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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Montrail Namche Boots > Test Report by Thomas Vickers

Montrail Namche Boots

Initial Report - April 26, 2007
Field Test Report - August 7, 2007
Long Term Report - October 2, 2007

 

Thomas Vickers

39 years old
Male
5 ft 11 in tall (1.8 m)
175 lb (79 kg)
redroach@pobox.com
Southeast Texas, Houston Area


Tester Background:
I grew up in the piney woods of southeast Texas. Camping was a quick trip into the mosquito-infested woods behind the house. My style has evolved and over the last 4 or 5 years, I have begun to take a lighter weight approach to hiking gear (I still use sleeping bags and tents, just lighter versions). While I have flirted with lightweight hiking, I feel that I am more of a mid-weight hiker now. My philosophy is one of comfort, while carrying the lightest load possible.

Montrail Namche Boots

 

Manufacturer Information:

Manufacturer: Montrail Boots

Website: http://www.montrail.com

Colors available: Celery, Bombay brown

Year Manufactured: 2007

Weight : NA

MSRP: NA

Information From Tester:
(all measurements approximate)


Color: Celery

Size of Boot: 11.5

Weight (left boot): 1 lb 0.10 oz (457 g)
Weight (right boot): 1 lb 0.20 oz (459 g)

Tester's shoe size:
10.5


Initial Report
April 26, 2007

Initial tester expectations:
I came away from the Montrail website with more than a few questions about these boots.  Basically, they are light weight boots suited for a variety of environments. The site makes me curious because it emphasizes the "stout ankle support" and   the "protection of a boot  with the feel of a running shoe." This leads me to hope that these are the just the boots that I have been waiting for. What I don' t know is what types of fabrics are used in the construction or if they are waterproof? While not big issues, they are things that I would like to know before purchasing these boots.

Namche Side View

Description from the manufacturer:
According to Montrail the Namche is good for "Thru-hiking, Bushwhacking, Hot and humid, Dry and dusty". It is comfortable due to its "Weight-minimizing construction, Ventilated abrasion-resistant forefoot, Protection of a boot, and Feel of a running shoe in a mid-height design." The Namche performance features are "Gryptonite™ GT sticky traction,  Stout ankle support, and Ultrarunning-proven stability and protection."

Tester's Description:
I am still trying to figure out how to describe these boots.  The soles appear to be more shoe/running oriented rather than heavy lugged hiking soles.  I find this a rather interesting sole to have on hiking boots, but I am looking forward to seeing how well they keep me steady on the trail. That was the easy part to describe.   The main body of the Montrail Namche boots is what appears to be loosely woven grid fabric. I am not sure what exactly this gold/green colored fabric is, but I am interested to see how well it breathes.  On the sides of the boots, this grid fabric is covered by what appears to be a very fine mesh.  I am not sure if this is to protect the main fabric, but it does completely cover both sides of the boot.  Next to the sole of the Namche's is a plastic strip that covers the fine mesh.  This strip runs from the toe guard on one side, completely around the back of the boot to the toe guard on the opposite side. 

Namche Soles


The laces are what I would call semi-flat laces.  They are slightly rounded, but are more flat than round.  The lower lace loops are constructed from what appears to thin webbing or at least fabric that is supposed to looking like webbing.  The top two lace loops in the ankle area are constructed of a plastic/rubber substance. 

There is also a pull loop of webbing/material on the tongue of the boot and another similar pull loop on the back of the ankle area of the boot.  To finish this up, I want to say that from my initial inspection, the Montrail Namche boots appear to be more of a high topped trail shoe than a boot.  I am really excited about getting them out on the trail to see how well they work.

Initial Impressions:
I probably spent twenty minutes just turning the Namche Boots over and and examining them.  I really expected boots that were designed to be more like shoes.   What I got was a while different story.  These are more like shoes that were designed to be "boot-like."  This is not an issue, but a surprise in the good sense.  I have always wanted to try trail shoes, and despite the ankle support on the Namche's I think that I am going to get my chance. They seem far more like shoes than I expected and I am really looking forward to putting these boots to the trail.

I do have one major concern at this point. I ordered a size larger than I normally wear (11.5) so that I can wear them with hiking socks.  I tried the boots on with normal cotton tube socks and they are a snug fit. I pulled out  my hiking socks next and I can get my feet into them, but they are very snug in the width department. The length is not an issue, but these boots definitely fit snugly, more like running shoes than boots. 

I also noticed that the arch support of the Namche boots hits my foot toward the rear of my foot's arch.  I pulled the Montrail insoles out and this seemed to make a better foot, but the arch of the boot definitely seems to be situated further toward the back of my real arch than expected. The boots were more arch comfortable with the insoles out, so I am interested to see how my regular hiking insoles effect this problem. 

Test Strategy:

Here are some questions that I plan on using as a guide for my testing of the Montrail Namche Boots:

1. Can I put my own insoles into these boots?  

2. How comfortable are these boots with and without my own insoles?  

3. How water/element resistant is the boot? 

4. How well do the Montrail Namche boots breathe? It tends to be hot and humid here in Texas and breathability is important. 

5. How quickly can I get into/out of these boots? Is there any kind of speed lace system?  

6. What type of laces to these boots use? (flat, round, other?)  

7.  Do the laces stay tied?  

8. How long does it take to break these boots in? Will they feel comfortable and flexible after a week? Two weeks? Months? Never? 

9. Do these boots provide adequate support for my ankles? I wear boots over trail runners due to my fear of hurting my ankles. The Namche’s claim to combine the best of both these worlds.

10. How easy is it for debris to get into the boot when it is tightly laced?  

11. After prolonged trail wear (3+ days) do these boots start to smell? 

12. Will they have a permanently poor odor after 6 months of testing? 

13. Are there any strange friction points on these boots that might cause blisters for my feet?

14. Is the fit roomy or tight?  Does the size match what I need for hiking boots or are their sizing differences/irregularities for this brand?
 

15. Do these boots shrink when exposed to repeated soaking (wet) and drying cycles? Not from washing, but from normal wear and water exposure on the trail?

16. How long does it take the boots to dry when they get wet?

17. Can I really run in these boots? 

18. How durable is the sole and what exactly is the “Gryptonite™ GT sticky traction?”


Final thoughts:
Boots or shoes? This is going to be the big question for me.  Right out of the box they look, feel, and smell like high top shoes.  They are marketed as boots and I am looking forward to finding out if they are more shoe-like, more boot-like, or just the best mix of both.

Field Test Report
August 7, 2007

Me and the Namches



Testing Locations:
Sam Houston National Forest
W.G. Jones State Forest

Testing Conditions:
Temperatures:
70 F - 92 F  (21 C - 33 C)
Wet to dry and dusty

Testing Activities:
Dayhiking (14 miles/23 km)
Trail running (30 miles/48 km)
Extended hiking trips (45 miles/72 km)

Breaking them in:
The first thing I did when I was all ready to test the Namche Boots was to wear them to work for a day. I spend 8 + hours on my feet at work and it was a good place to start. I kept the Montrail insoles in the boots to test them out and see if I was going to like them. I wore regular cotton socks during this test run and I made a few discoveries.   First off, in plain socks, the right-hand arch seemed to strike my foot to the rear of my foot's arch. This was rather uncomfortable, but pretty much the worst thing that I had to deal with on this first day.

My first day was so impressive that I went ahead and used the stock insoles with the Namches when I went to work at the local ropes course.  A full day of running and climbing left my legs in agony. This was a sign that the stock insoles had to go and I need to put my Shock Dr. Superfeet Insoles in.  The good news was that when I wore hiking socks with a padded arch, the problem of the right-hand boot's arch striking my foot in the wrong spot didn't seem to rear its ugly head. I guess I learn something every time I put these boots on.

The fit:
The Namche Boots are tight. They fit much like running shoes rather than hiking boots.   I have to really loosen the laces in order to get my feet into them and it doesn't take too much effort to tighten the laces back to a comfortable point.  The thing that bothers me is that I feel that it takes way too much effort to slide into these boots. As I spend more than a day or two on the trail, I tend to get a lot less flexible and that means that I have to sit down and put the Namches on. It has nothing to do with the sizing. I feel that these boots are designed to be tight.

At first I was worried that they were going to be too tight for me, especially with thick, padded hiking socks on. After wearing them for several days in different situations I really came to like the tight fit of these boots. They expanded a bit to accommodate my feet, but they also cradled my feet in just the right way. The best way I can describe them is "tight, but comfortable".

I have noticed that when I am in a hurry and put on regular socks, the arch issue returns. Wearing padded hiking socks is a must with these boots, no matter what I am doing in them.

Putting on the miles:
I have done just about everything I can imagine in these boots. I have taken my jogging off road and onto the trails of the local State Forest just to make sure I get plenty of use out of the Namche boots.  As trail runners I really, really, really like these boots. They are just like high topped running shoes to me and despite the summer heat, they ventilate my feet very well. In fact, my feet get hot (as usual) in these boots no matter what I am doing, but the Namches' mesh construction doesn't let them stay hot or sweaty. They breathe really well and make them enjoyable to use in the heat.  The soles are great for running and the boots don't feel clunky when putting some speed on and running on the red dirt trails.

Out side of trail running, I have been a bit less impressed. As a regular hiking boot the Namches support my feet and keep them cool, but the soles are another story. I have slipped a great deal in light mud and when climbing into and out of creek beds I have never felt that the Namches' souls bite into the soil enough.  It is like hiking in a boot with running shoe soles. They don't have a deep enough tread to bite into the mud/soil and hang on. I have also noticed that while hiking at a normal pace in wet areas, the soles also don't seem to shed debris as well as I would like. This leads to slick soles that have caused me to wind up on my knees or butt on more than one occasion.

Muddy Soles



I have mentioned the breatheability of these boots and another aspect of this is when they get wet. The wet summer here means that I have been through more than my share of puddles in these boots.  They did  not keep my socks or feet dry, but they did allow the inside of the boot (feet and socks) to dry rather well when I got out of the water and kept moving.

With my insoles in these boots I have had no more leg pain, even when carrying a loaded pack weighing about 21 lbs (9.5 kg) for ten miles (16 km) or more in a day.

Durability:
The Namches are no longer new looking, but they are not wearing out. They tend to shed dirt and mud (from the uppers) and don't look too shabby for as much as I have worn them.   The soles are wearing a bit at the heels, but that is normal for any shoe or boot that I wear.  Despite the water, heat, and mud involved in this summer, these boots are doing a great job of keeping up with me.

Namche Boots after two months


Final thoughts:
Despite my best efforts, I have not worn out these boots or gifted them any type of permanent stink. The conditions of this summer would have lead me to believe that the Namches would smell like a moldy sock by now, but they don't. I really think that the mesh design and breatheability of these boots causes them to dry and stay pretty mildly smelling. 

So far, as running or fast moving boots over dry terrain, I love the Namches. Even regular hiking over dry terrain is great in them, but when the ground gets a bit slippery or muddy, the going gets tough. The soles clog up and cause me some problems, but nothing that can't be solved by scraping the mud out with a stick.  I have even grown to like the tight fit, but not the effort I have to take putting them on or taking them off.

I am really looking forward to seeing how much more I can put these boots through before I am done.

Long Term Report - October 2, 2007

Climbing in the Namches

 

Testing Locations:
Sam Houston National Forest
W.G. Jones State Forest
Other areas in Southeast Texas

Testing Conditions:
Temperatures:
70 F - 96 F  (21 C - 36 C)
Dry and dusty

Testing Activities:
Dayhiking (10 miles/16 km)
Trail running (40 miles/64 km)
Extended hiking trips (15 miles/24 km)

Finishing things off:
I have spent a lot of time trail running and climbing in the Namches.  They are nice to wear all day, especially in the Texas heat.  They breathe really well, even when I am wearing wool hiking socks.  I have worn them on every type of surface imaginable from hard packed dirt trails, to muddy trails, asphalt, sand, and steel cables. The Namches have kept my feet and ankles comfortable and supported during all my adventures over the last four months.

I do have one concern about the boots at this point. Everything on these boots has held up well, but just within the last week I noticed that one of the lace guides was tearing through the material of the boots.  The lace guide seems to be made of webbing and is threaded through a hole in the boot material to make a loop for the boot lace to go through. There are two such guides on each of the boots and all of the guides seem to be pulling/tearing out of the boot.

Tear around lace loop



This has to be caused by pulling the laces tight, but I am a bit disappointed to see this kind of wear after only four months.  With all the wear that I have put on these boots though, I am glad that this is pretty much the worst wear I have to describe.

Questions answered:

1. Can I put my own insoles into these boots?

Yes I could. I put my Shock Dr. insoles in the Namche boots from the second day I and wore them every day of the test period.  

2. How comfortable are these boots with and without my own insoles?
Without the third party insoles, the Namche's were not that comfortable for me. The arches seemed to hit too far forward on my feet and made the boots rather uncomfortable.  The addition of third party insoles (Shock Dr.) and padded hiking socks made the Namche boots much more comfortable.  The tightness I experienced in the width was something that I rather grew to like. The narrowness of the width made the boots fit more like shoes and they were comfortable despite the tightness.  

3. How water/element resistant is the boot?
It really wasn't water resistant. The mesh construction of the Namche allowed all sorts of moisture to get into the boot and luckily out of the boot as well.  

4. How well do the Montrail Namche boots breathe? It tends to be hot and humid here in Texas and breathability is important.
They were very breathable. No matter if my feet were wet from sweat or from moisture that had gotten into the boots from outside, the Namches breathed and dried out my feet/socks.  I wore wool hiking socks this summer in these boots and my feet did not overheat because of the great breathability of the Namches.

5. How quickly can I get into/out of these boots? Is there any kind of speed lace system?  
Due to the location of the lace points and the tightness of the boots, there was no really fast way to get into or out of the these boots. The laces had to be loosened to a large degree before the boots could be put on or taken off. Even with the laces loosened it was not a quick thing to pull the Namches on or off.  Speed lace points at the top of the boots probably would have made the taking on or taking off of these boots quicker, but the Namches do not have any speed lace points.

6. What type of laces to these boots use? (flat, round, other?)  
The Namches have round laces. Not my favorite, but they work well on these boots. They don't stay tied well from prior experiences, but they pull easily through the Namche lace points.

7.  Do the laces stay tied?
Yes, if I make sure that I leave enough slack in the ends of the laces. Extra length allowed me to double knot the laces, but when I didn't tighten the boots up, the shortened laces tended to come untied until I lengthened them and double knotted them.  

8. How long does it take to break these boots in? Will they feel comfortable and flexible after a week? Two weeks? Months? Never? 
With little or no leather on the Namches there seemed to be no break in period. The material was flexible and form fitting from day one. The boots did seem to mold to my feet a bit after a few days, but as tight as they were, this was inevitable.

9. Do these boots provide adequate support for my ankles? I wear boots over trail runners due to my fear of hurting my ankles. The Namche’s claim to combine the best of both these worlds.
I love boots because they support my ankles. One too many close calls with turned ankles on the trails has kept me in boots for many years.  I really think that the Namches are just the right combination of boots and shoes. They give the form fitting feel of shoes, but with the ankle support that I prefer from boots.

10. How easy is it for debris to get into the boot when it is tightly laced?
I never got debris into the Namches when I had the laces tightened down. There was not enough room in these boots for any debris to get in while I wearing them.   

11. After prolonged trail wear (3+ days) do these boots start to smell? 
Amazingly enough, after a long, hot Texas summer (sometimes without socks), these boots do not smell at all. I got them wet, muddy, sweaty, and dusty, but no strange odors developed in the Namches. Even when I wore them for several days straight on the trial, odor was no problem.

12. Will they have a permanently poor odor after 4 months of testing? 
See above. Absolutely no permanent odor after four months of testing.

13. Are there any strange friction points on these boots that might cause blisters for my feet?
Yes. The fact that the arches in these boots seemed to hit forward of the arches of my feet tended to cause some hotspots on the bottom of my feet if I wore the wrong socks. Properly padded hiking socks helped mitigate these issues, but it still worried me during the testing.

14. Is the fit roomy or tight?  Does the size match what I need for hiking boots or are their sizing differences/irregularities for this brand?
 
I buy my hiking boots one shoe size larger than my normal shoes so there will be enough room for my heavy hiking socks. Even at a full size larger, the Namches were still a very tight fit. I don't think a size larger would have helped the width issues or arch issues and I feel that the Namches are sized pretty much normally. I will say that the fit is tight and I think this is how the boots are designed.  Their tight fit makes them feel much more like running shoes than boots.

15. Do these boots shrink when exposed to repeated soaking (wet) and drying cycles? Not from washing, but from normal wear and water exposure on the trail?
Not at all. The boots have been wet from dew, rain, sweat, and creek water and they have not shrunk one bit. If they had, I probably would not be able to have worn them anymore.

16. How long does it take the boots to dry when they get wet?
They dried fairly quickly, especially if I was wearing them. There just isn't much fabric to get wet due to their mesh design. Even when soaked they would dry over night in the tent with me.

17. Can I really run in these boots?

I have logged more miles running in these boots than any other activity . I am really happy with the way they supported my feet and held up to quite a bit of trail running.

18. How durable is the sole and what exactly is the “Gryptonite™ GT sticky traction?”
The soles have proven to me pretty durable. I am not sure if the GT sticky traction really works, but on solid surfaces the Namches were stable and I did not have any slipping problems. On muddy surfaces, the Namches were a different story. The soles mucked up and didn't shed mud very good and this led to many slips and falls in muddy conditions.

Final thoughts:
I like the Montrail Namche Boots. They really are a good cross between a shoe and a boot.   Their weight and ruggedness make them a great fit for my hiking here in Texas where it has been a hot and dry summer.  My only concern that I still have are the arch issues.  The arches in the boots hit forward of where my natural foot arch was located.  Insoles and hiking socks helped with this, but it is still a concern for me.

I even grew to like the tight and snug fit of the Namches on my feet. They really cradled my feet like good running shoes, but they were also difficult and time consuming to take on and off because of their tight fit.  If I had wide feet I would worry a lot more about these boots, but for my average width feet the fit was snug, yet comfortable.

Overall, these are good boots. I will keep using them in dry and warm conditions, which where they seem to do the best.  It was a nice surprise to see the great mix of shoe and boot that the Namches provided.



Read more reviews of Montrail gear
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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Montrail Namche Boots > Test Report by Thomas Vickers



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