Trail Runner Review: Brooks Caldera 4

Run

“The word that best describes the Caldera 4 is plush. The shoe is comfortable right out of the box and a great choice for putting in long, delicious miles.”

Details

  • Weight 8.9oz / 252.3g (W Size 9)
  • 4mm Drop
  • Mudguard and TPU Toe Cap
  • Roomy Toe-box
  • Neutral Support
  • Gaiter Tab and Attachment
  • Lace Keeper
  • Medium, High Arch
  • TrailTack sticky Rubber Outsole
  • Retail $140 USD

Look and Feel

First off, I loved the understated look of the Brooks Caldera 4. The flat knit styling is not only on-trend, but splendidly comfortable out of the box with no immediate pinching or hot-spots. The mesh upper has been updated with strategic breathable zones, which I tried to get cooking, but that may have to wait until summer—I’ll update the article when the sun decides to stay for a bit. I’m picky when it comes to the toebox and the 4 allowed for plenty of splay. Not as much as Altra, but the natural foot-shape of the box was just right for my taste. As always with Brooks (thank the heavens) the shoe runs true to size. Just a side note, this is standard for all styles and updates across the board at Brooks, and one of the reasons I’ve never hidden that I’m a fan of the brand.

The cushioning around the heel is cozy, but not confining for my average-width feet, and held securely throughout each run. As we’re in lock-down here, I had my own teen runner with very narrow feet take them for a few trail runs, and she mentioned that there wasn’t wiggle-room until she ran into some pretty technical terrain on a downhill. But to be fair, the Caldera 4 isn’t really intended for super technical terrain, and she didn’t seem to mind, but it’s something to consider if you have really narrow feet. She did mention that after a quick adjustment to the laces, it was much better.  

The big winner for me with the Caldera 4 is the ride. It may only be a few oz. lighter than its very popular sister, the Cascadia, but it feels much lighter. As intended, there’s a lot more cushion with each step as well, resulting in happier feet and more absorption of the terrain. They’re comfortable right out of the box, and elicited, “Oooh cushy!” to my twin teen daughters that both insisted on taking them for a run.

Favorite Features

There are a few features on the Caldera 4 that stood out to me. First off, with the update from the Caldera 3, they kept the lace keeper and the gaiter tab and attachment—extra perks to keep the shoe versatile for long distances over variable terrain. While the Caldera 4 is not intended for technical, overly aggressive terrain, the TrailTak sticky rubber is spanking brilliant on trail. With the update, they’ve changed the lug pattern. The new lugs have been extended to catch a wider range of hazards and deliberately designed to provide traction with lateral movement. Also, the expanded TPU Toecap was a great add and the semi attached tongue is breathable and stayed put on every run.

Final Say

The word that best describes the Caldera 4 is plush. The shoe is comfortable right out of the box and a great choice for putting in long, delicious miles. While they’re not designed for road, I did have a few runs that included road portions, and the cushioned ride was an extra bonus. If pressed for a comparison, I’d probably put them closest to the Hoka Challenger ATR, but I should add that the TrailTak sticky rubber on the Caldera 4 has superior durability and grip in my opinion. Also of note, the Caldera 4 would be a great option for newbie runners, anyone stepping up to new mileage and those struggling with chronic injuries or conditions. The soft ride just may keep you moving longer! And if you’re still on the fence, Brooks has their “True Blue Guarantee;” if you’re not 100% satisfied within 90 days, you can return them for free.

For more information about the Caldera 4 and other Brooks products, go to: www.brooksrunning.com.

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About The Author

Jen has been doing triathlon for several years. She is a former bobsled pilot for America Samoa and has a passion for the outdoors; especially winter mountaineering. At home she is wife to a mountain obsessed husband and mother of three girls, but here at EnduranceReview, she is an author, Managing Editor and token chick.