Montrail FluidFlex II
This is the perfect trail/road hybrid for me. It features soft yet responsive midsole, aggressive yet road-friendly outsole, and an upper that fits like a sock...but it's not quite "perfect."
- Soft, breathable upper
- Soft yet responsive midsole
- Sticky and grippy outsole that still works for the road
- Drains quickly
- Fits true to size
- A bit narrow in the forefoot/toebox
- Exposed midsole wears quickly
Plain and simple: I love this shoe. Montrail's Fluidflex 2 has worked out to be nearly the perfect shoe for my foot and the running that I do.
My typical activity is 50/50 moderately technical trail and road, so my aim was to find a single shoe that would do most everything for me. That's not to say that I don't rotate other shoes in on occasion, but I really like not having to think about it and knowing that if I want to run road to trail to road then I'm set.
I should note that in my rotation I include the Fluidflex 2, Cascadia 8, Pure Grit 1, Pure Cadence 1, and Hoka Clifton.
Now to the review:
Out of the box, the FF2 fit quite well. I was initially concerned with how narrow the shoe looked as I have a fairly wide foot, but the upper is very flexible and conformed to my foot really well. The toe box was a bit constricting, but only for the first few runs until it stretched out a bit. The upper breathes extremely well in the heat and keeps my feet reasonably cool in sweaty conditions. It drains very well and I don't hesitate to run in the rain or trudge through water crossings.
The midsole is quite soft and the difference between the FF2 and a shoe like the Patagonia Everlong is immediately noticeable. Though the stack height is fairly minimal compared to a traditional trainer, the FF2's foam is a dream. I also appreciably the low 4-5mm drop of this shoe as it suits my running gait well.
The seamless nature of the midsole surprisingly has no effect whatsoever on the flexibility of the shoe. Montrail really nailed it in keeping this shoe soft and flexible...something akin to the Hoka Clifton, though obviously not so stacked up.
The outsole is moderately problematic for me as I tend to be a midfoot striker and on the roads I wear through the exposed foam fairly quickly. The wear doesn't impact the performance of the shoe, but it still bothers me that it gets shredded so quickly. The lugs are aggressive enough to tackle some slippery trail but low profile enough that they tend to disappear underfoot on the roads.
I'm about 100 miles into my 2nd pair after the first pair "died" around 250 miles. The outside edges of the upper along the forefoot started to wear through and the outsole was fairly worn at that point. I still throw that first pair on for a particularly muddy run or a hike without hesitation.
In summary, if you like a soft, low-drop, flexible, lightweight trail shoe that can handle miles on the road...the Fluidflex 2 is rock solid. Fits true to size and you can find it online at a discounted rate if you search around. The newer version includes a rock plate and more support, but I have not run in that one and can't comment on a comparison.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $65
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Historic Range: $42.95-$89.95
Reviewers Paid: $65.00
Historic Range: $26.73-$89.95