Trail running demands a certain level of awareness and focus that you just don’t encounter when you’re on the roads. It’s nice, therefore, when you can worry about rocks on the trail, that big climb coming up and whether you’re being watched by a mountain lion – and not have to worry about your shoes.
That’s why I’ve been so pleased with Montrail’s (women’s) Mountain Masochist II. The shoe’s reliability and durability is the reason it’s my go-to tread. The amount of caked mud and dust on my current pair is evidence of the miles the Masochist has seen me through. Rainy miles, snowy miles, icy miles, muddy miles, perfect miles and worn-out, dead-beat miles: this shoe has been with me through quite a bit.
Yet, through all of that, I’ve never had to worry about my shoes. After I’ve been running for 90 minutes, I’m definitely thankful for the Masochist’s relative lightness (9.2 oz) for a durable trail shoe. They provide just the right amount of support, with a 10 millimeter forefoot and a 20 millimeter heel and a little bit of pronation control. They manage to be snug throughout the mid foot without any pinching. (It kind of feels like my feet are getting a nice hug). The front, however, is incredibly roomy. Somehow, there is plenty of space for my toes to spread naturally and give my footing stability without any slipping or sliding. That’s exactly what I need when I’m trail running and I’m up on my toes a little more.
There’s a great shield that wraps around the toe box, too. For someone who often doesn’t pick his or her feet up enough to avoid stumbling over rocks (ahem), the pleathery material covering the tip of the shoe is a real nail-saver. That, combined with a more rigid sole, gives your foot the protection it needs from sharp rocks and other debris you encounter on the trails. There’s great traction, too – angled blades on the forefoot help you grip the dirt when you’re slogging uphill.
In the winter, when trail conditions are a bit more slippery, I throw on a pair of SnowTrax (like YakTrax but cheap) and am good to go. If I wanted to, I could insert some screws in the soles of my Masochists, but doing so would shorten the life of my favorite pair of shoes. Anyway, the SnowTrax fit perfectly into an interesting notch at the heel that I swear was put there expressly for that purpose.
It’s hard to find something to complain about. They’re a little expensive for a poor college student, but for a high-performance shoe, the Masochist is actually priced on the lower end on the spectrum ($100). The only thing the Masochists have ever given me reason to worry about are the laces. The last pair I owned, the original Masochist, had slippery laces that would come undone once or twice a run. Sometimes I had no problem taking a quick break to retie my laces and appreciate the scenery, but sometimes it was just downright annoying. The pair I own now, however, has shorter laces with more grip, which is probably the main difference between the Masochist I and II. I haven’t had too many problems with the laces on the newer pair.
The shoes are now sitting a little forlornly by my door because they got a little too dirty on my morning run. That, of course, is the point of trail shoes and especially the Masochist. I can’t wait until I get to put them on again and see where they’ll take me next.