Brooks Caldera 7 Introduction
Last year, Brooks redesigned the Caldera 6 and based on many reviews, it was a major improvement. By all indications, the Caldera 7 is even better.
This shoe sits firmly in the maximal trail category and is purpose built for long distances or long days on your feet.
Right away, you’ll notice the changes to the upper which is lighter and more breathable than the 6’s. It also appears that Brooks widened the toe box to allow for more toe splay which results in added comfort.
The price holds steady at $150 which gives this shoe a ton of value when you consider the features and long term durability that you receive.
A comparable alternative would be HOKA’s Stinson 7. Both are max cushion, stability trail shoes built to be used for longer distances up to ultra marathons.
Brooks Caldera 7 Impressions
There are a few notable changes between the Caldera 6 and 7.
First, the 7’s dropped some weight, coming in at 10.6 oz compared to the previous version at 11oz.
Next and surprisingly, Brooks lowered the newest version, slightly. The 6’s had a stack height of 35mm in the heel and 29mm in the toe. The 7’s measure at 26mm heel and 20 mm toe, but retain the 6mm drop as before.
Even with being lighter and slightly lower, the Caldera 7 is still a lot of “shoe” to run in.
I mentioned earlier that there is an extra level of fun to running in this shoe. Specifically, on easy to medium trails. Rolling hills, grassy paths and fire roads felt almost effortless with the Caldera 7’s beneath me.
The transition and responsiveness is amazingly smooth. I expected to feel like I was plodding along but the reality was it felt more like gliding.
Technical terrain is where this shoe starts to hit its limits. Keep in mind, they were not designed for technical trails or fast paces. Even so, I had to see how they performed in those areas.
The Rocky sections were a bit tense. I had to keep extra focus on foot placement due to the sheer size of the shoe. They weren’t as nimble and slowing down was the only option, otherwise I felt out of control.
Another note about the rocky sections was that I rolled my ankle twice but was able to recover without injury. This is always a fear of mine with max cushion sneakers.
Overall, I was thrilled with how the shoe performed and how fresh I felt during longer runs.
I didn’t encounter knee or ankle soreness that’s typical with medium cushion shoes when pounding on trails for mile after mile. That’s what makes this shoe so great for marathons or longer distances.
Brooks Caldera 7 Protection
Brooks never seems to lack in the area of foot protection. In fact, maybe sometimes they overdo it. This shoe has the right amount of protection where you need it.
Overlays wrap the toe box and guard the front of your foot from protruding rocks, roots and whatever else is in your path.
They also extended the midsole a bit higher up the shoe acting as a shield on both inside, outside and the heel of the 7’s. DNA LOFT v3 handles keeping the bottom of your feet safe.
There is no rockplate and I think this was a good move by Brooks. It keeps the shoe lighter and more flexible to help your foot adapt to the terrain.
If you live or run in an especially rocky area, I would find a shoe with a rockplate. Otherwise, the Caldera 7’s are more than sufficient for the occasional rocky section.
Brooks Caldera 7 Durability
Brooks is a brand that I have little concerns with related to durability. They always make quality shoes and the Caldera 7 is no different. After putting on countless miles on the trail, road and wearing them to go here or there, I found little sign of wear and tear.
I was a bit worried about the upper material when I first got the shoes. It’s thinner than the Caldera 6 and I thought there might be chances for more rips or abrasions. Turns out, it held up terrifically.
The 4mm chevron lugs also look almost brand new. Not to mention they look super aggressive and cool. Lastly, the midsole feels as energetic as the day I opened up the box. This impressed me the most.
I would have no concerns with wearing these for a marathon or even an ultra marathon. Even with the miles I already have on them. They are that good.
Brooks Caldera 7 Responsiveness & speed
I’ve hinted at the superb ride once or twice before so let’s dig in further. DNA LOFT v3 makes up the midsole foam on the Caldera 7.
Brooks explains that the foam is nitrogen injected, which keeps the structure and integrity of the foam for longer. This is the same midsole material as the previous version but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?!. It’s said to have more energy return, increased softness and decreased weight.
The energy return claim is absolutely noticeable. There is a liveliness to these shoes that’s really hard to describe but fun to experience. They are responsive, yet soft and have a spring-like feel as you push off into the next step.
Because of the responsive ride, running at faster paces over easy to medium trails is quite enjoyable. This is not a racing shoe, but it’s possible to maintain faster speeds on trail sections that allow for it.
Brooks Caldera 7 Comfort and fit
There’s always a compromise with max cushion running shoes. You give up weight, speed and agility but gain cushioning, protection and stability. The nice thing about the Caldera 7’s though is they wear lighter than they look. There’s not a noticeable heaviness which makes the compromise even less.
The size 11’s fit true to size which is consistent with what I’ve seen with Brooks over the years. They were pretty typical in the area of width as well. All of the perceived wideness comes in the midsole foam and outsole.
I was also happy to see the toe box had some wiggle room. There was no restricted feeling that I’ve seen in other trail shoes, or any shoe for that matter. It does seem like this was intentional because reviewers of the Caldera 6 complained about the narrow toe box.
Last but not least, as you’ve heard by now, the DNA LOFT V3 midsole foam is oh so soft and comfortable. It gives quite a bit, which helps save your feet during high mileage adventures.
Brooks Caldera 7 Conclusions
I can’t remember the last time I liked a shoe as much as the Caldera 7’s.
They really do check all of the boxes for what a long distance shoe should do. Brooks has a shoe that can compete with the likes of Hoka and other well known maximal trail shoes, which is exciting to see.
I would highly recommend the Caldera 7 to any runners looking for a shoe that can handle mile after mile but still maintain the attributes that make it great.