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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Highlander Red

Review by planetFear
Thursday 22nd June 2006

Montrail Highlanders.

Over the years I have owned a number of running shoes that are labelled as ‘trail shoes’ or ‘Off-road shoes’ and the majority of them have been, in my opinion, beefed up road shoes with a tough name, a bit more grip and a space age membrane. When taken off-road in, more often than not, damp UK conditions, they provide marginal grip and minimal support for all but the driest and smoothest of trails – My first impression was the Highlanders have been designed by people who actually run, and maybe even race off-road, in poor conditions.

The Highlanders are described as a trailracing/ mountainrunning / speed-hiking shoe on Montrail website (www.montrail.com), along with several other shoes, they form a great looking collection of trail shoes. They come in 3 colour schemes for the fashion conscious among you, all very eye-catching. A tough rubberised toe bumped protects your tootsies from naughty rocks and roots and a strong, fairly open weave mesh keeps the rest of the shoe together quite nicely. Strips of webbing down either side of the shoe link with the lacing to provide a secure fit once fastened.

Out of the box they felt fairly light, but with a solid construction. Initially I thought my feet might not get on with the sturdy upper, as I have allsorts of bumps and lumps from years of running abuse, so new shoes usually hurt like hell for the first few runs.

My first run was a muddy, hilly affair. With year-round muddy tracks and brambles the shoes coped much better than my old trail shoes. I felt a lot more sure-footed on the hills. The sole is not like any I’ve seen before, not as extreme as Mudclaws or Walsh’s, but grippy nonetheless.  After a few weeks of running on dry trails the heavens finally opened, so I headed out for a run round Edale in the Peak District.

10 miles of peat bog, rock and heather over the Kinder plateau was going to be a harsh test for the Highlanders. With the rest of the party running in tried and tested fell shoes I ran the route in the Highlanders – Fantastic. The narrow heel cup and low ride provided great stability over the rough stuff. The grip suffered in places where the Walsh’s held, but more often than not they were fine. The base of my feet usually get battered from running in the fell shoes on rocky terrain, but the extra cushioning on the Highlanders helped combat this. Descending down grassy slopes was better than most, but I was still left behind by the WalshMudclaw wearers as there are few shoes to touch these for grip on steep slopes, saying that though I’m not the quickest at running downhill, so it might be my fault…

The narrow racing last fit may not fit everybody, but those with narrow/medium width should get on well with them. After several weeks of abuse they appear to be holding up well. The uppers are all still intact, with minimal signs of wear on the sole. Overall Montrail have come up with a winner.


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