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The Plush Brooks Caldera 5 Can Withstand Technical Trails and Wintry Elements

Our editor dared to run after the Northeast’s recent snowstorms, trusting the outsole’s sticky TrailTack rubber.

brooks caldera 5
Lakota Gambill

The RW Takeaway: The thickly cushioned Caldera 5 provides impressive rebound—and is a beast on the trail.

  • A BioMoGo DNA midsole provides soft cushioning and responsive ride
  • New mono-loop lacing, i.e., “ghillies,” for a snug fit
  • Tacky outsole grips wet rock and loose dirt

    Price: $140
    10.6 oz. (M), 9.4 oz. (W)

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    The Caldera 5 is a speed demon on the trail and a post-blizzard yeti. Its TrailTack outsole had us run confidently on icy snow and wet rock. But this beast also has a soft side. The Caldera’s cushioning rivaled Hoka One One’s Speedgoat 4 GTX for one tester, who had formerly declared herself “a loyal Hoka gal.” And it even dethroned the Cascadia, its sibling, as the plushest trail shoe in Brooks’s lineup. Its BioMoGo DNA midsole, made of durable EVA foam, molds to the runner’s foot, providing a cushioned ride with high energy return. Brooks didn’t add a rock plate because none was required; that slab of BioMoGo DNA is thick enough to protect your feet and buffer rugged terrain. Whatever Mother Nature’s throws at you—gnarled root, wintry mess—the Caldera permits you to keep on trekking.

    Lakota Gambill
    Caldera 5

    • Thick, responsive BioMoGo DNA midsole
    • Mono-loop lacing system for a secure, locked-in fit

    • Heavier than past models
    • No rock plate in the forefoot (though the thick midsole effectively buffers rugged terrain)

    Surrounding Comfort

    The Caldera fits true-to-size with adequate room in the toe box, an important factor when logging high mileage on uneven trails. One tester gave a “no toe numbness” badge of approval after a couple of long runs.

    The 5 also has a more secure fit with a new mono-loop lacing system. But the midsole was the feature our wear-testers raved about.

    “The cushioning feels like a cloud,” said one. “No matter what the surface, I felt confident in each step. I went over rocks, roots, wet leaves, creeks, and gravel; my traction was great, and I didn’t feel a rock or root underfoot.”

    To counteract with the midsole’s breadth, flex grooves wrap around the sides of the shoe to ensure malleability.

    brooks caldera 5
    Lakota Gambill

    Winter Running

    While testers lauded the shoe’s softness, I’ll admit slight disappointment Brooks hadn’t modeled the shoe after its more lightweight predecessor, the Caldera 3. Instead, Topo Athletic’s Runventure has taken that lightweight slot, along with Brooks’s Catamount, which I save for trail races. However, the Caldera 5 presented a different kind of service I hadn’t expected: It kept me running in spite of the seasonal elements, shielding my feet from jagged ice and keeping me upright over slippery patches post-snowstorms. Testers were confident running over slick surfaces and appreciated how the tread gripped mud without collecting dirt or pebbles.

    brooks caldera 5
    Lakota Gambill

    Wear-Tester Feedback

    Helene H., tester since 2012
    Pronation: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
    “Absolutely awesome! As I have noted many times, I am a loyal Hoka Gal. This shoe has completely changed me. I love the cushioning and the structure of the shoe. It truly feels like you are running on a cloud. I have had Calderas in the past but this one is much more like a Hoka, but better! The shoe was awesome as I climbed and descended through the hills, rocks, and roots. On the road the cushioning allows for a light cloud-like feeling when I hit the pavement.”

    Brooke S., tester since 2016
    Arch: Medium | Gait: Neutral | Footstrike: Midfoot
    “I absolutely love this shoe! I was very surprised that I found another shoe that I love as much as my Hoka Speedgoat and Bondi, but the Brooks Caldera may just have become my new favorite! From the moment I put them on my feet I was in awe. The cushioning is very comparable to the Hoka, in fact, I think the Caldera’s feel better. The comfort of the shoe was impressive. I did not feel any hot spots or tightness anywhere, and they had just the right amount of room in the toe box. The TrailTack tread and grip are top notch! I had no issues on slippery wet rocks, dirt roads, gravel roads, or cinder, and the transition from trail to road was very smooth.”

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