The Montrail Fluid Flex: A Review

By: Ellie Greenwood

First I should start this post with the note that I am decidedly not a gear freak. Second I should mention that, in all honesty, I’m not the most knowledgable on the specifics of this running shoe and that. Please don’t start throwing around words like ‘drop’, my eyes will glaze over instantaneously. I don’t read shoe reviews or eagerly await the release of new models. Bad for a sponsored runner? I don’t know, I’m too busy out running and leave the discussions of the ins and outs of all things new in the shoe world to the product designers and gear junkies. I just like a good pair of shoes; ones that get from A to B as fast and as comfortably as possible. I’m also more inclined to wear a heavier shoe than many these days, oh and did I mention that I hate trying new shoes for fear that I might have a ‘bad’ run. Yeah, I’m a little stuck in my ways.

So last week I got delivery of a pair of Montrail Fluid Flex’s which Montrail were keen I try out. They looked cool! They looked slick! But oh man, these are not like any other Montrails I’ve worn before. Was trying them out going to ‘ruin’ one training run? Hmm, I padded around in the house and to the store in them a bit, but was a little hesitant to actually go run in them. After a few days I decided to take the plunge, after all – they are running shoes so best to try them for what they were designed for. Otherwise they’re a kind of expensive pair of slippers.

The Montrail Fluid Flex are a light shoe (in this more technical report by my Montrail team mate Max King, Max notes the womens 8 weighs in at 6.1oz). They are NOT Montrail Masochists. And for you real old school peeps – they are most 100% NOT Montrail Hardrocks. The Fluid Flex are light but feel pretty squishy and spongy (yep, those are technical shoe-review terms!) Certainly the upper wraps securely around your feet but I worried that the softness on the ball of the foot might not provide enough cushioning as I was used to. So I started my run with 1.5kms of downhill – yeah, always good to try that fear of lack of cushioning on the ball of the foot with a downhill tarmac mile :)

On my first outing I ran 10km in them and would have kept them on for more but I decided to ease into them gently rather than risk pounding my legs more that they were used to (Little Miss Cautious). Last night I ran 11km in them to the start of my speed workout (which was to be 4 miles, 1 mile, 1 mile) with a spare pair of more trusted road shoes in my Mountain Hardwear Fluid 6 pack just in case. I never took the Fluid Flex off my feet and and now sure I’ll be wearing them for my first race of the year – a road half marathon in a few weeks time.

Where I’ll not be wearing these shoes any time soon is on the technical root and rock strewn trails of Vancouver’s North Shore. If you are used to a lighter and more minimalist shoe I can see some might be happy to run technical trails in the Fluid Flex but for that I’ll stick to my Montrail Bajada’s. The Fluid Flex’s are a hybrid shoe and I certainly feel 100% stoked to run on tarmac with them, and would have no hesitation on running on non-technical trails and crushed gravel paths in them. For right now, I’ll also stick to about 30km or shorter runs in them, again – if you are used to a lighter shoe I am sure they would be suited to longer runs but I’m not used to light shoes, and as I’ve said before – I’m a little cautious :)

And for all you gear junkies who can’t wait to get your hands on a pair of these, they should be on store shelves come February 1st. I can highly recommend them.

Hope you all started your training year off well. I always like to run 50km on Jan 1st and as the shower facilities were closed it seemed sensible to rinse off in the Pacific.

UPDATE: Ellie set a personal best at the “First Half” half marathon in Vancouver wearing the Montrail Fluid Flex! Congrats Ellie!

Read more on Ellie’s Blog, Trail Running Tales.

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