Shoe Review: Brooks Cascadia 16

Profile view of men's Cascadia 16

The Brooks Cascadia 16 provides super-soft cushioning and rugged durability to take on even the toughest trails.

One of our best trail running shoes, the Cascadia has been a consistent favorite of new and experienced trail runners alike. This Cascadia 16 update features plush DNA Loft foam that provides protective cushioning and responsive pop as you run. Plus, an updated Ballistic Rock Shield keeps your feet from getting beat up by rocky terrain.

Tech Specs

Brooks Cascadia 16

Weight

9.5 oz (W) 10.5 oz (M)

Drop

8 mm

Category

Trail, Cushioned

Use

Trail Running

Surface

Technical and non-technical trails

Our reviewers were stoked to expose the Cascadia 16 to the elements, and wore them on trail runs over rocky, muddy trails. To our knowledge, nobody fell—that’s traction for you.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Brooks Cascadia 16.

DNA Loft Foam Protects, Adapts Underfoot

A close view of the release grooves and DNA Loft v2 midsole.

Brooks DNA Loft v2 foam shines through in the Cascadia 16.

Cushioning is as important on the trails as it is the roads, helping to absorb impact over uneven terrain and protect your foot from jagged rocks and roots.

DNA Loft v2 foam is uniquely designed to provide plenty of plush cushioning while still offering a responsive snap to propel you forward on even the toughest trails.

“I felt confident that I wouldn’t get a stabbing feeling from stepping on rocks and roots the way I have in regular road shoes,” says one reviewer. “I loved how cushioned and plush these felt even with the tough outsole.”

Brooks designers couldn’t get enough of the DNA Loft v2 foam, which is why they added two extra centimeters of foam to the midsole stack.

An overhang view of the robust lugging and DNA Loft v2 cushioning in the Cascadia 16

This extra foam works with an updated release groove mechanism in the midsole that allows both the midsole and outsole of the Cascadia 16 to adapt better to rough terrain.

Coupled with robust, multidirectional lugging and durable rubber on the outsole, the Cascadia 16 is ready for almost anything.

“I wouldn’t be afraid to take these on an extremely rocky trail. The tread is grippy and reminds me of aggressive tires you’d want on an off-road vehicle, but it’s just in a great shoe,” says one reviewer.

In addition to plenty of cushioning and grip, the Brooks Cascadia 16 sports an updated Ballistic Rock Plate, designed to further protect your foot from jagged surfaces and pointy rocks.

The outsole of the Brooks Cascadia 16 running shoe

The rock plate adds a good deal of stiffness to the shoe, making it responsive over both technical and non-technical trails.

“That said, it feels fairly rigid. If you prefer more flexibility in a trail shoe, this isn’t the one for you,” says one reviewer.

However, if you are looking for the added protection of a rock plate, the Cascadia 16 is the shoe to grab. The updated plate works with the improved adaptability of the outsole to offer a little more give over uneven surfaces, while still providing the structure you need for a protected feel underfoot.

“You’ll feel the protection on the run. Even when you find yourself on pointy rocks or jagged edges around rocks, these will provide you with the security, traction, and support you need,” says one reviewer.

Upper Keeps Comfort In, Debris Out

A detailed view of the padded heel collar and tongue on the Cascadia 16

The Cascadia 16 is topped with a tightly woven engineered mesh upper. This lightweight, breathable upper allows for excellent ventilation and drainage as you work up a sweat or cross streams.

Whether you choose between the GORE-TEX (GTX), waterproof upper or the classic engineered mesh, the Cascadia 16 has a consistently plush, secure feeling throughout the top of the shoe.

“The shoe fits like a road shoe in the heel but definitely has a more protected feel as you move toward the toes. The mesh is still really flexible and well ventilated, and I liked the reinforced toe cap,” says one reviewer.

A padded heel collar and tongue help to create a snug, secure fit as soon as you put the Cascadia on, sealing debris out and keeping you comfortable over long miles.

“The tongue has padding all the way down for a soft feel on the top of my foot. The heel collar has a memory foam-like feel with a smooth fabric,” says one reviewer.

A close view of the knit mesh upper.

In addition to the super-comfortable heel collar and tongue, Brooks uses a more textured lacing material than usual to help keep your laces tied as you run.

The Cascadia 16 offers neutral support, but it packs a lot of inherent stability thanks to the wide forefoot and adaptable outsole.

While the fit is generally dialed-in throughout the heel and the midfoot, the more open toe box construction adds greater stability to your run and makes the Cascadia even more comfortable.

Our reviewers loved the extra room for toe splay—and thicker socks.

“Whenever I’m running on a surface that isn’t a track or road, I opt for more padded socks. The shoe felt like they could accommodate a thicker sock while still keeping a secure fit,” says one reviewer.

Brooks Cascadia 16 vs. Cascadia 15

A comparison of the Brooks Cascadia 16 and the Cascadia 15

Tech Comparison

Brooks Cascadia 16

Brooks Cascadia 15

Weight

9.5 oz (W) 10.5 oz (M)

10 oz (W) 11 oz (M)

Drop

8 mm

8 mm

Midsole Foam

DNA Loft v2

BioMoGo DNA

Rock Plate

Ballistic Rock Plate

Ballistic Rock Plate

Weatherproofing

GTX available

GTX available

Brooks switched out the BioMoGo DNA foam of the Cascadia 15 for the softer, more energetic DNA Loft v2 foam in the Cascadia 16.

The DNA Loft v2 still offers the same protective feel as before but is lighter and more responsive than BioMoGo foam, giving the Cascadia 16 an energetic pop on even the most rugged trails.

In addition to the updated foam, Brooks designers modified the Ballistic Rock Plate to include vertical grooves for greater side-to-side adaptability as you run, so you can feel stabilized and protected over sharp edges and rocky crags.

Like the Cascadia 15, the updated Cascadia 16 is offered with a traditional knit mesh or with GORE-TEX water resistant mesh in the Cascadia 16 GTX. This option is great for trail runners who frequently run in damp conditions and need the added water protection.

Final Thoughts

The Brooks Cascadia 16 is a do-it-all trail shoe ready to take on anything from rocky mountain trails to muddy water crossings.

Updated with DNA Loft v2 foam, the Cascadia 16 is more cushioned than ever, with the responsive kick you need to power through long runs. The protective cushioning works with a Ballistic Rock Plate, redesigned to offer more lateral adaptability as you run.

A tight knit mesh weave is breathable and protective, keeping debris out as you run while still offering the ventilation you need to feel comfortable.

We recommend the Cascadia 16 for beginner and experienced trail runners alike.

“They are protective and well-equipped without losing that signature Brooks feel that prioritizes comfort,” says one reviewer.

Tackle tough trails in confidence in the newly updated Cascadia 16.

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