Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II Review

The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II ($120) is out, and it’s certainly one of the selections on my ‘favorite all-around trail shoes on the market’ list. A few improvements have been made to the previous model, the Montrail Caldoradowhich I reviewed in early 2016, and I dare say that this update has everything completely dialed. This shoe tackles almost any surface for any amount of time for those whose feet prefer a cushioned ride with ample rock protection while still maintaining flexibility to cruise on smooth surfaces. Where the original Caldorado felt a bit thicker and less responsive at times, the Caldorado II zips along efficiently without sacrificing any protection. The 19mm heel/11mm forefoot is unchanged and keeps the ride relatively close to the ground while the 9.5-ounce weight is unnoticeable as the miles tick by. This is now a shoe you can pull out of the box, lace up with double knots, and run any distance without a second thought. There is no break-in period, and no stopping to retie your shoes. If you had any qualms about the first version, you may now put those aside and go for a run… in these.

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II feature

The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II.

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II Upper

The new seamless upper eliminates the pressure points I experienced with the last design. The double-layer mesh coupled with the welded overlays are very unobtrusive and accommodating from the first mile. The excellent breathabilty remains, and once again, the mesh does an excellent job keeping dust, powdery snow, sand, and debris from entering the shoe. The shoes dry quickly after a snowy, sleety run, and are always ready to go the next day after a good stream submersion. The tongue is again gusseted to just before the ankle-collar lacing holes and stays perfectly in place. For those who prefer a waterproof-breathable upper, Columbia/Montrail makes the Caldorado II OUTDRY version, which I did not test. Also of note, if your winter runs require MICROspikes, the upper holds up well against the tension of the rubber attachment bands.

The heel cup remains firm and integrates well with the enhanced collar foam and lower-profile Achilles notch. No matter how off-camber the trail surface, the heel cup and ankle collar provide adequate support without ever bumping up against my Achilles or malleoli. The reinforced toe cap provides excellent protection for the perimeter of the forefoot. This is a fantastic feature if your runs take you where sharp pointy objects and rough foot placement between rocks abound. In any climate and for any type of trail running, there’s nothing I’d change about this upper.

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II lateral upper

The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II lateral upper.

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II Midsole

The Caldorado II again features the FluidFoam midsole blended with the FluidGuide enhanced midfoot stability, but this time, I noticed nothing but a smooth, cushioned, flexible ride right from the beginning. There was absolutely no break-in period and none of the excessive torsional stiffness I experienced with the first version. I have almost 300 miles on my current shoes in all types of weather, and they are still a pleasure to wear. The FluidGuide provides just enough ‘suggestion’ of stability that I don’t notice as much of the late-in-the-long-run foot and ankle fatigue. The FluidFoam makes running on dirt roads and rocky trails equally enjoyable. The TrailShield molded rock protection protects the foot flawlessly and integrates with the flex grooves that contribute to the smooth ride. As I noted in the previous review, these shoes really shine in the Utah desert or anywhere that long slickrock sections may be equally mixed with sandy washes.

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II medial upper

The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II medial upper.

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II Outsole

The full-length, sticky rubber outsole remains unchanged with the exception of the multi-directional lugs now being 4mm (instead of the 5mm lugs on the previous model). I didn’t notice any difference in performance. The traction is still outstanding on all rock, angled hard pack, and most of the trail conditions I encounter. These still aren’t mud-and-snow shoes, but they are excellent for everything else. Once again, the durability of this outsole is impressive. At nearly 300 miles, I’ve barely shaved off the subtle Columbia/Montrail pattern that covers the lug surfaces.

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II outsole

The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II outsole.

Overall Impressions

The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II has achieved a rare place for me and my “Princess and the Pea” feet—I have no suggestions for improvement. I hope Columbia/Montrail keeps this shoe as is for a few seasons because I think it has the potential to appeal to a wide variety of trail runners. This shoe makes me feel fast over a trail half marathon on the easy trails out my back door, but it holds up well to a full day in the Front Range mountains of Colorado. I could see it being the shoe of choice for many Western States runners as well as those who navigate the rocks and roots of the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania or the river-bluff trails of Johnson’s Shut-ins in Missouri. Good luck as you begin the selection of your ‘shoe(s) of choice’ for your summer racing season! The Caldorado II is worth a trial.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II, who has tried it? What do you think?
  • Have you tried the original Caldorado and now this second version? What changes do you see and what do you think of those changes?
  • How versatile have these shoes been for you in different kinds of conditions?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a shoe brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II womens color way

The Columbia/Montrail Caldorado II in one of the women’s color ways.

Kristin Zosel

is a mom, wife, ultrarunner, physical therapist (on sabbatical), and transcriptionist for iRunFar.com. Her love of steep uphills, high mountain environments, and Swiss “lovely cows” keep alpine visions dancing in her head and strong cappuccinos in her mug.

There are 6 comments

  1. Kim Neill

    Thanks for the review. It would be nice to see top view included in the photos–I think a top view, to see the toe box profile, is imperative in a shoe review.

  2. DF

    Hey, a mention for Laurel Highlands, love it! I wore the Saucony Peregrine in that race last year and they worked great. Kristin, have you found the fit to be the same since the brand merger? I enjoyed the FluidFlex FKT but wished for a little more toebox room.

    1. Kristin Zosel

      I found this to be even more accomodating than the first Caldorado… the mesh is slightly softer. I haven’t worn the FKT you mentioned, so I can’t speak to that exact shoe. I noticed no difference in the last pre/post merger, and as I mentioned, this one was significantly more comfortable out of the box. Strong work on the Laurel finish! Not an easy course!

  3. Amy

    Yes, I’m sponsored by Columbia/Montrail, so take with a grain of salt (although I’ve stuck with them because they’ve always worked for me) but I have to say that I LOVE these shoes. I wore them for Western States last year (granted, the old model, but I have really enjoyed both–didn’t have break-in issues that Kristin encountered, and think the second builds on what was great about the first), and never once adjusted my shoes the entire 100 miles. I’ve worn this newer model since July, and love it.

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