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Brooks Caldera 7 Performance Review

Brooks Caldera 7

2022’s Caldera 6 took the championship belt as the best Brooks trail shoe for most people. The Brooks Caldera 7 follows a similar formula. It’s a beefy, supportive trail shoe meant for the masses of people who regularly hit the trails to run and hike. But how does it perform at the highest level? 

We’ve brought in our technical trail reviewer, Sam Lohse, to push the boundaries of what the Brooks Caldera 7 is capable of and paired his opinion with Drew’s take (Editor’s Note: Drew’s great but his legs are no longer as capable on difficult trails as the younger, bouncier Sam) to provide a well-rounded look at this well-rounded trail shoe.

Brooks Caldera 7

Release Date: January 1, 2024

Price: $150

Weight: Men’s 10.6 oz., Women’s 9.4 oz.

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

Sizing: True to size

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  • Rundown: A stable, max cushion shoe that has benefitted from updates in technology over the years.
Brooks Caldera 7 DNA Loft v3 cushioning


Sam: The Brooks Caldera 7 delivers DNA Loft v3 cushioning, that’s nitrogen-infused, giving it a bounce despite the ultra-plush feel it provides. It’s an EVA midsole foam that I found has a similar ride experience to the Hoka Mafate Speed 4, just scaled back a bit. This shoe is a true max cushion tank that’s soft enough to go all day, yet the nitrogen addition makes it pop and bounce, so you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing a ton of speed when you open your stride. 

Brooks uses what they’re calling “raised midsole foam walls” for updated stability, and they’re definitely noticeable. What I often encounter with max cushion shoes is that feeling like you’re standing on a platform; the Brooks Caldera 7 locks you in, almost feeling like you’re stepping down into something, so your foot feels low to the ground while running.

The DNA Loft v3 foam is great, and Brooks has continued to nail it. It’s a great choice for comfort. I found a bounce but plush right out of the box. Additionally, the sidewalls really stood out to me while running. Brooks seems to have hit a good middle ground with constructing a wide and stable base without putting a shoe on your foot that feels like a boot or block.

Drew: Sam mentioned the sidewalls that kept my feet firmly on the shoe’s midsole platform. The sidewalls make the Brooks Caldera 7 the perfect trail shoe for someone that spends a lot of time running on roads and doesn’t want to twist an ankle on the trails. Someone like me.

The last thing I want to do while testing trail shoes is hurt myself. I’m usually training for a marathon, half marathon, or 10k. Getting to the start line healthy is a priority and the Brooks Caldera 7 helps me achieve that goal both by keeping me upright and cushioning all those sharp rocks and roots.

I finish trail runs in the Caldera 7 without any ankle soreness from doing a lot of my own stabilization and without any bruises on the bottom of my feet. This midsole is the protective but still plush, a perfect mix for almost anyone that’s hitting the trails.

Brooks Caldera 7 upper


Sam: The Brooks Caldera 7 features an updated upper, going for a two-piece system to enhance function and comfort. The main layer is a soft and light mesh that breathes well up against your foot. A second TPEE (thermoplastic) layer wraps around the midfoot, offering a secure yet breathable outer layer to help maintain foot position and stability. 

It’s surprisingly light and comfortable for a shoe that looks very much like a beefy boat. The Caldera 7 tops it off with a robust TPU toe bumper, which has become industry standard. A lightweight padded tongue and stretchy lace bring it all together. For those who like a nice heel cup, the Caldera has a robust back that should allow you to lock in comfortably.

Drew: The Caldera 6 had a comfy upper but I had to go down a half size to get the right fit. The Brooks Caldera 7 fits true to size while dispensing with some extra layering in the upper and maintaining comfort. The speed lacing system and lace garage also return. The extremely comfortable tongue changes it’s look but keeps the slim yet protective feel. Just like last time, Brooks got the details right.

Brooks Caldera 7 outsole traction


Sam: The outsole features the Brooks TrailTack Green rubber, which is fairly sticky. The lugs seem a little heftier than the Catamount 3, sitting at 4mm. The best update to this outsole is the split seam construction. Brooks added some flex to this iteration, constructing what looks like a hoof pattern on the base of the shoe. This allows for stability over uneven terrain as the shoe can bend with various planes, akin to what Hoka did with their carbon plate in the Tecton X series, only with the outsole.

I thought this shoe performed pretty well in snowy conditions and the outsole is just great for long, slower days on a smooth trail. The split down the middle of the outsole really makes a difference in stiffness, resulting in a much more flexible ride.

Drew: Sam nailed it. The outsole still grips well in various conditions (wet, icy, muddy) but the upgrade comes in terms of flexibility. The Brooks Caldera 7 is more responsive to uneven ground than the Caldera 6. That makes a noticeable difference when bombing down hills after long, painful climbs…it’s just a more secure feeling underfoot.

Brooks Caldera 7 lateral side view

Is the Brooks Caldera 7 wide foot friendly?

Sam: Definitely. This shoe and midsole have a wide base. The upper allows for a snug skeleton around the foot, so you don’t have to worry too much if you’ve got an average foot.

Is the Brooks Caldera 7 worth $150?

Sam: Off the bat I’d say for sure. Durability is always a question with nitrogen-based foams and max cushioned shoes, but I have no evidence to say it’s a problem so far!

Drew: Yes, given the price point of similarly targeted trail shoes and Brooks’ reputation for durability, the Brooks Caldera 7 will justify the purchase price.

Brooks Caldera 7 heel view


Sam: By its own nature, the Brooks Caldera 7 is just not a very nimble shoe. You can notice the heft when trying to execute on normally agile movements. That being said, it’s not really designed for agile movements; it’s the long-haul bus of Brooks’ trail line. I also found that the forefoot was a little stiff, so I had some pain in my toes occasionally, but that only occurred running downhill.

Drew: Again, I’m in agreement with Sam here. The nimbler trail going humans among us will find that the Caldera 7 is too much shoe. But for those that are less mountain goat and more average human or for those putting in double digit trail miles on the regular, the beefiness of the Caldera 7 will become an asset.

Brooks Caldera 7 summary

Brooks Caldera 7 Summary

Sam: The Brooks Caldera 7 is a soft and stable ride that’s going to deliver comfort over long miles. The added bonus of a nitrogen-infused foam allows for some extra energy return to give you a pep in your step, even if you’re just focused on that long, slow distance. 

The Caldera 7 is a nice insurance policy for your ankles if you’re looking for max cushion but hate feeling like you’re running on platforms or going to fall off the midsole of the shoe. It’s an honest workhorse; it won’t have you running down flashy, technical trails, but it will deliver on modest terrain and over any mileage you need it to.

Drew: Whether you’re trail running or hiking, the Brooks Caldera 7 delivers maximum comfort and cushion. Or, as much as possible without completely taking away ground feel. The Caldera 7 is aimed at people that want maximum stability and protection on the trails. If that describes you, the Caldera 7 is the best option. And because of that, you’ll find it on our list of Best Trail Running Shoes.

How do the Authors Run?

Drew Whitcomb (age 42, 6’6″ 195 lbs): Runs daily with a once a week rest day. Runs a lot of miles due to testing needs and a growing affinity for long-distance races. Regularly competes in marathons, half-marathons, 10k, and 5k races.

Sam Lohse (age 28, 6’0, 170 lbs): Runs daily (with an occasional rest day). The majority of his miles are spent on the Salt Lake City Trails. Long Distance races are his focus in 50K to 100 mile distances.


While Brooks did send us pairs of the Caldera 7 to facilitate this review, they had no involvement in this review, didn’t receive an advance look at it, and have not attempted to influence it.

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