I have never met a runner who had found their go-to shoe and has loved every iteration thereafter. We’ve all done it: “Oh, I used to run in those but they changed ____ and then they didn’t work.” or “Why can’t they just make them the same every year!?” or “I guess I have to buy like 10 pairs of the old style while I still can!”
Shoe companies are obviously trying to tweak them to make them better and shoes are such a subjective piece of running gear that even the smallest change can wreak havoc. The brand-new Brooks Cascadia 16s (available on August 1st!) are a total revamp of previous versions and hopefully, whether you’re new to the shoe or someone with 7 pairs piling up in the shoe graveyard of the garage, you’ll find these have great updates and features.
- With DNA LOFT v2 technology, the cushioning is 5% softer and 20% lighter (than the 15s)
- 2mm of foam added to the midsole for extra comfort
- Release grooves in the midsole allow for enhanced adaptability on rough terrain
- Ballistic Rock Shield now includes vertical grooves to provide side-to-side adaptability
Right. So then how does that translate / what will it feel like on your actual foot?
These aren’t a super narrow shoe, so if you like a roomier toebox for some splay, these are great without feeling sloppy. The heel is padded, but secure and comfortable and there is also a gaiter trap on the back of the heel if those are your jam.
The laces have a nice stretch, without being overly long or slippery. A thoughtful feature is an elastic lace trap to tuck them into for a little added protection. There’s nothing like an untied shoe lace mid-run to make you feel like a newbie!
The mesh upper is nicely flexible, yet supportive. It’s breathable and the new 16s come in a GORE-TEX (GTX) version for extra water resistance.
Having a bit more cushion in the mid-sole, in addition to the rock shield, these felt really stiff coming out of the box when I tried to flex them in my hands. Luckily that doesn’t translate under foot. The new construction has designed the grooves so that the shoe molds with the ground to give some pliability without sacrificing stability.
The lugs have also been redesigned: a bit more spacing and a bit more bite. They are arrow-shaped and deep (not overly aggressive but probably a bit much for any Portland-area trails in the summer) and I look forward to testing these out in the wetter fall and winter months. The sole is made with TrailTack rubber, which provides traction for both wet and dry conditions.
The new Cascadias aren’t the lightest on the market for speed, aren’t the most aggressive for technical, and aren’t the most cushioned for long-haul races, but they rank really high in all of those categories so they are an all-around great, versatile shoe. This pair has seen trails all over Oregon (and now Alaska) and has been the go-to shoe for all of those adventures.
The Cascadia 16s are available August 1st – which leaves plenty of summer left to play in them.
- Cascadia 16 Trail Running Shoes (available 8/1/21)
- Women’s colors:
- Men’s colors:
- Price: $130
- Women’s colors:
- Support: Neutral
- Weight: 9.3oz / 263.7g
- Midsole drop: 8 mm
- Arch: Flat, Medium, High
- Ballistic Rock Shield + Mud Guard
- TrailTack rubber outsole
- DNA FLASH midsole
More about Brooks:
 Brooks begins in a small factory in Philadelphia that makes ballet slippers and bathing shoes. While we can’t take much credit for revolutionizing the ballet or bath shoe industries, we remain just as committed to specialized gear for a specialized activity.
It could be said that Brooks’ focus on running shoes actually began in 1972, when Yale graduate Frank Shorter won the Olympic marathon. Running suddenly captivates the world’s attention. Instead of making anything — from athletic shoes to combat boots — that would keep the factory turning, Brooks starts to think about limiting its focus.
 When you focus on what you do best, you do it even better. Brooks enters the new millennium focused on one thing: running.
We believe the run has the potential to be the most inclusive sport in the world. But there’s work to be done.
We are focused on making our business — which also happens to be our passion — more equitable by ensuring our workplace, our runners, and our outreach reflect the running communities we hope to see in the world.
Thank you to Brooks for providing us with a sample pair. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.