Montrail Blue Ridge
By Matt Smith
This spring and early summer, I spent a lot of time on the trail, breaking in and becoming familiar with a couple of hiking boots, in anticipation of a 50 mile backcountry backpacking trip in August. I had several boots from which to choose, and I wanted to make sure I found the best boot for my feet, long before the trip. The Montrail Blue Ridge (GTX) felt great right out of the box. Our female tester also found the boot to be very comfortable with little break-in.
The Blue Ridge has a stable heel cup, and form fitting upper that I noticed right away. The nylon last, and PU midsole provide the perfect amount of stiffness and protection, without sacrificing the necessary flexibility. Typically, the first thing I do when I get a new pair of boots is to pull out the factory insole, and replace it with a third party insole. This boot was no different. Within just a few uses, the factor insole had collapsed, and provided almost no support or added cushioning. Currently, I prefer DownUnders insoles. I slipped in a pair of DownUnder "Greens" and it was the perfect match.
I found that within about 30 miles, the boot was completely broken in. The mid-foot and ankle were supple, and comfortable through the full range of motion, even on steep slopes or while side-hilling. The gusseted tongue did a fair job of keeping out small rocks and dirt. The lacing system was easy to snug up, though I did wish that it was easier to isolate the foot from the ankle. Even when lacing the transition cleat from top to bottom, which usually locks up the laces, there was some slippage. I think this could easily be resolved by swapping out the round laces for flat laces. The only complaint I had with the boot is the gusset is a little bulky at the top, and it takes care to lace the boot so the gusset lies in front of the tongue, and flat.
Summary: The Montrail Blue Ridge is exceptionally comfortable. It breathes well, especially for a Gore-Tex boot. It is enough to say that of the several boots tested, I selected the Blue Ridge for my long trip. It is a great boot, and at about $150, the price is right.
Buy the Montrail Blue Ridge Boot.
Matt is a contributing editor and the canyoneering specialist at Gearreview.com.
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