Brooks Catamount 3 Review: All this for $170?! Really?!

Alastair shares why the Brooks Catamount 3 is a top choice for trail runners seeking performance, durability, and comfort across various terrains.

-

All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. If you buy through links, we may earn a commission.

The Brooks Catamount 3 trail running shoes are designed for runners tackling distances between 50 to 100 km, but how do they perform on a wide variety of terrain, climbs, descents, are they actually suitable for ultra running, and ultimately, are they worth the $170 price tag? Well, I’ve done the real world testing required to determine how they perform, on some of the most epic trails in Northern California, and these are my thoughts/results.

Right out of the box, the Brooks Catamount 3 feels super comfortable, and look great, in my opinion. They have a firm midsole, offering the responsiveness and control you need on the trails, especially if you’re racing but I was keen to see how they felt over longer distances in terms of cushioning and comfort.

Right out of the box, the Brooks Catamount 3 feels super comfortable

Before I get into my Brooks Catamount 3 review (in-depth performance review), here’s a breakdown of the key specifications/features worth knowing about.

Key specifications

  • Price: $170 at Brooksrunning.com (US) / £160 at Sportsshoes.com (UK)
  • Fit: True to size with a medium width and an airy toe box suitable for wide toes
  • Upper: Engineered mesh with added durability in high-wear areas
  • Lacing System: Notched laces for secure fit
  • Midsole: Nitrogen-infused DNA Flash foam midsole with a SkyVault Trail plate for energy return and protection
  • Outsole: Trail Tack green rubber (provides excellent traction)
  • Drop: 6mm from heel to toe
  • Weight: 9.1oz (258g) for a US men’s size 9

👋🏼 If you’re thinking about getting these shoes or any others that we end up ultimately recommending as worth buying, using our links would be a huge help for Trail & Kale Running Co. We earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which lets us keep creating insightful content like this review. Thanks so much for your support – we really appreciate it!

Brooks Catamount 3 performance review

To make sure this review is in-depth and so you know we actually run in the shoes we review (believe it or not, some sites that like to cut shoes in half and call it a review, do not), you can also watch my performance video review on Youtube by tapping the image below – Don’t forget to subscribe to our Channel so you don’t miss new reviews :).

Brooks Catamount 3 Review: All this for $170?! Really?! 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

Comfort and fit

The Brooks Catamount 3 fits true to size, with a medium width that accommodates most foot shapes. The toe box is nice and airy too, which provides ample room for wider toes or those who simply prefer more space in the forefoot to allow for toe slay when running, for proper biomechanics and more comfort over longer distances – this is something that Altra does really well.

The engineered mesh upper is both durable and breathable, ensuring your feet stay cool and comfortable even during intense efforts of climbing or reaching top speeds on downhill gradients and flats.

Brooks has added protective overlays in high-wear areas, such as the toe box

To further enhance durability, Brooks has added protective overlays in high-wear areas, such as the toe box, or more specifically, above your big toe, where it’s most needed. These overlays prevent the dreaded toe poke-through, a common issue for some trail runners.

The lacing system is using notched laces, similar to those found in Nike’s Vaporfly 3 and Alphafly 3 models. What I like about these laces is how well they stay securely tied, reducing the chance of them coming undone mid-run.

The lacing system is using notched laces, similar to those found in Nike’s Vaporfly 3 and Alphafly 3 models.

Additionally, the padded tongue and collar provide a cushioned feel around the ankle, while the low-profile collar design prevents any annoying rubbing on your Achilles tendon.

Performance on climbs

When it comes to climbing, the Brooks Catamount 3 really excels for me; the combination of the nitrogen-infused DNA Flash foam midsole and the SkyVault Trail plate makes these shoes incredibly responsive and efficient.

The midsole offers a springy ride, helping you power up steep inclines more easily

The midsole offers a springy ride, helping you power up steep inclines more easily than without a plate like this. The SkyVault plate also adds just the right amount of flex, allowing for a smooth transition and forward propulsion without feeling overly stiff. That excessive ‘stiffness’ can be an issue I’ve noticed on some other race day trail shoes that use a carbon fiber plate, which doesn’t flex as readily as this Brooks SkyVault plate.

The outsole traction is also a key player on climbs thanks to the Trail Tack green rubber compound with strategic lug formations whereby the lug creep right up to the toe, wrapping around it, where you need traction the most on steep climbs.

Outsole lugs extend to the toe for efficient climbing
Outsole lugs extend to the toe for efficient climbing

I feel secure on various incline gradients, and the upper construction holds my feet firmly in place, eliminating any heel slippage that can be an issue on other trail shoes that contributes to a loss in performance when ascending.

Performance on flat sections

The Catamount 3 performs well on flat sections too, in large due to the responsive DNA Flash foam that encourages a quicker cadence, making it easier to maintain speed and efficiency. This midsole’s firm yet springy nature means you get excellent energy return with each stride, which is critical for maintaining momentum on flatter terrain.

The shoe’s overall lightweight design, at 9.1 oz for a US men’s size 9, adds to the feeling of agility and speed. You don’t feel weighed down, allowing you to focus on maintaining a smooth and fast pace – this is especially noticeable on long gruelling climbs. The roomy toe box also contributes to comfort on flat sections, as your toes can move freely without feeling cramped.

Performance on the downhills

Descending can often be a challenge, but the Brooks Catamount 3 handles technical downhills with ease.

Brooks Trail Tack rubber compound is excellent
Brooks Trail Tack rubber compound is excellent

The traction provided by the Trail Tack outsole ensures you remain stable and secure, even on loose or rocky descents which I have alot of on my local routes. The lugs, while not overly aggressive, are sufficient to grip the trail and prevent slips, and dare I say it, this outsole rubber compound performs pretty much on par with Vibram Megagrip in my tests.

The SkyVault plate, while offering flexibility on climbs, also provides a good level of stability on downhills. It protects your feet from sharp rocks and roots, acting as a rock plate and giving you confidence to tackle technical descents. Despite being a neutral trail running shoe with no additional support for pronation issues, the Catamount 3 feels remarkably stable, reducing the risk of ankle rolls, I put this down to the SkyVault plate.

The midsole’s responsive nature allows for quick reactions to changing terrain, and the foam adapts well to different surfaces, maintaining control and comfort. Even on steep and fast descents, the Catamount 3 delivers a smooth and controlled ride, making downhill running a joy rather than a challenge.

Suitability for different types of runners

The Catamount 3 is best suited to runners who enjoy a responsive, firm ride and like to tackle mixed terrains. It excels on climbs and technical trails, but might feel too firm on long stretches of asphalt or hard ground trails. If you’re a fan of Brooks or looking for a reliable all-mountain trail shoe for distances up to 50 km, this is a really solid choice.

Alternatives

If you’re considering other options, here are our reviews of a some other awesome trail running shoes with different performance highlights worth checking out:

  • HOKA Speedgoat 6: More cushioning and a higher stack height but still great control on technical trails.
  • Altra Timp 5: Recently reviewed by Helen and highly recommended for its comfort and versatility.
  • Nike Zegama 2: A significant improvement in the Zegama line, and now with Vibram Megagrip.
  • Arc’teryx Sylan: Another excellent all-mountain performer that’s built to the highest of standards.

Are they worth buying?

And so we’ve reached the ultimate questions in this review; is the Brooks Catamount 3 worth $170? Absolutely, it is!

This shoe offers great value with their durability, performance, and responsiveness. It’s a fantastic choice for trail runners looking for a reliable shoe that can handle a variety of terrains and weather conditions. So, if you’ve read this review and think it might be for you, I highly recommend giving the Catamount 3 a try.

👋🏼 If you’re thinking about buying running shoes that we ultimately end up recommending as worth buying, using our links is a huge help for Trail & Kale Running Co. We may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which lets us keep creating insightful content like this review. Thanks so much for your support – we really appreciate it!

I hope you enjoyed this Brooks Catamount 3 review, If you have questions about your specific trail running requirements, drop a comment below, and I’ll get back to you with some appropriate running shoe recommendations.

Thanks for reading, and happy trails! -Alastair

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Latest

Master Running Cadence To Run Faster...

Trail & Kale's ultimate guide to improving your running cadence for a faster, safer, and more efficient running technique.

Father’s Day Gifts For Dads That...

The most thoughtful gift ideas for dads who run, whether it's his birthday, Father's Day or another special occasion, there's a cool gift for your run-loving dad on this list.

LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Trail Running Poles...

Having tested them thoroughly in the mountains of Northern California, Alastair shares how these premium running poles improve trail performance

New Shoe Reviews
Fresh drops from our reviewers

These Are The Best Carbon Plate Running...

Find the best carbon plate running shoes for YOU. Shoe entries are ranked in order of performance and include links to in-depth reviews

Nike Pegasus 41 Review: The Flying Horse...

Is the Nike Pegasus 41 still the go-to daily trainer for runners seeking a dreamy balance of cushioning, responsiveness, and durability? Well, yes... yes it is. I'm not one to keep secrets from you ;)

La Sportiva Levante Review: Toe Bumper &...

This women's-specific trail running shoe is designed for all-mountain performance and technical, rocky, terrain.
Trail & Kale Running Co logo Email Newsletter

Don't Drop Behind
Subscribe to stay up to date!

'Best Of' Guides
Top performing gear

The Best Running Shoes [2024]

The best running shoes rated and shortlisted, and advice to ensure you buy the most comfortable, high-performing shoes that work for YOU.

The Best Trail Running Shoes [2024]

The best trail running shoes this year ranked & reviewed + top advice so you buy the most comfortable, high-performing shoes for you

Best On Running Shoes of 2024...

Welcome to the ULTIMATE On Running shoes buyer's guide, complete with reviews + rankings of the best On running shoes available | YES, I've reviewed them all!

Best HOKA Running Shoes of 2024...

ULTIMATE HOKA Running shoes buyer's guide, complete with reviews + rankings of the best HOKA running shoes. YES, I've reviewed them all!

Best Brooks Running Shoes of 2024...

Welcome to the ULTIMATE Brooks Running shoes buyer's guide, complete with reviews + rankings of the best Brooks shoes | YES, I've reviewed them all!

Training Plans
5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultramarathons