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Trail Racing-Only Runners Have a Brooks Hyperion Tempo of Their Own: The Catamount

A DNA Flash midsole provides the same responsive turnover as its road racing cousins, the Hyperion Tempo and Elite 2.

brooks catamount
Lakota Gambill

The RW Takeaway: With DNA Flash, Brooks’s responsive marathon shoe midsole, the versatile Catamount wills you to go faster on the trail. The shoe has a tacky outsole that provides reliable traction, allowing you to confidently up the pace on slick surfaces.

  • Nitrogen-infused DNA Flash midsole
  • Protective rock plate in the midfoot
  • Drainage slits for water-crossings

    Price: $160
    Trail, racing
    9.3 oz (M), 8.8 oz (W)

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    When Brooks launched the Hyperion Elite last year—the shoe Desiree Linden wore when she won the 2018 Boston Marathon—there was a rumor its follow-up wasn’t too far behind. Sure enough, the Elite 2 was released months later with the same midsole as the Hyperion Tempo, DNA Flash. That midsole is composed of nitrogen-infused foam and provides a softer and more supportive platform, which the original Elite lacked.

    The Brooks team must have seen endless possibilities when DNA Flash was finally validated after months of testing, and incorporated into the Elite 2 (Des wore the shoe racing the Olympic Marathon Trials, where she placed fourth—just missing a spot on Team USA). I like to imagine there was a brainstorming session, and that one of Brooks’s designers blurted out: “Hey! What would happen if we incorporated that same midsole into a trail shoe?” And that’s how the Catamount was born.

    Lakota Gambill

    Made to Race

    Lightweight and flexible, the Catamount delivers the same bouncy ride as the Hyperion Tempo and Elite 2. The DNA Flash midsole provides enough cushioning to support your foot, yet it’s not so soft that it dampens ground-feel. “This shoe’s excellence is in its just-right DNA Flash midsole: not too soft to feel sluggish and not too firm to destroy my ankles or knees if I go more than a few miles,” said a tester.

    brooks catamount
    Take a good hard look—because the Catamount won’t stay this clean for long.
    Lakota Gambill

    But the real draw is the shoe’s responsiveness, which had testers “boost their cadence,” hitting that sweet spot on their runs that made them go farther—and faster. The Catamount is a shoe that allows you to soar. It will have road hog runners realize swiftness isn’t exclusive to pavement.

    And Made for the Trail

    The Catamount’s mesh upper is remarkably comfortable and decked out with almost everything you need in a shoe meant for trail runs: slits for drainage, gaiter attachments, and mudguards. A rock plate in the midfoot, Brooks’s Ballistic Rock Shield, offers some protection on rugged terrain.

    The TrailTack outsole has excellent grip on wet, uneven rock, with lugs that will help you keep your footing over (some) slippery mud. However, some testers desired a more aggressive tread pattern and pointier lugs, saying the traction was iffy on steep declines.

    brooks catamount
    TrailTack rubber provides decent grip.
    Lakota Gambill

    Tester Feedback

    Will Egensteiner, RW associate test director
    Arch: High | Gait: Overpronator | Footstrike: Midfoot
    The Catamount comes close to being the perfect trail shoe for me. Its blend of comfort, speed, support, and energy return helped me run faster and more comfortably. The lugs are fine for gravel and light singletrack but a little shallow if there’s mud.”

    Heather M., tester since 2018
    Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Heel
    “I liked that [the Catamount] didn’t necessarily feel like trail shoes. [It] felt like I was wearing normal trail shoes with a bit more of a tread. [I was] slightly nervous on declines, but overall they did fine on the trails. I also feel like these shoes could easily be worn on roads or grass without a problem. The seem like they would transition easily.”

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