Brooks Caldera 5

9.0
9.0 score
[Editors rating (9.0)] = Runnerclick score (9.0)/10

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Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
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Editor’s Conclusion
If there never seems to be a bright, sunny, and dry day to go for a trail run, the Brooks Caldera 5 is worth a look. What I love most about this trainer is that it is built to tackle slick trails, mud, and splashing through puddles while keeping your feet high and dry as well as protected. It boasts a chunky and soft midsole that walks that fine line between being responsive and ultra-cushioned.

For runners that love that plush step-in feel that holds up on those long runs (and are willing to trade cushioning for ground feel), the Caldera 5 is up for the challenge. I also appreciated the newly designed upper and lacing system that helps boost lockdown so you can take uphill climbs and downhill descents with ease and confidence. It may cost a little bit more than other cushioned trail runners out there on the market, but the heightened durability is well worth it in the end.

Below, I wanted to take a deep dive into all of the features that make the Brooks Caldera 5 a really great all-weather trail running shoe.
Brooks Caldera 5 Review Facts
Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Thick BioMoGo DNA midsole

Excellent lockdown

Deep lugs for added traction

Very durable

Heightened cushioning is great for long-distance running

Great for winter running

Cons

Slightly expensive

Heavy

Not ideal for speed

Runs hot in the summer months

Key Features

Key Features

MIDSOLE

As with most Brooks’ trainers, the midsole is composed of a layer of their proprietary BioMoGo DNA midsole material. What makes the Caldera 5 stand out from other shoes with this same midsole material is that this midsole is ultra-thick. By utilizing a thicker layer of the midsole material, it works double duty to provide ample cushioning to provide an incredibly comfortable ride, while also working to protect your feet as well.

What I love most about this thick layer of EVA foam material in the midsole is that it eliminates the need for extra protective features such as a rock plate. By omitting these extra materials, you get a heightened sense of flexibility and movement. This makes this shoe incredibly cushioning while allowing for easy and agile movements at the same time, which is something that isn’t often found in highly cushioned trail runners.

UPPER

One of the biggest improvements made to the Brooks Caldera 5 is the construction of the upper. It is composed of a blend of synthetic overlays and mesh vented panels that keep your feet protected, cool, and dry. The synthetic panels are placed in key areas such as the toe box and along the sides of the foot to protect your socks from moisture and mud when running in soggy weather conditions. The stretchy mesh panels along the top of the foot move hot air up and away to allow your feet to breathe.

What I love most about this redesigned upper is the fit on the lacing system. The midfoot Ghillies allow for a more tuned-in lockdown to keep these shoes snuggly secured on your feet. This heightened level of lockdown allows you to conquer uphill climbs and downhill descents with ease, and it allows just the right amount of stretch and movements to keep your runs light and nimble.

OUTSOLE

There is no hybrid trail/road running outsole found on the Caldera 5! The construction of this insanely durable and high-performance outsole is made for the trails, and nothing else. It is composed of TrailTrack rubber that has a tacky finish so that you stick to the trails like Spiderman. Whether you are running on dry, gravel surfaces or slick leaves, the sticky finish to this high-endurance rubber really sticks to the trails so you don’t have to slow down when you start to lose traction under your feet.

I also appreciate the deep lugs built into the outsole that dig into the trail under your feet. These lugs have a unique design that helps to provide more grip and traction without slowing down your pace. The lugs are more tightly spaced in the toe box for a strong toe-off, and more loosely spaced on the heel for added traction without a lot of extra weight and bulk in the heel.

PERFORMANCE

No matter what type of trails that you like to navigate, the Caldera 5 is up for the challenge. I would recommend this shoe for runners that can’t ever seem to line up a bright and sunny day to go out for the run. The tacky finish to the outsole helps to really grip muddy and slick surfaces, and the protected upper helps to keep your feet protected and dry when splashing through puddles.

The heightened cushioning in the midsole is also a great option for runners that feel that there is no such thing as too much cushioning. The ultra-thick BioMoGo DNA midsole provides a good deal of cushioning as well as step-in comfort. The only downside to the thick midsole is that you lose a lot of ground feel due to the overall bulk of this design. While it is super-cushioned and supportive, the high weight and overall bulk of this design are not ideal for shaving seconds off of your overall time.

FIT

Brooks really nailed the overall fit of this design. Many users found that this shoe fits true to size. If you are a size 9 in any other Brooks shoes, the same will be true for the Caldera 5. For those that are new to Brooks shoes, be sure that you try them on before you buy them! If you can’t make it to your local shoe store, be sure to take ample measurements of your feet and compare them to their detailed sizing chart to ensure that you save yourself a trip to the return counter.

There are a few features found on this shoe that gives this shoe a real edge over the competition as far as the fit is concerned. First of all, it has a large toe box that allows your feet to naturally splay inside of the shoe for added stability and support. It also prevents your toe from jamming at the end of the shoe, which makes it ideal for long distances. The midfoot Ghillies also help runners lace these shoes up to fit snugly in the forefoot to help craft that perfect fit that feels locked down and secure.

STYLE

The style of Brooks shoes is pretty plain and simple across the board, and that still rings true with the Caldera 5. If you were to look up a photo of a running shoe in the dictionary, you will likely find a Brooks running shoe. While the style is fairly simple, it is important to note that this trail runner is a little bigger and bulkier than other Brooks’ running shoes. In fact, the thick and chunky midsole makes this shoe look a little like a Hoka stability shoe.

I do like, however, that this shoe comes in a variety of unique color options that are bound to get you noticed out on the trails.

PRICE

The Brooks Caldera 5 isn’t exactly a budget-friendly running shoe. It boasts a price tag that is slightly higher than your average trail runner, but not by much. The higher price point may seem a bit intimidating at first, but the overall construction of this shoe makes it well worth the higher price tag.

The ultra-thick and durable midsole is able to tackle hundreds of miles before it starts to show any signs of wear and tear, and the same thing can also be said about the TrailTrack rubber outsole.
Comparisons to Previous Versions

Comparisons to Previous Versions

Many of the performance features found in the Brooks Caldera 5 can also be found in previous versions of this shoe. Older options still boast the BioMoGo DNA midsole and Trailtack rubber outsole that really shines out on the trails. The biggest change made to this latest model, however, is the construction of the upper.

The Caldera 5 boasts midfoot Ghillies that help you really craft a lockdown that is unique to your foot. It also boasts more cushioning in the heel collar and tongue for a more comfortable fit that is made for long distances. The newest edition also provides more synthetic overlays to protect your feet, as well as keep them nice and dry when running in soggy weather conditions.
Verdict

Verdict

The Brooks Caldera 5 is an all-terrain running shoe, but it is also an all-weather running shoe as well. What I love most about this trail runner is that it boasts a super thick layer of Brooks’ proprietary BioMoGo DNA cushioning that walks that line between responsiveness and cushioning. The tacky rubber outsole does a great job of really sticking to the trails, and giving you an added layer of confidence even when the trail is pretty slick and muddy.

The downside to this shoe is that it can feel pretty heavy and bulky, and you will lose a good deal of ground feel while running in this shoe. These downsides aren’t dealbreakers, but they are certainly worth noting.