Brooks Caldera 7: Medium to Long Distances Trail Shoes

Brooks Caldera 7 - toebox

The Brooks Caldera 7 is a trail shoe engineered for medium to long distances, offering ample cushioning and stability for superior comfort and support on diverse terrains.

Designed for runners covering long distance runnings, this shoe provides exceptional cushioning, stability, and traction, catering to those seeking maximum support and comfort.

For runners participating in short-distance trail races, the Caldera 7 may not be the top recommendation. Similarly, those who prefer a closer-to-the-ground sensation may not find it in this shoe.

Brooks revamped the Caldera 6 last year, which garnered significant praise in reviews for its notable improvements. From early indications, the Caldera 7 appears to surpass its predecessor.

Belonging to the maximal trail category, this shoe is specifically engineered for long distances or prolonged periods of activity on your feet.

Immediately noticeable are the alterations to the upper, which is now lighter and offers enhanced breathability compared to its predecessor, the 6. Additionally, Brooks seems to have expanded the toe box to accommodate greater toe splay, contributing to increased comfort.

Maintaining its price at $150, this shoe offers exceptional value considering the array of features and long-term durability it provides.

A similar option is HOKA's Stinson 7, which shares the characteristics of maximum cushioning and stability, catering to long-distance running including ultra marathons.

Brooks Caldera 7 - sole units

Several significant changes distinguish the Caldera 7 from its predecessor - the Caldera 6.

Initially, the Caldera 7 has shed some weight, now weighing 10.6 oz compared to its predecessor, which weighed in at 11 oz.

In a surprising move, Brooks slightly reduced the stack height in the latest version. While the Caldera 6 boasted a stack height of 35mm in the heel and 29mm in the toe, the Caldera 7 measures 26mm in the heel and 20mm in the toe, maintaining the same 6mm drop as its predecessor.

Despite being lighter and slightly lower, the Caldera 7 remains a substantial choice for running.

As mentioned earlier, running in this shoe adds an extra layer of enjoyment, especially on easy to medium trails. I found that rolling hills, grassy paths, and fire roads felt nearly effortless with the Caldera 7 underfoot.

The transition and responsiveness are incredibly smooth. Instead of feeling like I was plodding along, I experienced a sensation more akin to gliding.

The shoe's limitations become apparent on technical terrain. While it's important to note that they weren't designed for technical trails or fast paces, I still wanted to test their performance in those areas.

Navigating rocky sections proved to be somewhat challenging. I had to maintain extra focus on foot placement, given the substantial size of the shoe. Its lack of nimbleness meant that slowing down was necessary; otherwise, I felt a loss of control.

Another observation regarding the rocky sections was that I rolled my ankle twice but managed to recover without injury. This is always a concern of mine when wearing maximum cushion sneakers.

In conclusion, I was delighted with the shoe's performance and how refreshed I felt during extended runs.

I didn't experience the typical knee or ankle soreness often associated with medium cushion shoes when tackling mile after mile on trails. This aspect makes this shoe particularly well-suited for marathons or longer distances.

Brooks Caldera 7 - midsole

Brooks consistently delivers in terms of foot protection, though at times, they may go overboard. However, this shoe strikes the perfect balance, providing adequate protection where it's needed most.

Overlays envelop the toe box, shielding the front of your foot from protruding rocks, roots, and any other obstacles along your path.

They've also extended the midsole slightly higher up the shoe, serving as a protective shield for both the inner and outer sides as well as the heel of the 7s. The DNA LOFT v3 technology effectively safeguards the bottom of your feet.

Omitting the rock plate was a wise decision by Brooks. It contributes to a lighter and more flexible shoe, aiding your foot in adapting to various terrain.

If you reside or frequently run in an area with rocky terrain, I recommend opting for a shoe equipped with a rock plate. However, for occasional rocky sections, the Caldera 7s are more than capable.

Brooks Caldera 7 - heel

I have minimal concerns about durability when it comes to Brooks. They consistently produce high-quality shoes, and the Caldera 7 is no exception. Despite logging numerous miles on trails and roads, as well as wearing them for various activities, I noticed minimal signs of wear and tear.

Initially, I had some concerns about the upper material of the shoes. It appeared thinner compared to the Caldera 6, leading me to worry about potential rips or abrasions. However, it proved to be remarkably durable in use.

The 4mm chevron lugs appear nearly pristine, retaining their aggressive and stylish appearance. Additionally, the midsole still feels as responsive as the day I first unboxed the shoes, which is particularly impressive.

I wouldn't hesitate to wear these shoes for a marathon or even an ultra marathon, despite the mileage I've already put on them. They're just that reliable.

I've mentioned the exceptional ride a couple of times already, so let's delve deeper. The midsole foam of the Caldera 7 is composed of DNA LOFT v3.

Brooks clarifies that the foam is nitrogen-injected, preserving the structure and durability of the foam over time. While this is the same midsole material as the previous version, the adage "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" applies here. It's purported to offer greater energy return, enhanced softness, and reduced weight.

The assertion about energy return is undeniably evident. These shoes possess a liveliness that's challenging to articulate but enjoyable to feel. They offer responsiveness alongside a soft, spring-like sensation as you propel into each subsequent step.

Thanks to its responsive ride, running at quicker paces on easy to medium trails is remarkably enjoyable. While it's not intended as a racing shoe, it's feasible to sustain faster speeds on trail sections conducive to it.

Max cushion running shoes typically involve a trade-off. While you sacrifice weight, speed, and agility, you gain cushioning, protection, and stability. However, the Caldera 7s wear lighter than they appear. Their lack of noticeable heaviness diminishes the compromise even further.

The size 11 fits true to size, which aligns with Brooks' consistency over the years. They also have a accurate size. Any perceived wideness primarily stems from the midsole foam and outsole design.

I was pleased to find that the toe box offered ample wiggle room. Unlike some other trail shoes, or shoes in general, there was no sensation of restriction. It appears that this adjustment was intentional, possibly in response to complaints about the narrow toe box in the Caldera 6.

Lastly, as you're already aware, the DNA LOFT V3 midsole foam is incredibly soft and comfortable. It provides substantial cushioning, which is beneficial for preserving your feet during long-distance journeys.

Brooks Caldera 7 - upper

It's been a while since I've enjoyed a shoe as much as I do the Caldera 7s.

They truly fulfill all the requirements for a long-distance shoe. Brooks now has a shoe that can rival the likes of Hoka and other renowned maximal trail shoes, which is quite promising.

I wholeheartedly recommend the Caldera 7 to any runners seeking a shoe capable of enduring mile after mile while retaining its exceptional qualities.

  • Price: $150
  • Style & Color:
  • Usage:
    • trail shoes
    • medium distance running
    • long distance running
    • marathon shoes
  • Constructions and Features:
    • Heel-drop: 6mm
    • Weight: 10.6oz / 300.5g
Brooks Caldera 7 - side overlays