(See end of post for an update since the initial review publication)
Some gear tests that I have done lately have really opened up my eyes to the fact that pre-judgement can be a bad thing when it comes to finding awesome stuff! In this case, the stuff was the Montrail Rogue Fly trail running shoe. I’ll admit when I first saw the shoe, and even when I tried it on I wasn’t expecting much. It didn’t “seem” like a trail shoe. It was manufactured with a simple, single fabric outer upper. It had tiny lugs. It just didn’t look like the rest of my trail shoes. Of course, after receiving a pair I knew I would have to try them out to confirm that they weren’t any good on the trails – but I was wrong! Now that I’ve run about 75km in these shoes I thought I would share my thoughts.
The first thing I noticed when I picked up and putting on these shoes is that they were very, very light. Their minimal heft was more like a road shoe than a trail shoe. On that note, I have put some road km’s on the Rogue Flys as well and found them to be great. They were light enough for a quick turnover, and had enough surface contact area to not feel like I was running on rough, lugged soles. However, they are designed for the trails so that’s where I tested them.
The Montrail Rogue Fly’s construction was super simple – the outer fabric was a knit mesh with little else. There was a rubber cap to protect your toes if you kick a rock or root. The Montrail logo was embroidered on the side but that was it. Simple and lightweight. The upper was very comfortable as it allowed my foot to flex without any pressure points from stiff outer material. The Rogue Fly was soft and flexible but felt stable at the same time. Obviously the lightweight upper didn’t provide a whole lot of structure but I didn’t experience any issues as a result – even on rougher trails with lots of roots, rocks and leaf hidden obstacles my feet always felt secure.
For a lightweight shoe, Montrail included a decent amount of sole cushioning in the Rogue Fly. They also have something called “TrailShield” which was basically a semi-rigid plastic plate under the forefoot. I found them comfortable on rough trails and on gravel and stone covered roads they kept my feet from feeling any pointy stabbing pains! The drop is about 10mm which is more than I am used to, but that being said I had no problems maintaining my forefoot strike. I haven’t used the Rogue Flys enough to get a good sense of their durability, but at this point I don’t see any signs of premature wear. I will keep this review updated as I put more km’s on these shoes and see how durable they are.
The tread design on these shoes worked much better than I would have guessed before wearing them. I have been testing them in the fall and most of our trails are covered in mud and leaves where the Rogue Flys performed more than adequately. Of course there was some slipping in slick muddy corners, but I’ve yet to find a shoe that could hold perfectly on hard, mud covered trails. On dry trails they were great, and the low profile of the tread meant I didn’t ever feel like my foot was rolling out off of the lugs on the sole. I was impressed with the gripping power of the tiny blocks on the soles of these shoes.
The major limitation of these shoes is running in wet conditions. These shoes were obviously not designed to be water resistant at all. I used them on wet trails and they definitely didn’t do much to keep the water out. They might have slowed it down, but going through puddles meant wet socks. If I was running in rainy/wet conditions, I would likely choose another Montrail shoe if I was concerned about keeping my feet dry. I will say that while they don’t keep water out, the also didn’t seem to absorb much water so you don’t feel like you have heavy waterlogged shoes on when they do get wet.
Overall I loved the Montrail Rogue Fly trail shoes for dry, smooth to moderately technical trail terrain. I also liked them on the road, but I would guess the tread isn’t designed to withstand too much asphalt running. As I said before they aren’t meant to keep water out, so if you want dry feet these wouldn’t be your first rainy day choice. They hold reasonably well in the mud and have a solid grip on hard surfaces. They are nice and light and feel like you are running in the most comfortable of slippers!
Oct. 29/12 Update:
The day after writing that I didn’t think the Rogue Flys would be a great choice for wet weather running, I took them out to test that statement. I went for a 20km run on the trails during a downpour which had started about 6 hours earlier. The rain was coming down, and the trails were soaked. It didn’t take long for my feet to get soaked (as they would with almost any shoe in these conditions). What I quickly realized was that the same reasons water easily entered the Rogue Flys, allowed it to escape just as efficiently. I was wearing injinji socks (my favourite in wet conditions) and the combination was great. My feet felt great the whole time. I hereby revoke my previous statement about these shoes being unsuitable for wet weather!