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Brooks Caldera 6 Performance Review

Brooks Caldera 6 Featured

Brooks Caldera 6

Rundown: Highly-cushioned, comfortable trail shoe that delivers high performance. Just be careful on sizing.

Release Date: July 1, 2022

Price: $150

Weight: M 11.0oz, W 9.8oz

Drop: 6mm (20mm forefoot, 26mm heel)

Sizing: Go a half size down

Pros

  • DNA Loft v3 midsole
  • Trailtack outsole
  • High stack support
  • Extras

Cons

  • Sizing
  • Pandemic logistics

The Brooks Caldera 6 looks like it has a huge stack height…but looks can be deceiving. You actually sit inside that monstrous max-cushioned midsole. Which is a great move on Brooks’ part. It creates a highly stable, well-cushioned trail shoe. Can it take the championship belt from the Brooks Catamount as the number one Brooks trail shoe? The Brooks Cladera 6 made our list of the best running shoes for hiking and our list of the best running shoes for high arches for what that is worth.

Brooks Caldera 6 Traction

Pros

DNA Loft v3 Midsole

I feel like our reviews of all Brooks shoe utilizing DNA Loft v3 midsoles start out this way. The most recent example is the Brooks Glycerin 20. DNA Loft v3 is just a great (supercritical) foam. This year’s DNA Loft v3 midsoles start out really good and then get better as you break them in.

Some people I talked to were worried the midsole would be too soft for the trails but I didn’t have that experience. The Brooks Caldera 6’s midsole is soft yet responsive. You don’t sink into the foam, instead, you get a nice squish and bounce. The midsole seamlessly handles both methodical hiking and adrenaline-soaked speedy trail runs. And it’ll go the distance whether you’re running or hiking. This midsole can absorb mile after mile without issue.

Rocks, roots, whatever…I could feel they were there but, no matter what I stepped on, my feet stayed protected. There’s not a rock plate, but the DNA Loft v3 offers sufficient protection for the majority of trails.

Just one thing to remember. DNA Loft v3 performs better when it’s warm. So before that chilly morning hike, bring your shoes in from the garage. That’ll allow you to get the full benefits of the foam right at the start of your run or hike.

Trailtack Outsole

At this time of year in Georgia, pine needles are a plague. They cover everything and some trails become a pine needle-y slip fest. Perfect conditions for testing traction.

The Brooks Caldera 6’s Trailtack outsole bit into the ground whether it was covered in pine needles or not. Syrupy mud, dry dirt, loose rocks, or pine needles didn’t affect the grip. I felt confident everywhere I stepped and never worried about slippage.

Brooks Caldera 6 Heel

High Stack Support

When you see a chunky midsole like what’s on the Brooks Caldera 6, your brain immediately wonders if the shoe will be stable enough. Especially when it’s a trail shoe and you know the type of terrain it needs to handle.

Well, good news. The Caldera 6 is impressively stable. When you slip them on, your foot sits inside the midsole foam walls. Rolling off the midsole is impossible as the foot is slightly caged. On top of that, Brook uses a honeycomb overlay on the upper for a touch more support. More significantly, Brooks widens the midsole as it descends toward the ground. That extra width effectively stabilizes the foot on even the most uneven terrain. I also think the split heel helps the shoe adapt to whatever weird incline I was attempting.

It’s not easy to achieve this sort of stability in a trail shoe, especially one that sits so high off the ground, but Brooks did it. I never felt unstable. Even after testing, I find myself reaching for the Caldera 6 whenever I know a trail will be highly technical.

Extras

Let’s tackle the tongue first. It’s a perforated foam covered in mesh (sometimes referred to as a torch material). It’s super comfy. I love when tongues use this setup. The tongue is even gusseted so it won’t slip. And the lace garage comes in handy. I’m hoping this tongue makes it onto other Brooks trail models.

The shoe features front and rear gaiter clips for those that use them to keep out the rocks. And there’s a little place to write your crew on the back medial side, a nod to the loooong Ultra trail races that require both a support team and a shoe like the Caldera 6.

Even more important to me was the quick lacing system with tendrils that connect down to the midsole. You can really lock the midfoot down exactly how you want. When combined with the cushioned heel that pushes the knob of your Achilles back into the rear of the shoe, the lockdown is fantastic.

The Brooks Caldera 6 gets all the little things right.

Brooks Caldera 6 Cons

Cons

Sizing

I typically run in a Brooks size 11.5 for both road and trail running. But in the Brooks Caldera 6, I got my typical Brooks fit with a size 11. I have a thumbnail’s worth of space at the toe but get that “great for trail running” streamlined 1:1 fit along the sides. I recommend going a half size down from your normal Brooks shoe size.

Pandemic Logistics

This one isn’t anyone’s fault. The Brooks Caldera 6 was originally supposed to launch in February 2022 but got pushed to July 2022 due to pandemic shipping delays. It pains me that such an awesome shoe won’t get into consumers’ hands until late summer. Oh well…

Brooks Caldera 6 Side View

Brooks Caldera 6 Summary

The Brooks Caldera 6 is a unicorn trail shoe. Well-cushioned, super stable, and grips everything. As long as you buy the right size, you get an amazing shoe. Whether you’re trail running or hiking, I don’t think you’ll find a better trail shoe. Plus, if you spend a lot of time on the trails, your body will thank you for the bouncy, protective cushioning the DNA Loft v3 midsole offers.

9.5/10
Total Score

Pros

  • DNA Loft v3 midsole
  • Trailtack traction
  • High stack support
  • Extras

Cons

  • Sizing
  • Pandemic logistics

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