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Trail running shoe review: Columbia Montrail Collection

You read that right: the Columbia Montrail Collection. Two of my favorite running brands (favorite brands, period, let’s face it) have just released a new collection of running shoes, tops and bottoms, and outerwear, and the fusion is a high-quality line of lightweight gear with clean, subdued design. (Read our review of Columbia Montrail jackets here; our gear review will be posted within the week.)

The Columbia Montrail Caldorado II (women's) on the trail last weekend. Photo by Uma Pollisetti.

The Columbia Montrail Bajada III (women’s) on the trail last weekend. Photo by Uma Pollisetti.

Women’s Bajada III (retail $110)

I’ve had Montrail trail shoes in the past, and the biggest difference between these and my other current pair is the weight. The Bajada III are super light: the women’s are 9.4 ounces. My mom was the one who received the package with these shoes and she was surprised when I got home and opened the box to reveal a pair of shoes; she’d assumed it was too light to be shoes.

They worked great in the mud picture above: wet with some slippery sections (although their traction gave me more confidence on the slick areas). They feature the 5-mm lug-tread pattern which did a good job in the Hyland Forest Park mud. My maiden run in these was about 5.5 miles and my legs felt fresh after the run.

The shoes are flexible enough to scramble over roots and rocks without adding weight, thanks to Columbia Montrail’s “TrailShield” protection plate. As someone who typically wears neutral to support shoes (neutral for racing shoes and support for training shoes, although I’ve been getting back into neutral lately), these were a good fit. They fit snug without being too tight in any areas, and employing the lace lock (where you use all the eyeholes and double back) method left laces long enough to tie and prevented any slipping. They have a 10 mm drop from heel to forefoot.

In my opinion, they run true to size. I wear a size 8 for dress shoes and an 8.5 for running shoes; I had no pinching or hot spots with these in a size 8.5. They claim to have a “sock-like” fit and I would agree with that description. The only drawback is that they’re too good of a trail shoe to keep clean enough to wear to work, even when your job is cool enough that you can wear running shoes to the office.

They come in two color combinations: “static blue/zour” (shown above), and “black/verdant” (black and silver).

Men’s Caldorado II OutDry Trail Running Shoes (retail $145)

Tung’s review: The Caldorado II OutDry shoes look and feel rugged – exactly what you want from a pair of trail running shoes. The only color option for this pair of shoes is listed as “jet, mud,” which is fine because these shoes are designed to get muddy. Each shoe weighs 12 ounces, so this is a bit heavier than road shoes; I’m guessing that much of the extra weight is in the sole, given a heel height of 19 mm. The heel to toe drop is 8 mm.

I took the shoes out during a nice mild weekend after weeks of nonstop rain. The trail was muddy, even sloshy in parts, and I ended up on routes with some moderate amount of elevation change. Traction was really solid in these conditions, even on the steep ascents/descents. This is definitely saying something, considering that at least two trails were closed or blocked by fallen trees or other dangerous conditions brought on by the recent storms.

In terms of fit, I received size 8.5, which is what I’ve been wearing for the last 30+ years, with the exception of the last pair of Saucony Kinvaras, where I found that I needed size 9s. Perhaps my feet have suddenly gotten bigger in the last few months. Whatever the reason, I struggled a little to get my left foot into the Caldorado II. I didn’t have any issues with my right foot, so I’m inclined to think this is something weird about me,* as opposed to the shoes.

* Or not so weird. It seems to be common to have one foot bigger than the other.

The other notable hiccup I experienced almost certainly relates back to the bigger left foot issue. Once in a blue moon, the top of my left foot gets fairly irritated, to the point where I used to have mild concern that I was developing a stress reaction on the navicular bone. As far as I can tell, it’s not simply a matter of lacing my shoes too tightly, but also dependent on being in shoes with somewhat stiff or rigid. Most of my running these days is done in Kinvaras or Hoka One Ones, so I don’t have this problem often. But the combination of the greater durability of this shoe, plus the slight size mismatch, left the top of my left foot tender and achy for a couple of days afterward. Again, I suspect this is an idiosyncratic problem, and one that is solvable by getting a half-size larger shoe.

Finally, is it waterproof as advertised? I didn’t run across any deep puddles on the trails, so when I got home, I took the shoes off, took one with me to the bathroom, stuck my hand inside, and held it underneath the faucet. Just like the Out-Dry Ex Light Shell (reviewed here), the Caldorado II was totally waterproof. Even with the faucet turned up high, my hand stayed dry inside.

In short, this trail running shoe performs as well as advertised: it’s tough, it provides solid grip, and it’s waterproof.

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About Kelly Barten (797 Articles)
I started the Run Oregon blog in February 2007, because I felt like running in Oregon and SW Washington deserved more positive coverage. I also wanted to level the playing field so that small, non-profit races could compete with big events; and to support LOCAL race organizers. I'm a Creighton Bluejay (undergrad) and an Oregon Duck (Sports Marketing MBA), and I live in Tigard with my husband and two kids. My "real job" is working for an incredibly awesome math textbook company doing marketing and production.

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