Montrail Mountain Masochist III Review

The Montrail Mountain Masochist III ($100) is the third iteration in the Masochist series, and it retains all of the characteristics that the model’s loyal following as come to love: a well-draining, supportive upper; a midsole with just enough stability; and a multi-purpose outsole. With the Masochist III, most of the updates come in small modifications to the upper, including a smaller tongue and heel cap. Watch this video review to find out more about the newest version of an old favorite.

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

Montrail Mountain Masochist III Review Transcript

Hey, and welcome to Trail Trials, the video review section of iRunFar.com. My name is Travis Liles, and in this video, we’re going to take a look at the Montrail Mountain Masochist III.

The Mountain Masochist is a bit of an oddity when it comes to trail running shoes in general, and that’s because it hasn’t changed much since its initial launch back in the 2008 and 2009 time frame. This shoe has gone through a couple minor changes here and there with the addition of the Fluid Frame which was brought in with the Mountain Masochist II. In this we’re really doing a bit of a subtraction, and we’re moving the heel-to-toe drop from 10mm down to 8mm. The shoe, in general, has some very basic statistics. This is, of course, a trail running shoe. It weighs in at just over 11 ounces though that’s not published on Montrail’s website, and again, 8mm heel-to-toe drop with kind of moderate cushioning. With that, let’s dig in. Let’s talk about these shoes, and let’s get up close and personal with them.

What we have here is the men’s size 9. This is in the color way of the gray and chartreuse. Basically it’s a bright yellow. There’s also another color here which is a light gray with some of the yellow as well as this orange. The women’s also has this exact same color way as well as one similar to this, but in place of the orange there’s what they call a clear blue or a teal. That’s what you’re looking at. Again, this shoe weighs in right around 11oz. It’s not published on their website, but that’s what I’ve come up with.

Montrail Mountain Masochist III

The Montrail Mountain Masochist III.

Outsole
Overall, let’s just start at the tread and work our way around. If you’re familiar with Mountain Masochists in the past, you’re going to see nothing different here on this tread pattern. Some of the things I like about this tread pattern are, of course, you have the forward-facing lugs and the reverse-facing lugs. You have some of these cut-outs in here as well, or these blades. I’ve found these actually to work really well on some loose as well as some muddy-type conditions. That stuff tends to get in these little divots, not enough to hold it like a pocket, but enough that it gunks up in there and gives you some added traction. There are also some interesting cut-outs here that you see in this yellow.

The thing I really enjoy about these is that even though this shoe has more volume than a minimal shoe, it keeps your arch and the outside of your foot relatively close to the ground. For me, that makes for a relatively stable ride and keeps my ankles from twisting. In general, I’ve had a lot of good success with these, and I feel like a lot of it has to do with this low-to-the-ground feel even though you can see you do have a decent amount of foam in the heel.

They use Gryptonite which is a very common tread material that Montrail uses. That’s used all the way throughout. It’s a little bit of a sticky rubber, more of a general purpose, but again, tends to work well, tends to hold up well over long distances. I’m comparing this to my old versions of the Mountain Masochist I and II that I’ve had, but I’m generally able to get 300-plus miles out of a pair of these shoes before I have any problems at all specifically on the tread. It seems to do really well and definitely lasts the life of the shoe.

Just throughout, you’re going to see some nice little things like some lugs going inward and outward of the shoe or medially and laterally and, again, reverse lugs kind of throughout. They do some interesting things with the tread patterns hopefully giving you traction in every direction. Again, it’s a really protective shoe, and it works well across lots of different surfaces.

Montrail Mountain Masochist III outer

The Montrail Mountain Masochist III outsole.

Midsole
We’re going to go ahead and flip over to the midsole now. The midsole, again, is pretty much unchanged from the version II. The version II brought the Fluid Foam which is Montrail’s proprietary way of basically creating stability in the shoe without adding in a huge wedge of a frame in here that’s going to help with pronation control. Versus one kind of foam and then laying a block of harder foam in there, they have these various types of foam all the way throughout, so soft-hard-soft-hard-soft-hard all throughout here. It creates stability without being one big chunk of foam in there that could possibly push your foot to roll to the outside.

This is a much more gradual post than what you see. We looked at this same exact stuff in the Montrail Masochist II as well as the Fluid Flex ST that we reviewed last time. Again, this is something that I think works well. I’m a bit of a pronator. I feel this is a nice way of adding some stability on the trail without having to worry about having a full-blown post in there.

Overall, very good foam, very cushioned ride, not spongy like a Hoka or a super-cushioned shoe. It’s definitely in the middle of the road in terms of having enough foam in there that you have shock protection, that you have rock protection, that it’s something you can wear on your feet for a long time, but not so much that you lose that ground feel.

I feel like, again, with these cutouts here on the side and the way the shoe rides, it does really well. I also feel like it can do just fine on road, gravel, technical, downhills, uphills. This midsole, to me, is a very good general-purpose midsole. As you can see, it’s this consistent foam all the way around with the exception of the Fluid Frame that’s going to exist from about the middle part of the heel to right about where the forefoot starts here kind of right on the ball of your foot.

Upper
Let’s hop up here to the upper. One of the things I noticed was a slightly less hard toe-cap area. The apex here where this sole wraps around is still very much a good… going to be able to take some abuse if you catch your toe on something, but this vinyl material that’s overlayed on top of the mesh tends to have been relaxed a little bit which I think actually adds to a little bit better foot feel. My toes can stretch out a little bit more in here without having to feel crammed and feel like I’m butting up against a hard shell. That’s a nice little update here.

As we move around the shoe, we can see these straps. These are obviously very similar to what we had in the Mountain Masochist I and II, so the ability to create that cinch around the foot which I feel is really good especially for technical stuff and for running downhill hard and cornering. These things really grip my foot well and, I feel, put a nice hold on top of them. You see that throughout and, of course, on both sides.

Two points here I’ll call out on the tongue and on the heel. They’ve reduced the amount of foam on the heel cup here as well as on the tongue. One of the things I always thought was really great about the Masochist was that it had a super-padded tongue. The positive on that is over the course of those long-distance races, it’s kind of nice to have some of that protection from your laces so you don’t get that fatigue on the top of your foot, but it held water. Hopefully with the reduction in the foam on the heel and on the tongue, you’re going to see that drain a little bit faster which is going to happen by having half the material here, maybe 33% less, just a rough estimate, in terms of what’s there and making that a little bit easier on you.

Very traditional lacing pattern here—again, we’re going to use those anchors here to secure that to the foot—and really a lot of mesh in here. Something I’ve always felt like the Masochists have done an adequate job is draining water. I think a lot of that has to do with how this midsole sits in here. You have mesh that goes all the way down that exists on both sides of the shoe. Most of the time that water is probably going to settle in about the middle of the foot and be able to push itself out from there.

Really good feel. I haven’t really noticed anything different even though we have less foam in the heel. I don’t feel like it’s any less secure in the heel, maybe by a little bit, but nothing that using the upper laces and really cinching those things down isn’t going to help with. Overall, really good fit.

Montrail Mountain Masochist III upper

The Montrail Mountain Masochist III upper.

Overall Impressions
Let’s hop out and talk about final conclusions here. In closing, the Montrail Mountain Masochists are one of my favorite shoes. If you see pictures of me anywhere, I’m wearing a pair of these for the most part. That’s because it’s really like a pacifier. It is that shoe that if I don’t know what I’m getting into, if I don’t know how long I’m going to be on my feet, I’m not quite sure of the terrain, I know this may not be the absolute best choice, but it’s a choice I can count on for a long time. Again, just the fact that Montrail has really left this shoe alone and has just done some minor updates throughout the years, some may look at that as a bad thing. I look at it as a really great thing especially since it’s my go-to shoe. If you’re looking for an all-round shoe that can really do it all from mud to rocks to technical to groomed to even a little bit of road, this is definitely a shoe worth looking out for.

Call for Comments
Any questions or comments, place them below the video. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time.

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 6 comments

  1. breeves2000

    Another great review. Thanks for the close up analysis Travis. I'm curious though, why are these heavier than the previous models? There seems to be just a little bit less overall to the shoe so the extra weight is puzzling to me. I've always LOVED the uppers on these and if they would just shave 4mm off the heel and put it under the forefoot, I feel like I could get more than 400 miles out of them.

  2. Max

    I dislike the MM for a great many reasons, it's not my kind of shoe. However the notion of getting something right and not screwing it up with updates, is something that is so very rare in the running world. I applaud Montrail for not trying to turn a solid shoe with a loyal fan base into the next hot thing.

  3. wildknits

    My experience with this update is that there is NO trail shield/rock plate and this results in inadequate protection from sharp rocks. Living in an area with lots of exposed bedrock and tree roots this has resulted in bruising and pain in my forefoot. Almost to the point of giving up on Montrails in search of a shoe with better protection.

    I felt that the MMII's offered great protection while still allowing good ground feel, so was upset with this change.

    I otherwise love the fit of these shoes, and have adjusted to the slightly lower heel drop (though why make that change?!? Not everyone can wear a minimalist shoe). This is one of the few trail shoes that adequately accommodates my wide forefoot (bunions) and provides some pronation control. But the lack of rock protection in the soles is worrisome due to the terrain I routinely run on.

    After reading your review, I am wondering if I got a bad pair (has happened before with Montrails) and the apparent lack of a trail shield/rock plate is a defect.

    Thoughts?

  4. @christiant33

    I actually found the MMIII to have a much roomier fit that the MMI and MMII, which for me was a negative. My foot slid around the shoe when I ran. To counter the slippage, I had to cinch the shoe pretty tight, which caused pain on the top of my foot where the laces dug in. All of this is caused, I believe, because they chose to remove the padding from the tongue, which I thought was a great feature on the last two iterations. I ended up giving up on them and the Mountain Masochist line all together, which is a shame because I had a great experience with the first two versions. It's also a shame because I really like all the other changes they made to the shoe, like the scaled down toe bumper, etc.

  5. Morgan

    I bought the MMIII without even thinking about it, my previous 6 pairs of shoes have been MMII. Much to my disappointment, I can’t wear them! The lack of heel cushion gives me a nasty blister on my achillies after a few minutes in them. I bought these 4 weeks prior to my next 100 miler so I could wear them in, now I’ll have to wear old MMIIs from last year.

    On the inside of the back of the shoe, the bottom 3/4 inch or so is unpadded, then the padding begins part way up. This creates a ridge or a bump when the padding starts, this is giving me a nasty blister.

    I ran Wasatch in my good old MMIIs blister free the entire race, now I can’t run for a few minutes in MMIIIs. Very disappointed, I have no choice but to find a new shoe going forward. The MMIIs just agreed with my feet very well.

    Morgan

    1. JViper

      Couldn’t agree with you more Morgan! I absolutely loved the 2’s and was stoked when the 3’s came out. They felt great around the house. Then I hit the mountains and the flaws in the shoe became readily apparent. On climbing, that heel ridge gave me the same nasty blisters/peeled off skin on the backs of my heels. On descending, my foot wasn’t as locked in as they were on the 2’s (just like ChristianT’s review), and my big toe kept bumping into the front of the shoe and I developed a loose toenail as a result. I ended up selling them for $25 to a guy who needed a pair of shoes last minute for an OCR. Good thing b/c they were about to be put on lawn mowing duty. Shame. Montrail really dropped the ball on the 3’s. I really hope they return to the earlier roots of this shoe.

Post Your Thoughts