Brooks Caldera 7 Review: A Comfortable Trail Companion?

Brooks are one of the best selling brands in the world. They have shoes for every type of runner and every occasion. The Caldera 7 is their max cushion trail cruiser. How does it deal with rough terrain?

Brooks Caldera 7: The Rolls Royce of the Trail?

Brooks is well known amongst runners for their comfortable and dependable running shoes. The Ghost is one of the best selling running shoes on the planet. However, they are also heavily invested in the trail space. Throughout their lineup, they have shoes aimed at many sections of the trail market. Firstly, we have the Catamount, a fast, responsive race option. Then we have the Cascadia, a very protective and cushioned shoe for longer efforts. For beginners, we have the Divide to get people on to the trails. Finally, we have the Caldera 7, their most cushioned shoe for the very longest runs off the beaten track.


What does the 7th iteration of the Caldera bring to the table?

Brooks 7 (25 of 26)
BC 7 (18 of 26)


Midsole drop 6mm 

Weight Mens: 10.6oz / 300.5g

Weight Wmns sample size 9.4oz / 266.5g

Price: $149.95/€150

BC 7(6 of 26)
Brooks Caldera 7 (4 of 26)

Brooks Caldera 7 Upper: Bringer of Blisters

Silke: I received the Caldera 7 in a stand out colourway with a bright yellow outsole. The high-viz red on the light grey upper gives the shoe an aggressive look. Besides that, it looks a bit chunky with its wide platform and high midsole walls. To my surprise  these items don’t add much weight. In my size it is only about 5g heavier than the New Balance Hierro 7, a trail shoe I tested recently. 


The Caldera 7  is easy to step in and it fits true to size. There is enough width for my toes to spread. Brooks takes the aspect of sustainability seriously, 42.1% of the upper is made from recycled materials. 


Pros: This breathable but also rigid material dries quickly and feels very durable. Also, very important on the trails, the toe bumper works! A highlight might be the laces, they feel strong and once tied never loosen. Furthermore, the design also allows you to tuck them out of the way when running though grabby undergrowth.


Cons: I am not a fan of the wide heel area and also not of Brooks low cut arch. That being said, the collar and heel are softly padded and with the help of the gusseted tongue you can get a solid lockdown. If you are a fan of a runners knot, you might have to make a hole for the laces yourself and even then the short laces might be a problem for you.


However, one big drawback for me is that I get blisters every time I run more than 5k with the Caldera 7. It seems to be the rigid upper that folds and rubs at the medial side of my forefoot.


One short word on the velcro pull tab: useless!

Needs More Padding

Theo: This is my first ever Brooks shoe! I have never run a step on road or trail in Brooks before I received the Caldera 7. However, I have always been curious about them. This is because one of my favourite trail runners of all time, Scott Jurek, developed the Cascadia series. Moreover, the great things I have heard about them made me fascinated to see whether the Caldera could be as good.


Initially, the materials look good quality. The mesh seems to be resistant (I had no scratches or holes in the shoes after my testing). Secondly, the protection on the top of the shoes is effectively made from plastic and does a decent job, especially at the front of the shoe. On the lateral and medial sides, the protection is minimalistic but it works. 


The laces are flat, and you really do not feel them when running. Moreover, there is an elastic on the top of the tongue where you can tuck them away to avoid snags while running. The shoe is true to size and despite being quite a chunky looking shoe, the fit is quite narrow especially in the midfoot region. 


Overall, I do not find the upper the most comfortable. The mesh on the top is quite rigid and the padding inside the shoe is minimalistic. For this kind of shoe, it is a bit of a shame, I would have appreciated more comfort with more padding and protection inside the shoe and a more stretchy mesh on the top. To finish, I also felt that the shoes were rubbing my ankle bone which may lead to blisters over time.

Brooks Caldera 7 (9 of 26)

Midsole: Soft and Stable

Silke: As the Caldera 7 is Brooks most cushioned trail option, they equipped it with their best midsole foam: DNA loft 3. This nitro injected foam is not very lightweight, but it is quite soft with some added bounce. Don’t expect something like a FuelCell or Fresh Foam feeling that you would find in a New Balance trail shoe.


The Caldera 7 scores with a wide and stable platform. Additionally,  to keep your ride stable, Brooks have raised the midsole foam walls. It is a nice ride and also works as a road to trail shoe. To me it feels best when running at an even pace to build up my endurance. I can pick up the pace up to my half marathon pace but I wouldn’t like to hold that for longer. And this is of course not what it is designed for. However, I think that heavier runners might benefit even more from the broad, stable, and cushioned platform.

Built for Comfort not For Speed

Theo: Here begins the most interesting part of this shoe. I had some prejudices about the stability of this one because the stack is high. Consequently, I expected to twist my ankle several times on the technical terrains. Nonetheless, my first runs with these shoes were easy long ones, on every type of trail and I suffered no ankle disasters. Do not get me wrong, the precision is far from perfect, but I noticed that the midsole is so large and the foam is quite soft so that they absorb the asperity of the trails and make the shoes quite stable at least at slower paces.


The foam, as mentioned, is quite soft and people who like cushioned shoes will appreciate the Caldera 7 for sure. Nonetheless this softness means they suffer when it comes to responsiveness.


Indeed, I ran some speed sessions with them and noticed that when I was pushing them on dirt roads, I had almost no response from the midsole. Really, they are not made for it.  Also, I ran on the road with them, and I noticed that they do not bounce at all.


In conclusion, I will use them for long and easy trail runs but never for interval hills sessions or fast trail runs and I would never wear them for a race either

Brooks Caldera 7 (13 of 26)
Brooks Caldera 7 (5 of 26)

Brooks Caldera 7 Outsole: Big Aggressive Grip!

Silke: Brooks have chosen their own outsole rubber for the Caldera 7 and it works. From its predecessor, they have changed the arrangement of the lugs. The outsole looks more aggressive now, or is it because it looks more aggressive in this bright yellow colour? To sum it up, I can’t say anything negative about the outsole. 


Theo: The outsole is very aggressive. It looks like a maximised version of the Evadict MT Cushion 2. The fact that this outsole is so large ensures you get a good grip on the trails. Also, the lugs are really aggressive, and I think they are almost the largest lugs I have seen on a trail shoe in a long time! If it is rainy outside and you are scared to slip in the mud, take them and be reassured they will do a perfect job. The cons will be that it slows the shoes even more on the easy trails.


Overall, these shoes will excel on muddy and wet trails.

Brooks Caldera 7 (19 of 26)

Brooks Caldera 7 Conclusion: A Grippy Cruiser With a Rigid Upper

Silke: At first I was a bit sceptical due to the clunky look, but I got the Caldera through decent testing. In fact, I was surprised by how light it felt on my first run and chose it for my upcoming long run. 


Sad to say that I had to cut that run short ending with a black toenail and a blood blister.  I tried the Caldera again and again, but now after 65k the story ends. I have used it for short runs with decent climbs and also for daily training including parts on the pavement, puddles, gravel and deep mud. My dear Caldera 7, I wish I could have loved you more. I still think that it could be a reliable training companion when you are training for an ultra.


Theo: Whilst not the most fun shoe to run in, it is nonetheless a trustworthy companion with whom you can run lots of easy training miles for your next ultra. Do not expect them to make you fast, it will not be the case. But at least you will run in a cushioned shoe which will absorb the shocks with a very good grip. I would have loved to have more padding around the feet to make them even more comfortable. To finish, precision is not their strong point so if you are living in a very technical terrain I would not advise them but they nonetheless do a decent job in demanding trail. 



30 years old

178cm (5’8″) – 63kg (139lbs)

Midfoot striker – Stride runner



49 years old

167cm (5’4″) – 55kg (121lbs)

Midfoot strike 



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