|Vitesse - the original Montrail, and basically, the original trail runner in the US.|
|My last pair of Leona Divides - I've been milking 'em for a few years, only using them in the winter as they're retro-fitted with screws ala-Bronco Billy style.|
Others came and went over the years: Wasatch (very rugged, never tried it), Diez Vista (Diabloesque, but I never tried it), Masai (was a great shoe - light, fast, and highly breathable, but some durability issues), Susitna (goretex version of Masai, the goretex was more like a softshell which worked really well; great for snowshoeing), Kinabulu (Brandon-inspired, was made for desert running on slickrock and sandstone), Continental Divide (Leona’s overly-stiff successor), Hardrock (I never tried any of the 3 or 4 versionas of this beefy shoe, but it was a huge hit with some of the bigger runners, as well as with hikers), Highline (basically a neutral, cushy Hardrock; I remember Krissy being quoted as saying they were like running on pillows), Mountain Mist (goretex verison of the Highline), Nitrus (fast-looking, great for multiple surfaces, had outsole nub issues), Odyssey (weak attempt at a Masai replacement, although Hart, Grossman, and Chris really liked it; I still use an old pair for mowing the lawn), Wildwood (urban trail runner for both trails and roads, I never tried them), Highlander (narrow fit with big lugs, good in the mud), Streak (Montrail’s first big change to a lighter, lower, more flexible shoe; also, the first Montrail I got to wear-test).
|Quite possibly the most recognizable trail running shoe outsole pattern in history. Photo courtesy Glenn Tachiyama|
Newest Montrails: Badrock (Fluidpost version of the Rockridge), Fairhaven (great fitting, fairly plush, road/trail hybrid, it's currently my go-to road shoe for lunch runs; another shoe I got to wear-test), Rogue Racer (I was very fortunate to wear-test this very extensively and see my input included in the production model). The Rogue is basically a racing flat, and thus, by far the biggest change from a traditional Montrail. And this is a good thing. A very good thing. It's light (official specs say 8.8 oz, but my food scale says 7.7 oz), definitely low-profile, extremely breathable (i.e., it drains well), highly flexible, great little grippy nubs, has a flexible rubber rock plate, and, well, it just looks cool. Plus, it's fast!
Future Montrails: okay, I really can't say anything specific here, but I can say the Rogue was just a start in the new wave of lighter and faster Montrails.
So, this all brings me back to my current Montrail kicks. By far, most of my miles are in the Rogue Racer. When I first started testing them over a year ago, I figured they would be good for up to 20-25 miles maximum. Well, last weekend I wore a pair for all 3 days of the 3 Days of Syllamo stage race (50k, 50mi, 20k). I was a bit concerned by the ruggedness of the trails and sheer distance, but I'm excited to report that my legs and feet were very happy with my choice. I had absolutely zero issues. Sure, my legs are now tired, but I expected that after the race. So now I know I would wear them for most trail races up to 100k (and they would be great for varied-terrain races such as American River and JFK), however, I'm still unsure if they would be my 100-miler shoe. Of course, if you know me and how good of a 100 miler I am, that obviously isn't an issue.
|My current favorite Rogue Racer, complete with knee and shin blood around the collar thanks to Syllamo!|
As I mentioned above, the Fairhaven is my current go-to shoe for my daily lunch runs. It's cushy on the roads and has great nubby traction for a little snow and mud that's currently on my trails. The Rockridge is what I consider my 4x4 shoe - the one I can wear for any conditions. If I'm not comfortable with the Rogue for a trail run, the Rockridge is the one I use. It's great for Smith Rock State Park's ruggedness and big vert, is comfortable, runs great on the flats as well as big elevation changes, has good lugs for mud and snow, and it is the one pair of shoes I took with me to Chile for 12 days last October (which included the mountainous Ultramaraton de los Andes 80 km race, plus lots and lots of hiking).
So, there you have it. Montrails. Lots of Montrails. Old and new. What running models did I miss (I'm excluding Montrail's many hiking, mountaineering, climbing, casual, and sandals they've made over the years)? What's your favorite?
One final note: If this post got you excited about Montrails and your favorite local running store doesn't carry them, you can now order a pair directly from Montrail's fancy new website (the website even helps you determine which pair should best suit your needs).