Out of the box
Soft. That’s the first impression I got upon lacing them up. They felt like a high mileage trainer, with a nicely articulated and semi-aggressive outsole. The absence of a protective plate to guard against gnarly roots and stones had me slightly concerned, but not enough to dissuade me from giving them a try.
The upper of the Caldera 2 is breathable but protective enough to deal with a trail. The seamlessness of the upper, particularly the toe-box, make for a comfortable fit. Brooks does a good job padding the collars of their shoes, and the Caldera is no exception.
The gusseted tongue is a must for a trail shoe, and there’s nothing about that feature that affects the fit. The lace sheath on the top of the tongue is also a nice feature. The heel of the shoe has an understated feature in the form of a hook-and-loop tab that can help secure a gaiter, at least on the back.
The first run in the Caldera 2 was a fun challenge. There was a mix of terrain: grass, mud, slush, a bit of icy snow, and a few stretches of pavement and gravel. The traction rarely wavered, except on an inclined stretch of mud.
Due to the treachery of a few spots where ice gave way to dry pavement, I was very deliberate with my steps. The shoe proved to be very nimble. For a late winter or early spring run in the Midwest, my feet did get a bit wet and had I gone on longer runs, I would wager I would have some cold feet at the end.
What was a little lacking was the lateral stability? Running shoes are inherently made for straight-forward motion, but the argument could be made that there is room for some lateral support features on trail shoes. Maybe not to the degree of a forefoot outrigger, but a similar feature could be in order. That being said, my foot didn’t roll too much, but enough to warrant some caution on my part.
On dry trails, the breathability was very welcomed. The mesh is engineered in a way to allow air to pass through, but not sand and dirt. Due to the degree of cushioning, I didn’t even notice the terrain, as I was able to glide over lightly exposed rocks and roots without discomfort.
The Caldera 2 did feel a bit too soft as I plodded along softer and grassy ground. The response wasn’t quite as active. The lower heel drop helps a mid foot striker like myself, so it doesn’t feel like there’s too much guidance to dictate my gait.
So far, the tread has held up fairly well, despite being set up in a manner that has several pods floating amongst the DNA midsole. I’ve been careful to keep them off of the asphalt for pure road runs, as trail rubber tends to have a different consistency than road rubber. There are few shoes that have the versatility for both trail and road, but I’m cautious to put one of the pricier shoes on the market to the test.
Overall, the Brooks Caldera 2 is one of the most comfortable trail shoes I’ve worn. It’s wider than the Cascadia and has more cushion than the Saucony Peregrine. Stability could be addressed in future models, especially for more adventurous trail runs.
A GTX model could be very well received in the trail running community as well, considering the high quality of the current traction on wet and icy surfaces.
Good to know
- The well-received Brooks Caldera 2 is even more improved claiming to have an updated upper that gives a more precise fit and durability. The shoe’s construction is designed to withstand long distance runs and to endure sloped paths on mountain trails. It is ideal for runners with a medium to high arch.
- The double-layered mesh upper brings protection and comfort that prove to be valuable during long miles. It has a fast-draining capability, so the foot stays dry and relaxed.
- This Brooks trail running shoe comes with high stack height, the midsole promotes a steady stride, even during long runs. It is also able to protect the foot against trail hazards. The outsole is composed of a sticky rubber compound and high surface area lugs for outstanding traction on both uphill and downhill activities.
The Brooks Caldera 2 has a standard running shoe length. The moderate forefoot and midfoot construction will comfortably accommodate runners with a narrow to medium foot volume. The available width options are D – Medium for men and B – Medium for women.
The outsole of the Caldera 2 retained the appearance of its predecessor, which has a rugged design made from a sticky rubber compound. It ensures durability, especially in the high-wear areas making this stability running shoe very reliable.
The 3D hex-shaped lugs deliver maximum grip and prevent trail hazards from bringing foot injuries.
The Brooks Caldera 2 still uses their signature BioMoGo DNA cushioning which can also be found on the latest Caldera 3. The midsole effectively provides the comfort and responsiveness that are useful for fast-paced running. It is a combination of two Brooks technologies: the BioMoGo and the DNA.
The BioMoGo midsole is made of a nontoxic material that biodegrades faster than traditional midsole foam, as it contains a natural additive that permits a quicker molecule breakdown. It is an innovative technology that enables an adaptive underfoot platform.
The DNA technology of Brooks makes use of a viscous fluid gel that is adaptable to force – the more stress is applied to it, the stiffer it becomes. It results in a consistent and flexible cushioning for a long-lasting and comfortable ride.
The upper of the Caldera 2 now uses an Ariaprene mesh, a material that is lighter, more breathable, and more durable than the usual Neoprene upper. The Ariaprene also gains the favor of environment-conscious runners because it is a decomposable material, as it is made from recyclable and nontoxic synthetic rubber.
On top of the Aariaprene is a Condura® knit mesh that supplies warmth, as well as resistance to abrasions. Together, these two fabric materials deliver a durable and secure fit.
Like the previous version, the shoelaces of the Caldera 2 are still made of a stretchy woven material that makes adjusting and tightening effortless. The laces are assisted by the integrated eyelets to keep them in place. There are lace pockets beneath the tongue that allow laces to be tucked in.
The synthetic rubberized overlays still have the same design as the previous version. They help in foot lockdown and provide a supportive framework for the shoe.
Aside from the laces, the Brooks Caldera 2 also revives the protective toe bumper, which keeps the toes safe from potential injuries. Meanwhile, on the other end of the shoe is a convenient heel Velcro gaiter trap that could be useful to runners who use the accessory.