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Charge Ahead in a Cushier Caldera

Brooks’s lightweight trail shoe has a reconfigured, thicker midsole, which provides more stability on the trail.

brooks calder 4
Lakota Gambill

The RW Takeaway: The Caldera 4 has a thicker midsole and outsole for more connection and cushioning without adding extra bulk.

  • A refined, cushier BioMoGo DNA midsole
  • Mudguard and toe cap provide protection
  • TrailTack outsole has excellent grip over slippery rock

    Price: $140
    12.0mm (M), 10.0mm (W)
    9.9 oz (M), 8.2 oz (W)

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    The Caldera is the lone trail shoe in Brooks’s energize line, yet it bears little resemblance to its road shoe cousins, save for its sole purpose: to provide high energy return on your run. Instead of DNA Amp—the dense midsole polyurethane foam encased by TPU—the shoe relies on BioMoGo DNA to promote a springy ride. The EVA-based, biodegradable foam adapts to your footshape and gait. Already acquainted with the high rebound of BioMoGo DNA after covering the speedy Launch 7, I wasn’t disappointed on my runs in the Caldera 4. Our wear-testers felt the same way.

    Said one, “I like the elevation and cushioning because it feels like the shoe is propelling you forward.”

    Lakota Gambill
    Caldera 4 [width:D - Medium]

    • Ample cushioning
    • Grippy TrailTack outsole on slick, wet rock

    • Nonaggressive lugs not as tractionable in muddy conditions

    And yet, the feel of the 4 is quite different from its predecessor. On a couple back-to-back runs rotating both models, the most notable change I felt was the overall roomier fit compared to the 3; I had to stop a few times to tighten the laces to feel more secure. The new model may also require a little more effort on the legs if you’re used to the thinner construction of the previous version.

    Prepped for the Trail

    The Caldera 4 has almost everything you need in a trail shoe. A mudguard and TPU toe cap shields and protects your feet from gnarly paths. The trainer collected some crushed stone and sand on a rail trail run, but gaiters, which can be attached with the heel tab, can easily remedy this minor issue. A lace-keeper tongue also prevents snags from underbrush.

    brooks caldera 4
    Lakota Gambill

    One thing the Caldera 4 doesn’t have: a rock plate. But we didn’t focus on what the shoe lacked on our runs; testers, instead, praised the high stack height and thick midsole, saying they felt buffered from trail debris. “The ride was soft and supple,” said a tester. “They just went with you.” I can relate. On a rocky stretch by a creek, I didn’t feel any jolting pain in my feet or legs as I ran over gnarled roots and curved stones.

    No-Slip Traction

    Consistent with the Caldera line is the shoes’ incredible traction on slippery, wet surfaces. The TrailTack rubber had testers running confidently over wet rock with no slippage. The nonaggressive lugs also made it easy to transition from road to trail. A small critique is that the shoe didn’t hold steady over looser ground, a downside of a less pronounced tread when the path becomes muddy.

    brooks caldera 4
    Lakota Gambill

    More Tester Feedback

    Renee H, tester since 2013
    Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
    “It has been probably 7 years since I wore a pair of Brooks trail shoes and I am so happy I gave them a try. They felt great on, had plenty of support and cushioning, and even though the traction did not look that impressive on the bottom of the shoe they held up great on all surfaces. Much more comfortable than the first pair of Brooks Cascadia trail shoes I wore years ago.”

    Diane G., tester since 2012
    Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
    “I am really super stoked to have this shoe in my arsenal. They quickly became my go-to training shoe. I will be race testing them next week, as soon as I replace the laces with something that stays tied. Basically, the lace material was my only concern. In my opinion, Brooks has a great all-around trail shoe. That’s the perfect summary: all-around trail shoe. If the conditions call for aggressive footwear this might not be the shoe for you. But for the normal singletrack elevation seeker this shoe is the ticket.”

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