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Hands-on Gear Review
Montrail Caldorado Review
Cons: A bit heavy, not very sensitive, comfort issues with heel
Bottom line: Not a flashy shoe, but performs well. Great everyday trainer.
The Montrail Caldorado is a first year traditional trail running shoe that is stiff, supportive, very protective, and has great traction. This is a shoe designed to be an everyday trainer or to handle any sort of conditions, whether it is long trails or short, off-trail, scrambling, or mud. While not a flashy shoe with unique and interesting attributes, it is never-the-less solid and dependable. It is similar in character to the long popular Brooks Cascadia 11, although we liked it better overall than that shoe. If foot protection, durability, and stability are the most important features that you look for in a shoe, we recommend that you check out the Caldorado.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Caldorado is Montrail's top of the line trail running shoe, designed to offer a stiff, very protective ride. We have to agree that the shoe is stiff, although the three forefoot grooves in the outsole allow the shoe to maintain a healthy amount of flex. With a great combination of durable rubber and stickiness, we thought the traction offered by the Caldorado's outsole was among the best in the review.
Sporting 8mm of heel-toe drop, this shoe sits squarely in the traditional category, and perfectly fits the mold of a shoe that can be worn by everyone. We found it to be very durable and the perfect candidate for pouring a ton of miles into. Our only complaint was a comfort related one: for our head tester the heel cup padding rubbed in a way that didn't cause blisters but also didn't feel super awesome. While we didn't find it as enjoyable or appealing as our Editors' Choice Award winning Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 v3, we think this is a solid shoe that would make just about anyone happy.
We awarded the Caldorado 8 out of a possible 10 points for foot protection, on par with the ASICS GEL-FujiTrabuco 4 Neutral or the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3. We loved the amount of protection underfoot, feeling that the design of this shoe struck a good balance between adequate cushioning paired with a firm rock plate. While the underfoot protection was a plus, the upper protection was not as good as some other shoes. We found the toe bumper to be lacking in stiffness, as it is only a simple piece of rubber, and the very thin suede overlays do not cover the parts of the forefoot that most often tear or get nicked by abrasion.
While the Trail Shield outsole pattern is not sexy or wow-inducing, we still found that this shoe was among the best when it came to traction. It has deep rubber lugs in a variety of different patterns that work well multi-directionally, spaced all over the sole. The rubber strikes the perfect balance between grippiness and durability. On a long day of scrambling over granite talus on a peak-bagging mission, we found the rubber stuck to rock of any angle, and didn't suffer a single tear or other sign of wear. We think that this sole is on par with the Saucony Peregrine 6 or the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3, but not quite as good as the very aggressively lugged Salomon Speedcross 4.
We awarded this shoe 8 out of 10 points for stability, and found that while it wasn't the best, it was surprisingly good for a shoe with 8mm of heel-toe drop. This shoe is shaped very traditionally and doesn't feature an exceptionally wide forefoot area like the Altra Superior 2.0 or The North Face Ultra Endurance. Yet it still lands securely, provides a solid base for pushing off, and doesn't have an ankle rolling stack height. Not flashy, just solid.
While the shoe is pretty comfortable, we could only award it 7 out of 10 points compared to its peers, about the same as the La Sportiva Wildcat. It is sized right and the upper holds the foot snuggly in place without pinching anywhere. Our complaint revolved around the heel. For us, the bottom of the heel cup on the inside of the upper was unpadded, while the top half the upper has a sewn in pad, like all shoes. The overlap where the heel goes from unpadded to padded proved to be a rub spot right on the back of the heel.
While it never gave us blisters, we still felt this spot rubbing, especially as we went up hills. Now, we want to remind readers that comfort is highly subjective, which is why we didn't award any perfect 10's for this category. What feels perfect to one person feels awful to another. We therefore think it is important to try these shoes on for yourself before buying, and potentially ignore our comments about the heel rubbing. But, for this reason we only awarded 7 out of a possible 10 points.
These shoes weighed 24.7 ounces for a pair of men's size 11 straight out of the box. This was among the heavier shoes in the review and roughly comparable to The North Face Ultra Endurance. While they were significantly heavier than the lightest shoes that we tested, we didn't feel that the weight was a downer, and in no way did the shoes feel clunky.
With great underfoot protection, we tend to find that a shoe will suffer a bit when it comes to sensitivity. That was the case with this shoe. While the horizontal grooves in the forefoot outsole keep the shoe relatively flexible, the rock plate still shields the foot from feeling the most subtle intricacies of the trail or rocks. This is not a bad thing, but usually a matter of preference. For an everyday trainer like this one, usually we feel like foot protection is worth the cost in sensitivity. Its 6 out of 10 score was the same as the New Balance Leadville v3.
The Caldorado is a traditional shoe that is meant to offer stability, protection, and traction to all sorts of runners. This is a great shoe for the average runner and the elite alike. It can handle any sort of trail and any sort of terrain, as well as scrambling and off-trail conditions.
The Caldorado costs $120 retail. This is about average for the shoes that we have reviewed here, and is even slightly on the lower end. While we didn't rate it as one of our award winners, we still think it is a solid shoe. We also think that it is a durable and solid option that will last for a lot of miles. Because of this we think it presents good value, and will not be a purchase that you regret.
In its debut year, the Caldorado anchors the Montrail lineup of shoes as the high-end trail runner. While it is not as light or as sensitive as many shoes in this review, it does a nice job balancing protection, traction, and durability. For those who have been loyal to Montrail for years, we think you will like this shoe, and for others who like a traditional shoe of a similar style to the New Balance Leadville v3 or the Brooks Cascadia 11, we recommend trying this one as well. Due to slight discomfort we experienced in the heel, we recommend trying them on before purchasing.
Other Versions and Accessories
- Caldorado Outdry - $145 — waterproof/breathable version of the same shoe
- Women's Caldorado - $120
- Women's Caldorado Outdry - $145
— Andy Wellman
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