I must tell you guys an honest truth; I have been running, and hiking in the Brooks Caldera since they had the “lace garage”. I may have been a bit bitter when Brooks took away the lace garage (a way to tuck your laces so they wouldn’t snag on branches), but I have still stayed loyal to this shoe.
I have hiked Manchu Pichu in the Caldera, climbed the Manitou Springs Incline, hiked various trails in several national parks like Arches National Park, Rocky Mountain, and ran the Yellowstone Half Marathon. This is my “go to” shoe when I run in our Missouri winter snows as the tacky bottom helps keep traction. It has always been a trusty partner at home, and on trips.
I had to!
When I heard that Brooks was making updates, I was the first to raise my hand to test run this shoe. The manager of the TRWS blogs has been asking me for a while to write the review but I don’t typically trail run in Missouri’s summers due to the snakes, poison ivy and ticks. Since I had a trip to New Mexico I thought I would give them a shot on the mountain trails of Santa Fe, where all I have to worry about is getting lost and mountain lions…
On my New Mexico mountain trail (hike) I immediately noticed the differences in the shoe from the Caldera 5 to the 6. First off let’s just take a moment to recognize the new midsole (the cushioning system in the shoe). The new Caldera 6 is constructed with Brook’s DNA Loft v3 foam. DNA Loft V3 can’t even be compared to the DNA Loft V2 found in the previous Caldera. This new, nitrogen-infused midsole first appeared in the Brooks’ Aurora- BL in 2021 and is featured in the new Glycerin 20. It’s lighter and bouncier and it’s instantly one of the most fun foams available, especially in the trail world. The bouncier midfoam does a great job of keeping your legs fresh while absorbing the impact of tough terrain.
While we talk about rough terrain it should be noted that Brooks completely redesigned the outsole as well. The main difference is in the lug pattern and structure underfoot. The lugs on the Caldera 6 are bigger overall than the previous version and contain a combination of both hard and soft terrain lugs. Brooks also split the outsole heel, which is supposed to make the landing smoother, especially on uneven terrain. The rubber is what Brooks calls TrailTack, and is perfect for both wet and dry conditions (read, great for snowy, sloppy and sloshy days). The base of the shoe is also wider, making it a more stable platform on the trails.
The Extra We Don’t Want
What I didn’t notice while running in my new Caldera 6 but will notice at the end of the month: The price has increased from $140 to $150. That extra $10 gets you get that sweet, sweet bounce from the DNA loft V3, which I personally think is worth the extra $10.
Who This Shoe Is Good For:
This shoe is great for those who are running on sloppy wintery weather. The upper will help repel water and keep your feet dry, is water resistant and the lugs underfoot will give you a little more traction than a traditional running shoe. It is great for runners who are covering long miles as the DNA Loft V3 is soft, bouncy, and great for fresher legs as you train. I recommended this shoe to my aunt and uncle, who are traveling across country and plan on hiking many of the great parks of the west. I am confident it will give them a secure grip and the wider base will feel comfortable on a longer hike.
Who This Shoe Is Not For:
As I hiked up towards the top of the mountain in New Mexico the trail got more challenging with loose soil underfoot, sharp inclines and a narrow trail. With the thick midsole and the wide base, I did not feel as secure underfoot as I would like, especially as a solo hiker. I think this shoe is fantastic for basic trails, but when you start dealing with more complex single-track trails, I would prefer a lower stack height for more control.
Now for the SPECS:
- Price: $149.95
- Weight: 9.9oz
- Drop: 6 mm
- Use: Trail
- Category: Neutral
- Surface: Trail
Shop Caldera 6
About TRWS GURU Kathy
Kathy started running in 2005 after getting her first corporate job past college and gaining weight. Her admin at the time suggested she run her first 5k, which Kathy trained for 10 months in preparation. Having a career in advertising and traveling frequently, Kathy discovered that running was a great way to stay fit and see all the cities she was visiting. Kathy loves destination races having traveled as far as Australia for a marathon, and locally Chicago, New Jersey, Arizona and pictured here at her half Ironman in Indiana.
Not certain if this shoe is right for you?
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