We review here three Montrail shoes:
- Sabino Trail Mid GTX: these turned out to have an E width
- Mountain Masochist Mid GTX: these turned out to have a D width
- AT Plus: low-cut shoes for comparison, which turned out to have an E width
As mentioned in the main article, we were looking for wide mid-height shoes, and the web site did say that these were wide. This could deceive the customer who does not try the shoes on physically before buying. We are not happy with those web sites which do not tell the customer up front what the actual widths are on the internationally-accepted Brannock scale.
Roger and Sue Caffin
It was only after these shoes arrived that we realised that they were not as wide as we had expected. The widths listed above do not appear on the Montrail web site: they were obtained after an email request to the company. They certainly could not fit our 4E feet, even with just thin socks. The narrow widths meant that we could not test these shoes out in the field. A few comments can be made from inspection - that is all.
When the shoes arrived in Australia, they stank rather badly with an acrid 'chemical' smell, and this smell lasted for many weeks - or even several months. (I checked regularly.) Even if the shoes had been of a satisfactory width, we do not think we would have been happy wearing them because of this smell. We do not know what caused it, but suspect the manufacturing process.
All the Montrail shoes had the lacing connected to the toe of the shoe as well as at the two sides of the tongue. This is visible in the photos. We don't like this idea for two reasons. The first is that it gets in the way of a front hook on gaiters; the second is that it seems to pull the toe of the shoe upwards, which can, in some cases, be uncomfortable and intrusive. Fortunately, it is very easy to undo that lacing.
My feet are measured to be an E width, so the Montrail Sabino Trail and AT Plus shoes did fit my feet. They are not, however, as wide as the GoLite shoes we tested. I think back to the earlier Montrail shoes with their IntegralFit last; they had a wide toebox and fairly narrow heel, so they were a good fit for my feet. The new Montrail shoes seem to have abandoned that last. The current Hardrock Wide, AT Plus, and Sabino Trail are intended to fit wider feet, but they are not all that wide. These are shoes that you will need to try on to see if they are wide enough for your feet. The Mountain Masochist is a very nice shoe, but unfortunately it is simply too narrow and I could not wear it. Contrary to Roger's account, when my shoes arrived, they did have a solvent smell, but it quickly dissipated and was forgotten.
Montrail AT Plus – 408 g (14.4 oz), E width
These are very robust low-cut joggers - they actually weigh more than the Mountain Masochists, which are mid-height. They have a very solid sole with good lugs underneath. It is unlikely that they would ever clog up with mud. The footbed is reasonable, with not too much padding at the arch, and the edges of the heel cup should not cause problems. The exterior or upper is also rather robust and should block dust very well. There are two sets of top holes for the lacing: if you have 'solid' feet you won't want to use them both. The laces are soft and knot well. The tongue is well padded and wide enough. The ankle cuff is padded, but you will need to check the bit at the back, on either side of the Achilles tendon. For some it will be fine; for others it may be a bit intrusive. But it is soft enough that it should adapt to your foot.
I tried these on around the house (inside and outside) for a while. They were not bad, but Montrail had initially shipped a size 12 to me by mistake, and the toe was, of course, excessively long for my foot. They corrected that and sent me the required size 10 later. Since these shoes do not have a membrane lining the base, the footbed was fairly flat, and the footbed would be comfortable for someone with a narrower foot than mine. I was able to wear these around the house, but I could sense that they were too narrow. The ankle cuff was soft and unintrusive, the tongue was soft and wide enough, and the lacing fairly good. Certainly they felt very robust, especially at the sole. I did not wear them long enough to say much more.
These are low-cut shoes we used for comparison with the mid-heights. I wore them on several day hikes while carrying a backpack. Montrail says they are an E width. They are adequately wide for me, when wearing medium weight socks, but they are not as comfortable (for me) as the GoLite shoes. The difference is apparently in the lasts used. They fit quite well; I like them better than the two Montrail mid-height boots, but I wish the toebox was wider.
Montrail Sabino Trail Mid GTX – 442 g (15.6 oz), E width
There is no doubt that these are mid-height: they are very high at the front. The upper cuff band is slightly separate from the main body of the shoe, so you could choose to leave one of the top two holes unlaced - or even both. They have the same sole pattern as the AT-Plus shoes, and the same laces. The side of the sole is labeled 'Perimeter control' - meaning unexplained. The base of the sole is labeled 'Gryptonite' - but no triangular big G signs. The mesh upper seems a lot more open weave than the fabric uppers on the AT-Plus shoes, but the shoe does have a Gore-Tex lining, so dust isn't going to get in. Mind you, in summer heat that also means that moisture is not going to escape very easily, Gore-Tex notwithstanding.
The size supplied was an 11, but I could feel the narrow width, so I only wore them around the house and outside the house. In addition, it seemed that the footbed (similar to the AT-Plus) was lower in the middle than at the left and right edges. I removed the footbed and checked: yes, the internal construction did seem to be raised at the sides. I am not sure why this was so. This may not worry someone with a narrow foot, but it did worry me a bit. I tried putting these boots on and off a couple of times: it was a bit of a struggle getting my foot into and out of the very high ankle cuff.
These boots are also an E width according to Montrail, but they seem narrower, and I had to wear thinner socks in them so they were not too tight. Although they look like a very lightweight, supportive, and protective boot, my feet were not happy after a full day of hiking in them. On a trip to Bryce Canyon NP, I alternated wearing the Sabino Trail and GoLite Carbo Lite, and the Carbo Lite was much more comfortable. I like the Sabino pronation control, and they have excellent traction. I'm disappointed that the fit did not agree with my feet, because these are otherwise very nice boots.
Montrail Mountain Masochist Mid GTX - 391 g (13.8 oz), D width
Higher than the AT-Plus joggers, but not as high as the Sabino Trail Mid GTX boots - and lighter than either of them. Unfortunately, as Will writes, they are quite narrow. The sole is different from the previous two, as you can see from the photos. There is some room for a bit of mud to collect in the diagonal grooves, but they are very tapered and it is unlikely that much would stick there. The sole is a much lighter construction, with Gryptonite still there and a small 'Sticky rubber' logo as well. Certainly they flex more easily than the previous two. The upper has a mesh exterior and a Gore-Tex lining. The laces are the same as the others. The tongue is, as usual for a membrane-lined shoe, connected up the sides.
These are supposed to be a size narrower than the previous two, but I have to say I could not feel a lot of difference. What I did notice was that the footbed felt a lot flatter than on the Sabino Trails, and checking under the footbed confirmed that. The ankle cuff was lower and definitely not intrusive, as found on the Sabino Trail shoe.
These boots are a D width according to Montrail. They are very nice lightweight boots, but they are simply too narrow for my feet. I wore them on two day hikes, then quit wearing them. They squeeze my toes together too much and my feet were sore by the end of the day.
This is a mini-review in the 2011 Lightweight Mid-Height Trail Shoes State of the Market Report. A subscription to our site is needed to read the parent article.
Disclosure: The manufacturers provided these products to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and they are owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review these products under the terms of this agreement.