Though I won’t be setting any FKTs (fastest known time) in this shoe, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the Montrail FKT by Columbia. It has flexibility where you need it, but it’s also stable in the heel and midfoot, so you aren’t slipping around in the shoe when going over uneven terrain.
What is the most striking (pun intended) about this shoe is that the outsole is so grippy that I could take it over wet soggy grass and then onto the rocks without slipping around. It’s not a super cushioned shoe like a Hoka, but it has comfortable and responsive cushioning.
The insole is removable if you need to add your own for extra cushioning and comfort. Overall this has everything that you need in a trail shoe at a price that makes it a great value too.
Construction & design
Starting from the outsole, the 4mm lugs give you enough grip for most surfaces and I can attest to how well these work on a variety of surfaces.
I wasn’t able to test these in deep mud, so I can’t say how well that they would do in that situation, but in my experience, you would need much bigger lugs to do well in that type of situation.
Not only are the outsoles versatile, but they are also durable as well. There is solid protection along with grippiness on the outsole.
The midsole is not stiff like a lot of trail shoes. The forefoot is quite flexible which allows you the agility that you need to maneuver over a variety of terrain.
The midsole is cushioned, but there isn’t a lot of it there so if you are looking for a Hoka shoe you have come to the wrong place.
Despite the lack of stack height, it is still comfortable enough to put a lot of miles on. I do wish that there was a bit more cushioning for those downhill rides.
The upper, what can I say about the upper other than it feels like a nice warm hug. The heel counter secures your foot so that it feels like it is molded to your foot.
The ankle collar is padded all around, so you don’t feel any chafing or discomfort during your runs. The lacing system adds to that warm hug feel and wraps around your foot in a way that doesn’t create any hotspots around the top of your foot.
The dual-mesh upper is breathable in the forefoot, but all of the padding around the heel isn’t really breathable, so they balance each other out.
What do you get when you mix a warm hug with flexibility? Hot yoga maybe, but you also get the Montrail FKT. Which will get you outdoors in fresh air rather than the contained hot air that accompanies every hot yoga class.
The shoe does well over grass, dirt, rocks, and man-made roads. I was not able to test this on every type of terrain, but our current environment allowed me to venture out from the mountain trails that I normally run on.
The shoe gave me the flexibility and room in the toe box that I need with the structure in the heel to make the ride quite comfortable.
I was very pleased with the fit and ride of this shoe and I like that it is durable enough that it will still be in good shape to take on the mountain trails when those open up again.
- The upper is amazing with a wide toe box, breathable material, and stable heel counter.
- It has decent cushioning that is responsive and comfortable.
- Good midfoot lockdown and the tongue is padded so the shoe hugs your foot all over.
- There's not a lot of overlays that end up being distracting.
- It has a grippy outsole that works over a variety of terrain and is durable too.
- Flexible where you need it most, but still stable and secure.
- Sizing is perfect.
- The leather addition on the heel acts as a pull tab which is quite helpful if you are not one that likes to sit down to put on your shoes.
- Great value for such a well-constructed shoe.
- The cushioning it does have is great, but I would have preferred just a bit more to cushion those downhills and when you are on the flats.
- The colorways for the women were not made for the trails. I threw these in the wash for some good photos, but salmon pink and light blue don’t do well with dirt.
- The ankle collar goes up a little higher than other shoes so I would recommend lower crew socks.
This is a great versatile training shoe and if you are in the market, I highly recommend it.
Opening the box of the new Montrail F.K.T. was a stimulating experience. The first thing I noticed was the cool blood orange color wrapping mostly all the shoes with the exception of just a bit of black accents.
The rubber compounds and mesh are all soft to the touch and feel like durable, quality materials. The Montrail’s mountain logo is a neat design and is located near the lower midsole and on the pull tab.
Style & design
I have to highlight the Montrail's color option once again. Columbia really nailed the vivid blood orange selection making this shoe standout from the plain neutral tones of so many shoes in the market today.
One can tell that functionality was a primary factor in the design of the Montrail. Protective rubber and welded overlays, 4mm lugs, and no-slip lacing system are all elements designed to get any serious trail seeker through any terrain.
A minor feature I’d improve would include the heel pull tab located on the upper portion of the heel counter.
Instead of a loop design, Columbia chose to place a short one-piece flap here that was short and didn’t offer much leverage to pull the shoes on with ease. A simple loop would easily solve this issue and make the overall design even better.
The upper of the Montrail F.K.T. is constructed of seamless mesh that excelled in the way of allowing proper ventilation.
The inner lining within the upper provided a nice sock-like fit. I feel like the extra foot cage that was also integrated into this area was a bit excessive.
It did seem to wrap the foot a bit more for a little more support. The downside to this extra support, however, was that getting your feet into the shoe felt awkward and almost uncomfortable at first.
Once your feet slipped completely inside this area, everything was in its right place. Most importantly the shoes were really comfortable.
I especially noticed that despite the changing temperatures outside on runs with snow, rain, or high humidity, the shoe breathed properly at all times. There were no blisters from any tight spots, no heel slippage.
One improvement I would make would be to add a little more height to the shoe in the ankle region as this is a pretty low profile shoe. This would prevent ankle rolls that did occur a few times during testing.
I was happy to discover that the midsole of the Montrail consists of an EVA and TPU blend of foam.
TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane, is a green product with high durability, responsiveness, low toxicity. This foam technology is more recently being integrated into shoes today.
The Montrail’s unique blend of foam material combined with Columbia’s Trail Shield protection plate. It offers great stability and safety from protruding objects.
Although some shoes with integrated plates fell more like a nuisance, the Montrail’s midsole design works well not to limit the foot in any way.
I never felt the plate got in the way of ground feel and I was able to flex just enough in the forefoot area of the shoe. Much to my enjoyment, the Columbia Montrail F.K.T. produced a consistent and responsive ride.
I credit this to this great blend of modern midsole materials. The TPU proves to be very durable and should hold up to many technical trail runs without any issues.
Columbia went with a full rubber outsole that really sticks well to the ground in all elements. Rain, snow, mud, and loose gravel were all no match to this sticky outsole with nice 4mm multi-directional lugs.
The “break-in run” for these shoes consisted of a 10K collegiate cross-country course just a day after receiving pouring rain.
Needless to say, the Montrail F.K.T. stood out as a serious trail shoe. The 4mm lugs dug into the wet grass fields, mud, and dirt and were relentless in providing all the grip I needed.
There was no hesitation in cornering fast through quick switchbacks on the course. I spent a lot of time training along a converted railway trail with packed rock terrain as well as single-track terrain used by trail runners and mountain bikers.
When training over ten miles on long runs, I didn’t notice any real issues related to foot fatigue and the cushioned response was consistent throughout every run.
The shoes were tight enough not to allow smaller pebbles into the inner liner. While attempting to slide on wet surfaces as a “grip test,” the Montrail’s outer rubber did not budge.
The rubber compound really excels in this area and its ability to grip over larger rocks, tree roots, loose debris, steep hill climbs, and speedy trail descents was much appreciated.
The Columbia Montrail F.K.T. is indeed a responsive trail shoe that offers plenty of breathability, traction, response, and support.
I would consider this shoe for any trail distance and not surprising if this shoe also crosses over to the hiking market for its superior durability and long-term comfort.
To be transparent, this was the first time running in a shoe from Columbia and I was left extremely impressed! If Columbia would improve the inner mechanisms of this shoe, then this would have been a nearly perfect score.
Perhaps I’m reading into the name a bit too much, but if you’re going to name your trail runners after something as intense as “Fastest Known Time” (FKT), then it has got to be a seriously good product.
FKTs are ridiculous endeavors that hardened and half crazy ultra runners and fast packers like to do for ‘fun’ (and I say that as someone who is planning an FKT attempt of the Baker Trail in PA for sometime next year).
So, are these shoes as serious as their name suggests?
The first thing you notice about the design is the robustness. These shoes seem built to last, they are tough and noticeably stiff.
The heel cup is stiff, the midsoles are stiff, even the material that covers the toe on the upper is stiff. It gives them a ‘built like a tank’ feel, though they aren’t especially heavy considering how robust they seem.
These shoes also have an 8mm heel-toe drop, which is the upper end of my preferred heel-toe drop. On the trail, the heel-toe drop is a little less noticeable, especially when going up or down hills, but on the flats, I really noticed the high heels.
That said, this is somewhat of preference, so if the 8mm heal-toe drop is your preference, then you probably won’t mind it as much.
The upper is a breathable and rather durable mesh that has shown essentially no wear after the 70+ miles I’ve put on these shoes.
The tongue is a sock-like upper which is becoming quite popular amongst a lot of trail shoes that I’ve seen recently (shown below).
I like the sock-like uppers a lot, especially in trail shoes, as it usually results in a more responsive shoe and less gunk getting inside the shoe.
However, I think this implementation is somewhat lacking. It’s not bad, but I don’t like it as much as other shoes. The attachment material does not stretch much, so it’s more of an effort to get my foot into shoe than I’d prefer.
Once it’s on, it works well enough, but I’d prefer a slightly more stretchy fabric. Also, the stitching at the edge of the fabric is slightly noticeable when I’m wearing thin socks, which makes me worry about getting blisters in the summer with these shoes.
All of my long runs were done with thicker socks, so this stitching wasn’t an issue there.
The heel cup is also quite stiff but fits well. It offers plenty of support, and holds the heel well during walking and running.
The meshing is done very well. With wool socks, it’s warm enough for winter hiking and trail running, and it seems like it will be breathable enough for summer activities as well.
I love the lacing of these shoes. It might even be the best part of these shoes!
The laces are stretchy, they can move freely through the anchor points on the upper, and they are extremely comfortable and forgiving when you tighten them down. When I lace these shoes up, my foot feels snug and secure like a foot in a trail shoe should.
All laces shoes are like these shoes.
The midsole is stiff. Definitely not as springy or cushioned as other trail shoes, especially considering how the midsole is relatively thick compared to flatter shoes.
Columbia’s website says that the midsole uses a three-layer midsole, made of a stiffer foam, a rock plate, and a softer foam. I think the result is a decent midsole.
The ride is responsive, but the stiffness is at the sacrifice of ground feel and cushioning.
For long days on the trail, I’m a little less concerned about the ground feel, but it would be nice to have a tad more cushioning. The foot protection was impressive though, as the shoe disperses the impact of sharp rocks quite effectively.
I was so unhappy about the insoles that I had to make a new section in my review template. These insoles are extremely disappointing to me because they gave my feet blisters after just 6 miles on their very first run.
The shoes fit well, but due to how the harder rubber material met the softer foam near the ball of my big toe, it leads to some pretty nasty blisters and hot spots.
I tried trimming down the noticeable bump that I felt near the joint with some scissors, but they still gave me blisters.
After about 20 annoying miles with these insoles, I decided to trade them out for some Enertor insoles I bought a while back. I don’t particularly love the Enertor insoles, but they don’t give me blisters, which makes them better than the Columbia FKT insoles.
I don’t know if I just received a lemon, or if this is typical of Columbia’s insoles. This is my first pair of Columbia shoes, and I’ve never had a problem with insoles with any other pair of shoes.
I even ran some of the miles I ran with these while wearing thick wool socks to no avail, so I gave them an honest try before replacing them.
The outsole is fine. I think it grips about as well as a dedicated trail shoe should. It can handle roads just fine, though I worry that with the small lugs, any miles on the road would severely limit the life and grip of the outsole.
However, after 70 miles with the shoes, about 50 of which have been on roads or crushed gravel, the lugs have seemed to hold up fine. So far, I have seen nothing which makes me doubt the durability of these shoes.
I really like to see an “all-terrain” option like this to both excel for running and hiking.
To test this, I’ve hiked about 10 miles in them, and run an additional 60 miles, which include some of my road runs, running on single-track trails in the cold mud and ice, running on packing limestone and gravel, and running on the torn-up roads of Pittsburgh where I live.
These shoes performed reasonably well in all of these terrains but were definitely better suited for the trails over the roads.
For me, this is where these shoes have really excelled. After 70 miles through some fairly rough conditions, the only thing that would tip you off to the mileage is the dirt they’ve accumulated.
The lugs are still in excellent condition, the midsole feels fine and the upper looks excellent. These shoes get high marks for durability.
Fit & comfort
I had major comfort concerns that were outlined in the Insole section. I’ve never had a pair of running shoes give me such painful blisters as this, especially when it’s something as (I’m assuming) simple to design as the insole.
Most pairs of shoes I wear seem to do just fine with a simple foam cutout for the insole. Once I replaced the insoles, these shoes became a lot more comfortable for everything from hiking to road running.
The fit is a bit more on the narrow side, but they are an appropriate narrowness for my average width feet. The toe box has ample room, and the shoes hug the footwell enough to keep the sole underfoot as you’re taking sharp turns or running through ruts.
The overall fit of these shoes is fine. I wear a size 12 in most shoes, and these in a size 12 fit me well.
I wouldn’t say that these shoes excel at anything in particular, but they perform well enough on the trail for both running and hiking.
I often wear trail shoes during the winter to help me out as the road and sidewalk conditions get rough with snow and ice, but I didn’t particularly enjoy them for road running. Do not get these shoes if you plan to use them much on roads.
These shoes retail for $125, and I think that is a reasonable value for trail shoes. If you like Columbia’s lineup and want something durable, then these shoes should fit your needs and give you the mileage you expect from a trail shoe.
I would not personally buy another pair of Columbia’s shoes unless I could find them at a very deep discount, but I think that is more a reflection of the fact that there are a few other trail shoes that I enjoy more than these than the lack of quality in these shoes.
Also, 8mm heel-toe drop is just a tad too much for me, but I don’t want to let that detract from other people who might prefer that drop.
These shoes excel in durability, build quality, and the lacing system. They are reasonably good at everything else, and they get poor marks for bad insoles. I like these shoes, and they are pretty good, but I don’t think they are great.
I’ll try to sum up these shoes with a sentiment that I think most runners can understand: When I am heading out on a run and deciding which shoes I want to lace up (I rotate through different pairs of road shoes and a handful of trail shoes at any given time), I don’t particularly look forward to lacing these shoes up for that run.
These shoes are well built, but they don’t seem to excel at much else as compared to other trail shoes I wear, such as the Altra Lone Peak or the Topo Athletic Runventure 2. If I like a pair of running shoes, I tell my running buddies about them, and I have told no one about these shoes being especially good or bad.
Are these shoes as serious as their name suggests? I would say no. They might be for some people, but they aren’t the shoes for me.
Disclaimer: RunRepeat.com provided me these shoes for free in exchange for testing and an honest review. This is my best attempt at an unbiased take on these shoes.
I used to think of Columbia purely as a hiking brand. Previously, I have had their hiking boots, and they totally delivered over expectations. This time, I got to trial a Columbia's Montrail FKT trail running shoe.
I must admit that as I had considered Columbia to be a hiking brand, I was a bit hesitant to think they'd make a good trail running shoe. I was curious to test this shoe as I read that it had good cushioning, quite high heel to toe drop, and the shoe wasn't too wide.
Columbia Montrail FKT is a well-cushioned shoe that has a heel to toe drop of 8mm. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail that I also have reviewed has a 10mm drop. I didn't feel any difference when it comes to the drop in between these two shoes.
Sizing: I trialled my normal size—women's 8.5 US—which felt good, a bit roomier in the top of the toe box than I had expected. In centimeters, this Columbia shoe is 25.5 (10.04").
It still amazes me that different countries and brands often use their own sizing. For example, Asics 8.5 US is 24.6 cms (9.67"), which is a lot shorter than Columbia's 8.5.
The real size also varies between the models even within one brand so one can never trust the size number. However, this shoe is true to size.
Weight of women's 9.5 US is 8.75 oz/248 g—just a tiny tad heavier than the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail with its 8.3 oz/235 g. Neither of the shoes is particularly heavy or light for what it is.
This is not a waterproof or resistant shoe. I know many say that it doesn't matter at all as your feet will get wet in a way or another anyway. Well, my feet are always cold, so I'd really appreciate a waterproof version for the cold rainy days.
The colour I got is called Faded Paech, Peatmoss. The colour grew on me, but for those who are not too fond of it, I can say that it does come in at least another colour for women.
Montrail FKT has probably the best laces that I have yet seen. These laces are super nice, soft and they run very smoothly in the eyelets.
(I still haven't gotten over my bad memories of Brooks Cascadia trail shoe years ago with laces so stiff that they took ages to tie and adjust—in the end, I swapped the laces to another type. I am sure their laces have improved a lot by now).
Around the front part of the toe box, there is a rubber layer that protects your toes well from all sides bar the top. The top mesh is very light and breathable for a trail shoe. The entire upper fabric and the lace area is very soft and flexible.
Even though I love this shoe, I probably wouldn't choose this one if I went on low bushy off-trails with a lot of branches sticking out as I would be afraid of the branches/sticks hurting the top side of my feet.
Sole & cushioning (including tongue)
Columbia Montrail FKT is a well-cushioned shoe. I'd say the cushioning is not as soft as in the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail, but I felt more in control when landing on uneven surfaces than with the Nike shoe.
I felt that the outer edges of the black rubber sole guided my foot to land flat avoiding twisting my ankle. The entire cushioned sole does enough to protect my feet from sharp rocks even though naturally I can still feel them.
The grip is pretty good on trails, also surprisingly good on wet rocks. The profile of the sole nodes is not very deep, which means that in muddy uphills, this performs like an average trail shoe wherein slipping is unavoidable.
As already mentioned, the fit, in general, is good for me. It is narrow enough in the section of the arch towards the forefoot to support my foot and to avoid sliding sideways. Yet the tip of the toe box is roomy, wide, and higher than many other shoes. My toes don't feel stuffed or "suffocated".
The inside of the shoe is formed but maybe not quite as heavily as the Nike one. These two shoes are very similar in the fit, so it is a bit like splitting hairs when comparing.
I guess the main difference really is that Nike has a bit more cushioning, and their cushioning material is softer.
I'd say the middle section of the sole—the part between the forefoot and heel—is just a tad narrow. It is absolutely fine for me, but I can only imagine that if you have even slightly wider feet, you might feel the edge of the sole under the outside of your foot.
Trails where I run often have very steep hills. I know the manufacturer of this shoe is proud of their heel locking system. I didn't feel the locking, actually quite the contrary: I felt that in steep uphills my heel lifted out of the heel cup.
Tightening the laces could help, but I don't feel comfortable doing so. The heel cup is well-cushioned, though, and low in the back so no chafing or rubbings at all.
Overall, Montrail FKT is a very good trail shoe. I would recommend this to anyone looking for one good generic and cushioned trail shoe as long as the shoe fits well.
- Very comfortable fitted form
- The good grip also when wet
- Wonderful laces
- The nice high toe box
- Heel cup not tight enough to keep my heel in place in steep uphills
- Top mesh might be too soft for very bushy and branchy trails where you need a lot of protection
Good to know
Since the FKT’s configuration revolves around sturdiness and support, the trail running shoe features the brand’s renowned Tri-density Trail Reaction System. This technology features an integration of three important midsole elements. These are the shoe’s mid-density EVA midsole, combining the Trail Shield forefoot protection plate. These two are then layered on top of a responsive TPU foam for optimized cushioning and stability.
Complementing the shoe’s Tri-density Trail Reaction System is the running platform’s TPU heel counter. This helps lock the foot in place, boosting security and support even further.
The Columbia FKT is designed using the standard measurements for both men and women. Buyers can get a pair using their usual size choice. However, buyers are encouraged to try on the fit or go through reviews of the shoe first before proceeding to purchase.
For the fit of the running shoe, one of the components responsible for this is its Tri-density Trail Reaction System. This midsole innovation promotes both comfort and lockdown fit. To top it all off, an external TPU heel counter is added into the shoe’s engineering, locking the foot securely in place.
For amplified traction, a full-length rubber, just like that of Brooks Transcend 6, runs full-length on the Columbia FKT’s outsole. Exhibiting high-strength properties, the rubber outsole also enhances the protection and durability of the trail shoe. The outsole material is also flexible enough to encourage the natural flex of the foot while employing minimal bulk.
Added to the outsole fashion of the shoe are the directional lugs. These are 4mm in height, heightening the traction and sturdiness of the trail running shoe.
As mentioned, the midsole composition of the Columbia FKT features the Tri-density Trail Reaction System. It sports three different midsole elements—mid-density EVA foam, Trail Shield protection, and TPU foam—combined together to optimize support and comfort.
The EVA and TPU foam pronounce the rebounding qualities of the FKT. These components also increase the plushness and security within the platform. Moreover, the Trail Shield protection enhances the torsional rigidity and provides substantial forefoot protection. Overall, these elements pose for better impact attenuation, protecting the foot from strain or injury.
Tasked to supplement the Tri-density Trail Reaction System of the shoe is the external TPU heel counter. This midsole element equips the wearer with better fit and lockdown.
Comfort from the FKT is not only found in its midsole components but also in its upper design. The trail running shoe boasts an irritation-free running experience with its seamless textile upper. Coupled with welded overlays, not only does the shoe highlight comfort but also structural integrity and sufficient security.
A power mesh sock fit is also incorporated into the platform’s construction to act as the airflow system. This power mesh sock houses the foot securely, preventing unwanted shoe removal.
For extended fit and support, a secondary lace cage is also introduced to the trail running shoe’s engineering.