Brooks Caldera 5 Review Analysis (2021)
Last update: July 2022
The Brooks Caldera 5 is a comfortable high-stack trail running shoe for long distances.
First things first: runners had quite a few thoughts about the C5’s midsole. As with other Brooks models, this latest is engineered with BioMoGo technology, prioritizing shock absorption over pop. However, users noted that this particular midsole wasn’t as harsh as previous models. The mono-loop engineered upper has significantly improved from previous Caldera models, with a more dialed and precise toe box fit. Its laces enable above-average foot security, and the toe box remains wide enough to accommodate most types of feet. However, some runners noted that the forefoot fit was a bit more tricky than in the past. Lastly, the TrailTack outsole tackles a range of surfaces, despite its lugs’ low and narrow profile. It’s thriving on flat and technical terrain alike. However, a few trail runners note that the Caldera 5 may not be the best option for highly technical landscapes, especially soft ground like mud.
As with most shoes, the Caldera 5 isn’t perfect. One area it falls short is stability: the high stack height combined with a somewhat narrow profile makes the heel feel a bit unstable at times, according to some runners. The Brooks Caldera 5 also loses points on its BioMoGo midsole, which doesn’t contribute to a fast or responsive ride. The weight doesn’t help either: with a weight of 10.6 oz (301 g), it’s undoubtedly no feather. Also, the shoe as a whole seems to require a more extended break-in period than previous models.
Ultimately, the Caldera 5 is a reliable Brooks trail option for runners interested in comfortably tackling long distances on moderately technical terrains. Available for a standard price point for a shoe of this caliber, the C5 is good value for money!
- Good overall comfort
- Effective cushioning
- Great grip on most terrains
- Good protection from rocks
- Versatile shoe
- Forefoot fit tricky according to some runners
- Not so stable on very technical terrains
- TrailTack: a sturdy rubber-based outsole that gives an effective grip on uneven trail surfaces.
- The lugs maximize grip on trail terrains to tackle the most difficult conditions. Those rubber elements are multidirectional with an aggressive design.
- The midsole uses BioMoGo DNA, the flagship foam from Brooks. It’s resilient, soft, created using recycled materials, and it equips the entire length of the shoe.
- The Brooks Caldera 5’s upper is an engineered mesh that comfortably and safely locks in the foot in the shoe while offering airflow, especially in warm seasons.
- The TPU Toe Bumper shields the forefoot from potentially harmful shocks on the trail terrains.
- The Mud Guard protects the foot from mud, water, pebbles and other debris. It also maximizes the robustness of the shoe to keep it in good shape longer.
- The attachment point for gaiters allows the athlete to quickly adjust gaiters for enhanced cover for the foot during the trail. Note that these are sold separately.
|Heel stack height||32 mm|
|Forefoot stack height||28 mm|
|Features||Gaiter attachment point, Recycled materials, Vegan|
|Weight (men)||301 g/10.6 oz|
|Weight (women)||266 g/9.4 oz|
|Softness (1-5)||3 – Moderate|
|Bounce (1-5)||2 – Low|
|Upper||Engineered mesh, TPU Toe Bumper, Mud Guard, attachment point for gaiters|
|Workout||Daily runs, recovery|
Reference: Brooks Running
Comparisons – Brooks Caldera 5 vs.:
Brooks Caldera 4
Same stack height, same drop, same outsole: the main difference between these two models lies in the forefoot fit. It got a bit narrower on the C5, which may not be good news for everyone. It’s really a matter of trying out.
Brooks Cascadia 15
The Cascadia has a lower stack height and a more aggressive outsole featuring deeper lugs that work wonders in soft ground like mud. Therefore, the Cascadia seems a better option for the most technical trails and faster sessions. At the same time, the Caldera is the go-to option for comfortable long-distance training on easier paths.
Hoka Speedgoat 4
Testers noted that both shoes had a narrow profile overall, which may not be suitable for everyone. Beyond that, the Speedgoat has deeper lugs, which makes it better for more technical terrains. Also, its cushioning is more responsive, which is great for racing and speed workouts. If you’re eyeing an ultramarathon, this may be the better choice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, runners who tested this shoe confirmed that it fits as expected. Therefore, you can buy your standard size for trail running shoes. However, if this your very first pair of Brooks shoes, it’s better to give them a try in-store to be safe.
Yes, this model should be adapted even if you’re a heavyweight runner. Indeed, The Brooks Caldera 5 has a heel stack height of 32 mm, which is enough to support most runners, so you can use it even if you’re a heavyweight runner.
On paper, the high-stack cushioning of the shoe makes it suitable for long distances. However, the landscapes of ultramarathon races can be quite challenging, and some runners noted that the Caldera 5 didn’t perform particularly well over very technical terrains. It seems better to keep it for your daily workouts and choose a more advanced model for the ultramarathon (see the comparisons section below).
Kevin is the founder and editor of Runner’s Lab. He started running in 2015 and completed his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2016. He’s also worked for Under Armour from 2016 to 2018 and helped launch their running collection in Europe (in particular the HOVR shoes). In addition, Kevin is a 300-hour certified yoga teacher (Sivananda) and uses this experience to run more mindfully with a focus on well-being over performance.