Boasting a traditional suede upper, paired with a Gore-Tex lining, and a Vibram outsole, the Mountain Trainer has been built for alpine pursuits. The boot is perfect for scrambling over ice and snow, mud, rocks, and other surfaces you're bound to run into on your treks, offering good stability and support in both dry and wet conditions.
Perhaps the most impressive element of the Mountain Trainer is their impressive fit. When I initially took them out of the box, my first reaction was that the boots felt a bit stiff, but after wearing them around the house for awhile, they loosened up nicely and were soon broken in for the trail. But, Salewa has taken great care to ensure that these boots are incredibly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and to that end the insoles not only offer great cushioning, but they actually mold themselves to fit the specific contours of your feet as you were them longer. The result is a shoe that gets increasingly comfortable as you hike. The lacing system even allows the wearer to dial in an even better fit, selecting the tension as needed.
The "Mid" version of the Mountain Trainer offers terrific ankle support as well, although if you prefer a low cut, Salewa does offer that version of the shoe too. Personally, I prefer having a bit of extra protection for my ankles when hiking more difficult and rocky trails, but the added support does come at the expense of extra weight. These boots tip the scales at 1.4 pounds, which means that they fall squarely into the average weight category. But when you consider the traction, comfort, and protection they provide, it feels like the Mountain Trainers actually perform above their weight class.
I've put these boots to the test in several different parts of the country this spring – including Idaho and California – and have found them to be an excellent boot in a variety of different conditions. On each hike, not only did my feet stay very comfortable, they also didn't overheat when things started to get more active. That said, they may not be the best option for warm-weather adventures, but you don't often run into those types of conditions at altitude, even during the summer. The Gore-Tex lining on the Mountain Trainer does a reasonably good job of remaining breathable while also keeping moisture out, but its very existence makes this a boot that is bested used in cooler temps for sure.
So far, durability has been quite good on the Mountain Trainers. I've seen one or two reviews online that have indicated that that wasn't the case over the long haul, but I can honestly say that my pair of boots look none the worse for wear, even after putting them through their paces on mud, snow, and rocks. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to find a scuff mark or blemish on them anywhere at this point, which generally leads me to believe that they should hold up fine over the course of time.
The Mountain Trainer Mid GTX is a serious boot for serious hikers and peak baggers. It was built to go places where the average trekker probably won't wander, and provide solid performance and protection along the way. As such, it carries a price tag of $249.95, which is on the pricer end of the scale for hiking boots. But those who push themselves to the limit on the trail will appreciate everything that this boot brings to the table, which easily separates itself from lesser boots that are designed for light hiking and a day in town, rather than alpine pursuits in remote backcountry. If you don't need that kind of performance, you may be better served looking elsewhere. But if you're an outdoor athlete who likes to explore far off the beaten path, this is a great boot for you. You won't be disappointed in what you find here, as the Mountain Trainer is an amazing blend of comfort, security, and stability that isn't found in just any piece of footwear.
Buy at REI.com.