Low profile and built for speed, the new Brooks Mazama trail runners are packed with the latest technology to rock your local trails or go bigger — much bigger.

Brooks Mazama Features:

  • Upper: double-layer mesh with multidirectional overlays
  • Midsole: BioMoGo DNA cushioning
  • Decoupled midfoot
  • Forefoot propulsion plate
  • Sticky rubber outsole with directional lugs
  • 6mm drop (23mm heel / 17mm forefoot)
  • Weight: 9.3 oz
  • Color options: yellow from Brooks website, blue from REI.com
  • MSRP $140
brooks mazama running

Hitting the trails in the always-on Brooks Mazama’s.

Hitting 150 miles in the Mazama’s

The Brooks Mazama hits the fall 2016 shoe market as a breath of fresh air: it’s not an update or modification of an existing shoe, but a completely new model in the Brooks lineup. Design-wise, the company collaborated with ultrarunning legend Scott Jurek to create a shoe that provides the cushioning and protection of the Cascadia in a lighter and more performance-oriented package. The result is a shoe that is durable enough for high training miles, but is ideally suited for tempo runs or trail racing.  We’ve logged about 150 miles in our pair, and the Strava trend lines on our matched routes started inching upward right away.

Decent but not excessively roomy toebox

Decent but not excessively roomy toebox

Fit through the upper is narrower than Brooks’s Pure Grit models, but there’s adequate room for toe splay on impact. The toe box is slightly constricting with ultra-distance runs when you experience some foot swelling, but the sleek profile is consistent with the mission of speed over long plodding.  The double-mesh uppers ventilate well in warm conditions and dry quickly when wet.

The traditional lace system, thin gusseted tongue, and multi-directional upper overlays combine to achieve a very stable attachment of the foot to the midsole. The laces hold their tension well, even with high mileage. The heel cup is lightly padded with slight flexibility around the collar to allow natural ankle movement on uneven terrain, and a firm rubber toe cap up front protects the toes well from inadvertent knocks and stubs.

brooks mazama medial view

The instep of the Mazama.

Through the midsole, Brooks uses its proprietary BioMoGo DNA adaptive cushioning material that adjust the amount of cushioning it provides based on how much force is placed upon it. Practically speaking, the feel is softer when you’re cruising at slower speeds, and firmer when you’re hammering a higher pace.  The profile and toe drop of the Mazama are both right in the sweet spot: at 23mm/17mm, you’re low enough to have great stability but high enough to take the sting out of impact. And 6mm is ideal for promoting a natural midfoot strike at cruising speeds, while providing additional comfort when opening up your stride to run faster.

Outsole lugging; forefoot plate visible through gaps

Outsole lugging; forefoot plate visible through gaps

We found that the midsole material provided a comfortable ride on roads as well as on technical trails. Forward momentum is assisted by a firm plastic forefoot propulsion plate below the midsole that transfers energy from heel to toe. This propulsion device also functions as a rock plate by absorbing impact from sharp objects underfoot, which further contributes to the comfortable ride. The Mazama also has a decoupled midfoot – the heel area is not connected to the forefoot by any rigid feature – which allows the heel and forefoot to move independently at push-off; this is especially helpful on irregular terrain.

brooks mazama profile

The side profile of the Mazama.

Lugging on the outsole is aggressive but somewhat shallow; this is effective for transitioning from road to trail and back, and the sticky rubber outsole grabs wet surfaces fairly well. The low profile lugs are great for running fast, but ours have worn down noticeably over 150 miles, so overall traction will be compromised as you approach the middle of the shoe’s lifespan.

brooks mazama dirty

After 150 miles, these were dirty, but solid.

The Good

  • Ideal stack heights and heel-toe drop for fast running
  • Strong traction in wet or dry conditions
  • Secure upper fit and feel

The Bad

  • Toe box slightly narrow for ultra distances
  • Shallow outsole lugs lose traction with moderate wear

The Bottom Line: Brooks Mazama

The Brooks Mazama was built for speed, and it delivers the goods with an ideal combination of protection, comfort, and agility. It’s an excellent choice for trail racing, or working on quick leg turnover on your regular training routes.

Buy Now: Available at REI.com

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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