More Trail Running Shoe Options
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.
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.
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
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.
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.]