Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite
Well made, durable hiking shoes that are a little niche but perform as designed.
- Excellent underfoot protection
- Solid lacing system
- Breathable and lightweight
- Great on rocky terrain and off-trail
- Hiking and Backpacking proficient
- Rigid sole not as well-suited for longer hikes
- Not exceptionally strong waterproofing
- Poor stock laces
I use boots and shoes in rotation and try to cover my weather and terrain needs. I'd read some good things about the Italian-based Salewa and while European sizing can be a little tricky, grabbed their Mountain Trainer Lite shoes on sale in the never-ending quest for the perfect footwear.
I've only them for about a year but they've had a fair amount of use and are holding up exceptionally well. I was a little worried at first because the laces snapped on about the fifth use. It's not uncommon which is why I keep backups around (Delele - 2 pairs for 10 bucks that last) and replaced them. But from that point on the durability is looking really good. The deep lugs are showing little wear, no lose seams and I think they'll last for a bit.
The lacing system itself is more akin to a climbing shoe but because it's a touch narrower fit, I tend to keep the laces towards the toe loose for a little more comfort. Otherwise, the sizing (I'm a 12 - 46 European) was accurate. I wasn't expecting much of a break in period given the fabric upper but it did take me a handful of day hikes before they started feeling like they were a part of my foot.
Where these excel is on very rocky terrain and off-trail. The sole is much more firm than typical lighter weight hiking shoes with these weighing in at a touch over 14 ounces per shoe. The upside is excellent underfoot protection. The downside is that they're not going to deliver the same level of long hike comfort as say a trail runner or cushier models.
I do find their grip on granite and in mud to be excellent and they also offer good control on uneven and off-trail terrain. I have taken them out in the snow (with gaiters) about a dozen times and they handle microspikes/nanospikes very well given their rigidity. The waterproofing was initially effective but over time it's waned. I'll be applying a Nikwax treatment soon to see if helps as I have noticed wet spots on my socks after some time in the wet. But I think these will be better suited for most in three seasons. In warm weather I've felt that the breathability is sufficient.
So overall I'd say these are more of a niche shoe that do very well at what they were designed to do. Both for day hikes and shorter backpacking trips. But on longer hikes, on more groomed trails, I have felt my feet getting a little sore after six or seven miles or so. And that's due to a standard hiking shoe insole with a sole that resembles a bigger backpacking boot as far as firmness than it does a lightweight hiker.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110 (msrp $180)
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