An industry first, Columbia Sportswear launched a shoe made with a thin waterproof material from its jacket and outerwear line.
New this spring, a trail-running shoe from Columbia Montrail stands apart with thin uppers and a “permanent beading surface” where water beads and rolls off. We put the Caldorado II Outdry Extreme to a wet-weather test for this review.
For some context: Most waterproof-breathable running shoes have a laminate “bootie” inside the upper that blocks out water. Made from Gore-Tex or other waterproof-breathable fabrics, the bootie is sewn inside the other fabrics that constitute the shoe.
Columbia Montrail (a rebranding of shoemaker Montrail) takes a different approach with the Caldorado II Outdry Extreme, putting its waterproof-breathable face fabric to use. This shoe stays dry from the outside-in.
I tested the shoes for a couple months, including in Colorado during wet runs and in the snow, as well as during a Columbia-sponsored trip in Europe with several other members of the media.
Permanent Beading Surface
Outdry Extreme is among a new breed of waterproof-breathable fabrics. With a “permanent beading surface,” the fabric is rubbery in texture, yet breathable like Gore-Tex. It requires no DWR and cannot “wet out,” meaning water will not absorb into the outer fabric.
The Caldorado II is the first application of this technology in a running shoe. From initial tests, it works.
Review: Columbia Montrail Caldorado II Shoe
Columbia Montrail has two versions of the Caldorado II. The Caldorado II ($120) weighs in at 10.4 oz. and has a breathable mesh upper. The Caldorado II Outdry Extreme ($155) is waterproof-breathable and weighs 11.4 oz. for a men’s 9.5.
We’ve been testing these two shoes for months, and are impressed with the overall design. The last and outsole, which is identical in both models, is a nice middle-of-the-road design for trail running, hiking, and daily wear.
The brand touts the “FluidFoam” insole — a high-density EVA — for good support. The neutral 19mm-11mm heel-toe drop falls right in the sweet spot of current running shoes.
In testing, these have become a favorite in my quiver. Both models are reasonably light (10.4/11.4 ounces) for a size 9.5 men’s model, and are also available in a women’s last.
The 4mm outsole lugs work well on everything from rock and dirt to snow, and the upper creates a great cradle for the foot. I found these secure and fairly precise for foot placements on tricky terrain, but not so narrow to be uncomfortable on my fairly wide foot.
Running in the non-waterproof Caldorado II over the past months, I’ve come to really like it as a daily runner for my standard five-mile training runs. I’ve not yet tried it in longer runs, but will look to it as I progress into the running season.
Review: Caldorado II Outdry Extreme ($155)
The addition of Outdry Extreme makes the Caldorado II a cold-weather beast. While I’ve only had the opportunity to test it for the past month, it’s already proven an effective tool for wet, cold, sloppy weather.
The Outdry Extreme model does not have a mesh upper. Instead, it is covered with the rubbery-feeling waterproof-breathable face. It does not have any DWR. Instead, the surface permanently beads water as a true waterproof face.
There are a couple distinct advantages of the Outdry Extreme material vs. more traditional waterproof-breathable laminates. First, with the waterproof layer on the outside of the lion’s share of upper material, the shoe materials, not just the foot, are protected from water. Thus, it won’t get heavier when you plod through puddles.
Second, because there is more material between the waterproof membrane and the foot, there is more space for moisture to move before vapor moves through the membrane. On an entirely theoretical level, this seems to keep the foot itself drier. It’s difficult to compare with more traditional designs, but these shoes do seem to stay fairly dry on runs in cold weather.
The Caldorado II Outdry Extreme is a pretty warm shoe for running. Even wearing on long travel days (like a recent flight to Europe), they started to feel hot.
I would not recommend these for hot weather running. Choose the non-waterproof version for warm, dry weather. Also, it’s worth noting that any waterproof material is less breathable than non-waterproof mesh. If your feet tend to sweat a lot, you will probably overwhelm the breathability at some distance. All-day runs are also likely to overwhelm waterproof shoes.
They’re a great tool, just don’t look to them as a one-size solution for moisture management.
How will this outward-facing waterproof layer hold up to the rigors of trail running? That question remains to be answered completely, as I only have about 30 miles on these shoes so far.
So far, so good. GearJunkie will update this section as we put more miles on this model.
The Caldorado II is a very good shoe from Columbia Montrail. Many runners will remember and respect the Montrail name. The co-branding by the parent company is a new move that could spur better distribution in North America.
Look for several new products from Columbia Montrail in the coming year with a core running focus. Running tights, jackets, accessories, and shoes will give runners head-to-toe options from the brand.
For warm-weather runners, the Caldorado II ($120) is a solid new option that should suit many athletes. The Caldorado II Outdry Extreme ($155), while more specialized, is an exciting new option for those who push miles over frozen, sloppy, or wet trails.