Brooks Cascadia 16 Review | Running Shoes Guru

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Brooks Cascadia 16 12 1

Brooks Cascadia 16 Introduction

Brooks states that it offers all-terrain comfort during those grueling trail miles with this new and improved Cascadia 16. You can thank the added DNA Loft cushioning to the shoe and an additional 2mm of cushioning to provide a softer ride.

It’s been brought back to life to make it one of the greatest trail running shoes on the market. You’ll notice right away its ruggedness, responsiveness midsole, and durable rock plate. The rock plate is nice when it comes to not feeling much while on the trails but it was a tad hard to get used to.

I have been running in other trail shoes that allow me to have a more ground feel. This plate makes it a wonderful stability shoe.

I’ve worn this shoe for hours on end with no big issues. They are very comfortable for being on the heavy/bulky end of shoes.

They weigh 10.5 oz. (298 g) for US M /9.5 oz. (255 g) for US W8.0 and have a midsole drop of 8mm. You’ll pay $130 and that’s a typical price for a trail shoe of this capacity. I think they are worth the money considering their durability and versatility.

I will touch on a few of the key updated features that help make this trail shoe a win in my book. These updates would be its enhanced adaptability that gives you an all-terrain comfort. This new midsole and outsole construction allows the shoe to mold to the ground, which gives you an excellent stable ride.

Flexible protection is also offered in this version. The Ballistic Rock Shield keeps your feet from pebbles and branches but adapts more easily to uneven terrain.

The last area that’s been updated is the softer and lighter cushioning. It’s done by Brooks introducing their new DNA LOFT v2 midsole. It’s very soft but also durable. This makes the Cascadia 16 cushioning 5% softer and 20% lighter than the Cascadia 15.

Brooks Cascadia 16 Impressions

When I first received them and opened the box my initial reaction was just drawn to the bright blue colorway. I kinda like the vibrant colors for trail shoes. The next thing I picked up on was the lugs on the sole.

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They look like they are just ready to handle anything you would see out on the trail. The lugs are thick and spread out enough that you wouldn’t have trouble with stones getting lodged in between them.

My first run in them was on a huge grassy hill. I did hill repeats that’s day. To get to the hill I have to run 2 miles on the sidewalk. The hill workout lasted 1 hour and then I had to run back to my car.

Instantly when you place your feet into them you feel the firmness of the rock plate and how much room your toes have to spread out. During the run at times, they did feel bulky but they did a fine job and had no issues.

The second run in them was a 20-mile trail race. The course was muddy and had every element of a trail race. Elevation wasn’t a huge factor but you had many hills to climb and ascend downhill. This is where I could really test the shoe out. First few miles I had no problems. As the race went on I started to take notice of areas of the shoe that bothered me as I started to tack on the miles.

The rock plate is very well developed and felt as the run went on. As my legs started to get fatigued I could feel the lack of responsiveness in the midsole. Another area where I had a problem was in the heel. I had slight slipping that was just annoying.

My biggest complaint would be that just by the end of the race my feet just hurt. Of course, you would expect some discomfort but they legitimately hurt. I have never had that feeling after a race before.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed these shoes for the short distances I did in them and also just hiking. If I were to recommend them to someone, I would suggest them to the individual who would run in them a few miles at a time.

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Another suggestion, I used to hike with my kids on my back and I instantly thought these would be perfect for that because they are extremely stable.

A similar shoe in the same family would be the Brooks Catamount.

Brooks Cascadia 16 Protection

The protection the Brooks Cascadia 16 offer is good.

They are designed with a rock-solid foundation. I’ve tested them out on any type of terrain you could imagine and found this to be true.

No pebble or rock could be felt. This is thanks to Brooks’ updated Ballistic Rock Shield. After many runs and hikes in these, the protective layers have held up quite nicely. I did not test the previous version of this shoe but I’ve read some people’s reviews and they have stated the 16’s toe box area is bigger.

They allow your toes to splay each step and also give your feet room to breathe. These fit true to size and would be a good choice for the individual with a wider foot. I think this wider toe box area might have been contributing to my discomfort during the longer runs.

When I would push off I could feel the shoe pressing on the top of my foot. This was only felt when I pushed past those distances of 10-plus miles.

Brooks Cascadia 16 Durability

Let’s talk about where I think this shoe shines the most. Durability!

I have worn these for well over 50 miles and they have taken a beating. There is no sign of wear on the upper or the sole. When I rinsed the mud off of them and looked at the sole, it was remarkably untouched looking.

The upper has a bunch of welded overlays that make them durable but also make them not as breathable. I did take them through a steam and they drained quickly. If you are looking a shoe that is more waterproof I would look at the Cascadia GTX 16.

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This shoe can handle tough mountain terrain and longer distances. Would I want to run those longer distances in them? Probably not but I would 100% wear them hiking for any distance.

Brooks Cascadia 16 Responsiveness & speed

The Cascadia 16 is definitely an upgrade from the 15. You will have a stable step but also allows for you easily move laterally.

Taking them out on all types of terrain is no problem, the sole has fantastic lugs that measure 4.3 mm that handle whatever you put in front of them. Taking them through the mud, dirt, water and rocks was not a problem and didn’t experience one slip-up.

These are not a pair I would want to “race” in. They are on the hefty side and I didn’t feel the most comfortable going fast on my downhill efforts.

Brooks Cascadia 16 Comfort and fit

Comfortability-wise, they are pretty stiff and I would suggest that they do need a break in time to fully know if you enjoy them.

When running, they are a tad heavier than most of the trail shoes I’ve been wearing but because of how they are designed I didn’t dwell on that.

The lacing system has many options for different ways to lace your shoes. 4 eyelets at the top allow you to get a locked-down feel. Even with that, I still had some slipping in my heel. It didn’t cause any irritation just an annoyance. When I just used them for hiking shoes I had no problems.

Brooks Cascadia 16 Conclusions

Typically the Brooks Cascadia is known for being a reliable workhorse trail shoe. The past few versions have fallen short in many areas but I’m here to tell you that the new and improved 16 is a delight.

Its updates make it more durable and stable than past Cascadias. Overall it’s well-designed to cover any element you will face on the trail. Not my first pick for those very long distances but perfect for any other.

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