Montrail Mountain Masochist- Shoe Review
[Ed: We welcome another contributor here at TRS. Jess Spate is an avid rock climber and trail runner. She is in charge of the outdoor products price comparison website Outdoor Equipment Online and also writes regularly in several other blogs, like sustainablog.org. Welcome Jess!]
First things first, this shoe is named after the Mountain Masochist race. It’s reassuring to know that Montrail aren’t marketing a running shoe for those who are into both mountains and pain. In reality the Masochist falls into the more cushioned, comfy end of the fell and trail shoe spectrum.
They’re light enough to go long distance (the race they’re named for runs across 50 miles of Virginia hills, roads, and steep tracks) and padded enough to look after your feet on rocky ground and road sections. There’s a lot more heel than you get on most off-road shoes. They feel quite spongy straight out of the box, more like road running shoes than trail shoes.
The lugs were a source of concern to begin with. They’re not very deep, even for a shoe designed to allow for sections of solid road. The rubber is nice and sticky- the same stuff Montrail use for their rock climbing shoes- and although that does make a difference to the traction under most circumstances, these aren’t the best shoes for muddy ground. After wearing them for a few months I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the level of traction the little lugs provide, but these shoes don’t have the aggression to take on really slippery slopes.
They did do quite well in the snow this winter. There was plenty of traction on the powdery stuff and they worked beautifully in conjunction with a pair of running crampons (Kahtoola Microspikes- best piece of gear I’ve bought in years). Naturally snow got in over the top of the shoe but that’s to be expected. That wasn’t the Masochists’ fault, it was mine for not wearing gaiters.
The other issue is weight. They are light enough when dry. In fact, they’re surprisingly light considering the level of padding and support. They do, however, hold more water than some other shoes I’ve worn. Even the waterproof GTX version gets a little waterlogged and heavy on the outside, and some feel that the non-GTX version doesn’t drain as well as the competition.
The Masochist is not a super fast, super light shoe. It’s more about going the distance, be that on easy, repetitive training runs or monster races. I’d recommend it either for less serious trail runners who just like to go and spend a day running the hills in comfort, or those who need greater protection for long races. For short distance, fast fell running you can probably do better.
The biggest selling point for me was stability. I tend to pronate in a moderate to severe way and my road running shoes are always chosen with motion control in mind. A friend recommended I try the Masochist for off-road work and boy, do I owe them a drink. I’ve never run off-road feeling so stable and precise. That’s an endorsement for other pronators but neutral folks may not be so impressed if the shoes try and correct a problem that’s not there. Montrail doesn’t say anything about it in their promotional material but the people who are most impressed with the Masochist do seem to be those who have issues with pronation.
That said, there are other good points. I’ve worn a single pair of Mountain Masochists for almost a year and while they’re not exactly in pristine condition there’s plenty of life in them yet. The colours have faded almost to a uniform grey and they’re starting to look a little shabby but they still hold the foot in place very nicely and the tread is more or less intact, which is quite impressive considering the beaten they’ve taken. On average they’ve had a couple of off-road runs every week and I’ve also taken to wearing them as crag approach shoes on rock climbing days.
Mountain Masochists come in a men’s and a women’s style, and there are waterproof GoreTex lined versions of both. The non-Gore Masochist retails about £65 and the Gore one around £85 but there are some nice cheap deals around at the moment if you’re willing to take last year’s colours.
Sizing on this model comes up about average, so asking for your normal size is probably a good bet. However, be careful if you plan to buy online. Check the size very carefully. The conversion between US and UK sizes given on the boxes has changed this year and it seems to have created a fair bit of confusion for retailers. Emailing your chosen shop with the European shoe size you’re after is probably the best bet to make sure the Masochists that turn up are the right ones.
The final verdict: try before you buy, but well worth a shot and if you pronate, the Montrail Mountain Masochist could be the shoe of your dreams.