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Montrail Rogue Racer and Rogue Fly Trail Running Shoe Review

[I’ve been putting off this review for over a month. Two reasons, 1, I’m on vacation, and 2, I’ve struggled with what exactly to say which might be an indication of my lackluster relationship with the shoe!

But before I taint your opinion…read on.]

Back in the mid 90’s when I started my “endurance racing caree….er” hobby, I had a hook up at REI. They were big into Montrail shoes at the time, so I had several pairs and used them mainly for trail running and adventure racing. There were other options but I had this strange sense of loyalty to the brand. I must have used Montrail for at least 2-3 years but then began to go over to Salomon and Vasque. Not until moving to Bend, Oregon in 2008 did I begin a love affair with Brooks that ended when they stopped sending me shoes for their wear testing program. Yes, I know, fickle.

From there, I became even more loose in my shoe relationships and to date currently court about five different pairs from different companies. It’s okay, they are all aware of my other relationships.

When the opportunity to review the Montrail Rogue Racer presented itself I jumped at the chance. In 2010, a friend of mine from Bend, Oregon had mentioned to me that Montrail was working on a lightweight “minimalist” style shoe that might work well for me. I was looking for a lightweight shoe with enough cushioning to protect my feet for longer distance racing, i.e. 50+ miles. Enter, the Rogue Racer. Although it wasn’t set to release until 2011, I had it in the back of my mind to try it out when I could. Montrail soon followed that up with a slightly more minimal design based on the Rogue Racer called the Rogue Fly.

Similarly different. Montrail Rogue Racer (left) and Rogue Fly (right)

I decided this summer to review both of them at the same time. Much to my surprise, there is very little difference between the shoes. Montrail’s website states the Racer is an “ultra-lightweight trail racing flat designed for trail racers who crave minimalism and low-profile design.” The Fly is billed as “our lightest and most minimal trail shoe designed for those who see the ‘more’ in ‘less’.” The Racer weighs in at 8.8oz and the Fly 7.6oz, both relatively lightweight. While the Racer has several supportive bands of fabric that cover the upper to give it a slight bit more control and substance, the upper on the Fly is fabric only. Both have gryptonite outers, a “sticky rubber compound engineered for optimal performance with a combination of traction and durability on both wet and dry surfaces.”

The underbelly. Racer (left), Fly (right)

Interestingly, I noticed on the Montrail site that each shoe is given a durometer measurement. I did a little research because I hadn’t seen this before and here’s a link if you want more info. Suffice it to say that a durometer is a way of testing the hardness of a material. Both shoes are a 55 Asker C (+/-3 degrees) The Asker C is a durometer commonly used to test the hardness of the rubber compounds found in the soles of shoes, and gives a reading from 0-100. My guess is that 55 is pretty much in the middle of the pack in terms of softness – hardness.

GENERAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE SHOES

I have, to date, logged over 200 miles between the two.

Rogue Racer

This is a no-nonsense shoe. The shoe fits true to size and has a roomy toe box. As I remember it, Montrail shoes seem to fit better on those with a slightly wider foot. The midsole is a straight forward EVA cushion and gives ample cushion for just about any surface. The Gryptonite outer is grippy and I had no problems on any surface on which I ran.

Montrail Rogue Racer

Rogue Fly

Ditto from above, plus:
Having a very minimal upper is great if you are going to get wet feet. I’ve encountered tons of water and mud on the trail this summer and the Fly had phenomenal breathability. The Racer’s breathability is actually really good too, just not quite as good as the Fly.

Montrail Rogue Fly

WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT THE SHOES

Rogue Racer and Fly

1. Heel-Toe Drop –I haven’t worn a shoe with greater than a 4mm heel-toe drop in quite some time and it took some getting used to. Personally, I don’t like it. I would probably not choose these shoes as a normal training shoe for me primarily for that reason. After my first run I came home and commented to my wife how different it felt. It’s amazing that we can tell a difference between just 5-6 mm but we can. That’s not a shoe flaw though, that’s my own personal like/dislike.

2. Mid Foot Comfort and Toe Box — I found that the toe box was a bit too roomy for my feet. Overall, the shoe fit comfortably but because of the lack of upper support*, I found that when running I ended up with more room for my toes which gave me blisters for the first time in two years. I could have also used a bit more room for the tip of my toes at the front of the shoe, but had I gone with a larger size, the toe box and mid foot would have been even roomier.

3. Descending Hurt — I could not get these shoes tight enough around my foot to keep them from jamming up against my toes on long descents. They are fantastic for short, rolling hill type courses but I won’t wear them on long descents again.

*I did not notice a difference between the two shoes even though the Racer has a slight bit more substance to the upper.

WHO MAY MOST BENEFIT FROM THIS SHOE?

If you are looking for a neutral shoe, with a normal heel-toe drop in the 9-11mm range, lightweight and no nonsense then this may be the shoe for you. The Racer and Fly would both make great transition shoes from substantial trail running shoes to minimal trail running shoes. I would reckon that the shoe will be comfortable for just about any distance. My longest mileage in each shoe was mid 20s and my feet never got sore from the impact of the trail, although I did have the issue of blistering. If you tend to run on extremely rocky terrain, I’d suggest the Racer if for no other reason than the upper is going to last a bit longer because of the support.

[EB – FYI, Jason weighs 140-150 lbs]

– Jason Taylor

Share Your Thoughts on the Montrail Rogue Racer or Rogue Fly

  • If you have worn the Racer or Fly, what are your thoughts on them?
  • How did the shoe respond to various terrain conditions?

You can purchase the Montrail Rogue Racer or Rogue Fly at Running Warehouse (Shoes, Packs, Clothes, Lights, and more…plus 2-day free shipping!).

 

Montrail Rogue Racer (left) and Rogue Fly (right)


About the author

Jason Taylor Jason Taylor reawakened his love of running in 2008 and continues to pursue longer ultra adventures. Jason’s life goal is to inspire, influence and transform others through his love for running and his passion for life. For more information on Jason, check out the About page.

4 Responses to “Montrail Rogue Racer and Rogue Fly Trail Running Shoe Review”

  1. on 23 Apr 2013 at 11:17 am Paul

    Nice review. I just ran AR 50M in NB MT110’s and felt I could use a bit more cushion, as I wound up with a lightly bruised foot. I wanted to try a new shoe for the Gold Rush 100k and thanks to a discount made available through my work, I was able to pick up a pair of Rogue Fly’s for $45. I feel the same way about the heel, I haven’t ran in anything w/ more than a 4mm drop in a couple of years, but I’m planning to give the Rogue Fly’s a go in my first 100k and I think they’ll do well for me.

  2. on 20 May 2013 at 11:43 am Jason

    Paul, I’ll be curious to see what you think. Shoot me a comment after the 100k and let me know what you thought. I’m on the lookout for a good low drop shoe with enough cushion to keep things cushy for 50-100miles. Might have one coming in a review soon. The Merrell Mix Master is pretty decent but you can’t beat a $45 pricepoint!

    Good luck out there.

  3. on 29 Jul 2013 at 11:33 am Paul

    Hey Jason, I never really got over the “high heel” on the rogue fly. I wore them for the first 32 miles of my 100k and changed into Brooks Pure Flow 2’s for the 2nd half of the race. I’ve really enjoyed the Pure Flow 2 on my road runs, so I figured I’d give the Brooks Pure Grit 2 a shot. I immediately fell in love with that shoe. I still get a good amount of miles in the NB MT110’s, but for anything over 20 miles or so, I think I’ll go with the Pure Grit 2 from now on. I paced ~40-45 miles at Western States in the PG2’s (which was only my 2nd run in them) and they felt great the whole way.

  4. on 30 Jul 2013 at 5:25 pm Jason

    Great to hear Paul. I ran in the first edition of the Pure Grit and enjoyed them although I think they run a bit big for my foot, should have sized down. Thanks for the comment!