Brooks Cascadia 16
Brooks continues to stand on the podium with this high-quality trail runner. Offering ample room in the forefoot while still holding perfectly secure, the Cascadia 16 provides the wearer with a lightweight shoe that has excellent under-foot protection. This lightweight shoe is best suited for the hiker/trail runner that needs great traction and support on groomed trails, rough terrain, or anything in between. The Cascadia 16 is available for both men and women as a waterproof (GTX) or well ventilated, regular model.
- Outstanding rock shield
- Stable/comfortable fit
- Roomy forefoot
- Not the best grip in wet/slippery conditions
- Main face fabric may have questionable long-term durability
Although finding the perfect trail shoe may sometimes feel like chasing a "glass slipper," the Brooks Cascadia 16 checks many of the boxes… Without a doubt, the venerable Brooks Cascadia is one of the ‘tried & true’ products that has been around the block. Currently in its 16th generation, the Cascadia always seems to be reaching for new improvements.
These trail runners are ideal for lightweight/ultralight backpacking, when saving weight is a priority. Using the Brooks Cascadia 16 under loads up to 25 lbs feels comfortable on a week-long summer backpacking trip.
- Price: $130 ($160 GTX)
- Men's and Women's separate lines
- Weight: 298g/10.5oz per men's shoe; 319g/11.25oz actually recorded weight without insole, men's size 10.5/44.5
- Sizes Available: 7-15 mens, 5-12 womens
- Midsole Drop: 8mm
Fit & Comfort:
The Brooks tested were men's 10.5 (44.5) size and fit very well with a normal width and high arch. Comparing to a zero-drop pair of Brooks used in the past, the fit was found to be true-to-size. No heel-slip has been noted at any point during testing, using the common runner’s style heel-lock lacing method. These shoes were tested with SuperFeet Green insoles, as well as prescription orthotics by The Orthotic Group. Nearly out-of-the-box comfort, an initial 12-15 mile hike over rolling terrain allowed the Cascadia 16 to break-in with little effort.
Brooks advertises a "softer, lighter feel," which is evident. The proprietary DNA Loft v2 midsole claims to "make the Cascadia 16 cushioning 5% softer and 20% lighter than the Cascadia 15" model. Nonetheless, this 8mm drop trail runner feels well cushioned, yet also feels very stable and grounded.
Ample room in the forefoot not only has allowed room for the foot to splay out, but also provided great forefoot stability over various terrain. Brooks uses an updated Ballistic Rock Shield which allows for side-to-side adaptability while still protecting one’s foot from rocks and other hard terrain.
The Brooks Cascadia 16 is an extremely breathable shoe, also designed with drainage ports to quickly allow water out. Although not designed to be water resistant at all (a GTX model is available), the synthetic outer material does not absorb any moisture. This is definitely noticeable after wading in creeks, or making water crossings. Aside from wet socks, these shoes appear to dry much faster than the typical constructed sneaker.
The only place where any marks are lost is regarding traction. While the traction is by no means poor, the "slip-point" leaves room for improvement. The Cascadia 16 gave way on wet, mossy rocks when other shoes in similar conditions have held fast. Perhaps this limitation is balancing design where durability meets traction… Conditions in mid-Atlantic summers really put a shoe to the test—slimy and mossy rocks, near 100% humidity, these factors determine just how much grip one has before slip!
These trail runners are a great design for mixed-use outdoors, in warm and cool temperatures. Although not tested, a waterproof sock or vapor barrier may very well extend use into winter temperatures.
A few other details in the Cascadia 16 add up to make this shoe a truly great one.
The toe cap is surprisingly protective for being such a light trail runner. Although impacting roots and rocks is never a pleasurable experience, the added protection is far better than average.
A sewn-in gaiter tab is included in the heel.
An elastic loop easily secures shoelaces.
Multiple upper lace points are available for proper fitting/comfort.
It should also be noted that the included laces are very textured and grippy; this makes for not only a secure tie, but an easy shoe to lace!
Construction & Durability:
Initial testing has shown the Cascadia 16 shoes to wear very well over the course of 70+ miles on the trail. Minimal traction wear has been noted, and only the slightest amount of pilling inside the trail runner are evident. Additional mileage will determine if the crease at the inner forefoot shows to be a weakness; an attempt of the Wonderland Trail in Mt. Ranier National Forest will be made with these sneakers in early/mid-September. Although no two feet are the same, it is expected that this type of trail runner is designed for annual replacement, or approximately 400-600 miles.
These trail runners have been tested for approximately 70 miles on the dirt, over rocky ridges, in and around streams and on canal tow-paths. Summer overnights on the Appalachian Trail, leading daytime outdoor adventure groups for 10-13 year olds, performing trail maintenance, and taking multiple day hikes in the mid-Atlantic USA have shown what the Brooks Cascadia are capable of.
Many thanks to the people over at Brooks for giving the Trailspace Gear Review Corps an opportunity to test the Cascadia 16 trail runners!
I have been gear testing non-waterproof hikers for several years during the warmer months. Mostly trail runners, recent brands tested have been Lowa, Inov-8, Hoka One One, Altra, and Salomon. As previously stated, “You can never walk a pair of GTX shoes dry…”
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(Sample for testing and review provided by Brooks)
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