Brooks Caldera 3

9.4
9.4 score
[Editors rating (9.4)] = Runnerclick score (9.4)/10

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Editor rating: 9.4 / 10
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Brooks Caldera 3 Review Facts
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Four years of research has brought forth the Caldera 3, a neutral trail running shoe that allows you to tackle trails without losing comfort. The Brooks Caldera 3 comes with many updates to the popular Caldera 2 in the upper. It now features an Ariaprene mesh which gives the shoe its shape and has great ventilation properties compared to the previous version. Another update can be seen in the form of gaiter attachments found in the heel and in the front of the shoe. You can also find a lace garage on the tongue which keeps the laces out of the way.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • TrailTack technology takes advantage of increased contact with the ground for grip
  • 20mm BioMogo DNA foam in the forefoot provides adaptive cushioning
  • Ariaprene perforated upper lets water in and out for a quicker dry while keeping debris out of the shoe
  • Gaiter attachment points
  • Lace garage to keep laces out of the way
Cons
  • Moderate lug depth that cannot handle deep mud and very rocky surfaces
  • Only one colorway which is a disadvantage when shoes today have so many options
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole features a TrailTack Sticky Rubber which we found to be updated from the previous shoes. It is known for its solid grip on rocky, soft and wet terrain. The tread pattern is hexagonal which gives good traction in most kinds of environments and the channels in it help the water flow outward.

You can find moderate depth lugs with a high surface area that can help movements be steady uphill and downhill. The lack of deep lugs make the Caldera 3 not very steady on gravel, muddy and snowy surfaces. The outsole is good for moderate trails but there is nothing to write home about in facing tough terrain.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole looks to be big and beefy but is amazingly cushioned. One reviewer commented that this shoe reminded them of a lighter weight road shoe. The midsole features BioMogo DNA cushioning which is a staple of Brooks shoes at this point. The BioMogo gel is actually a non-newtonian fluid which adapts to the pressure applied to it. It also adds to the protective capacities of the shoe by preventing the runner from feeling the trail debris, rocks and more underfoot. It also features a soft fabric lining and a removable insole which provides cushioning underfoot. The Strobel last is stitched seamlessly to the upper providing a cushioned feel.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper consists of a well-constructed Ariaprene mesh, unlike the previous version which had complex overlays. This mesh material provides superior breathability, ventilation, and drainage in comparison to engineered mesh. If you happen to step into puddles or streams, the Ariaprene mesh upper will absorb and drain the moisture quickly. We also found the fabric to be smooth which will reduce abrasions. Another interesting feature is the integrated gaiter tab at the heel which is compatible with a hook-and-loop gaiter system to keep your feet mud free.

Another update from the previous version is the addition of the lace garage that prevents the laces from getting in your way and being a trip hazard. The Caldera 3 features a standard tongue which is thickly padded that provides cushioning to the top of the feet. A mudguard has been added to the upper to provide an adaptive fit. This also enhances the protection and durability in areas that are prone to constant abrasion.
Weight
Weight

Weight

This shoe weighs 9.7 ounces for the men’s version and 8 ounces for the female. This is quite lightweight for a trail running shoe with maximum cushioning. Although you can see a thick layer of BioMogo foam, the shoe is quite light underfoot. For the Caldera 3, Brooks has not chosen to add a rock plate or overlays to the upper to prevent adding on the weight but these features could have improved the grip and protection of the shoe.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The shoe is very breathable thanks to the Ariaprene mesh upper material. This material wicks away moisture and is hypoallergenic which is great for long distance trail running. Reviewers credited this mesh from preventing this shoe from stinking which usually does happen in trail running. Almost all customers were impressed with the quick drying quality of the shoe which helps a great deal when the trail is laden with creeks, puddles, and ponds.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

While you wouldn’t expect a clunky trail running shoe to be very comfortable, the Caldera 3 surprises with excellent cushioning. This can be attributed mainly to the BioMoGo DNA midsole that adapts its cushioning according to the force applied to it. The midsole becomes softer or firmer depending on the runner’s weight and speed of the run. So if you walk leisurely, you will feel the solidness of the midsole and when you are running at a fast pace, you will feel the cushioning becoming softer and being more responsive.

The BioMoGo DNA is made more effective by the high stack height, which protects the bottoms of your feet. While some reviewers found the cushioning to be a bit too much in the heel, most of them enjoyed the cushioning that made their ride on rocky and uneven terrain more protected and comfortable. A slipper-like feeling is provided by the gusseted tongue which most importantly, does not move around.
Style
Style

Style

The Caldera 3 does not make a significant departure from the previous shoe in terms of style. The shoe still features a bulky look with a wide width and a pointed toe. However, we are disappointed that this shoe comes in only one color. While the blue-camo color is quite attractive, color is a personal choice and there will be those customers who require more options. We did enjoy the design of the shoe which looks like a whole bunch on mountains on the upper which bleeds out on the midsole as well.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Brook’s is known for making durable shoes and this shoe does not disappoint in this area. Almost all reviewers who wore these shoes were happy with the long-lasting quality. And one reviewer put it through 100 miles in rough trails with rocks, water, and uneven surfaces and found this shoe to not show signs of extensive usage. The upper material is also durable and we didn’t notice a stitch out of place even after hundreds of miles. A lot of reviewers felt that there was extra material in the upper.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The reinforced toe cap and the Ariaprene upper provide good protection from rocks, roots and other debris that you are likely to encounter during trails. While the Caldera 3 does not have a rock plate, the shoe has a high heel height that protects the foot from the terrain underneath. The heel collar features plush padding which protects the heel and prevents it from slipping out.

Gaiters are an attachment which can protect the top of your feet from external elements. If you are a serious trail runner who plans to run in difficult terrain, this piece of equipment can save you from a lot of pain and damage to your shoe. This shoe will appeal to runners seeking more protection by providing an attachment for gaiters.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Just as the previous shoe, the Caldera 3 is also very responsive due to the BioMoGo DNA cushioning gel. The gel foam is placed on a higher stack than the previous editions of the shoe which create a more responsive ride. The midsole geometry has also been updated to prevent fatigue from setting in the riders foot.
Support
Support

Support

This shoe is moderately supportive with the midsole and upper working for the same. The Ariaprene mesh is stretchable and wraps around the forefoot without constricting the movement of the toe. The Biomogo midsole is responsible for fantastic adaptive cushioning allowing the runner to feel supported no matter what the terrain.

This shoe has a wide last and runners with narrow feet will have to tighten the laces. The lace garage makes securing the laces easier by tucking them in, preventing slips and falls. The plush heel supports the ankle and prevents abrasions from friction. While this shoe provides a good fit for moderate to wide feet, those with narrow feet will not find much in the way of support.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

This is a neutral trail running shoe and works well on light to moderate trails. The upper is water-resistant and you can even see the separate material along the entire seam of the upper. This makes this shoe great for trails with ponds, puddles, streams, etc. The outsole isn’t heavy duty so the Caldera wouldn’t be our first choice for tough terrain. This shoe has enough cushioning and responsiveness to be worn on the road sometimes. A reviewer tried these shoes on a treadmill and did not find the shoe comfortable for the purpose and felt slowed down.
Price
Price

Price

This shoe is on the expensive side of trail running shoes but can only offer average performance. It is easy to find less expensive shoes with better performance online. Also, it cannot handle really tough terrain which is a shame as you would expect a pricy shoe to be able to work with any kind of terrain.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The outsole is responsible for the traction capabilities of any running shoe and the Caldera 3 features a TrailTack Sticky Rubber outsole. The lugs are placed in multiple directions which provide support whether you’re moving laterally or upward. While you cannot find a lot of lugs and those present aren’t very deep, this outsole could handle mud, dry or wet trail, rocks, and roots.

However, the lugs have a large surface area and lend to the durability of the shoe that helps movement on uphill and downhill trails. While runners found the traction to be good on uneven surfaces, they found themselves unsure and slipping on very wet soil and icy paths.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The midsole and the upper contribute to making the shoe flexible and allow the foot to adjust for all kinds of movements on trails. While traditional trail running shoes used to be stiff and inflexible, they are increasingly flexible to allow all kinds of movements and change of pace.

The bulky midsole may deceive you to give an impression of being too heavy and stiff. But it is quite the opposite, the BioMogo midsole uses a proprietary non-newtonian fluid to allow good flexibility to the shoe. The upper is also more flexible than traditional mesh and together with the midsole is excellent for lateral movements.
Stability
Stability

Stability

Although Brooks claims that the shoe fits to true to size, runners found the forefoot to be roomier than most. If you have wide feet this is a good option for you as you will have ample room for your toes to splay. If you have narrow feet, you will find a loss of stability in the forefoot due to an imperfect fit. This shoe also does away with the complex overlays found in the Caldera 3 which reduces the feeling of a snug fit and might contribute to instability.
Drop
Drop

Drop

With a heel height of 30mm and a forefoot height of 26mm, the Caldera 3 has a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm. A minimal drop such as this places the heel close to the ground thus aligning your spine. This low drop helps you land on your forefoot rather than your heel, and this drop claims to reduce back pain and encourage a forward gait. This shoe will work better for those with medium to high arches.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

-BioMogo DNA
-Sticky TrailTack rubber outsole and lugs with high-surface-area
-Ariaprene™ mesh upper
-4mm drop
-Neutral trail running shoe
-Gaiter attachment points on the heel and in front of the laces
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Marketed as a lightweight trail running shoe that can take you through all kinds of terrain, the Caldera 3 has received mixed reactions. While some of those claims are true, others are simply marketing speak. After the updates, we can agree that the shoe is quite lightweight and responsive but the grip is not as solid as it could have been. Beginner trail runners can find this shoe useful as they are durable, comfortable and can work for road running. Runners can use this as a transition shoe from roads to handling trails.

The Brooks Caldera 3 would be an option for you if you need a trail shoe that can go the distance but also give you some speed. If you are a fan Brook’s fit and you’re looking for some extra cushioning on trail runs, then look no further.