The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Brooks Caldera 2 - Women's Review

This trail runner provides an average level of performance all-around.
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Price:  $140 List | $109.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Cute, versatile, lightweight, great all-around use
Cons:  Expensive, potential wear and tear issues, lacks an aggressive tread
Manufacturer:   Brooks
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 9, 2018
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 15
  • Foot protection - 30% 6
  • Traction - 20% 6
  • Stability - 15% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Sensitivity - 10% 6

The Skinny

The Brooks Caldera 2 will keep you comfortable and your legs fresh for miles upon miles. This low-profile shoe features a 4-mm drop with 28mm of responsive cushioning in the heel. While it doesn't boast a rock plate, the midsole provides great protection from potential hazards as you bust your butt. The tread is super sticky and grips well to rocks, but it's not the most aggressive outsole out there making it a great option for crossing over from roads to trail. While we like this shoe, we noted some early wear and tear issues when water was involved on a hiking trip, and we think the price is a little high for its level of performance. Aside from these caveats, its an average lightweight trail runner.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Brooks Caldera 2 is a great all-around, but average, trail running shoe. Take it from the roads to the trails in lightweight comfort and style.

Performance Comparison


The Brooks Caldera is an all-terrain trail runner that tackles all types of trails. This less protective option has a few durability issues that we observed early in its use.
The Brooks Caldera is an all-terrain trail runner that tackles all types of trails. This less protective option has a few durability issues that we observed early in its use.

Foot Protection


With an uber-cushioned midsole and reinforced toe cap, this shoe provides average protection from unexpected roots and rocks on the trail. While it doesn't have a stone guard, the 24mm of cushioning in the forefoot and the 28mm of cushioning in the heel is ample enough to provide an additional barrier from the trail. While the toe cap isn't the burliest we've seen, it does the trick to prevent unsuspected stubs.

The toe cap provides some protection from stubs and bumps  but it's not as protective as others out there.
The toe cap provides some protection from stubs and bumps, but it's not as protective as others out there.

In addition, the super breathable mesh upper keeps out most particulates with the exception of super fine sand. We took this shoe on a hiking mission through several desert canyons, and while hiking in the Grand Canyon.

The gaiter trap is helpful to add additional protection.
The gaiter trap is helpful to add additional protection.

After our hikes, we noted some sand inside the shoe…but not much. Overall, it offers all the protection expected from any trail runner. However, it's not the most protective option out there.

The mesh is pretty nice and breathable  offering a decent level of protection overall.
The mesh is pretty nice and breathable, offering a decent level of protection overall.

Traction


With a less aggressive, sticky tread this trail runner is perfect for getting out the door and onto your favorite trail. We tested traction over a variety of surfaces to include sand, choss, single-track, gravel, pavement and more. We even took it on super technical trails. In most of them, it did well with the exception of super steep and loose terrain. This is due to the make-up of the outsole.

The outsole is sticky but does not feature the most aggressive tread. We found ourselves slipping on surfaces like sand over slabs.
The outsole is sticky but does not feature the most aggressive tread. We found ourselves slipping on surfaces like sand over slabs.

The lugs are not very tall (3mm), but come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each sits in a different direction, facilitating a little extra bite when the trail begins to tilt upwards (or downwards).

The lugs are multi-directional providing stability and traction in all directions.
The lugs are multi-directional providing stability and traction in all directions.

The rubber is sticky, yet pliable, molding to roots and rocks. Unfortunately, the durability of the lugs isn't great as we noticed that the lugs wore down after a few short runs. Overall, it performed well on a plethora of surfaces with the exception of wet rocks, tough mud, and gravel over rock.


Stability


For a shoe with a higher stack height than most (28mm in the heel), it is surprisingly stable. When hiking over trails littered with stray rocks and roots (perfect heel turning country), we are happy to report that we still felt nimble and close to the ground. While this shoe doesn't have any fancy stability features like a TPU harness or nylon shanks embedded into the sole, the stability comes in the form of the shoe flexibility and its low profile design (only 4mm drop).

The upper system completely wraps the foot for a stable ride.
The upper system completely wraps the foot for a stable ride.

The upper and BioMoGo DNA midsole material is fairly flexible, molding effortlessly around obstacles so the foot can adjust for balance and forward motion. If you're in the market for a shoe that is most stable out there, this is not the best option. However, if you're looking for a shoe with an average level of stability, it fits the bill.

The Brooks Caldera 2 provides great stability while running in Arizona.
The Brooks Caldera 2 provides great stability while running in Arizona.

Comfort & Fit


Providing great comfort and long-term wear on the trail, this shoe is great for your daily run. The padding is plush and responsive, but not too soft. The upper is nice, flexible, and thin providing ample breathability. This allows the shoe to bend where necessary without any weird friction points or hot spots.

The upper is thin  soft  and comfortable around the ankles and on your toes while you run.
The upper is thin, soft, and comfortable around the ankles and on your toes while you run.

In terms of fit, we found that it runs true to size and has ample room in the toe box. Some super wide footed people have said that the toe box feels small, but those with a narrow to medium width foot found that it was just fine. The lacing system locks the foot into place and the heel is nice and snug.

The fit is versatile  fitting narrow to wide-footed runners alike.
The fit is versatile, fitting narrow to wide-footed runners alike.

There is no slippage will traveling up or downhill, and our testers thought that sizing was quite versatile. That said, it's always important to try on a shoe. While this isn't the most comfortable shoe out there because it doesn't boast huge amounts of responsive cushioning, it is certainly nice to wear for long days on the trail.

The padded collar provides additional cushioning that we thought was both protective and comfortable.
The padded collar provides additional cushioning that we thought was both protective and comfortable.

Weight


This trail shoe is lightweight and no frills. Weighing in at just 8.55oz (size nine), this is one of the lighter shoes we've tested in this review. However, because it absorbs lots of water (5.1oz) when wet, it earns just a six out of ten.

Here we test the shoes ability to wick away water in a slot canyon in Arizona  downriver of the Hoover Dam.
Here we test the shoes ability to wick away water in a slot canyon in Arizona, downriver of the Hoover Dam.

When hiking in Arizona, we took this shoe canyoneering where it was exposed to little streams and dry sand. In these experiences, after the shoe was out of the water, it dried out quickly. As a result, we would recommend this shoe for long days on the trail, foot races, or for stream crossings. Overall, we like how we feel like we can fly on the trail with it on.

Sensitivity


While this trail treader features ample cushioning, we are surprised by the amount of sensitivity offered. When running down over loose rocks and roots, we were able to feel most through the bottom of the shoe, shifting and repositioning ourselves along the way. Without a rock plate and aggressive lugs on the tread, feeling the trail isn't too tough. It earns just a six out of ten.

Best Applications


The Brooks Caldera 2 is an all-terrain warrior that is perfect for getting from your front door to the trail. While it can certainly handle technical terrain, it's not the best option out there for super steep and loose terrain as the outsole isn't exceptionally aggressive. Other than that, take it anywhere you wish…from one mile to twenty!

Here we test traction and stability on uneven surfaces. The Caldera 2 does fine on this choss field.
Here we test traction and stability on uneven surfaces. The Caldera 2 does fine on this choss field.

Value


Retailing for $140, this is a more expensive trail shoe with lower comparative performance. There are higher quality shoes for less on the market today. In addition, after just one hiking trip, we noticed wear and tear to the upper which makes us a little concerned about potential wear and tear issues. Overall, this is a nice shoe, but we worry a little about durability and its high price.

The price of this shoe is high! Here we observe wear and tear after just one hike! We are a little disappointed with the durability of this upper.
The price of this shoe is high! Here we observe wear and tear after just one hike! We are a little disappointed with the durability of this upper.

Conclusion


The Brooks Caldera 2 is a wonderful all-around wear trail shoe. It's great for hiking, trail running, and even running errands around town. It does well on all types of trails and roads boasting a comfortable and lightweight fit. Although this isn't the highest scoring product in this review, it certainly embodies everything you'd expect in a solid trail runner.


Amber King