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Brooks Cascadia 16 Review (2023 Tested and Analyzed)

After extensively testing the Brooks Cascadia 16 trail shoes on the American Discovery Trail for a total of six months, I can confidently say that these shoes priced at $130 are highly reliable.

Our Verdict

The updated outsole and TrailTack rubber provided excellent grip on various terrains, while the ballistic rock shield and flexible rock plate offered ample protection.

brooks cascadia 16

Moreover, the shoe’s cushioning, including the new DNA Loft v2 midsole, struck the right balance between responsiveness and underfoot protection [1].

Though slightly heavier than some other trail shoes, the Cascadia 16’s performance and durability made it a reliable choice. If you want to learn more about my experience, check out my detailed Brooks Cascadia 16 review below.

Product Features

  • DNA LOFT v2 midsoles
  • Ballistic Rock Shield
  • TrailTack rubber outsoles


  • Equipped for technical terrain with a rock plate and toe bumper
  • Well designed heel pocket provides a more stable ride
  • Good traction and durability due to Brooks TrailTack rubber soles
  • More support with the new midsole


  • No ground feel
  • Tends to get hot on ultra distances

Things We Tested When We Reviewed Brooks Cascadia 16

1. Traction

grip and traction

When it comes to traction, the Brooks Cascadia 16 sets the bar high.

During my testing, the multidirectional lugs made of TrailTack rubber held steadfastly to various surfaces, whether it was loose gravel, slippery rocks, or muddy terrain, while the aggressive 3D Hex Lugs design prevented slippage on steep inclines and technical descents.

As with most hiking shoes that have an aggressive lug pattern, the 5mm lugs of the Cascadia 16 gathered mud, so I had to stop and clear them occasionally.

But, compared to its predecessor, this trail shoe showcased an improved traction performance, allowing me to maintain stability and control even in the most demanding conditions.

2. Durability

Having tested previous versions of Brooks Cascadia, I noticed that the 16th iteration maintained the brand’s reputation for durability, if not exceeding it.

The upper material of the Cascadia 16 is a combination of synthetic overlays and mesh, which not only provides excellent durability but also enhances breathability.

Moreover, the synthetic overlays protect vulnerable areas from abrasion, while the mesh allows for flexibility and breathability without sacrificing durability.

One standout aspect of the durability of the Cascadia 16 is its outsole. Made of high-quality rubber, the outsole exhibited impressive resilience and maintained its grip and traction throughout my testing, even in situations where other good trail runners would have flunked out.

3. Comfort


Right out of the box, this trail runner felt comfortable without requiring an extensive break-in period.

The cushioning system, powered by Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA technology, provided a plush and responsive feel no matter the terrain underfoot [2].

It absorbed shocks and impacts effectively, reducing fatigue and allowing me to hike for extended periods without discomfort.

The padded tongue and heel collar are also notable features that contribute to the overall comfort of the shoe.

Although I’ve heard some fellow hikers saying that the sole is too firm, after wearing these trail running shoes on technical terrain and rocky areas, I think that this is exactly the right level of rigidity a good trail shoe should have to prevent foot soreness.

4. Breathability

During moderate hikes and in mild weather conditions, these trail running shoes did a decent job of preventing excessive heat buildup and maintaining a comfortable internal environment.

Unfortunately, in comparison with some other models in its class, the ventilation system of this shoe could be improved. The upper is covered in a protective TPU film, which increases durability but sacrifices the shoe’s ability to evacuate heat.

In hotter and more humid conditions, I found that the shoes struggled to provide sufficient airflow, resulting in slightly warmer and sweatier feet. This could be a concern for hikers tackling technical trails or those who tend to perspire more heavily.

5. Weight


During my testing, I found the Cascadia 16 to be pleasantly lightweight compared to previous models and many other hiking shoes in its class.

Although specific weights may vary depending on shoe size and configuration, on average, these shoes weigh around 22 pounds and 8 ounces.

I want to highlight that there are ultra-lightweight hiking shoes available on the market that may be even lighter than the Cascadia 16. If your main priority is shedding every possible gram for fast and minimalist hiking, there are alternative options to consider.

Nevertheless, for the majority of hikers who seek a balanced combination of weight and durability, this trail running shoe is a good choice.

6. Waterproofing

While the Cascadia reviewed here lacks the waterproof membrane found in the Gore-Tex version, it offers breathability as a key feature.

In my direct experience with the shoe, I found that its thick woven mesh upper provided some protection in light rain and damp conditions, preventing water from easily entering.

However, when faced with more significant water exposure, such as crossing streams or traversing wet terrain, water was able to seep through the upper material, leading to a certain level of dampness inside the shoe.

Despite this limitation, I observed that the upper material dried relatively quickly, which proved a great feature for multi-day trail runs and long distances.

7. Support


One of the standout support features of the Cascadia 16 is the integrated ballistic rock protection.

This protective layer effectively guards against sharp rocks and other trail hazards, and it allowed me to confidently tackle challenging terrain without worrying about potential discomfort or injuries.

With Brooks’ innovative BioMoGo DNA technology, the midsole cushioning is good but firm, making the shoe feel responsive both on rugged terrain and dirt trails.

Additionally, the well-designed heel cup securely cradled my heel, effectively preventing any unwanted slipping or sliding, further enhancing stability and overall support.

8. Fit and Sizing

When it comes to sizing, I found that sticking with my regular shoe size was the best option. The shoe offers a roomy toe box, so I was able to move my toes freely even if I have wide feet.

This rather neutral shoe is also highly adjustable with stretch woven laces that make it easy to achieve the desired level of tightness or looseness, so I really don’t think it is worth sizing up as is the case with more rigid hiking boot models.

How It Evolved?

Brooks Cascadia 16 vs Brooks Cascadia 15

The Brooks Cascadia 16 builds upon the success of its predecessor, the Cascadia 15, with several notable improvements.

The updated ballistic rock shield strikes a balance between flexibility and rigidity, ensuring a natural and responsive feel while maintaining excellent overall protection.

Additionally, the Cascadia 16 introduces improved fit and sizing options, including a wider toe box for enhanced toe splay and accommodation of wider feet.

The shoe retains the reliable DNA Loft midsole, providing responsiveness, but with softer cushioning for a more comfortable experience, particularly during long runs and rough terrain.

How Does it Compare with Other Products?

La Sportiva Bushido II

La Sportiva Bushido II GTX Trail Running Shoes

The La Sportiva Bushido II is a rugged trail running shoe designed for technical trail options.

It features a durable outsole made of FriXion XT rubber, offering a good grip on wet and dry surfaces.

The shoe also utilizes a dual-density compressed EVA midsole, providing a good balance between cushioning softness and responsiveness.

In comparison to the Brooks Cascadia, the Bushido II, retailing at $155, offers a more aggressive outsole with its Vibram rubber, providing great traction on challenging trails.

Nike Wildhorse 7

Nike Wildhorse 7

Priced at $130, the Wildhorse 7 offers a lighter-weight design than Cascadia, making it a suitable option for runners who prioritize speed.

Its outsole features multidirectional lugs, offering reliable traction on different terrain options, and the shoe incorporates Nike’s React foam cushioning technology, providing moderate softness.

The Cascadia 16, however, delivers more substantial cushioning and protection, which can be beneficial for longer distances or rougher trails.

Saucony Peregrine 13

Saucony Peregrine 13

The Saucony Peregrine 13 is a versatile trail running shoe that currently costs $140, staying within the same price range as Cascadia.

It is renowned for its PWRTRAC rubber sole, which delivers excellent traction and durability, while the thick midsole, powered by PWRRUN technology, offers a softer ride than most shoes in its class.

Besides the durable mesh upper, this protective shoe also includes a rock plate for extra safeguarding on challenging trails.

In terms of weight, the Peregrine 13 is lighter than the Cascadia 16, making it an ideal choice for runners seeking speed and agility. On the other hand, the Cascadia 16 offers a more substantial stack height and can provide adequate protection during longer runs.

Where Brooks Cascadia 16 Performs Better?

catalin geangos hiking rugged trail

The Brooks Cascadia 16 truly excels in challenging terrains and demanding conditions.

These shoes are ideal for hikers who enjoy tackling rugged trails, rocky surfaces, and uneven terrain.

They provide excellent traction, stability, and support, allowing you to confidently navigate steep ascents and descents.

The Cascadia 16’s protective features, such as the ballistic rock plate, make it a great choice for trails with sharp rocks or debris.

Additionally, the cushioning and responsiveness of the shoe’s midsole ensure comfort during long-distance hikes.

Where Brooks Cascadia 16 Falls Short in Performance?

While the Brooks Cascadia 16 excels in many areas, it does have a few shortcomings. One area where it falls short is in its breathability. During particularly hot and humid hikes, I noticed that my feet tended to get warmer and sweatier than I would have liked.

However, this issue can be mitigated by wearing moisture-wicking socks and properly ventilating the trail shoe when taking breaks.

Another aspect that could be improved is the shoe’s weight. The Cascadia 16 is slightly heavier than some other hiking shoes on the market, which may be a consideration for hikers prioritizing lightweight footwear.

Its sole is also fairly thick, so it is not the best choice for hikers looking for a more pronounced ground feel.

Do We Recommend It?

Brooks Cascadia 16

Extremely stable for a trail runner, I could hike mountains in this pair of shoes, especially as its rugged sole clearly can handle more technical stuff compared to the previous version.

brooks cascadia 16 trail running shoes

I’ve tested quite a lot of Brooks running shoes in the past few years both on light trails and more challenging trail conditions, so I wasn’t surprised to see that their latest iteration is a hit.

While this version is not designed for the winter, so it doesn’t have a GTX upper, it compensates through a lightweight design and more room in the toe area, being a good choice for more intense trail running.


Are the Brooks Cascadia 16 Waterproof?

The Brooks Cascadia 16 is not completely waterproof, but it offers some water resistance due to its materials and construction. It can handle light rain and wet surfaces, but it’s not designed for full submersion or heavy downpours.

Should I Size up in Brooks Cascadia 16?

It is generally recommended to go with your regular size when choosing the Brooks Cascadia 16. The shoe has a true-to-size fit, providing ample room in the toe box and a secure fit in the heel.

Can You Use Brooks Cascadia for Road Running?

Yes, the Brooks Cascadia can be used for road running. However, keep in mind that the shoe’s rugged outsole, designed for off-road traction, may not provide the same level of responsiveness and grip on the pavement as dedicated road shoes.

Catalin Geangos

Catalin Geangos

Catalin is a writer and outdoor specialist who has been traveling in over 35 countries so far. He loves spending time in nature, enjoying mountains and nature adventures, and ultimately inspiring people to travel more. In his time off, he is testing, analyzes, and reviews hiking and other outdoor gear and accessories.

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