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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Montrail Featherpeak GTX Boots > Test Report by Michael Wheiler

MONTRAIL FEATHER PEAK GTX BOOTS
By Michael Wheiler
May 12, 2010

Side View
Side View

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INITIAL REPORT:  MAY 12, 2010
FIELD TEST REPORT:  JULY 19, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT:  SEPTEMBER 14, 2010

Personal Information:

Name:    Michael Wheiler
Age:   54
Gender:   Male
Height:   5'10"  (178 cm)
Weight:   180 lb (82 kg)
Foot Size:  10.5 US
Location:   Southeast Idaho
Email:   jmwlaw AT ida DOT net

Experience

I have about 41 years experience hiking, camping, and backpacking.  I have been active in the Boy Scout program as a youth and as an adult leader.  In the past five years, I have also done quite a bit of mountaineering with summits on peaks such as Mt. Rainier and the Grand Teton.  I consider myself a mid-weight backpacker working toward carrying a lighter pack to accommodate my aging body but I do carry considerably more weight during winter months.

Field Testing Environment:

Most of my camping, hiking and backpacking occurs in the southeastern Idaho area but spills over into western Wyoming and western Montana.  I occasionally get into the mountains of central Idaho as well.  The areas I frequent generally range from 5,500 ft (1,600 m) to 8,500 ft (2,600 m).  The weather in southeastern Idaho is fairly typical of a high desert plain.


INITIAL REPORT

According to Montrail, the Feather Peak GTX is a "Premium performance hiking and backpacking boot designed for challenging terrain and trekking" and the boots provide the "capability to carry heavy loads over long distances, or day hikes."

SPECIFICATIONS:

Manufacturer:
Manufacturer's Web Site Address:
Montrail
http://www.montrail.com
Date of Manufacture:
Color:
2010
Khaki
Weight (Per Manufacturer):
Weight (Per Tester):
1 lb 11.4 oz (0.77 kg) per boot (size not specified)
1 lb 14.1 oz (1.7 kg) per pair (size 10.5 US)
Midsole:
Full length polyurethane midsole with TPU footbed and shank for superior support
Outsole:
Vibram Trek rubber compound with aggressive lug pattern for traction on a variety of surfaces
Upper:
Nubuk with high-abrasion leather overlays and scratch leather toe cap of high-abrasion rubber
Interior:
Gortex lining
Lacing: Four sets of quick pull eyelets feature ball-bearing design for friction resistant lacing; three sets of speed hooks
Durometer¹: 65 Asker C (+/- 3 degrees)
Ride Height (Per Manufacturer):
Boot Height (Per Tester):
0.79 in (20 mm) heel; 0.31 in (8 mm) forefoot
6.25 in (16 cm) from the floor to the top of the boot in the back and 8 in (20 cm) from the floor to the top of the boot in the front
Fit: High instep; tall volume; roomy toe box
MSRP:
$190.00 US

INITIAL INSPECTION:

The Montrail Feather Peak GTX Boots arrived in good shape and looked exactly like what I saw on the company websiteThe boots are uninsulated.  They have a Gortex waterproof liner which a presume is also breathable.  The Feather Peak GTX boots are mid-weight, mid-length style.  The top of the boots slope from front to back by about 2 in (5 cm).

Side and Back View
Side and Back View

The Vibram sole sports an aggressive lug pattern for traction on a variety of surfaces.

Sole
View of the Vibram Sole

The lacing system consists of seven total pairs of eyelets/hooks per boot.  The bottom four pairs are eyelets with a ball-bearing design to alleviate friction.  The top three pairs are speed hooks.  When I tried on the boots in the house, I noticed that it was easy to miss the middle speed hook set if I wasn't paying attention.  The shoe laces are made of a synthetic material.  The laces pulled quickly and easily through the eyelets.

Laces
The Lace System


INITIAL USE:


I was able to take the boots with me to the Grand Teton Council's Jamboral last weekend at the Blackfoot, Idaho Fair Ground (4,498 ft/1,371 m elevation).  The temperature was around the freezing mark that evening but fell to 17 F (-8 C) by the next morning.  Even though these boots are uninsulated, with good wool socks and a polypro lining, my feet stayed warm.  We were required to park our vehicles away from the camping area and pack our equipment in to our designated camp site.  By the time I hauled in several loads, including my backpack which weighed 32 pounds (14.5 kg), and walked around looking at all the exhibits and exchanging trading cards with other participants, I'm guessing I walked about six miles (10 km).  After the first couple of hours, I began to notice that top of my right foot began to hurt and tighten up.  As I continued to walk in the boots, the pain and tightness slowly went away.  Toward the end of the day, I also began to notice that both boots squeaked when I walked.  It was so noisy while I was at the Jamboral that I couldn't hear any squeaking so I'm not sure when it started.  I didn't notice any squeaking while I was loading my vehicle and walking around the house.  The squeaking was loud enough to be annoying.  Hopefully that will resolve with continued use.

INITIAL IMPRESSION:

With the exception of a bit of tightness across the top of my right foot which lessened with use and a squeak which developed in both boots while I was walking, I really like these boots.  They look sharp, provided good support for my feet and ankles during the initial use, and gave me excellent traction on grass, dirt and cement.  The boots were fairly easy to lace up but it was easy to miss the middle speed hooks in the process because they are offset (a bit back) from the alignment of the other two sets.  The speed hooks really bite into the laces and for that reason, I will be interested to see how long the laces last.

LIKES:
  • Sturdy and appear to be well built
  • Good support for feet and ankles
  • Good traction
DISLIKES:
  • Need some break-in time
  • Boots squeak while walking

FIELD REPORT
July 19, 2010

SUMMARY:

So far, with the exception of the leather around the top of the boots squeaking (which may now have been resolved), I have really enjoyed using the Feather Peak GTX boots.  They have provided me with excellent support and traction over difficult terrain and in challenging weather conditions.  My feet have not experienced any blisters.  Although the boots have gotten seriously wet on the exterior, my feet have remained dry except for some perspiration.  When the boots did get a little wet on the inside while I was hiking down a creek, they dried quickly and were only damp to the touch upon arriving back at home later the same day.  In my opinion the boots look nice and have retained their good looks despite some abuse by me.  Clean up has been as easy as wiping the dried mud off with a dry cloth.  The laces are starting to show a bit of wear but are still usable.  After hiking down the creek during my Alaska Basin backpack trip, the boots no longer squeaked.  I am wondering if it was because they were completely soaked on the outside and a little wet on the inside.  I have not yet used the boots since that outing but plan to spend most of next week in them when I take my Venture Scouts into the Teton Range for some hiking and climbing for four days.  I will report on whether the squeaking issue has been resolved in my Long Term Report which will be posted in a couple of months.

DETAILS:

On each of the following trips, I used a polypro liner sock with a wool or wool blend hiking sock.

My first experience with the Feather Peaks was at the Jamboral held in Blackfoot, Idaho (elevation 4,498 ft/1,371 m) on May 7-8.  We had nice weather but cold temperatures--it got down to at least freezing overnight because my water froze.  I had to make multiple trips from the parking area to carry gear into the campsite including carrying my pack weighing 42 lbs/17 kg.  I did some hiking on pavement, gravel, dirt and grass. I estimate that I hiked around the fair grounds approximately 3 mi/5 km.  My feet hurt a little bit at end of day and I noticed that the boots were still a little stiff and squeaky.

I then used the boots during a survival training campout with my Venture Scouts on May 21-22.  We camped approximately 1 mi/2 km north of the Warm River Campground (near Ashton, Idaho--elevation 5,212 ft/1,589 m).  I hiked approximately 1/4 mi/0.4 km one way to the campsite with a 46 lb/21 kg pack.  We experienced rain and cool temperatures during the entire outing.  The exterior of the boots were wet but my feet were dry.  My feet did not get cold.  The boots cleaned off by wiping the dried mud with dry cloth later at home.  I had no issues with the boots except the squeak.  Despite the fact that the boots got wet and a bit muddy, after wiping of the dried mud, they still looked nearly new.

The boots were next used on an overnight Wilderness First Aid Certification Course at Krupp Scout Hollow near Rigby, Idaho (elevation 4,864 ft/1,483 m) on May 28-29.  We experienced rain and cool temperatures during this outing.  The boots got lots of use in mud and on grass.  I walked from the parking lot to the training center and carried pack to my campsite a short distance from the training center.  I also walked around outside while responding to training scenarios.  I believe I walked approximately 2 mi/3 km on this outing.  The boots got wet on the outside but my feet were dry and did not get cold.  The mud cleaned off on the grass.  Again, I had no issues with the boots except the continued squeak. 

I used the boots on an overnight Lead Climber Certification Course at Island Park Scout Camp June 3-5 near Island Park, Idaho (elevation 6,293 ft/1,918 m).  There was a lot of rain and cool temperatures.  I had to hike from the parking area to the camp area with my 52 lb/24 kg pack (I carried most of my winter and climbing gear) and then hiked around camp during the training.  The boots got pretty wet but my feet stayed dry.  I did not experience cold feet.  During this outing, I had no issues with the boots but they continued squeak.

I next wore the boots during Cedar Badge training June 19-26 at Treasure Mountain Scout Camp (elevation 6,500 ft/1,981 m) near Alta, Wyoming.  Great but cool weather.  Walked around camp and hiked up and down rappelling hill while setting up and running the rappel.  Setting up and running the rappel entailed hiking up a fairly steep trail and then climbing and scrambling over granite.  In total during the week I believe I wore the Feather Peaks over approximately 15 mi/24 km.  I had no issues with the boots but they continued to squeak.

During our family reunion, my family and I hiked up to the Alaska Basin Trail in the Teton Range near Alta, Wyoming on July 2.  We hiked up to where the trail intersects with the Devil's Stair Case Trail.  This was a 5.4 mile/9 km round trip hike using day packs.  The trail was dry to muddy with several shallow creek crossings.  The boots got wet and muddy but my feet remained dry.  I had no issues with the boots except for the continued squeak.

I drew a permit to climb Mt. Whitney and we planned to make the summit bid on July 6-7.  However, due to snow conditions on the mountain and the lack of snow climbing experience on the part of two members of our group, we decided to postpone the trip.  Instead, since I already had the week off work, my brother, youngest daughter and I decided to take a backpack trip into Alaska Basin (elevation 10,200 ft/3,108 m) on July 7-8.  The weather was spectacular.  I was carrying a 43 lb/19.5 kg pack.  The trail had dried out up to the point that we took the Devil's Stair Case trail.  Once on top of the Devil's Stair Case, we had a nice trail for about 1/4 mi/0.4 km and then we hit snow.  This snow was stable in places and soft in other places to the point that we had to posthole in snow up past my knees in places.  After approximately 5 1/2 mi/9 km, we reached the snow filled Alaska Basin and then decided to work our way back out of the basin to a snowless ridge where we made camp for the night.  Although the ridge lacked snow, it was very muddy and the boots got fairly muddy.  The temperature was comfortable but we suffered through a significant wind storm that night.  The boots remained damp to the touch the next morning.

Alaska Basin
After the Hike Into Alaska Basin

We planned to go out the Alaska Basin Trail but could not find the trail under the snow and we did not want to hike back up the Devil's Stair Case Trail in the snow so we decided to "Lewis and Clark it" cross country to where we thought the Alaska Basin Trail should be.  Ultimately this entailed hiking down a creek to the trail.  The boots were soaked on the exterior and were damp on the interior--but they were no longer muddy!  The round trip was approximately 17 mi/27 km over two days.  The Feather Peaks were really put to the test on this outing and in my opinion, they held up to the challenge.  The boots provided good support and traction over dry trail, while postholing through thigh deep snow, while traversing and sidehilling on hard pack snow, and while bushwhacking our way back to the trail including a hike down a creek.  I experienced no blisters or hot spots during this outing and while my feet were tired at the end of each day, they were comfortable while housed in the Feather Peak boots.

This concludes my Field Report on the Montrail Feather Peak GTX Boots.

LONG TERM REPORT
September 14, 2010

CONCLUSION:

I have really enjoyed testing the Montrail Feather Peak GTX boots.  The boots consistently provided me with excellent support and traction over difficult terrain and in challenging weather conditions.  My feet have not blistered once despite logging a lot of miles in these boots.  Even though the boots have gotten very wet on the exterior, my feet have remained dry except for some perspiration.  In my opinion the boots look nice and have retained their good looks despite some wear and tear resulting from the miles and terrain they have covered.  Clean up has been as easy as wiping the dried mud off with a dry cloth and adding a little boot grease.  The laces are showing a bit of wear but are still usable.  The upper lace hooks are all in good shape except for two that got bent a little while climbing.  The only negative comment I can make about the Feather Peak boots is that, despite my earlier report that the problem may have been solved by getting the boots really wet, the leather around the top of the boots continues to squeak which is a bit annoying to me.  Otherwise, the Feather Peaks are a great pair of good looking, hard working boots.  Not counting the time spent walking around my home/yard in the boots, I put about 89 mi/131.5 km on the Feather Peaks.

DETAILS:

On each of the following trips, I used a polypro liner sock with a wool or wool blend hiking sock.

I used the Feather Peak boots during my Venture Crew's High Adventure Outing which took place from July 20-23, 2010.  As part of that outing, we climbed Table Mountain in the Teton Range (11,106 ft/3,385 m).  This is a 12.4 mi/20 km round trip with an elevation gain of 4,151 ft/1,265 m.  I carried a day pack weighing around 12 lb/5 kg.  The boots squeaked a little during the ascent.  Otherwise, I had no problems with the boots.  The first part of the trip was uneventful, but after reaching the top a fairly severe thunderstorm blew in very quickly and we had to hurry off the peak to avoid the lightening strikes.  That same day, 19 climbers were victims of lightening strikes on the Grand Teton (located just across the canyon from Table Mountain) resulting in the largest rescue effort in the history of Grand Teton National Park.  It rained for the entire return trip to our base camp and we had to cross the Teton River three times (without bridges).  As such, the boots got completely soaked.  That night I placed them near the camp fire and let them slowly dry.  By the next morning they were ready to go again.

On the third day of our trip, we participated in a 110 ft/33.5 m rappelling activity just outside the Teton Canyon Campground (elevation 6,640 ft/2,024 m) near Alpine, Wyoming.  The weather was perfect--no rain and daytime temperatures in the 80 F/27 C range.  I used the boots while packing climbing gear up to and down from the rappel site.  I also used them while setting up and running the rappel.  I had no problems with the boots except for the slight squeaking sound.

On the final day of the trip we did some cave exploring at the Wind Cave (elevation 8,940 ft/2,725 m) near Victor, Idaho.  Getting to the Wind Cave requires a round trip hike of 5.4 mi/9 km with an elevation gain of 1,870 ft/570 m.  I carried a day pack weighing around 12 lb/5 kg.  After we reached the cave, we attempted to reach the "Blood Room" in the cave which required a lot of belly crawling and squeezing through small openings.  The "Blood Room" is a room deep inside the cave which is full of stalagmites which turn blood red when an artificial light is shined through them.  We weren't able to make it to our destination due to water run off in an area where we needed to set up a short rappel and free climb.  However, the boots didn't give me a bit of trouble during the entire day (maybe I am getting used to the squeak).

On August 27 and 28, 2010, I used the Feather Peak boots while attending a Leave No Trace training sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  As part of that training we participated in an overnight campout at Kelly Island (elevation 5,000 ft/1,524 m) near Ririe, Idaho.  The weather was uneventful and I had no problems with the boots except for the slight squeaking sound.

Finally, I used the boots on September 10 and 11, 2010 while hiking in the Hawley Creek area near Leadore, Idaho.  The first day, the boots got to experience 2-3 in/5-8 cm of snow.  We started hiking at approximately 6,900 ft/2,103 m in elevation and ended up at about 9,100 ft/2,774 m in elevation.  I was carrying a large day pack weighing approximately 28 lb/13 kg.  The boots handled the snow very well and provided good traction.  As long as we kept moving, my feet stayed warm.  The sun melted most of the snow and the following day we did a similar hike.  Each hike covered approximately 6 mi/10 km round trip.  Again, the boots performed flawlessly--except for the ever present slight squeak.

FINAL SUMMARY

As noted in the Conclusion, the Feather Peak GTX boots have been a delight to test.  They have provided me with a comfortable fit and dependable traction and support even under fairly difficult conditions.  The boots are showing some signs of wear on the leather uppers, the tread, and the laces but they have also covered some miles and a lot of tough terrain.  The only complaint I have is the constant, slight squeak coming from the tongue of both boots.  However, given all the good qualities of the Feather Peak GTX boots, I can live with a little squeak.

My thanks to Montrail and backpackgeartest.org for allowing me the opportunity to test these fine boots.

¹     For those who don't know, a durometer is a gage that can be used to check the density or hardness of a given material.  There are various scales but with each scale the higher values indicate a harder material.  The Asker C scale is commonly used to check the hardness of rubber used in shoes with the scale ranging from 0 to 100.


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