I live and train in Bozeman, Montana. Which, of course, means I train on snow 6 months out of the year – sometimes packed powder, sometimes freshies, sometimes ice, more often than not a combination of all three. I had the opportunity to run our local trails in the Brooks Caldera 2 and at first I was skeptical to how this more minimalist shoe than I’m used to, would perform on our aggressive lack of switchbacks, Montanans prefer a more linear straight up approach, combined with slick snowy trails. But, as I settled into the groove of my runs, I was stoked to find these shoes handled the Montana wilds just fine.
I received the Brooks Caldera 2 in the mail and was initially grateful to see the cool tones color scheme – navy, plum, and ice blue are certainly a fiery ginger’s compliment. Plus, cool and dark tones just age well on shoes as they acquire more and more dirt, sludge, and icy mix. These shoes have simple clean and cool lines, when my running partner saw them, she exclaimed, “Those are beautiful shoes!” And, they truly are.
I ran in Brooks in High School and College, so returning to them on the trails felt like a coming home but I appreciated the evolution of sleekness Brooks has taken on. I ordered a women’s 9 and they fit perfectly to size, snug and great stability in the mid foot and heel, and a wide enough toe box to provide space and flex in the toes and forefoot. I’m not sure what type of magical science they’ve used on their plum laces but one tie up and the laces stayed snug without pinching, never loosened or came undone on a run, and where easy to untie afterwards. This simple lace structure brought me lots of joy.
Out on the trails I was amazed at how these shoes handled. I took my first snowy descent turns a little conservatively but soon learned to trust my footing and the lugs. I generally run in Bozeman with shoes that have a pretty aggressive lug structure to accommodate our trails but I was able to flow and not fret in the Caldera’s.
The midsole provides wonderful cushioning and the inside ‘guts’ of the shoes were soft, sleek, and moisture wicking. Overall, a very comfortable and supportive shoe that held up over extended miles.
A special feature of the Caldera is a small pinch of velcro at the back heel, this is to accommodate gaitors and hold them in place. I could have used this shoe with it’s breathable double layer of fabric that keep small debris out and velcro gaitor pinch at the Antelope Canyon 50K, those who who have raced are familiar with the sand!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the miles I shared with the Caldera 2’s, they were snug, offered great cushioned support, held traction, and as the miles unfolded, I wasn’t thinking about my feet – a perk for me when it comes to shoes and enjoying miles. I’m looking forward to taking these out on some mud trails in Spring and up mountain tops in the Summer.
Weight: 9.0 oz (women’s)
Midsole Drop: 4mm
Read more Trail Sisters Gear Reviews.
I ran in the Calderas as well for solid 3 or 4 months before my 50k. My only complaint with them is that the lugs wear down WAY too quickly. I used them to train for an October race then in November paced someone to a 100 miler which had copious amounts of mud and water – I almost broke my neck sliding so much. The lugs had completely worn off my shoes after having only trained in them for 3 months for a 50k the month prior. It made me sad as the toe box is exceptional and larger than most which I love. I LOVE the shoelace garage (perfect for avoiding poison oak and tics) but man, the lugs on the bottom was a deal breaker for me. I am a Brooks fan 100% too. I am happy they have a minimal shoe out and one that has a wider toe box … so I do still recommend them to others with that caveat that you may need to repurchase a new pair sooner rather than later. For me these were comparable to the Pearl Izumi shoe line – which I used to wear.