Toenails Saved Written by Lindsey on September 28th, 2010

As tough as ascending endless switchbacks may be, the tougher part is the decent.

No matter how much training you’ve had, how strong your legs are, or how young your knees, nothing can prepare your toenails for the constant cramming into the front of your shoe.

Toenails I’ve lost climbing = Zero

Toenails I’ve lost descending = Plenty

After reading a post where I complained plenty about my poor feet, (a necessary evil right?) Jeremy at USO answered “No!” and passed on some Montrail At Plus Shoes.

Montrail AT Plus Shoes - Women's

“But they have pink on them,” I complained, “And there is no way a size 8.5 is not going to kill my toes on the downhill!” Still, if Jeremy thinks I should try them, I’ll try them.

First test – 4 hour hike, with kids, steep climb and decent.

As I laced up my new Montrails, I noticed how low my food sunk into the shoe, making them snug on the heel and ankle. They look like a trail shoe, fit like a low boot.

Being used to hiking in trail running shoes, I was suprized at how roomy the Montrails were once I started hiking. I had plenty of room around my foot even though my toes were close to the end of the shoe.

Summit: Crushed it – me and the Montrails!

The real test: Downhill!

Yes, my toes were touching the end of the shoe. But suprisinly, they didn’t hurt! The wide, rounded toe box didn’t put all the pressure on one or two toes or cram them together. It was incredible! And even though there was some pressure on the toes, the higher ankle kept the shoe in place without have to sinch the laces in to a strangle hold around my midfoot.

Meanwhile, my kids’ feet were sliding out from underneath them on the loose rock and I was getting yanked too and fro on the steep switchback. Thank goodness my footing was solid. Unlike a running shoe’s traction that angles back to propell the runner forward, the Montrails have grooves and nubs to hold the shoe from slipping forward as well. Thank goodness!

Verdict – Far superiour option to trail running shoes and better suited to fast paced hiking than a boot. The color ended up blending perfectly with the trail dust so they didn’t looked trashed at the end of my hike. And the pink? It’s more like a purple anyway. I can live with the pinkish-purple and love the shoe! Afterall, they saved my pedicure!

By the way, I just checked them out online and they are ON SALE!

Happy hiking!

-Lindsey

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