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Brooks Catamount 3 Review
By Matthew Klein

With the continued trend of maximal stack heights and the recent injection of super foams onto the trail scene, finding moderate stack height, lighter trail shoes has been challenging. Most shoes are either minimal and extremely light or high stack with super foams. The Catamount series has stayed consistent over the last few years in weight and design, sticking to a moderate stack height and a mid-9 oz weight. Version 3 looks similar to Version 2, but boasts some upper updates that greatly improve the fit of the shoe. Brooks clearly thinks they have a winner and have attempted to carefully refine the shoe to not disappoint those who have run in prior versions. 

Brooks Catamount 3
Price: $169.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.4 oz, 266 g (men's size 9), 8.4 oz, 238 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 30 mm / 24 mm
Drop: 6 mm
Shoe Purpose: Trail Uptempo/Racing Shoe

Pros: Nimble, Snappy Ride, Durable
Cons: Firmer Ride, No Super Foam Despite being a Racing Shoe


The Brooks Catamount 3 is a uptempo/racing shoe with a traditional nimble feel. A new upper sits up top that provides a secure, lower volume fit with just enough wiggle room in the toes. The DNA Flash midsole provides a firmer ride while a Sky Vault plate provides a snappy toe off and doubles as a rock plate. While Version 3 looks similar to Version 2, the improved security of the upper makes for an even more nimble ride for those who want a shoe that can move at quicker speeds on softer surfaces. 

: On Cloudvista
PAST MODEL: Brooks Catamount 2

(To learn how a shoe should fit, check out our full podcast on fit by Matt Klein.)

Matt: The Brooks Catamount 3 fits me true to size in my normal men' US size 10. The fit is slightly snug width wise with a lower volume. The forefoot fits slightly snug with a low hanging upper. The toe guard adds plenty of structure in this area. This makes it feel more snug than it is while the mesh still adds a tiny bit of wiggle room. The midfoot fits snug with a well gusseted, thinner tongue. While I did tie the laces down for security, I did not have to tie them much to get a good secure lockdown. The heel fits snug with a moderately stiff heel counter. There is only a little bit of heel collar padding, so the counter sits right up against the heel. Those who want the secure feeling of a counter will like this shoe while those with heel sensitivities will probably not do well (it did bother me a little). With the toe guard and a slightly scratchy interior, I would suggest wear socks with this shoe especially over longer runs. Overall the fit is secure and snug with laces that easily secure this shoe for a variety of footwork. 

Typical Size: Men's US Size 10
Shoes that have fit Matt well: Saucony Guide 17, ASICS Kayano 30, Hoka Gaviota 5, Saucony Endorphin Elite, Nike Ultrafly
Shoes that have fit snug: Hoka Arahi 7, Saucony Kinvara 14
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2, Altra Timp 5

Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: No
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing: No
Is the Forefoot Flexible: No
How Flexible is the Shoe: Moderately Stiff
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: Moderately
Recommended for Haglunds: No
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Above Average


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 3 is a lightweight trail trainer/trail racing shoe. It feels lighter than its 9.4 oz weight (men's size 9), but also does not feel like the lightest shoe out there. The full length DNA flash midsole with a moderate stack height feels more firmer and snappy than cushioned. There is a 6mm drop listed and that is exactly what it feels like (slightly lower). The rearfoot features a slightly lateral posterior bevel, which decent transitions at heel strike. The Sky Vault plate does stiffen up the ride, making the midfoot a quick transition. The forefoot feels moderately stiff at normal paces and most comes alive at faster paces. I have not found uphill running at normal speeds to be that exciting, but running faster or at uptempo speeds engages the plate much better and both up and downhill running. The more toe extension you get, the more things snap back. The firmer cushioning makes this shoe better for shorter efforts.

Those who want a little less shoe may be able to take this for longer distances, but most people will find this best for 10k to half marathon distance trail efforts. It can handle faster and uptempo efforts, but is not the fastest or lightest shoe on the market. It can also handle easier efforts it you like a more moderate stack height and traditional ride. Despite being a more middle to shorter distance trail shoe, the durability, traction and versatility are quite good. Half of my 25 miles are on road, which felt fine if slightly firm. Trail miles obviously feel best in this shoe and the lugs grip quite on gravel and dirt. They are not the deepest, but do great for the majority of soft terrain. What I was surprised most about is the good durability despite road use. I have 25 miles on my pair with barely any wear on the outsole. For those reasons, I expect this to last much longer than other shoes in this class. 


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 3 is a neutral trail shoe but there are a few methods that may make it more stable for certain people. The most obvious is the large sidewalls in the heel. These do a great job of securing and centering the heel at initial contact. These work well with the slightly lateral posterior heel bevel and a decent amount of sole flare to provide a stable rearfoot. This transitions to a more neutral midfoot as the sole narrows and the sidewalls taper off. The forefoot widens and has some additional stiffness from the plate, make it mildly stable. Those who need heel guidance will do best in this shoe, while those needing midfoot stability may not find enough. 

Thoughts as a DPT: Pros/Cons of Moderate Stack Height Trail Shoes
By Matthew Klein

Moderate stack height shoes, or those with stack heights in 22-30 mm range are not as common anymore on the trail. What used to be the norm is becoming a bit more rare as everything moves into the maximal stack height range. The benefits normally associated with maximal shoes in this category is more underfoot protection, often (but not always) a wider and more stable base and more rockered, efficient rides. These can be helpful especially for long distance efforts and are typically the tools of choice over ultramarathon and longer distance efforts/ racing. That said, there are a few moderate stack height shoes that still exist. The primary benefit of a more moderate stack height is improved proprioception and kinesthesia. While not nearly as good as a minimal trail shoe, these provide a balance of some cushioning and nimbleness to react a bit quicker to the ground. Propioception refers to the body's ability to detect its static joint positions. This is how you know where your body is in space when not looking, which is incredibly important in trail running. This occurs through stimulation of various receptors in your joints and tissue, which pick up these signals and send them to your brain for processing. Typically in firmer or more minimal shoes, there is more impact and the body gets better feedback on where it is. Additionally, lighter weight and firmer ride can make for a more nimble feel, allowing for a perception of improved reaction to varied terrain especially with the appropriate sensory input. This is somewhat muted with taller stack-height shoes, which may be beneficial for protection but impair your sense of the ground and your body. 

Some of the challenges of these moderate stack height shoes is the increased firmness and decreased protection. Most road shoes are more maximal, so transitioning to moderate stack height shoes can be a little weird. The hazards that come on trails, like rocks and debris, can easily poke through the midsole or make for what feels like increased firmness underfoot. There is a plate in the Catamount 3 that acts like a rock guard, but that stiffness also adds to the firmnnss. So with all these elements, your body gets better propioceptive input/information on where it is with a moderate to minimal stack height shoe. However, cushioning, protection and other components are sacrificed. One is not necessarily better than the other and if funds allow, we suggest having one of each. All bodies and needs are different, so understanding which one may work better for you is key and we hope this content helps you in that journey.


Matt: The upper security changes have dramatically improved the fit and security of this shoe. As mentioned, this has helped me enjoy it far more on both trails and road. My major recommendations for this shoe are to either change the price or upgrade the foam. $170 is pretty steep for what is essentially a traditional trail racing flat that doesn't bring that much new to the table. Even the sky vault is essentially just a snappier rock plate. I actually like this shoe, so that may not be a bad thing but the price is not justified. The other option would be for Brooks to finally invest in some truly newer foams and add that. Outside of those things, this is a secure shoe that is nimble, durable and borders a nice line between a lightweight trainer and racer. 


Matt: The Brooks Catamount 3 is for those who want a moderate stack height, uptempo/nimble trail shoe for moderate distance racing. The new upper provides good security for those with normal to narrow feet who want a secure ride. The midsole continues the DNA Flash train, running a bit firm but with an outsole that provides excellent durability. This is a classic Brooks racing shoe, a bit too consistent and in need of some upgrades, but still decent. Those who want a middle to shorter distance trail race that keeps a more traditional racing shoe feel will enjoy these. I still think they are too pricey for what they are, but think this type of shoe still should exist for the person who wants the middle ground between maximal and minimal.


Fit: B+ (Snug fit throughout with lower volume especially from toe guard. Stiff counter)
B+ (Good uptempo/racing shoe with a firmer, snappier ride)
Stability: B/B+ (Stable heel, neutral midfoot, and slightly stiff forefoot)
Value: B- (A bit pricey for what you get but it appears extremely durable. )
Personal: B- (Similar to last year. A decent shoe but nothing new. Foam is too firm and plate not as snappy as I hoped)
Overall Design: 


Brooks Catamount 3
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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we 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 pairs.  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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