Montrail Continental Divide
The Continental Divide has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best trail running shoes for 2024.
I'm a UK-based runner who is new to ultra distance events, and I've got a bunch of off-road ultras lined up for this year. I went for the CD because they are one of the big names in ultra running. I got them from Sierra Trading Post: even with shipping to the UK and import tax this was my cheapest option.
Having taken them out for a couple of short runs to see how they feel, I wore them for a 33 mile, hilly, trail run in the southern UK; the Marlborough Downs Challenge. This was easily my toughest run so far: I've done shorter and hillier, and longer and flatter, but this combo was a killer! During such an event is not the time to find your shoes aren't up to the mark: I'm happy to report that the CDs were superb.
They have the cushioned feel of a road shoe, but with excellent off-road grip. The sole also allows enough 'trail feel', whilst adequately protecting the foot from the battering a prolonged run on hard-packed, lumpy terrain will dish out. The heel cup grips really well and is well cushioned, and the toe box has plenty of room.
After the race my feet were unscathed except for a big blister on the end of the second toe on my left foot, which I think would have happened with any shoe because this toe sticks out further than my big toe (unlike on my right foot) and so is pretty vulnerable. Previous shoes I've had would have rolled around on my feet on the uneven trails, making them pretty tired after an hour or so, but these really stayed put.
I'm not giving them the 5 stars because there's a too much friction in lace holes, making them hard to adjust.
So, bar the lacing niggle, a tough, grippy, comfortable shoe for those monster trail runs.
Materials: Mesh, synthetic suede
Use: Long distance trail/ultra
Break-in Period: A few runs
Weight: 500g/shoe (US size 12)
Price Paid: $65
I have bad knees and inflexible arches. I can't take a lot of side-to-side ankle action and these shoes did the trick. I ran many miles in Leona Divides and was sad to see them go. The Continentals are more stable than the Leonas and much more cushioned than the Hardrocks.
I really appreciate that the shoes are well ventilated. The sides have some sort of NASA-like mesh to protect the cloth mesh underneath. I kept them on my first pair and it was still cool. I removed them from my second pair and it made a big difference.
I also really appreciate the weight of the Continental Divides. They are so light. In fact, I put Superfeet in my second pair while I was recovering from knee injury and it seemed like it doubled its weight.
The best thing about the shoes is the support. It flexes around the ball of the foot and doesn't allow any lateral movement. The shoes are so kind to the ankles!
I'm sure these shoes aren't for everyone (super flexible arches) but I highly recommend them. I've run in North Face, Salomon, Adidas, and Montrail and I like Montrail the best.
Use: daily running, trail running
Break-in Period: 4 days
Weight: 215 lbs
Price Paid: $120-$60
These are the best trail running shoes I've ever put on. They fit my feet perfectly, the large toe box is great when running long distances, and they've got just the right amount of support and stiffness. They're very fast drying too.
I only have two complaints:
the laces don't stay tied at all when "single-knotted" and take a half hour to untie when "double-knotted"
you can feel the weird little plastic strips down the middle of the soles after the first 5 miles until about 10 miles, but then they feel great, it was just a weird break-in period that made me nervous initially.
Use: trail running, speed hiking
Break-in Period: 5-10 miles
Price Paid: $60
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