Brooks Caldera 3 Review

Editor rating:

8 / 10 on

Users rating:

Pros

  • Excellent transition from road to trail
  • Lightweight
  • Responsive
  • Roomy and comfortable

Cons

  • Shorter lugs are not as reliable on slippery and rocky terrain
  • Upper is not very protective

Verdict

The Brooks Caldera 3 is a lightweight shoe with solid traction on road and less technical trail terrain, such as rocks, dirt, snow, and grass.

The high stack midsole provides sufficient protection from obstacles on the trail and enough cushioning to go for miles.

Who is it for?

For the long distance trail runner looking for lightweight cushion and a reliable shoe to seamlessly transition from road to trail.

Brand

Type

Model
Caldera 3

Weight
9.3 oz. (264 gr.)

Heel Drop
4 mm.

List Price
140 US$

Introduction

The Brooks Caldera 3 is a $140 trail running shoe that runs right out of the house to the trailhead and beyond. It is lighter, less aggressive, and more cushioned than the Brooks Cascadia.

The Caldera 3 is quick and responsive on most trail conditions and includes helpful features, like gaiter attachment points, that increase its versatility.

CUSHIONING TYPE  Responsive
Responsive
Plush
CUSHIONING AMOUNT  Highly cushioned
Little cushioning
Highly cushioned
FLEXIBILITY  Flexible
Rigid
Flexible
STABILITY  Very stable
Not particularly stable
Very stable

Impressions

Out of the box, this shoe fit great and ran with no issues in my first few outings. I liked the look of this shoe, which was very similar to my road running shoes only with a noticeably higher stack.

The cushioning felt great, and the shoe was sufficiently responsive. Because the shoe looked suitable for road running, I tended to run in these right out of the house to various trailheads in my neighborhood.

From road to dirt trails in the foothills around Denver, these shoes had the perfect traction and protection on hills of varying steepness.

I felt confident in drier snow; however, less so in icy conditions.

Additionally, on rockier and sloppier terrain, I did not feel like these shoes had enough traction and would prefer a bit more lug and stickiness, especially on the downhill.

Protection

The high stack on this shoe provided protection from trail hazards and felt sufficient even though the shoe did not feature a rock plate.

The mesh upper felt soft and less protective than other trail shoes, but I did not notice significant impact from contact with rocks and roots on the trail.

Water did come into the shoe when running through snow and puddles; but the Ariaprene™ mesh upper was quick to drain and dry.

ROCKPLATE  Not present
Not present
Solid protection
LUGS  Average Traction
Lack Traction
Provide Traction
WATER RESISTANCE  Adequate
Poor
Water Resistant

Durability

As someone who is rough on shoes (and often runs into rocks and other obstacles), I found these shoes to be durable and would be willing to wear them over a long distance.

After over seventy five miles on rocky, muddy, and wet terrain, there is very little sign of wear on the outsoles or upper.

I typically see holes (or at least wear) on tips of my big and pinkie toes after fifty miles, but there are no signs of wear on the Caldera 3’s upper.

Responsiveness & Speed

At 8 oz., this shoe felt lightweight and responsive over a variety of terrains.

The TrailTack Sticky Traction provided sufficient grip on most types of terrain; however, on mud, rock surfaces, and in wet winter conditions, I was sliding around at times and not very confident in my traction both up or downhill.

The BioMoGo DNA Midsole was designed to adapt based on the force applied to it, and it provided cushioned responsiveness over many miles.

These shoes were fast both uphill and downhill on less technical trails, so they would be perfect for a long race in predictable conditions.

Comfort and Fit

SIZING  True to size
Buy size smaller
Buy size bigger
HEEL FIT  Normal
Tight
Wide
MIDFOOT FIT  Normal
Tight
Wide
TOEBOX FIT  Wide
Tight
Wide

These shoes were true to size and felt comfortable right out of the box. Although thin, the flat lace system ties tightly and reliably.

The toe box was sufficiently roomy and flexible to accommodate splaying and swelling over longer mileage.

The Ariaprene™ mesh upper provided sufficient ventilation over longer runs.

The toe box felt roomy enough at first; however, I experienced hot spots around the big toes of both feet after a longer run with significant downhill.

Conclusion

For everyday trail conditions, this shoe IS comfortable, responsive, and versatile over less technical conditions (so long as there are less slippery rocks and ice).

The Caldera 3 is an ideal shoe for transitioning from road to trail and for most conditions on dirt, snow-covered, grass, or gravel trails.

I plan to utilize these shoes for road marathon cross-training around my neighborhood.

We purchased a pair of Brooks Caldera 3 from running warehouse using our own money. This did not influence the outcome of this review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.



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