We spent 10.2 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

8 reasons to buy

  • Most users love that the Brooks Caldera 3 is lightweight and feels great on different types of trails.
  • Several users have mentioned the good traction of the shoe, especially on wet, steep trails.
  • Also liked by many runners is the excellent ventilation and fast drying technique provided by the Ariaprene mesh upper.
  • Often mentioned by some trail runners is the innovative water repellent feature of the Brooks Caldera 3.
  • Highlighted in some reviews is the responsive BioMoGo DNA cushioning gel in the midsole making the ride more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Most runners like the addition of the mudguard, saying it helps provide the right amount of stretch and form to make the shoe a perfect fit.
  • Some runners have pointed out that the Brooks Caldera 3 transition well from the road to trail.
  • Also acknowledged by most buyers is the lace garage, which keeps laces secure, dry, and out of the way, providing added security to the laces.

3 reasons not to buy

  • A few of the Brooks Caldera 3 users mentioned that the fit of the toe-box is not wide enough.
  • According to some testers, the Ariaprene mesh upper is a bit temperamental when it comes to repelling water.
  • Also mentioned by a couple of users is that the mesh upper sometimes fails to keep the feet dry as they have noticed that they end up with wet socks after running through streams or puddles.

Bottom line

The Brooks Caldera 3 can run comfortably in all terrains and even on the steepest wet trails. It proves to be a stable and comfortable ride even as the run gets more challenging.  Although there are a handful of buyers who were not so keen about the sizing of the shoe, the Brooks Caldera 3 still proves to be a reliable neutral trail running shoe worth investing in.


Expert Reviews

87 / 100 based on 13 expert reviews

  • 95 / 100 |

    Brooks Caldera 3: Built for endurance

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    Everyone has that moment in their life when something just feels right. Maybe it's the first date and despite all of your nervousness, it goes perfectly.

    Or maybe it’s a new job where you can feel your shackled potential starting to be unleashed. Lacing up the Brooks Caldera 3 was one of those moments for me. They just felt right. With that said, there is a lot to talk about with this shoe, so let's get started.



    From the first moment, I slipped these on the upper material seemed to cocoon my foot in a comfortable, pliable mesh fabric. The tongue and heel collar are amply padded but not over the top. The sizing is spot-on in my opinion.

    The reinforced lacing grommets secure the foot evenly and snuggly, holding the heel firmly in the heel cup. The wide laces and reinforcement around the lace holes distribute the pressure of the tightened shoe and avoid creating unwanted pressure points on the top of the foot. For my foot, neither super wide nor super slim, the toe-box is perfect.



    The toe box is roomier than the Caldera 2 but not as liberal as some other brands.

    I feel like my toes have the room that they need to flex and splay out but not so much that they feel sloppy. The shoes feel light and nimble on the feet. At 9.3 oz the Caldera 3 is a clear frontrunner for lightweight trail running shoes that are aimed at tackling aggressive terrain on the long course.


    Brooks uses its proprietary BioMoGo DNA™ technology in the midsole and is both responsive on the trail and cushioned enough to make the longer efforts less stressful on the joints. During the first few runs I did in these shoes I felt very connected to the road and trail but cushioned enough to push as hard and long as I wanted to.



    While the Caldera 3 is not as plush as the Hoka One One Speedgoat or Stinson, it does have plenty of cushioning to get you through the long distances. The heel to toe turnover is exceptional and there was never a moment where my foot strike and recovery felt inhibited by the shoe. The Caldera delivers a smooth ride with ample comfort.

    I was super impressed with the TrailTack™ sole of the Caldera 3. While the lugs are not super aggressive or deep, the grip on the trail was excellent, even with the current wintery mix of conditions.



    The lugs have a lot of micro-surface-area features that help add to its traction. The broken octagonal lug pattern creates a unique lateral grip.



    The winter here in Missoula, MT looks a lot more like early spring. This afforded me a perfect chance to test the Caldera’s self-acclaimed drainage of the Ariaprene™ upper weave.

    Running through sloppy mixes of snow and slush, deliberately aiming at puddles, I was able to put it to the test. The Ariaprene™ mesh performed as promised. The shoe drained water with ease, not holding on to excess weight in the padding of the upper.

    The water-resistant trim near the reinforced edges is a nice touch. This lightweight, transparent membrane adds to the weatherproofing quality of the shoe and will assist in avoiding the typical delaminating that often occurs between the fabric and the toe-guard. The lace cage edging is also sealed with this translucent rubber and is sure to add strength to this high-stress area as well.



    The gusset on the sides of the tongue is a great feature. Not only does it act as a snug little seatbelt for your foot but it keeps the tongue from sliding down on either side of the foot.

    It also adds another layer of defense against debris finding its way down and underneath your foot. The ankle collar is padded nicely, but not so cushy as to feel bulky. The laces are a wide braid that facilitates a solid lockdown around your foot and stay tied securely.



    The Caldera 3 is full of well thought out features like the gator hitch and dual attachment points up front.

    The front hook on the gaiter can grab the loop found mid-laces or the notch at the front of the lace cage. The rear Velcro tab works nicely with a variety of gaiters.



    I’ve sometimes been skeptical of gaiters but after running my first two ultras this past summer I am sold.

    Running with some grit or small pebbles in your shoe is fine for a bit, but when you're out there for hours on end it is simply untenable. The Caldera 3 is pictured here with an Altra brand gaiter.



    The Caldera 3 really impressed me with its performance. I love the 4mm drop. It's perfect for technical trails and climbing. The wide sole base is ideal for lateral motion control and stability.

    The stack height is not too stilted but high enough to give you a great cushion. The sole has a superior grip and is very responsive on the trail.




    The upper material of the Caldera 3 is holding up tremendously well.

    During the first 83 miles in this shoe, it has seen some rough trails, with mixes of rock, ice, and snow and has been unyielding to all terrain. The tight weave is holding up under pressure. I imagine that I will wear out the sole of the shoe long before the upper material.



    The toe box and heel cup are both covered with a really tough layer of rubber. Unlike most toe guards that are attached with a layer of adhesive this material seems to be infused into the material that it sits on top of. I really liked how integrated and seamless this setup is.

    The sole is seeing some typical wear in the usual spots but nothing beyond normal. Most of my runs involve a mile or two of the road to get to my local trails. This obviously adds a different factor into the equation for a trail-specific shoe but the sole is holding up well overall. Given that the lugs are not particularly deep I am a bit concerned about them wearing out prematurely.



    • Lightweight
    • Well constructed
    • Cushioned appropriately


    • Lug depth is a bit shallow
    • Only one color option


    The Brooks Caldera 3 is an all-around excellent trail runner. It checks off all of the boxes in my criterion for a long distance trail running shoe: lightweight, great grip, small drop, water-shedding, durable and comfortable. For the coming Ultras, I have planned in 2019 I imagine that I will split my training time between these and my Hoka One One Speedgoat 2.

    If you're looking for a shoe that's built to endure the rugged trail, light and responsive, comfortable enough to run in all day and stylishly unassuming, the Caldera 3 is definitely one to consider. At an MSRP of $140.00, the Caldera is well worth it.

  • 90 / 100 |

    Brooks Caldera 3 - Cushiony, comfortable and fast

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    The Brooks Caldera 3 is marketed as a lightweight trail shoe that has the traction to keep you going for miles on end. While some of that is true, some of it is far from it. Marketing aside, Brooks has put together a high-quality trail shoe, with a few small tweaks could be truly spectacular.

    As you continue you read, you will come across 3 sections: Why?, Why Not?, and Conclusions. My review will focus on the reasons the shoe could work for you (Why?), what may not work for you (Why Not?), and some final thoughts (Conclusions).




    The Caldera 3 has Brooks's BioMoGo DNA midsole foam. I have run in several other Brooks shoes with this foam and I was left unimpressed. However, the BioMoGo worked great on the Caldera 3 platform.

    I'm not sure if it was the trails as opposed to the road shoes, which I had previously run in, or if Brooks has made some adjustments. But the midsole worked for me. There was plenty of cushioning, but not overly cushioned. There was plenty of responsiveness, but not an overly harsh ground feel.



    I also thought the stack height of the midsole was going to be a little much for my liking, but I never felt as though I was wearing a highly cushioned shoe.

    The BioMoGo lived up to its name. The cushion felt as if I could go more miles and had more get up and go. After several runs of 25k plus my feet still felt fresh and the foam still felt cushioned underfoot.

    Upper material

    The upper material really stood out to me. The mesh proved to be durable and breathable which don't always come together.

    Usually, you get one or the other. Additionally, the drainage of the upper was quite good. As the trails get wet in the winter, they drained quickly after crossing flooded trails and creeks.


    Build quality

    The overall build quality of the Caldera 3 is good. The mesh is durable with minimal stitching, and well-positioned overlays. There is no wear on the outsole at 60 miles and so far the mid-sole feels as if it will last for several hundred miles.

    Light-weight Feel 

    Brooks website has the Caldera 3 listed at 9.3 oz for a size 9. My size 12 comes in at 11.5 oz.

    This isn't a great number in at first glance, there are much lighter trail shoes on the market. However, the shoe runs lighter than it's weight. It feels nimble and fast underfoot.


    The traction on the Caldera is really good in almost all conditions. Wet, dry, rocky, packed dirt, rutted trails the Caldera handled with easy. They only condition it wasn't up to par was the mud (for more see the Why Not? section).

    I found the Caldera has a good lug system and grippy rubber. Some trail shoes are overbuilt and feel more like hiking boots. The Caldera 3 does a good job providing the grip but staying true to a running shoe.


    Why not?


    Brooks shoes usually are the best fitting shoes for my foot. I always get an 11.5 and they always work. For the Caldera 3 I sized up to a 12 because I read they tend to run a little short. For me, the 12 was the right choice but it wasn't perfect.

    The length feels great and there was plenty of room in the toebox but, the midfoot and heel were sloppy. I had to tie them super tight to keep my foot from sliding around on steep downhills and off-camber sections.

    This wouldn't be a problem but the laces are a little stretchy and would need to be re-tied to keep a tight fit every 4-5 miles. If they were road shoes, I would have never noticed. It was only really a problem on steep terrain when a secure fit was needed.

    Color Options

    Brooks is currently only offering 1 color for each the men's and women's Caldera 3. The teal and gray are just ok. Mine are dirty enough were they almost appear camouflaged. Some runners may want certain colors or more options.

    The Mud

    Brooks's website states "the rubber outsole keeps you going mile after muddy mile." I disagree the outsole works great everywhere but the mud.

    The position and depths of the lugs appear to be more suitable for packed dirt, rocks, and sand. This may just be marketing jargon, but if you live in an area with muddy trails there are better options out there.


    Final thoughts



    Brooks has made a high-quality shoe. The Caldera 3's midsole is a winner. It is responsive and cushioned. The traction is good under most conditions. This is a versatile trail shoe. Short races or Ultras.

    Fast and packed or technical trails. The Caldera 3 will excel in most conditions. If Brooks works out the sizing issues these would be one of my favorite trails shoes released in the past couple of years.

  • 86 / 100 | Kory Mueller | Level 1 expert

    They were pretty awesome. They were super super responsive.

  • 100 / 100 | Road Trail Run | | Level 5 expert

    If I had to come up with something negative, I’d go with the shoelaces are very soft and thin. But they stay tied, and so far have been very durable, so that’s not really a knock. Well done Brooks.

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  • The 3rd iteration for the Brooks Caldera is now redesigned with an Ariaprene upper mesh.  This gives the shoe a great construction for ventilation and at the same time guarantees the fast draining of any accumulated water that may have been collected in the shoe along the duration of the run.  This Ariaprene update to the upper makes the shoe’s breathability and flexibility more superior than it was on Brooks Caldera 2.
  • Working with the mesh upper is the mudguard which provides stretch and structure for a much better fit.  This also enhances the protection and durability in areas that are prone to constant abrasion.
  • Also, an added enhancement that most trail runners are happy about is the gaiter attachment point now also found at the front of the shoe. This works great with the integrated and improved Gaiter Tab situated in the heel.
  • Brooks has also updated its lace garage on the Caldera 3.  This improvement keeps the shoe laces secure, clean and kept out of the way.
  • Same as the well-reviewed neutral running shoe, Brooks Launch 6, the Brooks Caldera 3 is also supplied with the BioMoGo DNA cushioning gel.  However, in this Brooks Caldera 3, the DNA gel is now stacked higher to create a responsive and steady stride.  The midsole geometry to this new edition of Brooks Caldera 3 was also refined as it now supplies inherent protection and a stable ride that helps as fatigue from running sets in.
  • Moreover, lastly, giving the shoe an overall quality build is the improved TrailTack Sticky Rubber outsole that features lugs with high surface areas.  This rubber outsole provides the much-needed traction on uphill and downhill trails - even including traction on wet surfaces.

Brooks Caldera 3’s sizing is available in standard medium sizing D for men and standard medium sizing B for women.  Although the sizing feels a half size too small, it still runs true to width. The toe-box measurement may vary according to size and the shoe also tends to have a wide fit on its sides.

The Caldera 3 has a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm.  Shoe weight for men is 9.9 ounces while it weighs in at 9 ounces for women.  Trail runners with a medium to high arch and neutral gait cycle would best benefit from this model.

Shoe sizes for men run from 7 to 15 and for women, it runs sizes 5 to 11.  Both Brooks Caldera 3 for men and women are available in half sizes which means the user will be able to find his/her perfect fitting pair with no problem.

The outsole is known to be the essential part of any trail running shoe, and Brooks Caldera 3’s outsole now boasts an updated TrailTack Sticky Rubber material.  This material is laid out with hexagonal patterns that help propel the runner forward and guarantees excellent traction on all kinds of terrains.  This new rubber outsole also features high-surface area lugs that provide exceptional uphill and downhill grip, including on wet trail surfaces.

Almost always constant in Brooks shoes is their BioMogo DNA cushioning technology.  This reliable midsole cushioning is once again present in the Brooks Caldera 3 as it is in the Brooks Ghost 11. This DNA gel continually provides midsole cushioning and comfort throughout the run.  The very responsive BioMoGo DNA gel which is also found in Brooks Caldera 2, promotes a steady stride over long distance runs. It also aids in protecting the foot against different trail hazards avoiding unwanted injuries for the user.

Also adding to the comfort of the Brooks Caldera 3 is the smooth, fabric lining and its removable foam insole, which offers a great in-shoe feel.

The Brooks Caldera 3 upper has now been redesigned with the use of Ariaprene mesh.  This mesh upper provides maximum breathability, ventilation, flexibility, and fast drainage.  And in case of wet trails, the Ariaprene mesh upper helps in draining water exceptionally quick making it adaptable to handle all types of tough and unpredictable terrains.

Mud guard has also been incorporated strategically in the Brooks Caldera 3.  This aids in a better stretch and structure to ensure a more adaptable fit.

Also found in the Caldera 3 is the new front gaiter-attachment point.  This compliments the integrated gaiter tab at the heel and easily secures the gaiters with a hook and loop system.

One of the updates to enhance the functionality of Brooks Caldera 3 is the lace garage for added shoe lace security. This lace garage or lace keeper guarantees that the shoelaces are kept securely in place and out of the way.

The Caldera 3 also features a padded tongue and collar that helps provide additional comfort and better fit to the entirety of the shoe.

And lastly, the shoe has a strobel last with its upper stitched seamlessly to a full-length fabric providing a comfortable underfoot feel.

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.