Montrail Sabino Trail Review

Montrail logoThe Montrail Sabino Trail comes out of Montrail’s Hardrock lineage. While there are many similarities between the Sabino Trail and the Hardrock, enough that we frequently compare the two in the following review, Montrail made enough changes to the Hardrock that it was no longer comfortable continuing to call the shoe “Hardrock.” That’s understandable as the Sabino Trail is a significantly lower, lighter, more breathable shoe than the Hardrock was. Basically with the Sabino Trail, Montrail took the best of the Hardrock and recreated the concept while acknowledging the long term trend in trail shoes that less is more.

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Montrail Sabino Trail
Intro
Montrail has replaced the Hardrock line with the Sabino Trail. The Sabino Trail still provides significant protection and support, but in a much lighter package. The Sabino Trail weighs in at 12.8 ounces for a men’s size 9, while a women’s 7 comes in at 10.25 ounces.

Please note that the Sabino Trail runs a 1/2 larger than other trail shoes, so make sure to buy a 1/2 size smaller than usual! Even with the proper lengthy, this shoe tends to work best for folks with wider feet.

In this review, we’ll take a separate look at the Sabino Trails’s outsole, midsole, and upper before wrapping up with a conclusion.

Montrail Sabino Trail
Outsole
The Sabino Trail’s outsole is very similar to that of the Hardrock. One noteworthy feature is that the outsole contains zones of highly differentiated lugs each with a specific purpose.

The perimeter of the outsole is ringed with clusters of square nubs in an irregular pattern. These nubs provide great traction on a variety of surfaces.

Montrail Sabino Trail Hardrock outsole

From left-to-right the outsole of the Montrail Hardrock, Hardrock 08, and Sabino Trail.

The interior portions of the outsole are filled with horizontal and vertical linear lugs. Toward the forefoot, the horizontal lugs are oriented to provide foreword oriented traction in toe-off. Conversely, the rearward horizontal lugs are oriented in the opposite direction to keep the heel from sliding forward when heel-planting. The vertically-oriented right and left facing lugs provide sideward traction.

Like the Hardrock, there’s a significant cutout in the midfoot. This provides extra traction on very loose terrain. However, this area also tends to hold a good deal of mud. Thankfully, the cutout is smaller in the Sabino Trail than in the Hardrock, so you get the traction benefits without collecting as much mud.

The rear of the outsole has a significant flex point as well as three rows of beefy linear lugs. All of these provide excellent heel grip.

The Sabino Trail’s forefoot has three significant flex grooves whereas the original Hardrock and Hardrock 08 had four. That said, no flexibility seems to have been lost.

Midsole and Rockplate
The Sabino Trail has a dual density midsole. Both the forefoot and heel have cushy foam for a comfortable ride. The midfoot has a significant post, although it is reduced from both the Hardrock and Hardrock 08’s post.

Montrail Sabino Trail Hardrock Midsole

From left-to-right, the midsole of the Montrail Sabino Trail, Hardrock 08, and Hardrock.

As you’d expect from the Hardrock’s successor, there’s a rock plate that runs the full length of the shoe. There’s a bunch of protection in this shoe. That’s something you don’t see a whole lot of these days.

The heel is 19 mm tall with a 9 mm height at the toe, so there’s a 10 mm drop.

Montrail Sabino Trail Hardrock heel height

From left-to-right, the heel heights of the Montrail Sabino Trail, Hardrock 08, and Hardrock.

Upper
This is where many of the weight savings over the original Hardrock come into play. That’s a good thing when you consider that the Hardrock weighed in at close to 15 ounces.

Montrail Sabino Trail Hardrock upper

From top-to-bottom, the upper of the Montrail Hardrock, Hardrock 08, and Sabino Trail.

Much of the upper is open-cell mesh that’s lightweight and let’s your foot breathe even in hot and humid conditions. A faux suede cradle that ties in with the laces locks your forefoot in place.

The toe box is quite wide which allows your toes to really spread out. The toe box isn’t overly tall, but given the width, there’s plenty of space.

Montrail created a robust toe bumper by extending both the midsole and outsole over the upper on the apex at the front of the shoe. That apex toe bumper is, however, fairly narrow. While there is additional protection to outside of the apex bumper, it is only a reinforced overlay. This overlay is enough to provide some push through protection, but will not be enough to save your toes from a full frontal assault on a rock.

The Sabino Trail has a significant heel cup with exterior reinforcement. This is beefier than on most trail shoes. The heel pocket is on the narrower side of things, but it should fit larger volume heels.

The ankle collar is well-padded and on par with many other trail shoes. The tongue is gusseted to help keep debris out of the shoe. The insole is fully removable.

The Conclusion
The Sabino Trail is a highly protective, highly supportive ultra-long-distance trail running shoe in a relatively light weight package. This type of shoe is a rarity on the market these days and the Sabino Trail fills this niche admirably.

Availability
If you want to pick up the Sabino Trail, both the men’s and women’s version are currently available from the Wilderness Running Company. As an iRunFar reader, we can now hook you up with 10% off all Wilderness Running Company orders. Just enter the code iRunFar10 at checkout. You’ll also get free shipping AND help support iRunFar.com. It’s a win-win-win!

Call for Comments/Questions
If you’ve worn the Sabino Trail, let us know what you think in a comment. If you’ve got any questions, ask away and we’ll do our best to answer them.

[Video by Travis Liles, who also publishes RunTheUltras.com, with text adaptation and additional commentary by Bryon Powell.]

[Disclosure: iRunFar is a Wilderness Running Company affiliate, so your purchase of the Sabino Trail through the links above helps support iRunFar. Montrail provided both Travis Liles and Bryon Powell with samples of the Sabino Trail to review.]

Travis Liles

resides in Portland, Oregon where he is a husband, father, and a technical specialist for a software company. In his spare time, he is exploring his new home in the Pacific Northwest, getting more vertical but still not living in the thin air, while producing “Trail Trials with Travis Liles” video gear reviews for iRunFar.

There are 16 comments

  1. Ben

    Nice review thanks. How do they compare to the Streaks, which I cannot get in the UK anymore. They look a bit more protective and therefore a bit heavier than the Streaks.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Ben,

      The Sabino Trail is significantly more shoe than the Streak. If you like the Streak, have you given the Mountain Masochist a try?

      As for the Streak, don't feel left out over the UK. The model has been discontinued worldwide.

    1. Bryon Powell

      12.8 ounces is far less than two pairs of MT 100s and the shoe is significantly lighter than its predecessor. Ultralight shoes (slippers?) aren't for everyone or all conditions. In enjoy shoes light the MT 100, for sure, but there are times and places when I want a bombproof shoe like the Sabino Trail.

  2. Lloyd

    Solid review. I used for 35 miles pacing at MMT. It fit the bill.

    Spot on with the comparison to the original Hardrock but lighter and more breathable. This is the shoe I'd wear for Massanutten; durable and protective for the more rugged terrain yet not as clunky as its predecessor. Too much shoe for less technical trail.

  3. Will T.

    Awesome detailed review. Thanks Travis! Makes me want to go buy a pair and put them to work. I was sad to see the Hardrock go, but not near as sad now. Thanks!

    1. Travis

      Will, I wore the 08 version for several of my early ultras and was pretty happy with them. While these are not as beefy as the original, I think the midsole and outsole are enough similar to fit the bill. Plus getting rid of needless weight on the upper is a good thing. Similar to what Vasque did with the Mindbender from the Blur

  4. Eddy

    I have two questions: Compared to the Vasque Mindbender you reviewed before, which one has the smaller (less volume) toe box? The Mindbenders are great…just the toe box feels a little too roomy unless I wear thicker socks. Also I think the Sabino are a little heavier, correct?

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  5. Ham Tyler

    Alas, both my pairs of "old" Hardrocks are pretty torn up from abuse on

    Massanutten rocks in Virginia. I will definitely check out the Sabino Trail.

  6. Travis

    Eddy, I have both shoes and the Mindbender does have a roomier toe box than the Sabino Trail. You are correct that the Sabino Trail (12.8 oz) is a bit heavier than the Mindbender (11.5) in a men's size 9.

  7. Elly K.

    Excellent review and great blog. Noticed that your review mentions buying the Sabino Trail 1/2 size larger than other trail shoes. Does that include other Montrails? I currently wear a Hardrock08, which you also mention and picture. Do they size the same or do Sabinos really run larger?

    1. Bryon Powell

      I don't have the Hardrock '08 in front of me, but I'd say the Sabino Trail are 1/2 bigger than any other Montrail that I've tried. I'm 98% sure that would include the Hardrock 08.

  8. tanna

    I just tried on and bought a pair of these shoes yesterday, I'm not sure what style my other Montrails are but I did have to buy a half size smaller.

  9. Justus

    Any one with overpronation try these out? I just ordered a pair and am anxious to have a look at them. I need something with a little more support than the masochist and hope these fit the bill.

  10. Marc

    How does the Sabino compare to teh Continental Divide?

    Is the last/fit similar….I'm looking for the best Montrail replacement

    to the CD. Thanks.

  11. Chris Rusch

    I spoke with a rep from Montrail the other day about the Sabino Trail. Sadly, Montrail is discontinuing this shoe. The rep said Montrail is seeking to include more neutral, road and trail hybrid, type shoes to their line up. I am really sad about this. I bought my first, and possibly last, pair of Sabinos and love them. They are cushioned yet firm. Supportive but not as restrictive as a some motion control or stability shoes. If you can find a pair, snag 'em up because they will be gone soon.

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