Brooks Cascadia 16 Running Shoe Review

First Thoughts On The Brooks Cascadia 16

I kid you not, aside from taking these Brooks Cascadia 16’s for a test and review, I am breaking in a pair of Brooks Cascadia 6’s. That’s right, it’s literally a 10 year throwback. I’ve had these in a box, and finally ran out of other shoes to destroy. Of course, I am not necessarily comparing the two, because I’m sure most of you reading this are familiar with the more recent releases. That said, it’s kind of cool to see what has changed with the shoe technology over the years. At that time, the minimal trend was going strong, but now the race for bigger and softer is full-on.

I have run in every shoe brand imaginable, but Brooks simply work for my foot, body, and running endeavors. Keep that in mind for yourself as you venture through countless reviews and shoes to test out. I always recommend going to your local running store to get their opinion, and to try on various pairs of shoes, makes, and models. Meeting the legendary Scott Jurek at a “Born To Run” event was a neat experience some ten years ago. He was an integral part of the initial development and promotion of the Cascadia, and I was always quite fascinated with Brooks’ premier trail shoe. Especially, since trail running was seeing such a growth spurt back then, and he really was instrumental in that popularity at the time.

In recent years, I have heard some grumbling about the Cascadia’s, and I would hope Brooks has listened to their audience. For what it’s worth, I am absolutely thrilled to provide what hopefully is a fresh perspective. I mean, whatever happened with models 7-15 is in the past, and the 16 is a blank slate for moving forward. Brooks has a loyal following, and they have a solid marketing campaign. However, the shoe has to deliver, so let’s log some miles and conquer some Colorado trails.

Technical Specifications

Weight: 9.5 oz (W) 10.5 oz (M)

Drop: 8mm

Cushioning: DNA LOFT

Brooks Cascadia 16 Upper

Toe Box

The whole time I was running, the term “roomy” came to mind. I have a middle of the road foot width. Although, I have noticed with aging that my feet are getting a little flatter, and I need that extra bit of room. There’s nothing I dislike more than my toes bumping the front of my shoes on prolonged descents. I have lost toe nails, and if you know, well, you know. These shoes are providing me with enough room to splay those toes, yet keep everything in place so there’s no sliding going on. The lacing system is pretty straightforward, each loop has its own connection point, so making adjustments at 12 different points is possible to suit any individual foot width.

Breathability Of The Brooks Cascadia 16

I kind of missed the boat on super hot temperatures. We are lingering a little with some Fall weather, but will be hitting Winter full stride soon. Breathability is still important, but not so much that sweat and moisture build up is a factor. That can still happen of course, but these shoes have performed admirably. I encounter lots of hot and dusty trails in the Summer, so airflow will be very important.

Water, Mud, and Snow Protection

‘Tis the season for inclement weather to come barreling in to give us all sorts of fun trail conditions. A little rain, snow, sleet, mud, or icy trails are not a problem at all in the Brooks Cascadia 16. Once mother nature started to play a role with increased mud and puddles is where these shoes were in their element. Avoiding minor puddles usually gets me into more trouble than it’s worth. There’s times that I will hit the edge of a water hazard instead of going right through it. It’s only natural, because you just don’t know what’s under there. Keeping with trail etiquette, I do try to stick to the trail even if that means getting my shoes wet or dirty. In many cases, when I do try to avoid hazards, I end up with less secure footing, and the likelihood of slipping and sliding increases. Hence, I trust that the terrain will support me, and that my shoes absorb any trail obstacles. Snow is something that is starting to happen here. I haven’t had a chance to go hit the deeper stuff yet, so I’ll reserve comment on that.

The Brooks Cascadia 16 Midsole

Here’s the official technical Brooks lingo in that the Cascadia has the new DNA LOFT v2 midsole. This is 5% softer and 20% lighter than the 15 version. I am really not that much of a technical shoe nerd that I can explain all the various advances and patents that each shoe company has or holds. I know there are a lot of people working behind the scene to make amazing progress, but I simply want to know how they feel to me. Soft is inherently a good thing on the surface. You want to feel comfortable in your shoes that provide enough cushioning to absorb the terrain. In return, I want a solid enough shoe with support to keep me in control of how I handle the trail and terrain.

The Cascadia 16 feels really comfortable while still giving me the ability to careen down steep technical terrain. Durability definitely plays a big role when it comes to my running shoes. I need them to hold up for the long haul. Not that I’d recommend it, but I have pushed shoes past 1000 miles. For starters, I wanted to see if it was really possible. Secondly, I wondered what it would do to the midsole compression and overall integrity.

This sounds more like naval terminology, but these shoes have drainage ports to allow water to escape quickly. Now, I don’t see an awful lot of muddy wet terrain unless I go snow running in the Winter. In doing so, I kind of expect a more soggy run with heavier shoes as it is more about the adventure and ability to feel like a badass in more extreme conditions. That said, I suppose shedding water is a good thing, but haven’t necessarily noticed that yet if I must be honest. It may be happening behind (or under) the scenes as they say.

Brooks Cascadia 16 Outsole

I suppose this is where the rubber meets the road. Brooks is promoting this as their Rock Solid Foundation shoe. The Tech Ballistic Rock Shield can handle the rigors of the more severe and rocky trails you can challenge it to. In my mind, I still think of it as a Rock Plate, but I suppose that conjures up images of an impenetrable barrier without a lot of give.

Their updated Rock shield has these vertical grooves that provide side to side adaptability. On longer runs in other shoes, I have definitely had a soreness on the bottom of my feet. Did I notice this sideways flexibility? The short answer is no. I was too busy focusing on the terrain with its rocks, roots, and dips to consider this side to side adaptability. When descending, I immediately go into “Dance” mode taking quick steps to absorb the terrain in a pitter patter style. I do not like catching a small rock protrusion and doing a superman slide. Hence, control is the name of the game. Plus, I don’t over stride to minimize the quad pounding. The lugs dig in enough to provide that stability!

The bottoms provided a true trail feel as they absorbed loose terrain, gravel, sand, and hard packed single track. The grip was definitely noticeable on the wet rocks, and I never slid far in the loose stuff. The shoe would grab in no time flat to allow my legs to keep moving into the next stride.

Final Thoughts On The Brooks Cascadia 16

I own a 2014 Toyota 4Runner vehicle. It’s awesome for getting me places here in Colorado. It’s a stock model and can certainly handle most of the 4 x 4 mountain roads I take it on. In comparison, there is also the 4Runner TRD (Trail) version which is bigger, bad-er, and looks the All-Terrain part.

The Brooks Cascadia 16 remind me of the trail running shoe version of the TRD. The Cascadia 16 has a lift kit, extra protection, added suspension, and handles so much better on the wide variety of trails and conditions you can throw at it. The Rock Shield protection is solid, the grip of the lugs are tacky to provide confidence, and the upper mesh provides air flow for breathability. All in all, I am giving these all terrain kicks a big thumbs up, and will continue to explore and venture to test their versatility. Check them out for yourself!

MSRP: $160  For more options and purchase please visit BROOKSRUNNING

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.

View Comments (2)

    • Hi there.
      I wouldn't call this part very icy. It was more of a dusting of snow, but no, I did not slip. I have run on more icy paths since then, and managed fairly well. I always slow way down when I see something that could be treacherous. pure ice doesn't run well of course. I would say, these have good enough traction to handle a lot of snowy and icy conditions. The micro-spikes or "screw shoes" are certainly a good option, but I haven't had a run where all of trail was completely iced over. Hence, these have worked well with a mix of trail conditions.

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