Brooks Caldera 5 review

The Brooks Caldera 5 is a heavily cushioned trail commuter designed to roll over terrain without any concern. It’s tall and it seems like Brooks is taking some cues from Hoka these days. 

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The upper keeps the water and debris out

To keep water and debris out, the engineered mesh has plenty of welded overlays. The shoe also has a heel loop and a gaiter attachment, which is nice if you are using the Caldera on an adventure or off-trail run. 

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It’s a thinly padded tongue with gussets

I like its shape because it’s not too tall nor is it overly plush. However, it does have a heavy hem that’s probably overbuilt. 

The Caldera 5 is for longer runs

Suitable for longer days out on the trail, the Caldera 5 has lots of cushion and a bit of bounce. I don’t particularly like what Brooks has to offer in the midsole department these days. But once you get used to the shoe’s height and bounce, which might feel slightly unstable at first, it can work on longer runs. 

Superb grip

The TrailTack technology is very grippy; it works well. I may dig the compound but not the pattern. 

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Less breathable and less flexible upper

It could be slightly more breathable. There’s just a lot of welded overlays, it restricts airflow. 

This also contributes to limited flexibility. My fat foot was just begging for a little more room. 

Fancy webbing loop lacing 

Brooks uses a fancy webbing loop lacing structure instead of the standard lacing holes. It looks cool, but this shoe needs a little extra help locking in the heel. This means using the extra lacing hole at the top. But because the laces aren’t long enough, I had to abandon the top webbing loop and it just looks a little funky. 

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Heel slip

It’s stiff, heavily padded, and I even had a bit of a slip. 

Could be more aggressive

It could be more aggressive in design or number of lugs. So much so that if you ripped one off, you’d have a large area devoid of traction. 

A bit narrow

I have a wide foot and the Caldera just runs a bit narrow. I also experienced some heel slips but I was able to solve them by changing the lacing technique. 

It feels like it needs more medial support

It seems like the midsole doesn’t extend enough under the big toe and my foot feels like it wants to roll in and pronate. 

Otherwise, the shoe is plush and soft underfoot. Just a warning though, it may run a little warm on hot days. 

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Heavy

The Brooks Caldera 5 weighs 10.9 ounces, which puts it on the heavy side. But you do get a lot underfoot. 

Durable

It’s heavy-duty and built tough. 

Looks

Meh. I’ve seen sexier trail shoes

Price

The Caldera retails for $140. 

Tip: see the best trail running shoes.

Rankings

How Brooks Caldera 5 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 28% trail running shoes
All trail running shoes
Top 48% Brooks running shoes
All Brooks running shoes
Top 42% maximalist running shoes
All maximalist running shoes

Popularity

The current trend of Brooks Caldera 5.
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Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.