Thursday, December 15, 2011

Montrail Rogue Racer

Montrail Rogue Racer
It doesn't take much to turn a road shoe into a trail shoe, right? Replace the slick rubber tread with a dirt clawing aggressive mud-tire sole and you're set to hit the soft surface highways. Unfortunately, for the manufacturers and consumers there are way too many variables: mud, roots, rocks, packed dirt, gravel, and more, to just throw on some mud stomping, soccer cleat traction on the sole and title it "trail ready." So, picking a trail shoe needs to be based on the conditions. The Montrail Rogue Racer, I do admit, is one of the most versatile trail shoes on the market.
Montrail Rogue Racer Gryptonite Sole
Until recently (past few years) trail shoes have had a knack for being heavy, bulky, and stiff. It's like shoe companies have been trying to make their trail shoe the most extreme, the most rugged, and slightly less stiff than a hiking boot. As I said, though, that was until recently. Trail shoes have been slowly evolving into head turning, trail gripping, race flats that can handle the slippery, rocky, unkempt pathways through the woods.

Kindle Katwalk
My first run in the Montrail Rogue Racer came at the expense of the Pacific Crest Trail and up to Kindle Katwalk. The featherlight weight of the Montrail Rogue Racer, a slim 8.8 oz/250 g, felt great up the first mile, even the "trail shield" seemed to be doing it's job. The trail put the shoes through a full test of conditions: mud, rocks, and snow. I was hooked and the Rogue Racer became my trail shoe of choice. I ran in them day-after-day on any trail. The were light on the uphills, protective on the downhills, and soft on the flats. Turns, switchbacks, and creek jumping with no hesitation. The tread design is spot-on.
As with all shoes they eventually started to break down. Around 75  in, the life of the "trail shield", which had given me just enough protection from rocks that I was able to bomb down rocky inclines without feeling too much, started to lose it's protectiveness. By 110 miles it was just as soft as the mid-sole. I have no real suggestion for a fix because I think the balance between weight, flexibility, and trail protection is perfect with this shoe, possibly a little more firmness in the foam may provide longevity to the shoe's life.
Montrail Rogue Racer "Trail Shield"

The shoe lasted a pushed 345 miles, and being fairly light weight (125lbs) I was a little disappointed the shoe didn't make it longer. The shoe's upper is minimal enough you don't feel much wrapping the foot which is very comfortable, but because of the lack of structure my foot wound up sitting crooked after about 200 miles. This added to excessive wear on specific parts of the shoe and in turn led to it's retirement.  More structure or even just a hair more o lateral release should remedy this. You could probably just drill out a few holes on the outside heal, if you know what you're doing. If you're looking for a low heel-to-toe drop the Rogue Racer isn't your answer. The heel sits at 18mm and the forefoot at 9mm. However, the plush foams deform enough under weight you don't have a feeling of being pushed forward.
0 Miles & 345 Miles
Overall, the shoe has a great fit, it feels fantastically light weight, and can certainly handle every trail condition that most people are going to encounter. The first 100 miles will be some of the most comfortable trail miles you've run in a while. post- 175 the shoe starts to breakdown pretty quickly and by 300 miles the shoe needs to be replaced. That's my only negative about this shoe, a great start but a lackluster finish.
*This review is based on my foot, my form, and my comfort. These results may or may not be repeated with others. Have a local running store fit you properly.
Montrail Rogue Racer
Montrail Rogue Racer
Montrail Rogue Racer

Next week's shoe review: Pearl Izumi Kissaki