion, feels more like it stabilizes the narrow midfoot and smooths the transition from midfoot to forefoot. There is also some balance sole flaring that runs the entire length of the shoe, which helps widen an overall relatively narrow base. The effects of the forefoot rocker are somewhat reduced by the flexible forefoot, but it is enough to provide some mild guidance to push off. I would say one of the best features of the shoe in terms of stability is the well fitting upper. It is so important for any shoe to fit well, but particularly important to achieve very secure lockdown in a trail shoe. I think Brooks did a great job with the upper and I hope they will keep it the same for v3.

Thoughts as a DPT: One of These Plates is Not Like The Others
By Andrea Myers

The Brooks Catamount 2 features their SkyVault plate, which Brooks says helps with propulsion, particularly uphill. Their marketing material says that the plate bends upon loading, then snaps back into place during push off, providing a propulsive effect. However, Matt and I both found that the plate functioned more like a protective rock plate as opposed to a propulsive element. As plates become more common in running shoes, it is important for runners to understand that the mere presence of a plate does not mean the shoe is going to feel like a Vaporfly. The propulsive feeling of super shoes like the Vaporfly is not solely due to the plate, but to the interaction of the foam, plate, and rocker geometry of a given super shoe.

While Brooks is advertising the Catamount 2 as a trail racer, I found the performance of the shoe to be more like a lighter weight trail or dirt road trainer.  The performance properties of a plate can vary based on where it is placed in relation to the foot, the specific shape of the plate, the length of the plate, and the plate material. Without specifics regarding these features of the SkyVault plate, it is difficult to understand the science behinds Brooks' claims about the shoe. As consumers, I recommend that you be skeptical of shoe companies' claims unless they release actual data regarding the design and performance of their shoes.


Flores, N., Rao, G., Berton, E., & Delattre, N. (2021). The stiff plate location into the shoe influences the running biomechanics. Sports biomechanics, 20(7), 815–830.

Fu, F., Levadnyi, I., Wang, J., Xie, Z., Fekete, G., Cai, Y., & Gu, Y. (2021). Effect of the Construction of Carbon Fiber Plate Insert to Midsole on Running Performance. Materials (Basel, Switzerland), 14(18), 


Matt: Although marketed as a trail racing shoe, the Brooks Catamount 2 is not light enough or propulsive enough to be one compared to other shoes on the market. The SkyVault plate seems to add stability and protection but not responsiveness. The DNA Flash midsole is fairly flat like it is in most trail shoes. The weight, while lighter, is now fairly average for trails shoe. The Catamount 2 is more of a lighter trail shoe than a racer. In today's market, if there isn't a super foam, then the shoe needs to be much lighter to compete. At such a moderate stack height, the DNA Flash won't get to shine, but more of it will just add weight.

My major suggestions would be to redo the plate, fill in a little more of the anterior midfoot (if not the whole thing) and look for inspiration from the Hyperion Max (which besides the Hyperion GTS I consider to be the closest thing Brooks has to a racing shoe right now). To get the DNA Flash to pop more, adding more foam and reducing the density may help. This will require widening the sole for stability, but reducing the foam density may offset this. The plate should be designed to not only provide protection, but also to facilitate a faster transition. I do not know what the plate looks like currently, but if this is to be a lighter shoe, it may not need to act like a true rock plate. That function may be saved for more technical trail shoes, which this one is not. Brooks is still moving in the right direction, but this shoe can certainly take some large steps forward in Version 3. 
Andrea: I think Brooks made a great shoe for dirt roads and light to moderate trails, but their marketing makes it clear this is their lightweight trail performance trainer and racer. I think they missed the mark with the SkyVault plate, which does not feel propulsive, but instead feels like one of the shoe's only mild stability features. If they want this to be a competitor to shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Edge (or even the Peregrine), I would recommend that they redesign the plate in a way that actually provides propulsion and responsiveness. I would also recommend that they widen the midfoot to improve stability on technical terrain. 


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 2 is a narrow/snug-fitting uptempo trail shoe that does best on mild pavement, well-groomed trails, fire roads and mild/moderate terrain. The upper is secure but narrow. It will probably work best for those with lower volume/narrow feet or those wanting that kind of fit. The ride is firmer but moderately responsive on trail. It is a bit flat on road, so it may work as a "warm-up" shoe for road-to-trail efforts. It does work well for uptempo efforts, so those looking for a workout shoe for the trail may find this to be a great option. I would not suggest this as a racing shoe given that there are lighter and more responsive options for a similar price. With current technologies, $170 is quite a high price point for this shoe. If it was lighter and had a bouncier foam, then potentially. Those who do not want a bouncy shoe and instead want a lower drop, firmer riding shoe that can pick up the pace may do well with the Catamount 2. It is certainly neutral and can move, but sits best as a shoe for those with more narrow feet that will work on a variety of non-aggressive terrain. 

Andrea: The Brooks Catamount 2 is a well-fitting trail shoe that can be comfortably used on pavement, dirt roads, and light to moderate off-road terrain. It could be a great road-to-trail shoe due to its weight and flexible forefoot, and may even fit into the new category of "gravel shoes." I think it is priced a little high at $170, but if it has the durability of the Hyperion Max, which I just got 300 miles out of, then it will be well worth the price. I would not recommend this as a racer for technical terrain, but runners who are looking for a do-it-all neutral trail shoe, the Catamount 2 could be a great option.


Fit: B/B+ (Narrow Fit with toe guard that tapers forefoot. Secure with good lockdown)
B+ (Lighter ride that can handle uptempo paces. Best for mild to moderate terrain)
Stability: B- [Neutral] (Narrow midfoot and medial bias at heel. Mild sidewalls offset some)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Solid lockdown, but bevel needs to be a bit more lateral. Plate works ok on uphills but not noticeable over flatter terrain)
Personal: B- (Not light enough in my mind to be a trail racer. Foam is firm and plate not really noticeable. An interesting shoe but not one that will make it into my rotation)
Overall: B/B- 
Fit: A- (excellent fit and lockdown, only issue for me is slightly narrow toe box, which would be fixed by getting men's version)
Performance: B+/A- 
(Does not perform as advertised, but is a great road to trail shoe for light to moderately technical terrain. DNA Flash midsole delivers in terms of balanced cushioning and light weight.)
Stability: B- (neutral shoe with minimal stability features, well fitting upper does provide excellent lockdown and security)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (SkyVault plate does not deliver propulsion as advertised)
Personal: B+ (I enjoyed running in the shoe on the rail trail and dirt roads, but would choose a different shoe for highly technical terrain)
Overall: B+


Brooks Catamount 2
Price: $169.95 at Running Warehouse

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your
local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Brooks for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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