Montrail Badrock Review

Montrail introduced the Badrock in the middle of the 2011 calendar year. At first glance, you might mistake it for a simple color-way update to their existing neutral shoe, the Rockridge. While you’d be somewhat right to make that assumption, you’d be making one pivotal (pun-intended) mistake. The Badrock is essentially the Rockridge plus the use of the FluidPost system for for added stability. The Badrock comes in as a heavier shoe when compared to most of the new models hitting the market these days, but when compared with the average road trainer or trail shoe, it fits right in at 11.4 ounces in a US men’s size 9. The good news is that we found these shoes to fit a 1/2 size large, so if you are ounces counting type then you save yourself a smidgen of weight. As far as the drop goes, the Badrock is in line with the rest of the Montrail lineup at a 10mm delta with 21mm at the heel and 11mm on the forefoot.

Upper
The upper is an open cell mesh that allows for breath-ability, but is tight enough to keep the grit out. On top of that mesh you’ll find anchor points for the laces. The points closest to the toe are fabric sewn on top of the mesh. These points make up the two lowest eyelets and provide the wrap just behind the toes. Above that are two welded points that are bonded directly to the mesh. These cut down on potential points of aggravation on your foot while creating a cradle for the mid-foot. Lastly are the two remaining eyelets that are simply reinforced with fabric and are used to cinch down the ankle collar.

The tongue is midweight. It has enough foam to feel comfortable and remove some of the stress of cranked down laces, but is not overly stuffed nor does it keep your foot hot or hold too much liquid. It is gusseted, but only partially. The extra stretchy mesh to connect the tongue to each side of the shoe does not start until three eyelets down.

Lastly, around the perimeter of the shoe, you find a 360-degree mud guard. It’s made of silver-colored, leather-like material that will add durability as well as keeping out some of the junk low to the ground. Over the life of the shoe it should also push back some of the wear and tear on flex points. The one place where the more durable leather-like section is replaced with lighter weight faux suede is where toe-off will occur. Using a lighter material here reduces rigidity while still maintaining some durability over just the mesh.

The most notable part of the upper is the toe box and a point at where the Badrock differentiates from the Rockridge. It’s big…. really big. So big, in fact, that we were able to go down a 1/2 size comfortably and, depending on whether you like your shoes to fit a little tighter, it would be possible to move down a full size and still have wiggle room. The good news is that unlike some shoe’s we’ve tried with extra-large toe boxes, we never felt like our toes were swimming around. This is due to the more locked down fit of the upper and the snugness you can achieve in the ankle collar and heel.

Outsole
This shoe is listed as a hybrid; one that can tame both the trails and the streets. While true that it transitioned OK on the street, this outsole is very luggy and far more suited for the dirty, rocky single track then smooth blacktop. That said, the numerous lugs added additional cushioning on hardpack and the urban terrain.

The outsole is made up of Montrail’s Gryptonite compound that works across a variety of wet and dry conditions. The lugs that make up the middle of the mid-foot and the heel are hex shaped, hence Montrail’s Terra-Hex label. They are small lugs that point in different directions depending on where they are situated on the outsole. The goal is to provide directional traction whether you are planting medial, lateral or straight ahead. Along the perimeter of the outsole, again along the mid-foot and heel, are large deep lugs that do a nice job of digging in and providing some excellent traction in mud, snow and over jagged rocks. On the heel is a “downhill break.” Basically, there is a slight diagonal cut-out in the heel that runs from one side of the heel to the other that is going to catch the ground as you descend.

Lastly is the rock plate or TrailShield. It does not run the entire length of shoe. Instead, it is only located in the mid-foot. From a protection standpoint, the rock plate does a great job of keeping the sharps from poking though. Even though it does not run from toe to heel, we never felt vulnerable to anything poking though due to the sturdiness of the outsole and the thickness of the midsole

Midsole
The midsole is almost identical to the Rockridge. Single density foam all the way around that adds good cushioning and protection from the trail. From the side, the midsole appears tall, but once you put it on, you realize that your foot sits down inside it a bit, thus bringing you closer to the ground. As mentioned in the intro the midsole has a 21/11 heel-to-midfoot fall for a 10mm difference.

Here’s where the Badrock gets interesting and, again, distinguishes itself from the Rockridge. The medial part of the heel includes a post for stability. This post uses Montrail’s FluidPost technology. The FluidPost moves away from traditional posting systems found on most stability running shoes that uses soft foam for one part of the shoe then abruptly adds much more dense foam to aid in pronation control. While that sort of post may be fine for a consistent surface like a road, it does not lend itself well to trail running when the terrain can vary with each step. The FluidPost is a gradual post that transitions from softer to harder the farther it moves from lateral to medial, easing the abruptness found in most posting systems. While we could tell the post was there when just standing around and shifting all of my weight onto it, we never found it noticeable or interfering with our gait while running.

Closing Thoughts
The Badrock continues Montrail’s lineage of supportive, tough, trail shoes. However, they’ve found a way to continue innovating on this type of shoe with the addition of the FluidPost and by cutting a few ounces off of what the traditional supportive trail shoe weighs. The combination of grip, durability, cushion, large toe box and support should keep those folks looking for a more robust runner happy for lots of miles.

Call for Comments
What do you think of Montrail’s new Badrock?

[Disclaimer: Montrail provided a pair of Badrocks for the review. The Amazon links in this review help support iRunFar.]

There are 34 comments

  1. Christian Johnson

    I tried the Badrocks and found them way to roomy for my foot. For comparison I usually run in a Montrail Masochist or an Inov-8. I had to go from a typical 8.5 in the Montrails to a 7.5 in the Badrocks to get the length to fit. Even when sizing down the volume was still too much for my foot.

    One other thing that turned me off was how poorly they drain water after crossing a stream.

    1. Bryon Powell

      I like the very roomy toe box of the Badrock. Its one reason I prefer it to the Fairhaven or the Rogue Racer.

      I've done all of my Badrock running in Outdry in the winter. They didn't drain, but the kept the snow and slush out. :-)

  2. Perry

    I have just over 200 miles on my Badrocks. Very stable shoe and I've run them over varying terrains, which here in PA means lots of rocks. Love the roominess in the open toe box which is my preference. At 6'1" 220, I'm not a small runner & the Badrock also does well at providing the support & protection under my pounding (on the long runs too). I use the Montrail Fairhaven on the road – they make a good couple.

  3. Eric

    I am curious why Montrail has not got on board with any lower drop shoes? At least a 4mm drop? I much prefer a lower drop and won't consider Montrails for this reason…

  4. Chris

    I have to agree with Bryon. I am 6'8" 230lb with tender feet. It is nice to see some companies still make supportive, protective trail shoes that don't have a zero drop. Haven't tried the Badrocks but I'm tempted.

    1. Eric

      you can have supportive, protective trail shoes that have a moderate drop. It seems like there is some consensus forming on the downsides of the big drop shoes in how they force you to be a heel striker.– maybe force is strong — but at least make it difficult to have a natural gait…

      1. Bryon Powell

        I'm a big fan of my unnatural gait. From what I've been told by some barefoot experts, it's more efficient at ultra distances. That said, I'm glad that through the vastness of markets and the outdoor industry that anyone should be able to find a show that works for himself or herself. :-)

        1. MikeC

          I would love to see a comparitive and searchable shoe guide with real info. Things like toe box and heel width, heel drop, weight, flexibility and protection index, tread type….

  5. MonkeyBoy

    I enjoy the fact that Montrail has good diversity in their evolving line up, while sticking to the midsole heights that are more practical for the majority of consumers.

    I think the "consensus that is forming" is still a minority amongst most trail runners and trail running brands. Plenty of solid options available in the 4 mm market without everyone jumping on board.

    1. Eric

      It's true about the minority, but it's changing super quickly (I am speaking from a biased perspective here in Boulder, Colorado). Where many of the top runners (Anton K, Scott Jurek, etc.) and the regular joes can be seen doing more of the forefoot gig…

  6. Phil

    I have been running in the Badrocks all summer. These are a great trail shoe. I have found that they really shine on steeper downhill trails. The large toe box is a huge plus. I agree that they feel stiff when standing around, once I get running they are very comfortable. Not as light or as flexable as my cascadias, but I find them better suited to more technical trail and steeper hills.

  7. Andy

    The foot box is most definitely big, which I love. I feel like the mid-foot area of the uppers are a bit large as well, the laces are cinched up to their max., but I haven't found that to be a problem on steep descents.

    I have about 300 miles on mine. They're holding up reasonably well, there are small holes on the uppers, on the mid-foot area where the toes bend, and the outsole is delaminating slightly in one spot. I don't consider either of these issues to be a problem.

    The Fluid Post is great, I really don't notice it while running, but when walking the heel strike feels almost cushy compared to most shoes. In my opinion this shoe drains fine as well.

    Bryon, any word on if Montrail plans on using the Fluid Post on any future models besides the Fairhaven and Badrock?

      1. swampy

        Stoked to hear the MAsochist is getting the upgrade! I have been training in the Fairhaven for about three months and love it over long distances. The tread, however is not aggressive enough for serious climbs and descents and they drain poorly. Montrail read my mind again by putting FluidPost in my favorite overall shoe.

  8. Weldon

    I've only done one run of about 12-14 miles in my Badrocks, so far. Initial impression was that they were very comfortable and supportive. I usually wear a size 11-11.5 in most shoes and tried on both sizes when purchasing these. The 11.5's were way too huge and the 11's seemed right. After running fairly technical trail for about 8-9 miles, though, I felt that the midfoot was still too loose and allowing my foot to slide forward too much on downhills. Tightening them down enough to prevent that then felt too tight. An insole with a touch higher arch might help, and they may feel better after a few more runs, but I'm sort of feeling that these shoes are just a bit too short with too much mid foot volume. I do like the roomy toe box, though. By comparison, I also tried a pair of 11.5 Saucony Peregrines which fit my foot incredibly well right out of the box and don't exhibit the same sizing issues at all.

  9. TrailNewbie

    I haven't read all your Montrail reviews, but do you know which one provides the most pronation support? Or maybe another brand out there you'd recommend instead? I really like running in my Brooks Ariel (men's is the Beast) but not sure what trail shoe to go with. Thanks!!

    1. Travis Liles

      For Montrail it would be the Sabino Trail or the Fairhaven. The Sabino is the most supportive and protective trail shoe and the Fairhaven is a hybrid that works well for less aggressive trails.

  10. Jenna

    do not go with your standard montrail sizing.

    I was offered a pair to try and gave my usual trail shoe sizing. which was worked well with montrails before. the shoes that came – weren't just big – they were huge.

    for them to fit I would have had to down size more than a full size.

  11. Aug

    Bryon,

    Thanks so much for the review. It seems pretty helpful, as usual.

    I was interested on the Badrocks because I read somewhere that they were excellent snow shoes.

    When thinking about running in snow, are these still your weapon of choice? I'm planning some loooong runs in snow this winter and have no clue about what shoes would be ideal. It's clear that good traction is a must, but I'm still unsure whether outdry/gore-tex is better than regular mesh. For a 1 hour run, I would clearly go for a water-resistant shoe, but for longer runs I couldn't tell…

    Would you still recommend the Badrocks-outdry for this sort of runs? Any other good alternative?

    Thanks in advance

    Aug

    1. Bryon Powell

      The Badrock Outdry would still be way up there for a run on packed snow trails or, perhaps, a road run when it's moderately snowing or there's a couple inches on the ground. If I'll need more traction, I'd move over to the Salomon S-Lab Soft Ground or La Sportiva Crossover, both of which are heavily lugged. The Crossover is waterproof with an integrated gaiter. the Soft Ground lacks both of these, but I like its mix of a solid (i.e., wider, more standard running shoe feel) that's still heavily lugged.

  12. dante

    Hi everybody!

    i have small, skinny feet but, I really want to buy this shoes, I like big shoes and always have suffered black toe, I hope with something like this I will never have a black toe again.

    I am wondering what do you think. I do love my cascadia 5 but they need to rest (they are already dead but… I still wear them).

    do you think whit my skinny feet (size 8 with cascadia), It will be ok to order a complete size down (7).

    I am not big at all, I am small (1.70m, around 55kg) whit chicken legs so… will be this shoes to big for me? Also, I always have used neutral shoes.

  13. Lisa

    Interesting that you describe the toe box as roomy. On first try they felt too snug to me. I have since learned (on my third pair) that they will stretch some to accommodate my wide feet (bunions). I think they are pretty true to size, though have noticed in the past that Montrail's sizing can change within the same model.

    I find that they are excellent mudders and hold up pretty well to the rocky, rooty, technical trails I run on (Superior Hiking Trail, Northern Minnesota).

    The uppers on my 2nd pair gave out much sooner than I expected. Showing holes by 300 miles and completely ripping out on an overnight run with around 350 miles on them. The soles still have life, but they are relegated to the sidelines for now due to the damage to the uppers. I usually get 440 – 500 miles out of my shoes before retiring them (I am small statured).

    The outsoles on the 2nd pair also showed wear earlier than my first pair. Now, that may be due to the fact that they saw more time on the above mentioned technical trails in dryer conditions. My first pair were purchased in the late summer/fall and took me through the winter ( = snow covered trails). They do hold screws pretty well too, which takes care of most traction issues except on glare ice. I wear gaiters in the winter which takes care of the annoying "snow trapped around the ankle issue" which is the main problem for me in the winter. But Minnesota winters tend to be colder and dryer than in other states. I run at sub-zero temps for up to a couple of hours and haven't had issues even in the standard shoe (note: I have circulation issues so while my feet are cold to start they are fine during a run).

    I do feel some of the sharper rocks despite the rock plate, which I think is okay because it means I have pretty decent trail feel despite the beefy looking outsole.

  14. Dan Williams

    Thanks for the in-depth review Bryon. A few years later than others and I've just ordered a pair of Badrocks. Because of serious injury I need a trail shoe with more cushioning than I usually go for and a more standard heel to toe drop. I'll let you know if they do the job.

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