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Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's Review

This old-time favorite continues to boast excellent protection with updates that amp up stability and overall performance
Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's
Credit: Brooks
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Price:  $130 List | $129.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Protective, stable design, quick drying upper, comfortable, wide toe box
Cons:  Fit isn't precise, toe bump on the downhill, heavier design
Manufacturer:   Brooks
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 6, 2022
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 16
  • Foot Protection - 25% 8.0
  • Traction - 20% 8.0
  • Sensitivity - 15% 5.0
  • Stability - 15% 8.0
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

A queen of comfort, the Brooks Cascadia 16 is renowned for its durable design, comfortable ride, and stable performance across uneven terrain. It's a trail runner built for all-day comfort, and the newest iteration sees several updates that make the shoe more flexible and stable with fantastic traction on steep, rocky terrain. We tested it for 60 miles in the mountains of the San Juans and the deserts of Utah. The new design also has an updated fit that offers a wider forefoot and a less specific fit through the heel. Look no further if you're a heel striker looking for a stable and comfortable ride to add to your collection of shoes.

Editor's Note: The Brooks Cascadia 16 review was updated on March 6, 2022. We now include additional details to help compare products and share advice on what shoe we would buy.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Protective, stable design, quick drying upper, comfortable, wide toe boxWell cushioned midsole, excellent traction, good stability, excellent at everything including long distances, high valueExcellent traction, great balance of foot protection and sensitivity, specific fit, durable outsoleLightweight and streamlined, durable elements, very sensitive, precise fit, protective upper, stable on technical terrain, fun color optionsSticky traction, protective, rainbow design is fun, great value, all surface capabilities
Cons Fit isn't precise, toe bump on the downhill, heavier designStack height takes some getting used toHigher heel is less stable, lugs wear down on pavementExpensive, no extra room in the toe box, tongue requires readjustment, zero drop design is best for only someLess stable than most, harder midsole is less comfortable, narrower fit
Bottom Line This old-time favorite continues to boast excellent protection with updates that amp up stability and overall performanceWith a comfortable and responsive midsole and enough room in the forefoot for toe wiggle, you'll be happy running mile after mileAn aggressive trail shoe that is built for steep, technical, and sloppy trailsOur favorite for its low profile and zero-drop design that feels like an extension of the body, ready to tackle technical terrainThis rainbow contender has the ability to tackle all kinds of trail with excellent protection and sticky traction
Rating Categories Brooks Cascadia 16... Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo... Salomon Speedcross 5 Inov-8 Terraultra G270 Merrell Antora 2
Foot Protection (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
Traction (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Sensitivity (15%)
5.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Stability (15%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Comfort and Fit (15%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Weight (10%)
6.0
9.0
5.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Brooks Cascadia 16... Hoka Torrent 2 - Wo... Salomon Speedcross 5 Inov-8 Terraultra G270 Merrell Antora 2
Measured Weight (per shoe, size 9) 9.9 oz 8.6 oz 10.7 oz 8.3 oz 9.6 oz
Heel-to-Toe Drop 8 mm 5 mm 10 mm 0 mm 8.5 mm
Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot) Not disclosed Not disclosed 35 mm, 25 mm 12 mm, 12 mm 28.5 mm, 20 mm
Upper Synthetic mesh Engineered mesh Nylon mesh, sythetic overlays Mesh and TPU Mesh and TPU
Midsole EVA EVA Injected EVA Powerflow Max EVA
Outsole TrailTack rubber Rubber Contragrip Graphene Grip Vibram TC5+ rubber sole
Rock Plate? Yes None Yes Not disclosed Yes
Wide Version Available? Yes No No No Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 6 - 11 5 - 12 5.5 - 11 5 - 11

Our Analysis and Test Results

What’s new with the Brooks Cascadia 16?


We've scoped out the new model of the Cascadia and noted a few changes:
  • Lighter construction
  • More flexible forefoot
  • Updated ballistic rock plate
  • New chevron lugs for better traction across soft surfaces
  • Roomier fit through the forefoot and heel

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - a look at the new (left) versus the old (right) model of the brooks...
A look at the new (left) versus the old (right) model of the Brooks Cascadia. A slight difference in fit and changes in the upper are the most notable differences, with better stability than ever before.
Credit: Amber King

The Cascadia 16 is a queen of comfort with burly cushioning, a flexible design, and trail-biting traction for any adventure. It offers more cushioning in the heel, which provides a comfortable ride straight out of the box. It's a great option for any runner — whether you are just learning or well on your way to running your nth 50K race.

Performance Comparison


Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - the brooks cascadia 16 is a tough and durable shoe ready to take on...
The Brooks Cascadia 16 is a tough and durable shoe ready to take on all sorts of terrain, including mud puddles, steep singletrack, and hard-packed trails throughout the seasons.
Credit: Amber King

Foot Protection


Earning a high score for protection, this burly contender is loaded with thick yet soft cushioning throughout the midsole — from heel to toe. The updated ballistic rock plate seems to be more flexible and adaptable than it's been in the past, flexing well underfoot while protecting from sharp stones, sticks, and unsuspecting hazards.

The upper is light and breathable, drying quickly when wet while keeping small particulates. When running in the desert for 10 miles, we came away with just a dusting of sand in our socks, which is all you can hope for without a raised collar. Additionally, the toe cap is hard, which helps to protect from unsuspecting stubs. If you seek a protective shoe, this is one of the best, short of being completely waterproof. It earns one of the highest scores in this category.

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - a hard-toe cap, tightly knit upper, and thick underfoot cushioning...
A hard-toe cap, tightly knit upper, and thick underfoot cushioning all make for a very protective ride. Add in a flexible rock plate, and you'll be trucking on the trail for miles.
Credit: Amber King

Traction


The updated outsole on the Cascadia 16 features nicely shaped chevron-shaped lugs that easily shed mud and stick to slick surfaces. We were happy with the grabby performance, even on dry, rocky trails where slippage is bound to happen, and we felt confident on both the ascent and descent. Overall, we liked the traction, and you should be able to trust this shoe across technical, soft, and smooth terrain. It earns a higher score than most in this category.

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - durable and widely spaced lugs shed mud well and offer excellent...
Durable and widely spaced lugs shed mud well and offer excellent traction while running up and down steeper terrain.
Credit: Amber King

Sensitivity


Earning lower points for sensitivity, this ultra-protective trail shoe isn't for those seeking the most intimate experience on the trail. While the new softer foam does a good job translating what's underfoot, don't expect to feel the smallest of undulations. This shoe is an excellent choice for those that like extra protection where sensitivity isn't required.

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - even over this leaf-littered trail (with concealed rocks underfoot)...
Even over this leaf-littered trail (with concealed rocks underfoot) the ride feels even and consistent. This shoe isn't very sensitive, but it offers enough clues as to what's to underfoot to know what you're running over.
Credit: Amber King

Stability


With softer materials throughout the midsole and a wider platform width, this update offers a stable ride, especially over technical terrain. It is more flexible and wraps itself more effectively around hazards instead of tipping and rolling. Overall, we think the stability is sufficient for super rocky and rooted trails, offering a flat landing and a balanced ride across most trails.

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - the wider toe box offers a more stable ride than ever before. it has...
The wider toe box offers a more stable ride than ever before. It has a flexible outsole and upper, making for comfort mile after mile.
Credit: Amber King

Comfort and Fit


While this shoe is incredibly comfortable for most, the newest update has completely transformed the fit. The upper is light and more flexible, the midsole is soft but supportive, and the forefoot now feels wide (even for the regular fit). It is true to size as well. For those who like a broader platform with all the above, this might be your cup of tea.

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - a queen of comfort, we appreciate the thicker midsole that'll have...
A queen of comfort, we appreciate the thicker midsole that'll have you running any distance you'd like. While this doesn't have the widest toe box we've ever seen, it does offer a little extra room at the widest part of the shoe. This offers a versatile fit. Additionally, the extra cushion in the heel makes it a good choice for heel strikers.
Credit: Amber King

However, if you're used to the old Cascadia fit, you will be in for a surprise. The heel cup and collar seem to be more rigid, with a more narrow pinch at the back, which some testers complained of causing Achilles pain and blisters. While this issue is specific to the type of foot you have, know the cup of the shoe completely cradles the heel, where it used to be a bit shorter in the past. The lesson? Be sure to try this shoe on before committing to it, especially if you're expecting the same sizing and fit as previous models.

A wider size option is available if that suits your fancy.

Weight


Weighing in at 9.9 ounces for a size 9, this shoe falls in the middle of the road for weight. For the Cascadia models, this is one of the lightest that we've seen in a long time, with the manufacturer omitting the heavier upper and midsole materials. It feels lighter than ever before when running, making it easy to wear it all day.

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - lightweight enough to feel great on the uphill and the down. it has...
Lightweight enough to feel great on the uphill and the down. It has no clunky elements or extra beef where's its not needed.
Credit: Amber King

Should You Buy the Brooks Cascadia 16?


The Brooks Cascadia models have been notorious for their durability over the last few years. After our 60-miles of testing over rocky and sandy terrain in the mountains, the shoe still looks new, without any significant wear or tear. The outsole still looks untouched, and there are just a few scuffs along the side, and it is still more durable than other shoes we've worn. If you seek a long-lasting traditional trail runner that's built for comfort, the Cascadia may be your best bet.

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Women's trail running shoes - amber, our main tester, enjoys the brooks cascadia 16 while running...
Amber, our main tester, enjoys the Brooks Cascadia 16 while running sweeping singletrack and county roads. It's a great choice for short or long distances for those that prefer a more protected ride with a traditional and heel cushioned design.
Credit: Amber King

What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?


The Brooks Cascadia 16 is a tough trail runner built for trails through rugged terrain. It's a traditional model that offers extra comfort for heel and forefoot strikers alike. The newest iteration sees an updated fit that some like and others don't, but it is a good shoe for stability, excellent traction, and options for a wider fit. If the stability, thick cushion, and wide fit appeal to you, but you still want to check out a few other models, we recommend the Altra Lone Peak 5 if you are open to a zero drop design. If you want a more sensitive shoe that still offers substantial cushion, the Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 is one of our favorites.

Amber King
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