Brooks Cascadia 16 road to trail running shoes review: get a real feel of the trail

The roomy and grippy Brooks Cascadia 16 all-terrain running shoe likes the trails more than the roads

Brooks Cascadia 16
(Image: © Brooks)

Advnture Verdict

A very roomy, comfortable road to trail shoe that molds to the ground underfoot for a smooth, stable ride.

Pros

  • +

    Wide toe box

  • +

    wide range of colors

  • +

    Elastic lace keeper

  • +

    Velcro gaiter attachment at heel

  • +

    Partly recycled upper

Cons

  • -

    Heavy

  • -

    Not that bouncy

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Brooks Cascadia 16: first impressions

The Brooks Cascadia 16 is the latest in a long line of Cascadias, and it seems to be the brand’s widest version yet. We would advise going down a half size, as the whole shoe is very roomy, which is great for those with wide feet (if that’s you, perhaps stick with your usual size). Going down a half size would also offset the relative heaviness of this shoe compared to the others we tested for our best road to trail running shoes buying guide.

The traditional, wide, grippy laces around the padded tongue secure the foot perfectly, and the elastic lace loop halfway down is great for those with narrow or low volume feet who end up with loads of spare lace dangling about (see also: How should trail running shoes fit?). It’s also handy if you’re running along overgrown summer paths to stop the laces snagging on pesky plants.

Brooks Cascadia 16

The nice and roomy Brooks Cascadia 16s (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

The feel is a little like putting your foot into a slipper: they’re comfortable straight from the box, and you practically sink into the DNA Loft v2 midsole cushioning. It’s not the bounciest of midsoles but the idea is that the shoe molds to the ground underfoot – it’s purposely not so padded that you lose touch with the terrain, yet it has enough protection to guard you from rougher roads and rocks.

The TrailTack outsole grips works nicely on both wet and dry trail and road, and seems durable too. The velcro gaiter attachment at the heel is a nice touch, as is the packet of wild flower seeds that comes with every pair: “Seed the trails,” Brooks call it.

Specifications

• RRP: $130 (US) / £120 (UK)
• Weight (pair UK 6.5): 560g / 19.7oz
• Colors: Men’s: Black, Fiery Red & Blazing Yellow / Titan, Peacoat & Nightlife / Black, Ebony & Nightlife / Yellow, Black & Grenadine / Mykonos Blue, Peacoat & Lime Women’s: Pink, Flambe & Cobalt / Porcelain, Blue Coral & Pink / Black, Ebony & Yucca / Basil, Duffel Bag & Coral
• Drop: 8mm
• Compatibility: Any distance, all terrains

Brooks Cascadia 16: on the trails

Brooks Cascadia 16

The Brooks Cascadia 16 is quite a long shoe, so beware snagging the toe-end on things (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

I used these shoes for miles and miles on trails around Lincolnshire and the Peaks. The grip proved to be nice and durable on this mix of terrain, and after running a long way my feet were glad of the roominess of this shoe in the midfoot and toe box area. 

It’s quite a long shoe, so I have caught the end of the toe just a couple of times when stepping up rocky ascents, but I soon got used to that, and it wasn’t an issue beyond the first couple of runs. 

It was also nice to have the packet of wild flower seeds in the box, a lovely little bit of spring-time motivation to run, and keep running to see the shoots popping out of the ground. Thanks Brooks!

Brooks Cascadia 16

Tuck those laces away so they don’t get caught up in annoyingly grabby undergrowth (Image credit: Claire Maxted)

Although heavier than most rivals, this shoe is extremely comfortable – it’s just a very simple, straightforward road to trail shoe with no gimmicks (see also: How to choose trail running shoes: drop, sole, grip, weight and more explained).

I liked that I could feel rocky ground underfoot while still remaining protected from it, and I definitely felt stable with the shoe molding around the terrain.

The only downside of this road-to-trail-running shoe in my opinion, is that the design means it’s not overly bouncy, so I would say it’s best for those who run more trails than roads.

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.