By Jason Boyle
Salewa has been around since 1935 when it was formed as Saddler and Leather Wares, which is where SALEWA comes from. They focused on making photobags and other leather goods before moving into making alpine climbing gear. They have continued to innovate with numerous products in the apparel, footwear and equipment lines.
The Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid Gore Tex boot is a lightweight summer alpine trekking boot. The boot features a suede and fabric upper, full wrap around rubber rand, a dual-density Bilight Technology midsole for all day comfort, “SALEWA’s patented 3F System provides flexibility, support and a blister-free fit from day one”, and a Vibram® Wrapping Thread Combi (WTC) sole. The boots can be found for around $200 dollars on various retail outlets.
I think my definition of lightweight boot and Salewa’s definition differ a bit. In my opinion, this is a heavy duty mountain boot. The construction is solid and the boot is very stiff. The initial fit is good. I am a US Men’s size 9 and the boot fits well with light hiking socks. The heel cup is secure and the toe is roomy but not constricting.
The boot features traditional lacing with three clips in the upper ankle portion of the boot to allow for multiple lacing techniques. The laces also go all the way to the toe so the user can dial in the boots for a secure fit in any situation. Even though the boot is stiff it is easy to walk in and seems to provide great ankle protection. I am hopeful that the boot will become less stiff and more comfortable after I put a few miles on them.
I like the styling of the boot. The suede and fabric upper is a muted greyish brown which blends in nicely with the surroundings and the red stitching gives the boots a nice accent. The Vibram sole is aggressive and features large lugs.
I generally evaluate boots on three main criteria – comfort, durability and usability. First are the boots comfortable for hiking, backpacking and general wear? Do they become more comfortable as I wear them? Do I get blisters while wearing them? Do I want to take them off as soon as I get to camp? How many miles do I think the boots will last? Are the boots good for off trail rocky areas as well as groomed hiking trails?
Update – Salewa Mountain Trainer Boot February 6, 2018
I have used the Salewa Mountain Trainer for daily walks with my dog on the Mississippi River Levee, while camping in the Honey Island Swamp near Slidell, LA, hiking at the Woodlands Conservancy in Belle Chasse, LA, on an overnight backpacking trip in the Black Creek Wilderness, and while camping in the Clear Springs Rec Area in the Homochitto National Forest in Mississippi. Weather has been unseasonably cold this winter with temperatures in the 20s and 30s for a number of my hikes, but I did experience a high in the 60s while camping in the Homochitto NF. I experienced some light rain and snow while using these boots. Overall, I have put 56 miles on these boots.
As I mentioned previously, I evaluate boots on three main criteria – comfort, durability and usability. I will start with comfort. The boots are true to size and I think that the toe box is a little roomier than some of the other boots I have used. That said, there is a break in period before the boots become comfortable. The boots are stiff, but I found them to become more flexible and easier to walk in after about 30 miles or so.
I have enjoyed wearing the boots, more so after they were broken in. I did not get any hot spots or blisters while hiking in the boots, even after carrying a 40 pound pack for several hours on a muddy and wet trail in the Black Creek Wilderness. I found that the boots also did a good job keeping my feet warm even while hiking in temperatures below freezing.
I like that the inner lining and suede upper are both very comfortable. The neoprene-like fabric on the Achilles area on the back of the boot is a nice touch. It moves well with my foot and is soft enough that it molds to my ankle.
Durability with the boots has been pretty good. The full protection rand does a good job protecting my foot against roots and rocks. The large rubber toe bumper is also effective. The upper and laces seem to be rock solid and look new with the exception of the mud and dirt. The sole has deep lugs that don’t show any wear even with long miles on the rocky top of the levee.
My final criteria is usability, or basically, what is the boot best suited for. The Salewa Mountain Trainer lives up to its name as a Mountain Trainer. The boot has the full rand and toe and heel protection to excel in the mountains and will sluff off technical rocky trails. The deep lugs on the sole performed well in muddy slick trails; however, I found that the lugs did not do a good job of shedding mud once they became filled with mud. The lugs are wide apart, and as you can see in the picture above smaller rocks can get trapped in between the lugs.
The stiffness and protection of the boots also make them a good choice for carrying heavy loads. I didn’t have any concerns with ankle or foot protection while carrying a 40 pound load and I would be comfortable using them carrying even heavier loads.
Overall, I am pleased with the Salewa Mountain Trainer and look forward to see how they hold up as I continue to use them.
Final Update: Salewa Mountain Trainer Boot April 19, 2018
The majority of my use since my last report has taken place in Virginia while I was there for work. I used the boots at the following places: hiking at battlefields in Yorktown, hiking at Holiday Lake near Appomattox, camping and hiking at Devil’s Marbleyard in the Jefferson National Forest, hiking the Dahlgren Heritage Railroad Trail, hiking at Caledon State Park and finally hiking at Newport News State Park. Temperatures ranged from the around the mid 30’s while walking the battlefields in Yorktown to the mid-60s while climbing the boulders at the Devil’s Marbleyard. The trails ranged from smooth paths, to rooty muddy trails at Holiday Lake to bouldering on house sized boulders at Devil’s Marbleyard. I used the boots to hike in mud, rain, streams and even a little snow. I feel confident that I was able to use them in any condition that the average user would expect to encounter. I have almost 130 miles of use on the boots.
My three main characteristics I look for when reviewing a boot are comfort, durability, and usability. The boots have become more comfortable as I have put more miles on them. They are great to hike in, but I do prefer slipping into sandals once I get to camp or after a long day of hiking. The boots have been comfortable no matter what the terrain. I used them bouldering, on long days of all day hiking on various terrain and for casual wear, and they performed well in all situations. I like the fit of the Salewa’s. The toe box gave me room to wiggle my toes while wearing lightweight socks. I also appreciated the lacing that went all the way to the very toe of the boot. I was really able to dial in the fit while scrambling. I never got a blister while wearing these boots.
The second criteria is durability. I have been pleased with the durability of the boots thus far. There is a slight bit of wear on the outside of the sole, which is normal for me. While I notice the wear because I am looking for it, it is not unexpected and does not affect the function of the boot. The full length rand, the toe bumper, and the armor around the heel protect the foot from anything that the trail can throw at them. Like the rest of the boot that I have described, the suede upper and laces are all solid with no signs of wear. From a durability perspective, I would expect to get multiple seasons of use out of these boots.
The final characteristic I look for is usability. I still agree with my initial assessment these boots are definitely mountain trainers. They excel on rough trails and have enough height and stiffness to operate well in off trail adventures. They were exceptional while bouldering with a pack at the Devil’s Marbleyard and then did great as I ascended the trail all the way to the Appalachian Trail and did a loop on the AT back to my campsite.
The only area that I don’t feel like they excelled in was walking on wet wood, like roots or wooden bridges or planks. It was like walking on wet ice – slippery. Other than that I felt that they performed well in every type of terrain.
Overall, these are pretty awesome boots. After break in they are comfortable while carrying heavy loads, durable enough to survive rough technical trails. This ends my final review, thanks for reading it.
Thanks to 4alloutdoors.org and Salewa for providing the boots for this review.