Brooks Catamount 3: Balance Between Lightweight and Secure

BrooksCatamount on feet

Since its introduction in mid-2020, the Catamount line has infused Brooks' trail range with dynamic speed. Does the Brooks Catamount 3 uphold this legacy? Let's delve into it and find out.

Sole Units

BrooksCatamount sole


The Brooks Catamount 3 incorporates a nitrogen-infused midsole called DNA Flash. This innovative material keeps the foam light while preserving energy return, ensuring a responsive feel with every stride. This feature is pivotal for the Catamount 3 to sustain its swift performance.

While I haven't had the opportunity for an extended outing with the Catamount, I've enjoyed its firm midsole for faster-paced runs. Brooks emphasizes that this shoe is designed for longer distances (50-100 km), a claim I find credible based on its construction and performance.

Despite its firmness, the midsole offers a snug and comfortable fit. I particularly value the moderate to low stack height of this shoe, which I believe is essential for a nimble trail runner. By keeping closer to the ground, albeit at the expense of some cushioning, it ensures a stable experience on rugged terrain. Sensitivity to the trail is crucial, especially when navigating at faster speeds, and this shoe excels in providing that connection.

Related: Salomon Thundercross: Trail Shoes for All Types of Terrain

Moreover, the Brooks Catamount 3 incorporates Brooks' SkyVault Trail Plate in the forefoot. Apart from imparting a touch of extra energy to the shoe, it serves as a rock plate, offering additional safeguarding to the underside of your foot on rocky trails. Engineered to enhance control and responsiveness during uphill runs, the SkyVault Trail Plate contributes to the shoe's adeptness at ascending slopes. While I can't definitively claim a significant distinction, the shoe's uphill performance suggests that the plate is indeed contributing positively.


The Brooks Catamount 3 boasts Brooks' TrailTack Green rubber outsole, incorporating 25% recycled material—a commendable eco-conscious effort. The lugs, with a depth of 3.5mm, strike a balance between traction and versatility.

This is where the shoe falls a bit short for me, especially as someone who frequents rugged, technical trails. While I appreciate Brooks' commitment to sustainability with the TrailTack Green rubber, I believe they still have some ground to cover to match the performance of other industry-standard outsoles like Vibram and Continental. The TrailTack rubber offers adequate grip on wet surfaces like rocks or stumps, but it lacks the aggressive traction needed to truly excel as an all-around trail shoe.

If you're running on more friendly trails, you probably won't encounter any problems. The lug depth and grip should be sufficient for your needs.

Upper & Vamp

BrooksCatamount side overlays

Similar to many quality trail shoes currently available, the Catamount incorporates a one-piece mesh upper, sticking to a tried-and-true design. I personally found it snug and comfortable, with sufficient breathability. While I didn't have ample opportunity to test it in muddy or wet conditions, it seems capable of decent drainage, suggesting it should perform well in such scenarios.

A TPU overlay shields the forefoot, providing protection against potential hazards like rocks or twigs. The upper strikes a balance between lightweight and secure; my foot feels well-supported and stable. The tongue is comfortable, and the laces are soft, adding to the overall pleasant experience. However, I found the laces a tad short when using the lockdown loops, which is a minor inconvenience. Nevertheless, the upper offers a snug and lightweight feel overall.

Is it Good for Runners with wide feet?

The midfoot of the Brooks Catamount 3 may feel a bit narrow, but the forefoot offers adequate width. If you have a wider midfoot, this is something to consider.

Summary & Conclusions

At $170, the Brooks Catamount 3 offers excellent value for an uptempo trail shoe with this level of performance.

The Brooks Catamount 3 builds upon the success of its predecessors, integrating subtle enhancements to elevate its performance further. With its lightweight design and responsive nature, it offers stability and agility for swift navigation across challenging terrain. The snug yet comfortable upper, paired with a low stack height, ensures surprising stability, especially during high-speed runs, setting it apart in the realm of trail shoes known for their instability under such conditions.

Related: Saucony Endorphin Speed 4: Versatile Trainer for Uptempo runs

The Brooks Catamount 3 stands out as a lightweight and speedy option in its category. Priced at $170, it offers excellent value, particularly for a specialized shoe with plated features. I look forward to utilizing this shoe on dry, warmer days to fully capitalize on its speed potential.

BrooksCatamount on feet

This shoe currently only comes in 'Lemon Chrome/Sedona Sage' colorways. For more information about Brooks Catamount 3, you can read our last article which was published days ago by Allen Liang.

Buyer Reviews

From the purchase page of Catamount 3, we can find some reviews from buyers below. Most of them are positive, while a few are negative:

More Positive

Matt C: I am a casual runner (5ks/10ks) who primarily runs road. That being said, I've been trying to take my training to a better level, and learn how to run on different terrain. That's where these Catamount 3s came in. I wear a size 10 and while the toe space was perfectly fine, it was a LITTLE snug on the sides of my feet. That being said, when running, these things really molded to my foot and ended up feeling really secure. The grips on the undersize are absolutely not for sure, and are effective on dirt paths (which I normally would run on, if not on road). Even on asphalt, you can really feel a difference in the grip. I admittedly haven't gotten to train TOO much on the dirt paths, but I plan on giving it a go and letting the shoes mold more on my foot. I'd love to test the propulsion plates and see what these things can do! If the shoe didn't fit so snug, it'd be a 5/5. Looks great, grips great, and responds nicely during runs.

Catamount 3: These are literally the best running shoes I have ever tried. Starting off, the quality is absolutely amazing. The fabric is extremely durable and so are the other materials. The shoe does very well repelling dirt and stains. Every couple of days I wipe the shoes down with a damp cloth and they clean very easily. The tread is well shaped and grips even in icy weather. The comfort is what amazed me. The shoe fits perfectly and gives the perfect amount of arch support. There aren’t any rough spots inside the shoe so my fit don’t have to get used to the shoes at all. The shoes are light and make running easier. I have noticed a huge difference between these and my other running shoes. The style is attractive; showing a modern look that captures the speed and challenge of daily running. I would absolutely recommend these shoes to any type of runner; both those who are experienced and those that are starting out. These literally are the only running shoes I use now.

Pete S: Love these trail shoes! They feel fast on the trail like a road shoe, but with the traction and rigidity of a trail shoe.

Jlightwolf: I love this Brooks Catamount 3 trail running shoe. I have a normal size 10 relatively narrow foot with a high arch. These fit true to size for me.
I live in a rural area, farmland and run mostly in the National Forest. These shoes are lightweight, feel comfortable on and hold up well on all terrain. The soles have enough traction that I feel secure in running in dirt, sticks loose pebbles even when wet.
The colors are vibrant and fun, and these as with all Brooks running shoes are well constructed

Psac: I have found a few extra excuses to get out of my responsibilities to run a few extra miles in the Catamount 3. These shoes provide an all-day comfort to easily transition between work, gym and fun. While I usually don’t rock the brighter shoes, the design really catches attention and goes well with a variety of styles and colors. Even with the fabric being very breathable, the shoe itself is very durable, especially the grip—no slip on these winter roads. One unique feature are the shoelaces. I appreciate how they do not loosen/untie during all the mileage. The shoes have been a constant for me and so versatile for road, off-road, trail, and gym. So excited to keep adding the miles up in these shoes.

BrooksCatamount 3 toebox

Garbear: These trail runners are a perfect fit, tough but extraordinarily light. They feel like an extension of my feet, and I could run confidently on trails and off. These are my new go-to running shoes. Trail runners sometimes run overly bulky - these are not, but still provide lots of protection.

TonySTS9: The Catamount 3 are amazing! Not only are they super comfortable, they are also stylish and attractive. I love how they fit my feet snugly and offer support in both walking and running. I have some foot issues and these shoes don't aggrevate or bother them at all. The tongue is attached to the bottom of the shoe so it doesn't get out of place. These shoes are easy to put on and easy to tie and even came with extra laces. I love the bright yellow on the toe, I didn't think they'd match my outfits but they work out surprisingly well! These shoes barely weigh anything so they're perfect when I plan to be on my feet for an extended period. Overall, I would say these shoes are one of the best pairs I've ever owned and I'll get a lot of life out of them.

Trailrunner: I got these for obstacle race training. I run mainly on a trail network that is a mix of hard packed dirt, loose leaves, loose gravel, and uneven rock surfaces. The Catamounts are excellent on the dirt, leaves, and gravel. The wide platform provides a lot of stability and the medium lug pattern is great for traction on loose surfaces. They’re not the best on extremely uneven hiking trails with a lot of boulders as they prioritize stability and and flat surface grip. The cushioning is great on the harder surfaces. I can’t speak to durability yet, but I expect the high number of shallower lugs to last longer than my racing shoes. They are really lightweight and fit my wide feet well. For the comfort and stability, these are now my primary trail running trainers.

More Negative

steven w: Exchanged for Ghost 15. More padding, softer overall. More comfortable than the catamount.

BrooksCatamount side overlays

tberry12: These shoes seem like a good option for trail running but unfortunately I didn’t test them in that capacity, they came when it was snowy and all my running moves indoors. I only used them in a casual walking capacity, but here are my thoughts:

Design was a little too loud for my taste. Especially compared to the catamount 2 which looks great in almost all color-ways.

The toe material was a little too stiff for my preference. I can imagine on trail runs that it would pinch and be uncomfortable (it was a little uncomfortable even on easy walks).

The shoe fit true to size and was comfortable enough. The tread was excellent and the shoe felt very secure under foot. Overall I would only recommend this shoe to extreme trail runners and only after testing to verify the toe material does not pinch your foot.