Montrail Caldorado Review

June 29, 2016
Montrail Caldorado
Security of Fit

The Good

  • Responsive midsole
  • Agile, quick trail feel
  • Comfortable upper bootie construction
  • Smart stability control

The Bad

  • Heavier than peer shoes
  • Laces are short
  • Tongue is not fully gusseted
  • Some lace pressure through the thin tongue

The Montrail Caldorado, the Portland-based running company’s new all-around trail shoe for 2016, is a strong candidate for best in category.  Our wear-testers described it as, “a perfect blend of comfort, performance and fit without sacrificing protection and support,” and, “a shoe that can handle any terrain thrown its way, while giving you the ability to really run hard when needed.”  Compared to sthe Trans Alps - the beefy cousin Montrail introduced at the same time - the Caldorado is lighter, more responsive, and more versatile.  Although a tad heavier than its peers, the Caldorado reminded our wear-testing team of long-time trail mainstays like the Brooks Cascadia and Saucony Peregrine.  


Montrail has been making trail running shoes longer than nearly any other company out there, and in many ways, the Caldorado represents a return to their roots.  Along with the brand-new Trans Alps (a burly shoe for hard mountain running and fast hiking) and the redesigned FluidFlex (a road/trail hybrid), the Caldorado is part of Montrail’s new core of trail running models.  It’s a versatile, do-everything shoe that manages to avoid the trap of mediocrity some all-around shoes fall into.  

The Caldorado is a nimble, multi-use trail runner/racer that seems most at home on fire roads, twisty singletrack, and loose gravel/skree. Built with an 8mm drop, the midsole is a combination of Montrail’s dual-softness FluidGuide foam for stability with an extra layer of soft foam under the sockliner for comfort. The upper has a seamless bootie fit with welded overlays that’s snug and secure without feeling constrictive. Between the 4mm outsole lugs (which are concentrated on the edges of the outsole), comfortable midsole, and secure upper, this is a shoe our wear-testers felt confident running fast in. The Caldorado is a solid choice for off-road 5Ks to half-marathons, and could handle longer-distance endurance events as well.  

Although our wear-testers had concerns about the Caldorado’s weight (which is on the heavier end of the spectrum for this multi-use trail category), they praised its comfort, speed, versatility, and responsiveness.  As one wear-tester put it, “They’ve become one of my new favorites, and now I regret having not checked our Montrail’s offerings sooner.”

Multiple wear-testers described the Caldorado’s toebox as roomy without feeling sloppy, and the front-end fit is paired with a heel cup that keeps things locked down.  Although the uppers are comfortable straight out of the box, wear-testers did note that the Caldorado has a stiff, sturdy feeling until it really gets broken in.  The welded overlays reduce any chance of chafing or rubbing from internal seams, although one wear-tester reported some discomfort from the stiff toe bumper.     

With an 8mm drop, moderate lugs, and responsive midsole, the Caldorado feels speedy on the trail.  The toe spring lends itself to a natural gait and quick leg turnover, and the outsole tread is the right balance of aggressiveness to inspire confidence on technical sections without acting like a brake on open, smooth trail.  One wear-tester noted that the relatively heavy weight didn’t seem to matter on the trail, and that he felt “agile and quick-footed in the Caldorados.”  Despite the heavier weight, wear-testers noted that this feels like a shoe they’d lace up for short, high-intensity races.    

Security of Fit
Out of the box, the Caldorado’s bootie construction gives a snug fit that feels secure without being constrictive. The heel cup is firm, and both the heel collar and tongue have a medium amount of padding.  One wear-tester commented that the tongue wasn’t padded enough to eliminate pressure from the laces when tied tightly.  While our wear-testers noted the relative narrowness of the Caldorado’s last through the heel and midfoot, they didn’t describe the fit as restrictive or distracting. 

The Caldorado is built on Montrail’s proprietary FluidGuide blended-foam midsoles, which provide some stability without the use of a medial post or harder foam insertion. Comparing the Caldorado with the other new Montrail trail runner, the Caldorado’s midsole has a bit more flexibility than the Trans Alps’ FluideFoam midsole, although that may be partially due to the Trans Alps’ full-length rockplate and more aggressive tread.  

One wear-tester praised the responsiveness of the Caldorado’s midsole, noting that it has, “a firm forefoot for a responsive, energy saving toe-off (especially key on uphills), but it also has a luxuriously soft, comfy backseat, which softens the blows of fast downhills without the towering stack heights of maximalist shoes. Hard downhills were a dream.”  At the same time, however, there was some concern that the softness of the heel represented a trade-off between comfort and long-distance responsiveness.

The Caldorado’s 4mm lugs are concentrated in two medial/lateral strips, with smaller lugs through the center line. This improves traction when it’s needed in rocky or off-camber sections, while allowing the deeper lugs to better stay out of the way on tamer sections and fire roads. The Caldorado lacks the full-length rockplate of its Trans Alps cousin, although the midsole is thick enough to offer protection from most trail obstacles without the added weight of another barrier.  On the issue of protection and durability, one wear-tester commended the Caldorado for how much protection it provides in a fast-feeling package.  As he put it, “the toe guard keeps the shoe safe in the front while keeping the toes from damage. The tread really got me on this shoe. They have included the TrailShield plus the sole with what Montrail calls flex grooves. The shoe took a couple long runs along technical and sharp rocked terrain without any damage.”


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