We mentioned this over in our Columbia Montrail apparel review, but it’s worth repeating as many are doubting this. They are seeing this as Columbia taking over Montrail but keep in mind that they have owned Montrail for over 11 years. What we are seeing now is really them stepping out together and mixing technology typically reserved for Columbia products into Montrail gear. They have been doing this under the hood, but by adding the Columbia brand name to it as well, then distribution potential increases dramatically.
The upper on the Caldorado II is seamless with the exception of the lacing box. It does have a nice spider weaving of welded overlays that provide some structure especially on the lateral and medial sides. The collar is nicely padded and honestly comfortable and I experienced zero slippage. The toe cap is reinforced for extra protection and the toebox itself gives you a little bit extra wiggle room, but not as much as I’d love. This leads to one problem I noticed on the wear side. On the lateral sides where the fifth metatarsal (pinky toe!) contacts the upper, it tends to wear very quickly. There is significant contact during run, but the interior is soft and you don’t notice it, but it definitely wears quicker than anywhere else on the shoe.
The midsole is composed of their FluidFoam system which is really their EVA design and attempt to make it softer, lighter, and more responsive. It compresses and expands well during run and is really comfortable under foot. It’s got enough cushion that you have a solid level of control, but don’t have a ton of ground feel. The mid also continues to use what they call FluidGuide, which is really just a mid-foot stability system that helps keep you on track in technical terrain.
The outsole is full length rubber and features a really crazy multi-directional lug pattern. The lugs are 4mm and honestly I found these to grip very well. I am not sure how much the scattered square lugs that run down the middle actually do anything, but the very specifically designed lugs along the edging seem to manage uphills and downhills really well. There is also a protection plate (TrailShield) integrated into the forefoot.
Style & Aesthetics
Honestly, the shoe looks a little like the original Caldorado just less aggressive overall and it also of course features the new Columbia Montrail lockup. We tested the lime which can get very dirty over time and does not seem to clean well, but honestly I still preferred it over the grey/red model. I think its solid looking overall, definitely not a hiker and also not overly in your face aggressive. It strikes a good balance.
I’ll be honest and say I really came into this not expecting a lot from the shoe, but I was definitely in for a wake-up call. Montrail made some changes to their line-up in the late 2000s that alienated a lot of people and at first glance, this felt like we might be headed that way. My first runs with the Caldorado II were on some gnarly rainy Portland days and the trails became a mix of slush, mud, puddles, and treachery. So yeah, the perfect test… and the IIs were super resilient. As I leaped over puddles or hit soft spots I could feel the stability from the FluidGuide system kick in and I could hold my line. The FluidFoam was comfortable underfoot and I wasn’t experiencing a ton of foot or leg fatigue. Overall, I felt quick and nimble and genuinely really enjoyed the runs.
I do have some nitpicks of course. First, at distance I would love a little more cushion so potentially a bit of a stack height increase. Right now, the Caldorado II can definitely let you go 20+ at a decent clip, but if you are looking at ultra distances or if you are a little slower with heavier legs, then your legs will want a little more comfort. Second, the wear pattern on the upper has me a little concerned. The lateral sides can’t seem to handle the pressure and if I look back at the original Caldorado, it used to have an overlay in this spot. It doesn’t affect the run, but will cause the shoe to wear faster than normal.
The story here is obviously the rebrand of Montrail into Columbia Montrail and whether that has negatively impacted the quality and history of Montrail which has a huge fan base. For me, I think this represents the best of both sides and while it’s true to the original Caldorado, it makes use of Columbia’s styling and resources to better round out the shoe. It’s definitely not as visually excited as the original, but this is clearly an attempt to broaden the market.
Technical Stats, Pricing & Availability
- Weight: 10.4oz (size 9.5)
- Drop: 8mm heel/toe (19mm/11mm)
- Stack Height: 19mm
- MSRP: $120.00
- Available: Now