MONTRAIL HARDROCK TRAIL RUNNING SHOES
BY KEN NORRIS
February 17, 2008
Carnation, Washington, USA
5' 5" (1.65 m)
170 lb (77.10 kg)
I have been hiking and backpacking for the past ten years, going on the occasional overnighter or day hike. In the past year or so, I have begun night hiking and long day hikes (twenty miles [32 km] or more). These trips center on Washington's Central Cascades, supplemented with some trips into Oregon's gorge and outback regions - terrain characterized by steep inclines and "moist" conditions.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.montrail.com
Listed Weight: 15.1 oz (428 g)
Measured Weight: 25 oz (713 g) -- for both shoes
size -- 7.5 (U.S. men's)
upper -- synthetic leather / nylon mesh
lining -- nylon
midsole -- dual-density EVA/gel insert
support -- nylon posting and plate
outsole -- rubber
shoe type -- cushioning/stability
The Montrail Hardrock running shoe is a low cut trail shoe with a snug fit. It grips well in wet and dry conditions, whether the surface be smooth rock, root-bound trails, or inches of mud.
I consider foot maintenance the most essential component of backpacking and hiking, so finding the perfect pair of shoes is a quest for perfection rarely attained. These shoes met my expectations straight out of the box: plenty of cushion, snug fit, ankle support, reliable traction. In fact, my only initial qualm was the ease with which the occasional misplaced trekking pole pierced the mesh of the upper. It did not take long, however, before the cushion at the heel and sole lost its integrity. Even the seam at the top split. I understand such wear and tear after two hundred miles (322 km) or so, but I had logged almost half of that when I decided it was time for a less painful shoe.
The friends with whom I hike are adventure racers. They enjoy lightweight, high mileage trips where sleep is not part of the plan. When the trail affords the opportunity, they run it. As a newcomer to this type of hiking a little less than a year ago, I asked for their advice concerning the best shoe. Up to that point, I had gone the traditional hiking boot route; I owned a pair of high top Salomons that I wore until the tread split from the shoe. They recommended the Montrail Hardrock as the pinnacle shoe - they each own several pairs of them.
I took them at their word, bought a pair, and was delighted that the shoe could fit so well right out of the box. I worried that they would not provide the ankle support I needed, but even while running I did not have any issues (apart from my own clumsiness). I put them through their paces on a couple of hikes, ranging from seven miles to fifteen (11.27 km to 24.15 km). The fit prompted me to marvel at the lack of hot spots and snugness at the heel. At this point I had only two disappointments with the shoes. The first came when I misplaced a trekking pole on the top of the mesh above the toes, resulting in an instant hole. The second involved walking on logs or rocks: the hard yellow portion of the sole did not have the same level of traction as the black outer portion.
About fifty miles (81 km) into the life of the shoe, I embraced the notion of adventure race caliber hikes of at least twenty miles (32.20 km) a stretch. The Montrail Hardrock shoes had proven themselves to my friends on similar distances, but the same would not be true of my experience. About eighteen miles (28.98 km) into the first such trek, I could feel every rock and root on the trail . . . and I still had ten miles (16.10 km) to go. I chalked this painful hike up to poor maintenance of foot moisture by way of my socks, never once thinking the shoe may have worn out.
The next lengthy hike was the proverbial straw, and I was the camel's back. Ten miles (16.10 km) into the trip, I noticed some general discomfort with my feet. I again blamed my socks. With at least ten miles (16.10 km) left, I began hobbling. Then, all at once, I felt the telltale burst of a blister. When I got home, I had a bruised big and little toe, both bruises under the nail, and blisters at the top of both heels. My theory is that the size of the shoe (coupled with the length of the hike causing my feet to swell or at least lose their normal rigidity) prompted the injuries. An inspection of the heel uncovered another issue: I no longer had any cushioning between my heel and the plastic heel cap. I later discovered that the Montrail Hardrock sizes run a bit small compared to other brands - I probably should have been wearing a size eight instead of a seven-and-a-half.
Field Conditions: The primary field conditions were done in the Central Washington Cascades. Moderate temperatures: spring, summer, and fall down to 30 F (-1.10 C) up to 95 F (35 C). Typically a wet climate. Most of the trekking occurred on steep trails on varying terrain, from soft pack trails to scree fields, from dry, dusty conditions to several inches of mud and standing water. Durations included hikes of ten miles (16.10 km) or more and trail runs at least thirty minutes in length.
THINGS I LIKE
Great fit straight out of the box
Plenty of traction
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Wear out quickly
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Heel cap lacks adequate cushioning
Can feel the trail through the sole after a long day of hiking
Easily damaged upper
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