The Return of Montrail

There was dismay when Montrail were scooped up by Columbia. Montrail had always seemed like a maverick left field company run by enthusiasts and racers, making some very original and exellently performing footwear. But they also had quality control issues and built-in flaws that would self destruct some models regularly.
Columbia immediately decimated the range and it looked like it was all over, the worse case scenario seemed likely: a few rebranded Columbia shoes that would still appeal to folk through past association with Montrail.
I don’t think anybody really considered a best case scenario, that Columbia would straighten out the problems and bring the brand back strong.
When I saw the lineup for ’08/’09 I couldn’t help but raise and eyebrow in hopeful expectation, there’s work been done in there. The range looks to have focus, there’s old favourites and new models. No Highlanders though.
The proof is on your foot and on the trail, and in for test to discover just how that goes I’ve got some models from across the new range.
There’s the Hardrock Mid GTX, Continental Divide GTX, Wildwood TR and the Streak. I’ve used maybe ten different models from Montrail, so I know what I’m looking for, and I know what I’m expecting. The fit seems to be the same as before, the construction looks good, the styling is refreshingly different.

We’ll come back to them for a proper look once they’ve been used, shiny shoes are banned from this theatre until further notice.

22 thoughts on “The Return of Montrail”

  1. I saw a whole load of 07/08 models on sale in Bergen yesterday. I’ve always really liked the look of Montrails but I was once told they have a narrow fit so I’ve always dismissed them out of hand. Maybe I should head back to the shop and give them a go…

  2. ooooh, I love my 07 Cont Divides, they rock for long walks and grassy hills. Interesting to see what the hardocks are like as my Keens are wearing out fast…

  3. They’re too narrow for my feet. There’s a pair of unworn Namches in my loft that bear testament to this fact. Bummer.

  4. There is two distinct Montrail fits, I lie in between them so I can get away with both usually. The higher volume models I’ll put Montrails Enduro insoles into. Socks make a difference as well.

    Narrower/low volume: Namche, Highlander, CTC Mids, C7, (maybe those Hardrock mids above, don’t hold me to that yet).
    Wider/high volume: Continetal/Leona Divides, all the other shoes above, their regular looking boots.

    I couldn’t face dealing with more pictures of brand new shoes, that’s why we’re looking at boxes.
    One thing you can’t see through the boxes though is that they’ve all got aggressive soles. They’re gripping carpet really well, mud trials coming imminently.

  5. Typical! All the models I would wear are the low volume ones! Oh well, Thanks for clearing that up ptc*. Talking of trainers, I bought a pair of lined Salomons recently and I’ve started using them when it’s shite outside. Very, very comfortable and dry but the sole is woeful. Can’t they put one of their Speed Cross soles on an XA shoe? That would stop me wearing inov8s!

  6. I’m the same, the XA XCR’s fit me fine, but the sole is a gripless bastard. I’m going to glue something else on mine.

    You know if you can wear the XA XCRs some of the Montrails will fit you, the narrowness isn’t consistent. Highlanders are at the narrowest, the others a bit less crush-y.

  7. Interesting. I may pop back to Platou and try on some Montrails. My XAs may only fit me as they are my ‘winter’ shoe which I buy a whole size, maybe size and a half bigger than if they were my summer shoes (10.5 inov8s with thinnish socks) so I could fit Coolmax liner socks, thicker wool socks and possibly a warmer footbed into them. I’m a bit peeved with the XAs as after a couple of arse-over-tit near misses in their first three outings I’ve lost confidence in the grip where I know my awesome Roclites would have stuck. The XAs have however, when worn with the ID eVent gaiters, kept my feet toasty and dry in the cold slop up the hill.

  8. More evidence for the “nothing is perfect” movement. I’d don’t know why Salomon don’t do a proper soft/wet conditions shoe. The XA has to be the single most popular shoe in its class, the market is there, just sell a winter shoes to current users.


  9. Ah, so Highlanders are the narrowest then… good because they were certainly too narrow for me. My old bargain CTCs are the only other Montrails I’ve used – they fit well but imo haven’t got the greatest sole other than for scrambling, so they don’t see a lot of use.

  10. Aye, that flattish sole section at the front? I keep meaning to have a go at with a hot knife…
    I know Elaina swear by them in all seasons, but then she’s been known to have frequent unintentional sitting down episodes. (They’re on Arran and can’t hear me :o))

  11. They basically are waterproof Namches. The sole unit is identical and the upper is similar. They’re production models as well.
    I’ve been dealing with the Montrail/Columbia folk in France and that’s where these all shipped from, so they must be available for ordering from Montrail dealers in Europe.

    I was out yesterday for a wee wander in the Wildwood TRs, and they’re looking good.

  12. “I know Elaina swear by them in all seasons, but then she’s been known to have frequent unintentional sitting down episodes. (They’re on Arran and can’t hear me :o))”

    You cheeky sod ptc* I’ll have you know there have been no such incidents for a while!!

    Any chance of nicking some of them there shoes? ;-)

  13. And now that Montrail are owned by big feet friendly Columbia, I note thay also now come in UK size 14.


  14. I’ve hesitated to say this so far as it’ll take some miles and abuse before I’m sure, but the quality of manufacture looks better than before.

    I shouldn’t have said that, it’ll all go tits up now…

  15. A shoe conference sounds like a fine idea. I’m sure you’re the gear world version of Imelda Marcos with all those lovely shoes and boots ;)

    I see that Montrail have got rid of the shoe version of CTC. I will be very interested to see what these ones you’ve got are like in comparison

  16. Racks of them I tell you, racks, like some cobblers emporium, except you can’t have them – they’re all his – they taunt you as have to walk by them to enter the flat …

  17. Aye, it’s a shame as it’s a great mountain shoe. It’s too heavy to be a genuine fell shoe.
    I saw the European Montrail stocklist last week and you can still get Highlanders in all sizes, but once they’ve gone that’s it.
    Also, all them shoes above are available from stock in Europe, it’s just that nobody anywhere is stocking any of them.

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