Rating: 3 / 5
I guess I'm an "old school" backpacker and maybe old habits and expectations are hard to break... But, I've been giving it one heck of a try. About 4 years ago I left my heavy backpacking/ mountaineering boots and bomb-proof gear behind in the quest for lightweight Nirvana. I must say that I'm a convert in all areas save one... Boots.
Since beginning the enlightenment, I've been on a quest for the perfect boot. I say "boot" since sports-related ankle injuries and the terrain I travel (N. AZ, Grand Canyon, S. CO) have me looking at mid-style models. I found the fit of Montrail Hardrock Lo's to be great for loadless day-hiking, and that led me to my encounters with Montrail Namches and now the Mid GTX for backpacking.
The loads I carry hover in the 35 lb. range for a 5-day trip, and I'm starting to wonder if that's at the outside limit for boots with largely a fabric/mesh construction and lighter non-Vibram plastic soles.
Durability has been huge issue with both the Namches and the Mid GTXs.
The construction of the GTXs seemed to have addressed stitching wear troubles with the Namches. And, I must say the GTXs held up a bit better. But, not well enough for nearly double the cost.
I began observing wear issues with abrasion of the uppers within the first 25 miles and now at the 100-mile mark the fit has became sloppy enough that toe-bang problems are surfacing despite lacing and sock variations.
Traction on loose rock has never been as good in the GTXs as with other more luggy soles. Confidence of foot placement on wet rock has been an issue that I haven't had in my previous experiences with Vibram. The lugs have worn down rapidly and in some cases have come off in small chunks, leading to poorer traction. Separation of the soles from the heel also began fairly early.
The fabric along the sides began to blow-out shortly after the 50-mile mark. However, this is definitely improved over the Namches. The top of the collar toward the front of the shoe wore quickly on the inside edges of both boots with small tears that have now growth to an inch and a half in length.
The lacing system allows for a snug fit, however the speed-lacers at the top of the boot have a very shallow design, which leads to the laces frequently popping out of the speed-lace lugs and frustrating stops for re-lacing.
I rated these a 3 since they felt great for the first 50 miles or so. But at $130 for the pair, I'd expect better durability and traction.
I'm beginning to think that I'm expecting too much from a pair of size 13 boots weighing in at 22 oz. each, particularly given the terrain in which I'm using them.
It's a bummer because I love the initial fit of these Hardrock-based designs.
These were purchased in July of 2008 and I understand that Montrail may have significantly revamped the design. Has anyone had a better experience with the 2009 model?