More Trail Running Shoe Options
Montrail Rogue F.K.T. Review
As the temperatures peak outside—for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway—the trails, in all their dry and rocky glory, beckon us to play longer and higher than winter might have allowed. This is the time of year when traction and cushion requirements take on altered meaning compared to the winter miles more often run in snow and mud. Montrail has a new incarnation of the Rogue Fly coming out August 2016 called the Montrail Rogue F.K.T. ($110), and I predict it will have a strong following especially among those with narrower feet.
The Rogue F.K.T. weighs in at 8.2 ounces for women’s and 10.1 ounces men’s and provides a relatively low-profile feel for a 10-mm drop shoe. Montrail sent me the women’s size 9.5, which was a half size up from my normal Montrail size 9, and I was glad they did. The shoes have a narrower fit than the Caldorado or Masochist, and I’m quite sure my regular Montrail size would have left my fourth and fifth toes with nowhere to be. The sized-up shoes were comfortable right out of the box, however, and had the magical combination of cushioning and traction that allowed me to take them on hard-packed and rocky desert trails outside of Phoenix as well as trails and jeep roads in their mercurial spring transition in Colorado’s Front Range where snow, mud, and dry ball-bearing surfaces co-exist sequentially in many runs. The smooth ride, lightweight feel, and excellent protection provided by this shoe would allow it to be a 50k-50 mile shoe for those it fits well. I’ll address this further below.
The upper has a seamless construction with a base layer mesh and a 3D-printed midfoot cage wrapping around the shoe that is designed to support the midfoot and provide a snug fit. The outer mesh of the Rogue F.K.T. is very similar to that of the Caldorado with larger holes that enhance breathability and allow for quick moisture drainage. The inside of the upper has a smooth layer of much finer mesh preventing debris from entering. This combination performed admirably, as I did not have any issues with sand and small rocks entering the shoe via the mesh. The lightly padded tongue is gusseted to the second (from the top) lacing hole and sits unobtrusively in place providing ample protection from laces and debris while not applying any undue pressure at the top of the foot or against the anterior tibialis tendon at the ankle. A side note about the laces: they were hilariously obstinate about staying untied. They are flat and unremarkable in any way other than I’d have to stop to retie my double knots on both shoes up to three times during any given run. I’ve not had this issue with any other shoe ever. Who put the oil on my laces?
The heel cup is molded and of graduating firmness from the midsole upward. It holds my narrower heel snuggly and transitions evenly to a comfortable ankle collar. With its moderate level of padding, it enhanced the no-slip comfort at the heel while not impacting my achilles tendon or ankle bones under any circumstances.
A somewhat flexible synthetic rand joins in with the overlays of the cage and provides excellent protection from pointy intrusions around the entire forefoot. It’s further reinforced by an extension of the outsole which wraps up the central portion of the toe. This allowed for increased purchase on short scrambling sections or in dry, rocky creek beds.
I had one significant challenge with the upper, and I believe it has more to do with the relationship of my “wider” foot on a relatively narrow platform, but I did not feel that the upper kept my foot snuggly in place on the midsole of the shoe from the midfoot forward when on significantly rocky or cambered trails. It was not an issue on low-angle terrain or smooth, hilly trails, but on rocky declines especially, I had to slow my pace and step carefully to avoid feeling like I might slide right off the shoe thus inverting my ankle. I think if you have a narrower foot, the 3D printed cage will provide more of the proper support, but this is the limiting factor for me in this shoe, and the reason I wouldn’t use it on the somewhat technical trails it’s designed to attack.
I’m becoming an increasingly greater fan of the Fluid Foam™, which runs the full length of the midsole of the Rogue F.K.T. The ride is smooth whether I’m linking trails with a mile of hard dirt road or running on a stretch of red rock; and 200 miles into this pair of shoes, it feels as comfortable as it did out of the box. So far in temperatures from 35-100 degrees F, I haven’t felt a significant difference in the responsiveness or cushioning of the shoe, and I still feel like I have good trail sense through the midsole. The midsole is further enhanced by the TrailShield™ layer—Montrail’s proprietary lightweight and flexible material that provides protection from rocks and intrusions through the sole and adds torsional rigidity through the midfoot. If the upper held my foot on the platform or if the platform was the same shape as the Masochist or Caldorado, the torsional stability would be perfect for my neutral/slightly rigid foot on all but the jumble-of-talus approaches we have amongst our higher peaks. These aspects make it a great shoe for longer races if cushioning and protection rank high on your list without sacrificing a lower profile ride.
The outsole is marked by multi-directional 4.5 mm lugs that enhance traction on and off the trail. The lugs grip nicely on rocky ascents and descents while digging into wet dirt and dry, dusty trails quite well. There are more aggressive soles out there for very muddy and snowy conditions, but for an all-purpose shoe on spring and early summer terrain, this one is hard to beat. I found the traction more than adequate on snow patches and muddy sections while still allowing for a flowy run down a dirt road or buffed out singletrack. The outsole has perforations that improve the flexibility of the shoe and allow for a smooth heel-to-toe transition on any surface. It also keeps the shoe on the lighter end for how much protection is provided. Coupled with the TrailShield™ mentioned earlier, I had no issues with stone or root bruises, nor did I catch lugs as I skimmed over trail debris with my “ultra energy-saving-low-pro stride.” After 200 miles, the outsole is holding up very well. The lugs appear to be the same height as they started, just a bit smoother appearing. Impressively, I see no evidence of my usual heel strike wear pattern. This bodes well for many more adventures in the Rogue F.K.T.
Overall, if this shoe fits, I highly recommend wearing it. I think those with narrower feet will prefer it to those of us with wider feet, but the smooth ride, light weight, and impressive protection the Montrail Rogue F.K.T. provides will have you sailing down whatever the trails throw your way.
Call for Comments
If you’ve run in the Montrail Rogue F.K.T. what did you think?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with Montrail or another shoe brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]