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Wenger Monch

rated 4.00 of 5 stars
photo: Wenger Monch trail shoe

Traditionally known for their Swiss Army Knives, Wenger continues its commitment to excellence for your feet with the new Monch light-weight day hikers.

I tested the Monchs (named after the mountain in Switzerland and pronounced “monks”) over one month at both my local gym and off-road on the Harney Peak Trail in South Dakota.

Composed of rough rock, sand, dirt, gravel, menacing flora and fauna, and plenty of options for bouldering, the Harney Peak Trail was an ideal testing ground for the Monchs.

Fit: The Monchs are true to size so I recommend ordering a half-size larger than your foot. If you have narrow feet, you will like the Monchs. For socks, I recommend a light hiker sock. I tested these with both weights of socks and found the lightweight sock to be a better fit.

The heavier sock felt as if my heel wasn’t sitting deep in the heel bed and actually gave me a near-blister. They are a lightweight day hiker so use a lightweight sock for optimal comfort. Plus, keep in mind that the Monch’s true-to-size fit is more conducive to a lightweight sock.

Performance: They are best suited for light hiking, bouldering and gym workouts that don’t involve running on the treadmill. I found that when I ran, I felt less stability.

They are low-cut, without a great deal of ankle support, so if you plan to do a longer hike with a heavier pack, I recommend looking at the Interlakens or the Alpinas (men's). However, on the Harney Peak Trail, during a three-hour hike, the Monchs performed very well.

Comfort: They are extremely comfortable with good arch support. I have high arches so I notice the arch support—or lack thereof—right away in a shoe. The Monchs circulate air, add breathability and reduce foot sweat in two ways: Through the perforated uppers and the molded anti-microbial and anti-bacteria insoles.

Weight-wise, I give them high marks. At about three pounds, you won’t feel as if you’re slogging through a swamp. Flexibility and agility also get high marks. The low-cut collar, instead of covering the complete ankle like a hiking boot does, makes them ideal for smearing on boulders and rock faces.

Traction: At first glance, the Monchs look as if they aren’t fit for anything more aggressive than ballet practice, but their tread, with skid-free lugs, are ferocious. The Temposit outsole is stiff and grips surfaces like fangs. The tread comes up over the toe to wedge into cracks and tiny ledges.

Construction and quality: Kind of a no-brainer here. Anything Wenger puts its name on is going to have excellent construction and quality. It’s a Swiss thing. The tight mesh along the rand keeps out dirt and pebbles and the quality of the stitching is excellent.

Overall finding: I like the look and feel of this shoe and I like that it has multiple uses. For those who are cost-conscious (and not runners), you’ll find the Monchs to be a good gym shoe, lightweight day hiker and a casual shoe for running about town.

As the cost of outdoor gear goes up, it’s more important than ever to find gear that you can use in multiple aspects of your life.

The Monchs come in women's sizes only, in four color choices and retail for $95.

Materials: Leather
Use: Short dayhikes, urban trekking, bar hopping, casual Fridays
Break-in Period: NA
Weight: about 3lbs
Price Paid: Pro deal from Wenger

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