REVIEWER: KATE DZIENIS
THE BROOKS CASCADIA SHOE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR SOME TIME NOW, and the newest version, the Cascadia 16, has gone through several changes and updates that make it more durable and stable than its predecessors. Known throughout its lineage for adventure versatility, Brooks have increased the stack height by 2mm in the Cascadia 16 to accommodate the new foamy midsole which features DNA Loft v2 technology for a more plush feel underfoot and added comfort.
That being said, I took these snazzy looking trail shoes out on some multi-use trails with dirt, crushed gravel and compact limestone. A completely light build at only 269g (the men’s version weighs 320g), the Cascadia 16 has a 14g variance – in the women’s – from the previous version, and that’s a big change. They were a secure yet light fit for me considering I always run in a wide shoe, and was thoroughly happy with the support provided in thanks to the upper which has been completely reconstructed – including more room in the toe box.
As I concentrated on my toes to see how they were feeling, I took in how much the mesh upper allowed my feet to breath. The flexibility of the material is high quality and incredibly supportive, and I felt that the Cascadia 16 was true to size with great width in the toe box. Any swelling would have well and truly been catered to.
Designed for long runs in mind, the technology used in the Cascadia 16 has kept the reputative durability true to form. The midsole is dense and provides longevity, and as mentioned, features the DNA Loft v2 which through research is said to be 5% softer and 20% lighter than in previous versions. DNA Loft is Brooks’ softest cushioning system that combines ethylene-vinyl acetate, rubber and air (yes, air!) for on demand cushioning and protection from the terrain, and the company says they have found ‘the right amount of soft, with DNA Loft’. Super catchy!
So whilst I gained much comfortable ground, my terrain was not so cushy. The Cascadia 16 outsoles were flawless in grip (made from trail track rubber) and big lugs, providing me with an anchored run on the trails. Brooks have removed any lugs from the midsection though, which may have been a reason behind the decrease in weight, but the elimination of them hasn’t affected their Ballistic Rock Shield plate, a toughened thermoplastic EVA sheath between the outsole and midsole. That system provides protection against sharp objects, and has been featured in the Cascadia series for quite some time now so it’s great to see they haven’t taken it away from the 16 shoe. Heading up the ascents and coming down on the descents, I felt good grip beneath me and didn’t hesitate to go a little faster when I could. With a solid heel and knowing there was a safeguard right at the bottom of my feet, the shoes were sturdy and fit well.
Overall performance for the Cascadia 16 was exceptional, and the design has moved forward with the times, becoming a more modern shoe with impressive angles and sleek construction. I even ran into some trail running friends mid-way on my favourite track, who all looked down when we stopped to chat and exclaimed, ‘Oh, those are the new Cascadias?!’ And after some talk about how they were feeling on my feet, I continued on with the thought about how runners really do love to know what’s out there on the market and get an idea for what will work best for their needs.
The Cascadia 16 shoe is absolutely impressive when it comes to traction, stability and modern design. There’s even a Velcro tab on the back of the heel, hidden of course, to secure any gaiters in place – as minor as it sounds, I love that in a running shoe.
With a mid-drop of 8mm, running in the Cascadia 16 is a combination of balance and sturdiness, where you will dominate all types of terrain. I’ve always run in 8mm shoes, so there was no need to adjust to a different drop, and lacing them up with the stretch woven laces was satisfying – no one likes a stiff lace that won’t reach all the way for a solid heel lock, and there are two options for this thanks to not one, but two extra eyelets. I can confidently say there were no issues for me in this department. I’ve always preferred a heel lock, and find it disruptive to my training when the tension loosens. Brooks are onto a good thing with their eyelets and lace material.
The Cascadia 16 is by the far the best trail shoe out of the series. Personally, I love how protected my feet are when there’s every opportunity of a sharp twig or pebble underfoot, and the cushioning is just something else. Well-designed for all terrain, they come in a range of colours – black/ebony/yucca and aqua/tourmaline/rooibos for women, and oyster/mushroom/orange and yellow/black/grenadine for men.
Brooks has done incredibly well to keep the Cascadia 16 as an honest, reliable and protective shoe.
THE LOW DOWN
GREAT FOR: All terrains and most weather conditions. As a high performance trail shoe, it’s suitable for even the most technical environments.
NOT SO GREAT FOR: Wet terrain. The rubber slides slightly on wet surfaces.
TEST CONDITIONS: Multi-use trails with dirt, crushed gravel and compact limestone.
TESTER: Kate Dzienis
TESTER MECHANICS: Severe overpronator with wide feet, usually running in 8mm drop shoes.
RRP: $239.95 AUD / $279.90 NZD
CONDITIONS: Shoes provided for testing by Brooks Running