In years past, I’ve had bad experiences with Montrail shoes. Heavy, stiff, clunky ankle twisters come to mind. As other brands have undergone renewed success selling lighter more flexible shoes, Montrail in an effort to stay competitive now offer some lighter higher performance shoes of their own.
Last year I picked up a pair of Rogue Racers and have been pleasantly surprised. Over the last few months, I developed such confidence in them that I actually used them last week in the Wulfman Continental Divide Trail Race. I’ve done the race a couple times before, always running in my favorite trail shoe (Nike Zoom Trails), but this year I used the Rogue Racer. I had high expectations that I would run faster in the Montrails given that they are a bit lighter and more flexible than the Nikes. But that was not the case. I was a tad bit slower. I guess I am just getting old and a different shoe is not going to overcome the progression of age. Nevertheless, the Rogue Racers worked well. No blisters, no sprained ankles and at least they felt fast.
The pictures of the Rogue Racer are snatched from the Montrail website. The pictures running in the Wulfman race came from Butte’s Piss and Moan Runner’s website.
Fit and Feel
In my experience The Rogue Racer fits true to size. I’ve read that they run small and it is best to go up a half size. I have not found that to be the case. In some brands of shoes, I wear a 9.5 in others a 10. The size 10 Rogue Racer has plenty of room. I could probably even get by in a size 9.5.
They are a comfy cushioned shoe. I found I could tailor the fit easily with the laces. A good test of fit is how well does a shoe fit and hold your foot even when they are loosely laced. This is the first Montrail shoe I have tried where I felt that the upper actually gripped my foot and helped keep my foot centered over the sole. In rugged rocks or side hills where you can really tell how well a shoe fits, the Rogue Racers worked well and gave me adequate feeling of my shoes being a protective extension of my feet.
The Rogue Racers flex nicely under the ball of the foot; especially compared to other trail shoes that have a stiffer more protective rock plate. They have a rock plate that offers enough protection, yet does not unduly stiffen the shoe. About the only time the Rogue Racer feels clunky is running fast on a hard surface like a paved road. They feel a bit hard and slapy on road surfaces.
A Traditional High Heel Shoe
Although Montrail describes and advertises the Rogue Racer as a minimal neutral shoe, these are not a minimal shoe. They are also not a level or neutral shoe. They have a more traditional high cushioned heel. Even so, they were actually stable and not prone to ankle rolling as I would expect from such a high heel shoe. Perhaps that is testament to the proper fitting upper.
The outsole’s traction lugs are on the smallish side. They offer adequate traction on dry trails and rocks. On snow or in mud, they are a bit slippery. The less aggressive shallow lugged outsole is probably where Montrail saved some weight with these shoes. Design is a compromise. To get a lighter shoe, a bit of traction was sacrificed.
On dry loose pebbly surfaces, they also were a bit slippery as the sole materiel is rather hard.
My size 10’s weigh in at 8.9 ounces. This is light for a Montrail brand shoe, but not as light as some of the more minimal trail shoes from New Balance or Salomon. They are slightly lighter than my Nike Zoom Trail and they feel lighter.
Retail is $115.00. You can find certain sizes and colors on Amazon and Ebay for about half that ($55.00).
Are They Suitable For the Ridge Run?
Unless the conditions are wet (muddy) or icy requiring a more aggressive outsole for traction, I think they would work fairly well.
Expect them to take a beating. They may not have much life in them after the Ridge Run.
If you are fairly nimble, they offer just enough protection and cushion. If your style on the downhills is to aggressively bulldoze down through the rocks without worry of where your feet land, then the Rogue Racer is probably not enough of a protective shoe for you.