Gear Review: Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX
Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid:
These, my 3-season boots, have been in action for around 6 months, used most days, except in excessive heat during the summer, and for all my hill-walking trips. They possess a full, rubber rand for protection and jamming into cracks when scrambling/climbing. The lacing runs all the way to the toe and carry the Vibram Mulaz sole unit with sole-mapped rubber densities and a decently grippy tread. The grip on these boots is surprising, meaning they’re actually pretty good on wet rock and they’re reasonably stiff for a lightweight boot, so they feel stable, even on uneven terrain. The latter features and slight stiffness in the sole, make this a great scrambling boot.
They have a Gore-Tex membrane under the predominantly suede upper, with the gusseted tongue section being fabric, (a controversial feature for some these days). The basic lace locking system ties into what they call the 3F System, which seems to mostly work well, with some slight slippage over the course of a long day. If I have interpreted correctly, it attempts to retain the heel in place and provide support, whilst allowing for some naturalistic movement of the ankle in relation to the rest of the foot.
In the toe-box, the boots are quite roomy for me, (I have normal arches and a relatively low-volume foot), and whilst the heel retention is also great, I think for people with feet on the more ‘slight’ end of the scale, I would recommend that you acquire some after-market insoles, so as to minimise slippage and the impact on the balls of your feet on longer walks.
n.b. After 6 months of heavy use, the Gore-tex membrane in these boots has decided to give up. I’m beginning to think the inclusion of Gore-tex in boots is perhaps an unnecessary feature, there is speculation as to how breathable a Gore-tex lined boot is, with many suggesting that such boots get just as wet from the inside due to excessive sweating. The problem in my eyes comes from persistent flexing of the boot when under walking and scrambling pressures, and abrasion from within the boot itself but also from particulate lodged in ‘nooks & crannies’, for example in the gusseted tongue, or under the lifting edges of a rubber rand. The latter specialisation is perhaps a maladaptive feature in a walking boot, (though maybe this is my mistake in trying to use it as such!), as it reduces the amount of leather in the forefoot, replacing it with Gore-tex lined fabric that is more prone to water exposure and absorption. The main failure point in this case seems to be at the bottom of the lacing system, which runs ‘to-the-toe’ like in a climbing/approach shoe. Inside both boots there is a ‘saggy’ region, at the point where the tongue is attached to the forefoot, which feels as if the membrane has delaminated away from the fabric, (perhaps under the pressure from pooled water). The forefoot is a region of the boot that is exposed to considerable flex-derived pressures, and as such is likely to be a prime location for potential leakages, and whilst the to-the-toe lacing is a functional feature, perhaps there is a better way to achieve a similar amount of flex using different, less leaky, materials. I think it is safe to say that when I manage to replace these boots, I will be looking in the direction of a full-grain leather piece.