Article by Jeff Valliere and Mike Postaski
Brooks Caldera 6 ($150)
Jeff V: I have reviewed every Caldera from the first version and the Caldera 6 is by far the best yet. The Caldera is slotted as the moderate terrain and door to trail option between the more race and agile focused Catamount (RTR Review) and the more technical terrain Cascadia 16 (RTR Review).
Brooks has given the Caldera a complete rebuild from the ground up, on a wider platform, with a slightly more aggressive outsole, more lively Loft v3 foam midsole with rockered shape and a newly designed upper.
While the Caldera 6 has gained a bit of weight, it still feels light on the foot and lighter than expected, all things considered. It is hands down one of the best maximal options out there for long distance running or just day to day training of any distance. Please read on.
Mike P: In my initial trail running days I went through a couple pairs of the 1st Calderas. This new version is so far removed from those, that there’s not much use in comparing. I also tried on versions 3-5 in store over the years, but never really liked the fit and feel. They always felt like they had a bit of a “teeter” to them – as if you stepped on a rock, they would be prone to roll in any direction. The new V6 is a pretty “big” departure from previous versions..
Truly bottomless cushion, and protection with noticed, lively, supercritical foam spring Sam/Mike P/Jeff V
Excellent road manners Sam/Mike P/Jeff V
Extremely broad and stable Sam/Jeff V
Nice final rocker roll to toe off Sam/Mike P/Jeff V
Lots of volume in upper – designed for long distance Mike P/Jeff V
Useful extra features – gaiter attachment points, lace loop Mike P
Fast! Jeff V
Surprisingly heavy but run lighter than weight Sam/Mike P
A bit less supportive under arch, medial side Mike P
Very wide platform – need to be aware of foot placement in technical terrain Mike P/Jeff V
Foothold in technical terrain (though will concede the Caldera is not intended as such) Jeff V
A moment of inattention could precipitate a big ankle roll Jeff V/Mike P
Jeff Valliere runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT’s.
Mike Postaski Born and raised in New Jersey, recently moved to Boise, ID in 2019, mainly to have better and easier access to outdoor adventure. I have no formal running training, have never run on a team at any level, and can count the times I’ve run on a track on one hand. I actually grew up inline speed skating – both indoor short track as well as roads. Picking up running in my early 30s, starting on roads, progressing to marathons (PR 2:40, Boise 2019), eventually I discovered trails. I love going fast and running all distances, but I especially love long mountain ultras. My three 100 milers so far have all been in the 25k vert range. I also enjoy the challenge of looped/timed trail races, and even the backyard ultra format. I am definitely a gear junkie – I have gone through more running vests than I can remember, and my trail running shoe collection currently sits at 38 pairs (all tracked via spreadsheet)! My wife does not appreciate this.
Weight: men’s 11.15 oz / 316 g (US9)
Samples: men’s 11.15 oz / 316 g (US9), 11.3 oz / 320 g (US9.5),11.6 oz / 329 g (US10)
Stack Height: men’s 35 mm heel / 29 mm forefoot, 6mm drop
Available July 2022
First Impressions and Fit
Jeff V: I am initially struck by the increased size/bulk of the shoe and the pronounced midsole sidewalls. I immediately thought that the Caldera was a competitor to the Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review) and I immediately lined them up side by side, but the Caldera 6 even dwarfs them although by spec the Caldera is only 2mm higher at the heel with the same forefoot stack yet weighs a considerable 1.4 oz more.
The next bump in comparative sizes would be the Stinson ATR 6 (RTR Review) and the two are very close in size, width, stack height and weight with the Stinson having 2mm heel stack and 3mm forefoot while weighing 0.5 oz more.
Despite the size and weight though, they do not feel heavy and in fact feel deceptively light in the hand and especially on the foot. The fit of the shoe has expanded over the 5, which is overall a good thing, though take on that will vary depending on your foot and terrain preference. I find fit to be true to size and roomy for my thin, low volume foot, not excessive, and is welcome given the purpose of this shoe, to run all day comfortably. Foothold is very adequate for running on non technical terrain, to moderately technical terrain and even is good on technical trails with some finesse, but when running fast on steep technical trails, rock hopping, steep off trail or off camber side hilling, then I can definitely exceed my security comfort zone. But, of course if you want better all mountain, off trail, technical performance, you should be looking at the Cascadia 16 (RTR Review) instead.
Mike P: Similar to Jeff V – first impression is definitely the sheer size and bulk of the shoe. The midsole foam layer just looks massive (though it does wrap up around the sides of the foot). The base of the shoe also looks massively wide – it doesn’t really taper in/out in any areas either.
It’s just one big, broad landing platform – this can be either a very good thing, or a very bad thing – depending on your preferences, running style, and very importantly – terrain.
I was happy to find plenty of volume in the upper when I first tried them on. The toebox rounds out nicely in front. This is an improvement over previous versions, which I thought tapered too sharply for an all-day shoe. Sizing is true-to-size by length, with I’d say with a bit of leeway width-wise to accommodate wider feet, or varying sock thickness.
Mike P: As described above, I really like and appreciate the volume in the upper – especially for an “all-day” oriented shoe. There’s good width in the forefoot, and they’re not pointy. Properly sized, you should have no issue with big toe or pinky-side pressure. Some may feel they are a bit too voluminous, but these are really not intended for your short/fast/technical outings.
The gusseted tongue is great- well padded, and the wrap/lacing holds the foot well. There are some simple and effective additional features – front and rear gaiter attachments, as well as a lace loop.
[Front gaiter attachment integrated into upper, plus lace loop]
I just have a couple of minor cons- First, is that they could perhaps be a bit loose in the heel. It could be an issue for those with narrow heels, but otherwise can be adjusted with heel-padded socks. Second, the BioMoGo insole is perhaps dated, and in my experience prone to packing down. A lot of companies have been upping their insole game lately- Brooks just stuck with their standard here. I’d like to see a newer material, perhaps integrate DNA Loft V2 or something similar – as done in the new Saucony Peregrine 12.
Jeff V: I find the engineered mesh upper to be very roomy and comfortable, wide in the toe box, yet contains my narrow, low volume foot well for most running on non technical to moderate terrain and only wavers when pushing in more technical terrain. Midfoot fit will accommodate a wide range of feet, with plenty of expansion, though for my narrow feet, I need to work the laces a bit to achieve adequate foothold, yet be careful not to snug too much and squeeze my foot.
Heel hold is good for me and I find the heel collar/counter to be comfortable and well structured.
I have not had the opportunity to run in hot or even warm weather, but predict that breathability will be very good. The gusseted tongue is exceptionally comfortable and adequately protected. Overall the upper is very comfortable, friendly and foot conforming.
Mike P: Lots of foam. The Loft V3 supercritical, nitrogen infused EVA cushioning (previously found in the Aurora-BL and in July Glycerin 20 road shoes) feels deep, but also quite responsive, definitely springy and not mushy. I agree wholeheartedly with Jeff that they run much lighter than their weight. I found them especially fast on smoother descents as that amount of protection and response really lets you bomb downhill.
[The bottom of your foot sits around the top edge of the dimpled section]
For me, the underfoot feel does seem a bit weird, almost as if there are some “empty” spots underfoot, especially around the arch area/medial side. It almost feels like a “natural” footbed setup, but in a big stack shoe? I wished they would be a bit more contoured underfoot. The foam does compress on landing, so at times I did find some ankle irritation due to lack of support on the medial side. I have a little bit more pronation in my right ankle, so I usually can tell differences in support by how my left vs. right ankles feel. I added a small foam insert in the right shoe under the arch area and this helped a bit.
Jeff V: The Loft v3 midsole is very impressive with a very light and airy feel that is not at all dense feeling and much more springy and responsive than Loft v2 (or just about any other trail shoe midsole).
The stack here looks and feels massive, with bottomless cushioning, a soft and compliant feel, but not the least bit mushy or sluggish feeling. In fact, the Loft v3 feels very responsive and energetic, making the Caldera 6 run relatively fast for a shoe of this size and weight. As I mentioned earlier, but Caldera 6 feels much lighter than the weight on the scale would imply and I credit this almost entirely to the Loft v3 midsole.
Mike P: The outsole is working well so far on dry, mixed dirt. The lugs are not deep, so I wouldn’t expect great performance in muddy or loose rock conditions. Also with their relative flatness, and even pattern, they do run quite smoothly on road sections. In comparison to my original Calderas, durability is greatly improved. I haven’t noticed much abrasion over my 40+ miles of testing so far. The rubber is almost full coverage, and in conjunction with the thick midsole – most, if not all rock impacts are blunted.
[Segmented outsole at rear – to mitigate off-camber landings on super-wide base]
Of note – at the rear of the shoe, the outsole is segmented into two separate “tail” sections which are not connected by rubber. Surely this design is to provide some lateral flexibility in the rear of the shoe to help offset the super-wide platform of the shoe. In my first few runs I noticed a few unexpected ankle rolls as I was catching the outside edges of the shoe unexpectedly. Brooks tried to segment the tail of the shoe a bit here to provide a bit more “give” in these cases.
Jeff V: The Trailtack outsole of the Caldera 6 has more aggressive lugs, more trail oriented and worthy of technical terrain than the previous versions. While not the most aggressive outsole on the market, I find the Caldera 6 to offer very well rounded traction over a variety of terrain, from door to trail, smooth trails, rough trails, are reasonably competent off trail, decent in the snow and OK in the mud (but not the ideal choice). So far durability seems to be very good and I see this shoe lasting a long time.
Mike P: The ride is very smooth on moderate terrain. The toe rocker is very noticeable when walking around in the shoe, and definitely helps move the shoe along on the run. The springiness of the midsole provides a plate-like effect – i.e. you don’t have to push through the flex of the shoe. The spring from the midsole works with the rocker upfront to eliminate any mushiness that you might expect in the middle of your stride with such a deep cushion.
For me these are a great pick for any kind of cruiser days whether they be recovery days, easy mileage, or long runs. They are an absolute downhill cruiser. They absolutely devour smooth dirt, gravel paths, and fire roads. If you like the fit and feel, and you can manage the wide platform, these could absolutely work as a 100M race shoe. Personally, I find the platform a bit too wide for my taste, and for the technicality of the longer races I usually run.
Jeff V: As Mike says, smoothness is the name of the game here, as the Caldera 6 is so well cushioned with the Loft v3, yet not the least bit mushy, is very airy, light feeling and has very good response, fast in fact! The Caldera 6 has an equally good ride whether hiking, easy jogging, running fast, running roads, door to trail, long distance, short distance etc…., the ride here will satisfy just about everyone.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Jeff V: The Caldera 6 received a remarkable and complete makeover, improving upon what was one of my favorite shoes from last year. They have an upper that will please a wider variety of feet and provide more room for longer runs, while still maintaining good foothold, with lighter, more responsive cushioning and improved traction, the Caldera 6 carries on the tradition of its predecessors, just doing it better. I would recommend the Caldera 6 for just about anything. They are a great choice for a daily trainer on easy to moderate trails, an ultra distance 100 mile sort of shoe, door to trail, long downhills, faster paces, slower paces, roads and are even competent for shorter bits of technical trail or off trail (though foothold can waver if really pushed).
I am tempted to dock some points for the increased weight of the shoe, but since they feel light, run light and offer so much cushion and performance, I can’t really complain. In fact, on a recent morning where I was feeling good, I was able to set a PR and 6th overall on a local 5.6 mile/1,228 vert ft. Strava segment that started with a smooth dirt road climb, then a very steep, rocky, technical ascent, followed by a long, fast, buttery smooth and flowy singletrack descent (with some snow, ice and mud thrown in toward the end). The Caldera 6 felt very responsive on the climb and just flawless on the downhill, with excellent foothold, control, liveliness and bottomless cushion.
My only caveat would be the overall size and bulk of the shoe. While the Caldera 6 provides enough cushion to steamroll over rough terrain, it takes a little bit of finesse to maneuver them through rocky, technical terrain and keen attention to the size of the shoe (like the added awareness needed for driving a big truck through narrow city streets). On my PR run above, I did mis-land once on a rock and rolled my ankle pretty big, something that I almost never do, but was fortunately able to recover quickly. This is one of my favorite trail shoes and is a jack of all trades, runs pretty well on the road and would recommend them for just about anyone.
Jeff’s Score: 9.4/10
Ride: 10 – very smooth, cushioned and responsive
Fit: 9 – will accommodate a wide range of feet and allow for long distance comfort/room
Value: 9 – $150 is in line with the competition and I believe the Caldera 6 offers a lot of performance and will last a long time.
Style: 9 – Not entirely fond of the look of the neon yellow, but looks much better in some of the other colorways (at least for a very maximal looking shoe).
Traction: 9 – versatile/well rounded traction is very much in line with the versatile intent of the Caldera 6
Rock Protection: 10 – with so much cushion, I never have felt a poke or prod from below
Mike P: I agree with pretty much all of Jeff V’s conclusions. I haven’t had a chance to run them in as much technical terrain, but Jeff V’s descriptions above are exactly what I would expect. Especially the analogy of driving a big truck through narrow city streets (I recently started driving an F-150). A great all-around shoe, leaning more towards moderate terrain but for any distance or duration. The limiting factor for technical terrain for sure would be the width of the platform. Brooks does try to address this with the tail segmentation, but there’s only so much you can do with that kind of width.
For previous version Caldera fans – the volume is more accommodating and comfortable, while at the same time the upper design lets you lock in as much as you need. The springy cushion, toe rocker, and wide platform also provides a much more stable “forward oriented” ride.
Brooks clearly took a big step forward with this version of the Caldera. But I feel like there’s room for refinement. The goal and challenge would be to maintain the feel and energy of the Loft V3 foam, but somehow stabilize it so you don’t need to rely on such an extremely wide platform.
Mike P’s Score: 9.3/10
Ride: 9 – One point off for having to be careful on super-wide platform, otherwise great
Fit: 9.5 – Slight extra volume in the heel, but otherwise great
Value: 9 – Will last a long time for $150, versatility may be limited (perhaps a bit too much shoe for shorter outings, too wide for technical terrain)
Style: 10 – Subjective – but I love the bold, moon shoe look. With this stack, why not?
Traction: 9 – Works well on intended moderate terrain. Look elsewhere for tech/loose/muddy
Rock Protection: 10 – Little if anything makes it through outsole/midsole
Index to all RTR reviews: HERE
Brooks Caldera 5 vs. Brooks Caldera 6 (RTR Review)
Jeff V: The 5 is a superb shoe, one of my favorites last year, but the 6 is an overall improvement, with the more airy and responsive Loft v3 midsole, improved traction and many will appreciate the more accommodating upper of the 6. The 6 is a larger, more bulky shoe however, with not quite as secure foothold, which could be a deciding factor for some.
Caldera (Previous versions)
Mike P (9.5): For me this is the best fitting of all the Calderas. The upper has more volume, especially at the front of the toebox. At the same time the well wrapping tongue and lacing system allows you to lock in pretty well. I suspect the fit of the V6 will work well for most runners. Even though I didn’t run in the latest versions, V6 feels more stable laterally – at least on level ground or moderate terrain. Caution is advised on uneven or technical terrain due to the extreme width of the platform.
Hoka Speedgoat 5 (RTR Review) and EVO Speedgoat (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: The Speedgoat 5 is a smaller, more nimble shoe if you can believe it, with better foothold and traction. The Speedgoat is actually quite a bit lighter at 9.75 oz vs 11.15 oz but with similarly good cushioning under foot. I think those looking to really spread out on longer, less technical runs would appreciate the Caldera 6, where the Speedgoat would be preferred for more tech terrain.
Mike P (10.0): I have recently run in SG4 and EVO Speedgoat. Both Hokas are definitely more suited to technical terrain. The SG4 really straps your foot down, while the EVO SG is somewhat secure, but less so than the SG4. Both Hokas also feature wide platforms, but I checked and the Calderas are still even wider. I’d say the Caldera has a bit more of a bouncy feeling ride, but both SGs are lighter and faster overall. If the roomier fit of the Caldera suits you, I’d say it would be a tossup between the Brooks and the Hokas on more moderate terrain.
Hoka Stinson ATR 6 (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: Probably the closest comparison given size/weight/stack, but the Caldera 6 feels much more airy, light, responsive and agile, where I find the Stinson to feel a bit bulky.
Brooks Catamount (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: The Catamount and the Caldera 6 share brand name and logo, but beyond that, they are completely different beasts. The Catamount is much lighter, has more snap at toe off and is a much more streamlined shoe for higher speeds. That said, the Caldera 6 is no slouch and has much more plush cushion vs. the more firm ride of the Catamount. I found the Catamount to be lacking a bit in foothold and traction, where the Caldera 6 outperforms it in both. Would LOVE to see Loft v3 brought over to the Catamount, with a more secure upper and perhaps a bit better traction.
Cascadia 16 (RTR Review). vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: The Cascadia 16 is not quite as plush, but still has a very well cushioned midsole that is reasonably responsive, has a more secure upper and aggressive outsole that helps the Cascadia 16 to excel on more rugged trails and off trail.
Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G300 Max (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Mike P (10.0): The Trailflys are significantly heavier at 12.8 oz, and that weight is felt on the run, whereas the Calderas run lighter than their 11.3 oz in my size 9.5. The Trailflys also have a wide platform, yet for me they worked very well in technical terrain – that Adaptaflex cutout in the midsole really does work. Hopefully Inov-8 can incorporate that into more reasonably weighted shoes. Overall the Trailfly were much too heavy for running, and the Calderas are much more versatile and enjoyable.
Scarpa Spin Infinity (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: Both close in weight and intended purpose (long distance), but the Caldera 6 has a more deeply cushioned midsole, has a lighter and more responsive feel and a roomier more forgiving upper/toe box. The Spin Infinity however is more agile/maneuverable and more adept on technical terrain.
Mike P (10.5): I leave it to Jeff V to compare the running characteristics. The fit of the Infinity just did not work for me at all, and I had to give up on them after a few short runs. I was oversized in a 10.5, but they still squeezed my forefoot uncomfortably if I even remotely tightened the laces. The fit of the Caldera at the forefoot works much better for me. The difference as far as I can tell is that the Caldera upper wraps around and over the top of the forefoot, whereas the Infinity relies on overlays to squeeze the foot from the sides.
Nike Pegasus Trail 3 (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: Both are extraordinarily comfortable for long distance, well cushioned with accommodating uppers, are about the same weight, but the Caldera 6 have a much more lively feel, feel lighter and are much more responsive.
Saucony Xodus 11 or 10 (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: Again, very close in weight, but the v3 Loft is superior in performance. Both are great door to trail options, though the Xodus is better over more technical terrain, with better tread, foothold and stability, where the Caldera 6 would be my pick for moving faster and or longer distances, but on less technical terrain.
Mike P (10.0): Jeff V outlines the two main differences. Brooks Loft V3 foam is much livelier and more energetic than the PWRRUN flavor of the Xodus. The Xodus does have a more secure fit and works much better in technical terrain. I’ll add one more point – when the Xodus 10 first came out, it seemingly ran lighter than its weight. But now compared to some of the newer foams, and especially Loft V3, those Xodus 10’s don’t feel so light anymore in comparison.
North Face Vectiv Enduris vs. Brooks Caldera 6 (RTR Review)
Jeff V: Both have a bit of a rockered design, but again, the Caldera 6 reigns supreme with superior midsole, more accommodating upper and a more lively ride.
Salomon Ultraglide (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Jeff V: A very close comparison, the Ultraglide is lighter by about an ounce, is smaller overall and more agile, but I still find the Loft v3 midsole to be superior.
Adidas Terrex Agravic Ultra (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Mike P (9.5): The adidas features a carbon plate as well as a slight toe rocker up front. The plate provides much of the impulse, whereas the Brooks relies on a combination of energy from the Loft V3 midsole and a more pronounced toe rocker. The adidas features deeper lugs, as well as a narrower platform, and is more suited towards technical terrain. The Adidas can feel overbuilt in more moderate terrain, where the Caldera shines. The adidas is unfortunately plagued by a very stiff and uncomfortable ankle/achilles collar. The Caldera upper wins by far in terms of comfort.
Asics Trabuco 9 (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Mike P (10.0): The T9 is slightly lighter and more versatile over a wider range of terrain. I find it well suited to longer distances in terrain more technical than the Caldera can handle. Clear win for the T9 in the traction department – Asics Grip is great. The Caldera would work better over longer distances on moderate terrain as the livelier response and toe rocker would probably be more efficient. T9 is wider at the forefoot, but the Caldera is just fine as well. T9 upper is somewhat dated though – I wish I could transplant the Caldera upper onto the T9.
Asics Trabuco Max (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Mike P (10.0): The Trabuco Max is more similar to the Caldera than the regular Trabuco 9. The Max features a bigger stack as well as a purely rocker-based design. Again the Max’s Asics Grip wins in the traction dept., but again, the Asics upper is dated and quite confining up front. The Max does not work well in technical terrain due to the stiffness of the rocker design. In moderate terrain it would come down to personal preference – the big rocker of the Asics vs. the livelier foam + toe rocker of the Brooks. For me, and likely for most, the tie breaker would be the much more comfortable upper of the Brooks. Again, I wish I could transplant the Caldera upper onto the Trabuco Max.
Hoka Mafate Speed 3 (RTR Review) vs. Brooks Caldera 6
Mike P (9.5): This is a shoe I recently dusted off and I’m really digging right now. The Hoka is stiffer with a bit of toe rocker, and the foam doesn’t feel as light and dynamic as the Brooks. But the shoe is flat-out fast for a high stack shoe. The MS3 platform is narrower than the Caldera’s which I prefer. For me this allows much more versatility in technical terrain, even though it can feel somewhat stiff. I love the MS3 upper as well – it is less bulky than the Brooks and provides an extremely secure fit. Overall, the Mafate Speed 3 is a top pick for me and I prefer it hands down. I can see some preferring the Caldera for its lively and more “cush” feel though.
The Caldera 6 is expected to release July 2022
Tested samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and currently preferred shoes
RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
Join RRS VIP
Use RTR code RTRTOP4 for 5% off all products, even sale products
FREE Shipping on orders over 99€,, 30 days return policy, no questions asked.
FREE Shipping on most orders over $40
WATCH OUR YOUTUBE REVIEWS ON THE ROADTRAILRUN CHANNEL
Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun