Review: Brooks Caldera 3

Written by

Katherine Takai

Long Distance Runner, former Sprinter.

This expert review is written by

Katherine Takai

Long Distance Runner, former Sprinter.
Katherine Takai is a consultant and endurance sport enthusiast in constant pursuit of new running adventures and the optimal shoes to take her there.

Over 15 years ago, she was a sprinter who turned long distance event runner. Ultimately, she found her greatest passion in trail running and has spent the past five years running around the mountains of Colorado and her current home near the Tetons in Idaho.

Weight

We usually consider 10 ounces a "medium" weight for a running shoe: less than 10 and we are entering the lightweight category and above 10 the shoes start to be heavy.

Heel-to-toe drop

Heel drop is the measurement in mm of the difference between the height of the heel and the toe of the sole.

A lower drop (0mm - 5mm) promotes running on mid-foot and fore-foot, while higher drops (8mm - 12mm) are more traditional and meant to support a heel-striking gait.
Expert score
8/10

Quick overview

Best for
Regular training, long, slow training runs, ultra distances, 50 miles and greater
Terrain
Best for on dirt trails, on paved trails, on paved roads, sidewalks, etc..., through grassy sections or cross-country courses, in muddy area, through creeks and streams, along moderate trails
Grip
The Caldera 3 provides good traction on most types of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Average Traction
Provide Traction
Cushioning
The Caldera 3 is maximally cushioned
Little cushioning
Medium cushioning
Highly cushioned
Weight

9.3

 oz
264 g
Heel to toe drop
Drop

4

 mm

Pros and cons according to our running expert

Pros and cons according to our running expert

  • Excellent transition from road to trail
  • Lightweight
  • Responsive
  • Roomy and comfortable
  • Shorter lugs are not as reliable on slippery and rocky terrain
  • Upper is not very protective

Our 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.

Introduction Brooks Caldera 3

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
The Caldera 3 is extremely responsive:... Read more provides energy return and speed over
Responsive
Plush
Cushioning Amount
The Caldera 3 is maximally cushioned
Little cushioning
Highly cushioned
Flexibility
The Caldera 3 is extremely flexible at the... Read more expense of some structure
Rigid
Flexible
Stability
The Caldera 3 offers great stability for... Read more runners who needs the most support for
Not particularly stable
Very stable

Impressions Brooks Caldera 3

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 Brooks Caldera 3

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
The Caldera 3 does not have a rock plate.
Not present
Solid protection
Lugs
The Caldera 3 provides good traction on most... Read more types of terrains and surfaces
Lack Traction
Provide Traction
Water resistance
The Caldera 3 provides a decent protection... Read more from splashes and puddles
Poor
Water Resistant

Durability Brooks Caldera 3

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 Brooks Caldera 3

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 Brooks Caldera 3

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.

Sizing
The Caldera 3 has average sizing: buy the... Read more usual size
Buy size smaller
Buy size bigger

Conclusion Brooks Caldera 3

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.

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Reviews Read what other runners say

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Lars

I run 20 - 40km per week, I use them primarily for running
The toe box isnt all that roomie.

Kevin

I run 20 - 40km per week, I use them primarily for running
I'm 300+ hard trail miles into my Caldera 3's and find everything in this review to be spot on.

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