I recently bought a pair of trail running shoes to use for a 20-mile (hopefully upgraded to a 50k) trail race. I realized I needed them after running some single-track trails in my Altra Instinct 1.5s and slip-sliding all over the place. I settled on the Montrail Rogue Racer and have since put in about 20 miles on trails with them. Here is my review as it currently stands.
Specs: 8.8 oz, 18 mm heel and 9 mm toe (9 mm drop), low profile, 3 point lug system (pictured below)
Feel: I usually run in Altra Instincts with a zero-drop platform and a ton of toe room, so I was a little concerned about the 9 mm heel-toe drop and more traditional shape. However, after a few minutes, they began to feel much more natural than I expected. There is enough toe room that my feet have space while still being supportive. I can cinch them up pretty snug in the mid-foot and heel, leaving space for my little piggies to wiggle. They have the feel of the racing flats I used for my year of high school cross country and are pretty light for being a trail shoe. The low weight and low profile make them feel very agile. I run trails at Lime Creek Nature Preserve, where there is a good mix of limestone gravel, dirt, sand, grass, and single-track mountain bike trails to use them on. The only thing that I could see going wrong is twisting an ankle on a root or rock if you happened to catch it just right.
Performance: I’m not exactly running in the Rockie Mountains with large stones to contend with, but these shoes held up great. The small lugs easily managed on the gravel, dirt, rocks, and grass. I’m not sure how they’d handle hardcore mountain trails, but for what I find in north Iowa, they do great. I have not run in mud or slick spots yet. That might be a bit of a difficulty given how small the sets of lugs are, I also predict that they will wear down relatively quickly. However, at the moment, they have been great.
Final thoughts: At the moment, these shoes are on sale for $50 on the Montrail website and they are a steal at that price. I appreciate their lightweight, agile construction and, for the kinds of terrain I’m running on, the shoes perform admirably. As I said above, I could see how the lugs may wear down a little faster than some of the beefier trail running shoes or how they may lose some of their performance in mud. I certainly plan on using these for a long time and may end up using these as winter training shoes. In a pinch, I could even imagine using these on road runs, too. This is a very lightweight, versatile trail shoe that is well worth the money!