Rating: 5 / 5
I've only put about 40 miles on these shoes so far, but I absolutely love them. I hope this review is not premature; I've gained a lot of insight from these forums, and wanted to be sure I gave something back. I'm a longtime runner (about 23 years), so if my experience with backpacking boots is limited, my background with running shoes may make up for that to some degree.
These are among the few best pair of athletic shoes I've ever owned. Period. Maybe the best. First, they fit like a (very comfortable) glove. That will vary from person to person, of course, as it probably has a great deal to do with the last Montrail uses. Apparently, someone from Montrail snuck in and cast my dogs while I slept, because these are spot on.
Beyond that, the lacing system is beautiful. I thought it would take me awhile to get used to that fully closed instep that you have to drag on a bit, but not at all. The lacing cinches down perfectly, and the whole shoe wraps and supports the foot excpetionally well. I've never had a shoe that was so snug and yet so completely went away, just integrating with the foot.
The base of the shoe (let's call that the sole and midsole) are also very stable. Much more so than I would have thought something with the curved and narrow rocker of a running shoe could be. One feels very confident putting the foot down because the landing is consistently stable.
I had these out for about 3.5 miles in a torrential downpour. The trail quickly turned to a running channel. That's not much experience, to be sure, but grip did seem good.
They do run a touch warm. Presumably this is due to the Gore-Tex. It's far from bad, though; I use low-cut synthetic socks and have not yet had an issue of overheating, clamminess, or the like. (As a rule, I should probably note, I don't have problems with that.) Still, if you don't want waterproofing, then you might go with the Hardrock to get a cooler shoe.
Final thoughts: I had considered buying the Montrail Namche before I got the Hurricane Ridge. And may still. I'm not yet convinced that a higher ankle does not have net advantages over trail runners when one is carrying more weight. But I'm less skeptical about trail runners now. These sneaks are gradually changing my mind.
What I _will_ buy is a a pair of the Hardrocks to use as my regular, non-backpacking runners.
So, IMHO, this is an outstanding product. If you're in the market for new kicks, the Hurricane Ridge is well worth checking out.
Many happy miles, folks.