MONTRAIL FEATHERPEAK GTX BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY DON TAYLOR
INITIAL REPORT - May 10, 2010
FIELD REPORT - July 20, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - September 13, 2010
anfhiker AT yahoo DOT com
Youngstown, Ohio USA
5' 7" (1.70 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
For the past 13 years I have been camping/backpacking primarily in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia with the Allegheny National Forest as the most frequented location. My trips are generally long weekends and I try to camp or hike at least once in all 4 seasons with the fall being my favorite. My backpacking trips usually consist of 15 mile (24 km) days and a group of 2-3 other hikers in forested, moderately hilly areas. I consider myself a lightweight, slow and steady hiker. The winter hikes often involve heavy snow and freezing temperatures.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: www.montrail.com
MSRP: $190 US
Listed Weight: 1 lb 11.4 oz (.77 kg) each. No size specified.
Measured Weight: 1 lb 15 oz (.88 g) each. Size weighed-10 US.
Colors Available: Khaki
Outsole: Vibram Trek
Toe Counter: High Abrasion Rubber
Ride Height: 0.79 in (20 mm) heel, 0.31 in (8 mm) forefoot
Sizes Available: US 7-12, 13, 14, 15/UK 6-11,12,13,14/EUR 40-45,46,47,48
Size Tested: 10 US
When the boots arrived they were what I was expecting from looking at Montrail's website. I found the site to be easy to navigate and the pictures are adequate.
The manufacturer describes the boots as being designed for hiking, backpacking, and trekking on challenging terrain. The support and stability is engineered to make the boot useful for both carrying heavy loads over long distances or day hikes over challenging terrain. Other features of the boots listed on Montrail's website include :
- Vibram rubber compound with aggressive lug pattern for traction
- Full length polyurethane midsole with TPU footbed and shank for support
- Nubuk (a type of leather) with high abrasion leather overlays and scratch leather toe cap for toe protection (although just below this section of the website the toe protection is listed as high abrasion rubber, which is what is on the boots I received.)
- Quick pull features ball bearing design for friction resistant lacing
- Fit- High instep, tall volume, roomy toe box.
Originally I assumed that these boots were not waterproof because it is not listed as a feature. However, based off of the manufacturer's website descriptions of other Montrail boots, I believe the GTX means the boots have a Gore Tex lining and are therefore waterproof and breathable however I cannot confirm that. Some clarity on the website would be helpful.
The laces are made of a synthetic material and are laced through four ball bearing equipped metal hoops and three speed hooks on each side.
TRYING IT OUT
Since the boots have arrived I have worn them (without a pack) for at least 5 trail miles (8 km) and 5 days of around town use. I received a size 10 US as ordered and the boots fit great. The boots are very appealing and they appear to be made of good quality materials with no obvious defects.
|Agressive Lug Pattern|
The laces are perfect lengths and the boots are very easy to lace up into a secure fit. I have never used boots that featured ball bearings in the lace-up system so this has been a great new feature. The laces pull tight with ease and the speed hooks hold the tight fit all the way to the top. Getting a nice secure fit is a very easy.
During my first use I found that the insides of both ankles became very sore from unforgiving spots inside the boots. The pain was not overly terrible, but it was nice to take them off at the end of my first short hike. The pressure continues to lessen the more I wear them so for now I am going to consider the issue as initial break-in trouble. The boots were also very noisy out of the box. Very noticeable squeaking can be heard with each step. While this may be helpful to scare off bears, it is very annoying after a mile or two. This too is lessening with use. Other than the ankle pressure, I have not noticed any other sore or hot spots from the boots.
During my short hike to try the boots out, the trail was muddy and slippery in spots. The aggressive tread was appreciated and keeping my footing was not an issue. The Vibram soles provide a comfortable ride and the toe box is indeed roomy like the manufacturer states. The temperature was approximately 72 F (40 C) and I was wearing mid-weight, wool socks. The boots seemed to breathe well during the entire hike.
I could not find any place were the manufacturer lists the boots as waterproof however during my muddy hike my feet stayed dry.
To this point I have found that the boots will require a break-in period. They are very rigid around the inside, against my ankles, which really creates sore spots, and they are very noisy while I walk. Both of these issues seem to be getting better with use, but I will be monitoring this very closely over the next few months.
The sore spots aside, I really like the support the boots provide, especially in the ankles. I tend to roll my ankles a lot while hiking, however these boots seem to provide great support which has been noticeable right out of the box.
The lacing system is great too. I have never used a lace-up system that uses ball bearings and I really like the feature on these boots. I am able to pull the laces into a tight fit very easily and they stay in place very well with the speed hooks.
Overall, these boots appear to be very well made and they provide excellent support. With approximately 8-10 miles (13-16 km) of use so far, the boots are still in the break-in period but seem to be getting more comfortable and quieter with continued use.
Please check back in two months to see the progress of this test.
Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Montrail for the opportunity to test these boots.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have worn the Montrail Featherpeak Boots on a several long-weekend trips to Southern Ohio and the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. My longest trip was a four day hike in the Allegheny National Forest along the North Country Trail at the end of May. Temperatures on these trips ranged anywhere from 22 F (-6 C) on one really chilly April night to 87 F (48 C) on a recent June trip. The terrain varied from well groomed, flat trails to muddy, steep, barely visible, root and rock filled paths. As to be expected here in the Midwest, on every trip I experienced some bit of rain including an all out downpour during a thunderstorm. My four day trip to the Allegheny Forest included several stream crossings.
|Boots in the ANF|
As for the weight I carried while wearing the boots, on my shorter hikes, my pack weighed in at around 30 pounds (14 kg) because I brought along cold weather gear and some comfort items that I would not carry for longer treks. For my four day trip, my pack weighed in at 32 pounds (15 kg).
So far, I have hiked at least 50 miles (81 km) while wearing the Featherpeaks on top of countless miles of around town walking and yard work.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
With the break-in period behind me, I can report that the pressure around my ankles has decreased to much more comfortable levels. Unfortunately, the squeaking noise has not. The noise appears to be coming from where the tongue of the boots meets the uppers. The only way to get the noise to stop is to loosen the laces, which is obviously unacceptable while carrying a pack. I find that the noise can be maddening when I am struggling up a difficult hill. The noise aside, the boots continue to provide great support through the ankles. I tend to have problems with my ankles while hiking through rough terrain but I have had no issues while wearing these boots.
The boots have held up very well to this point. I have not noticed any spots that seem to be weakening. The rubber around the toe box is still in great shape despite walking through some rough, rocky terrain. The laces have also held up great and snugging them down, making a tight fit, has continued to be easy. The soles show only minimal wear and they continue to provide great traction.
The fit continues to improve the more I wear the boots. My foot stays in place and I have not had any issues with blisters forming. I have noticed during these summer months that my feet become hot inside the boots even while wearing lighter socks although it is manageable.
As for waterproofing, the boots do a great job. I have crossed several streams without ending up with wet feet unless I stepped where the water went over the tops. Even then, the boots seemed to dry quickly.
To this point the boots have held up very well. The squeaking noise is still a problem however and I am hoping it goes away with continued use. The boots have proven to be very waterproof and they have kept my feet free from blisters. The break-in period was comparable to other boots I have owned with the support around the ankles being the biggest concern during the break-in time. Most all other areas were comfortable from the start and the fit continues to improve with use. Although my feet tended to stay warm in hot conditions, it was not a major issue.
|Condition After Two Months|
Overall, other than the annoying squeaking, I have enjoyed the boots and the great support that they provide.
Please check back in two months to read my long term report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I was able to get out to the Zaleski State Forest in southern Ohio for a 2 day, 24 mile (39 km) hike for the final stage of the test. The terrain was generally very rough and often covered with rocks and roots which created many ankle and knee twisting opportunities. The elevation varied from 500 ft (152 m) to 1100 ft (335 m) with several steep ascents and descents. The weather was great with temperatures ranging from 45 F (7C) at night to 75 F (24 C) during the days. In addition to this trip, I have hiked several 4 to 6 mile (6 to 10 km) day-hikes in Cook Forest State Park in western Pennsylvania. I have also continued to wear the boots around town and while mowing the grass, which is a 3 hour chore by hand. I estimate the boots have seen over 100 miles (161 km) of wear to this point.
On my most recent trip to Zaleski State Forest, my pack weight was 35 lbs (16 kg) including water and I wore a standard wool sock with no liner.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Featherpeaks have held up well. There are no signs of excessive wear and tear and the rubber over the toe boxes has done a great job of protecting the area.
|Boots After 4 Months and 100+ Miles|
The boots have also continued to keep my feet blister free. My hiking buddy who wore a similar style of boot for our Zaleski hike wound up with a nasty blister on each foot while I experienced only a few hot spots that never turned into any blisters. The hike involved a few stream crossings and I am happy to report that my feet stayed completely dry.
One previous concern that I thought had been resolved by the break-in period became an issue again along with a new gripe on my Zaleski trip. The support around the ankles created some major sore spots on my ankle bones during the first day of the hike. I resolved this by keeping the laces loose around the ankles however this created an issue with my feet sliding around a little. Hopefully this is just an extended break-in issue and it will go away with time.
The other issue I experienced involved the bottoms of my feet. By the second day of the hike, both of my feet hurt just behind my toes. I don't believe this was caused by the laces being a little loose because the pain seemed more impact related. It felt like there just was not enough padding in the boots. Between that and the sore spots on my ankles, I was happy to take the boots off when I got to camp at the end of the day.
With standard wool socks on, I didn't find the boots to be overly hot even with the temperatures in the 70's F (20's C). I would, however, not rate the ventilation as great, although that is what I would expect of most Gore Tex boots.
Unfortunately, I can not report that the squeaking issue has gone away. With every step there continues to be a squeaking noise, regardless of whether the boots are laced up tight or loose. I have become used to it, however it was definitely noticed by my hiking partner.
Overall, I feel that the boots are well constructed. Even after miles of use on rugged trails they are showing minimal signs of wear. The laces are in great shape and the soles look just like they did when I got them. The Featherpeaks are excellent when it comes to waterproofing and average with ventilation. They provide great ankle support however they continue to put pressure on my ankle bones which is causing some major sore spots unless I keep the laces loose. As for the sore spots on the bottoms of my feet, after the test I plan to try out some inserts which I suspect will fix the issue. While not a comfort issue, the squeaking is annoying but manageable.
I plan to purchase inserts to try on my next hike. If that solves the sore feet issue, the only other factor that would stop me from making these boots my primary ones would be the ankle sore spots. I hope to see the issue go away with more use.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Thank you to Montrail and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these boots.
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