The Brooks Cascadia has been the primary trail shoe in the Brooks line for a decade and a half, but it’s been entirely reconfigured for the second straight season.
The vast changes have made the Brooks Cascadia 16 one of the best and most versatile versions yet, allowing it to ramble over a wide variety of terrain with an ideal combination of cushioning, protection and comfort.
Brooks completely overhauled the Cascadia by replacing the midsole with its DNA Loft v2 foam, debuting a new engineered mesh upper and redesigning the lug pattern on the outsole.
Gone is the stability-enhancing Pivot Post System that had been one of the hallmarks of Cascadia models since its inception, but the shoe remains very stable on uneven terrain.
The Cascadia 16 fits true to size with a medium-volume interior, snug heel, secure midfoot and a spacious toe box that’s noticeably wider than the previous edition.
The step-in feel is soft and plush, thanks to a padded heel collar, very soft midsole, premium footbed and thick, gusseted tongue that wraps the top of the forefoot and really secures the foot to the midsole/outsole chassis.
On the run, the midsole cushioning feels soft, but not mushy. Instead, it feels compliant, flexible, stable and very reliable on a variety of types of terrain, including gravel roads, soft dirt and technical rocks.
The rock plate embedded in the layers of the midsole is more pliable than previous editions of the Cascadia and, combined with the softer midsole foam, makes this version of the shoe feel noticeably more energetic and agile.
It’s not a light and lively model, but it’s not a clunky tank, either. The modifications and improvements have made the Cascadia 16 a versatile, jack of all trails, capable of running on smooth to moderately technical terrain.
The new engineered mesh upper is airy and breathable while providing a nice mix of pliable comfort and locked-down foot hold. Subtle but effect reinforcements over the toe bumper and sidewalls keep your feet out of harm’s way without inhibiting the natural flex and movements of your stride. The flexible but protective Ballistic Rock Shield in the midsole keeps pointy rocks, roots and other obstacles on the trail from poking your feet.
The Cascadia 16 serves up exceptional traction from its full-coverage layer of TrailTack rubber and an array of beefier and more widely spaced directional lugs. The outsole adheres to wet and dry rocks, roots and wooden trail steps and it grips the ground, no matter if it’s loose dirt, gravel, snow or mud.
WHO IT’S BEST FOR
Given its versatility, the Cascadia 16 could be the shoe of choice for novice trail runners, experienced mountain runners and even ultrarunners.
It’s not a maximal shoe, but it has a lot of cushioning and yet it still has good proprioceptive feel for the ground. It has the comfort of a road running shoe, with the trail-specific protection to keep your feet from getting banged up.
Although it’s not light and agile enough for short-distance races, it’s ideal for running 10K to ultra-distance events.
BROOKS CASCADIA 16 PROS
There are a lot of great features built into this shoe, but the new DNA Loft v2 midsole is certainly one of the best. Although there is 2mm more foam, the midsole is 5 percent softer and 20 percent lighter than the BioMoGo DNA foam of the Cascadia 15. The according-like contouring of the midsole is known as “sidewall release geometry” that allows the lateral and medial sides of the shoe to compress independently to adapt to uneven terrain.
Although the stability-enhancing Pivot Post System is gone, the Cascadia 16 is still a very stable shoe. Stability is achieved through a slightly wider footprint, reliable outsole design and the recessed position of your feet inside the midsole chassis.
The new stretch woven laces do a great job integrating with the reinforced eyelets and securing the foot in place with the new upper and fully gusseted tongue.
The Cascadia 16 has a few hidden features, including drainage ports that release water and a Velcro strap off that back of the heel that can secure the rear loop of after-market gaiters.
Based on the materials and how this shoe is built, our wear-testers expect this shoe to have exceptional durability.
BROOKS CASCADIA 16 CONS
The only slight drawback about the Cascadia 16 is that it could be a tinge lighter than it is. It doesn’t feel weighted down, but it’s just not quite as nimble as it could be.
BROOKS CASCADIA 16 TECH SPECS
SHOP CASCADIA 16