These gave me a dilemma. I knew that they were really just Montrail Namches with a Gore-Tex liner, which is a good thing. But in the past Montrail had made the Gore lined Stratos and the Cirrus models which, as comfy as they were must have been among the most returned retail items ever produced. They would split and leak in the same place, flex points built in seemingly with the single purpose of tearing the shoe open.
But the upper on the Hardrock Mid has none of the daft plastic bits, cutouts and flex points that would spell disaster. The Namche design is adapted here, but not too much. There’s a bit more protection to the mesh areas that I shredded when scrambling with the Namches, the overall shape is the same, the sole unit is the same, the heel is the same.
I stuck them on my feet and headed out. The fit is perfect on me, and there seems to be a little more toe room than the Namches had. The upper is supple, but not soft. The sole flex is the same, just right. The grip is familiar, I did coast for quite a few feet on some mud but otherwise I knew they were going to hold onto most stuff to the point of me skipping over a boulder field on the tops of greasy rocks without thinking about until afterwards. I think the black section on the sole may be a little harder than on the Namches, but as that was super soft rockshoe rubber I think I’ll allow that for the sake of a little more longevity.
I was in them all day and I didn’t have an issue. I used the supplied basic insoles and wore a pair of dogeared Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker socks.
I’m not even going to try and fake objectivity here, I absolutely loved them. If they upper holds together and if the Gore-Tex liner stays intact I think I’ll have found “my” poor weather lightweight footwear.
Not winter though, the upper won’t take it. I’m looking to the AKU Slopes to get me above the snow line.
I’ll come back to them later, I’m hoping we’ll be firm friends.
I’ve worn all the Montrails sent out now, and early indications are that it’s looking good. This makes me happy, it’s like finding my favourite Judas Priest t-shirt from the Glasgow Apollo gig in ’83 down the back of my cupboard and then discovering I didn’t really cut the sleeves off it and it still fits.