When trail running shoes first became a specialized category in the 1990s, there were two primary types: one was a slightly modified road running shoe that lacked durability or protection, the other was a heavy and overbuilt model that resembled a light hiking boot. A lot of new trail runners that came from a more traditional running background appreciated the lightness and flexibility of the former, but griped about the weight and lack of flexibility of some of the latter. Nowadays there dozens of great shoes within the entire spectrum of shoes, but few are as fast, light, flexible and smooth-riding as Montrail’s FluidFlex ST.
Built off the lightweight, low-to-the-ground FluidFlex chassis, this new edition offers a bit more support and protection than the original über-pliable original version of the FluidFlex or the slightly updated FluidFlex II. The support comes by way of a midsole that’s slightly firmer on the medial side and an upper reinforced with subtle overlays to snug down the fit and prevent the foot from sloshing around. A two-layer toe bumper and a forefoot rock plate make this shoe much more apt for rugged terrain without sacrificing what our wear-testers loved most—a supple and energetic ride, ample but not overwhelming cushioning and a distinct feel for the trail. Although it’s ever-so-slightly heavier than its predecessor, the reward is greater versatility and increased responsiveness, making it a more technically oriented trail cruiser. It’s best for mild to moderate terrain, but our more nimble wear-testers found it suitable for modestly technical terrain too. (However, we didn’t think there was enough protection for long runs on rugged, rocky mountain terrain.) The light weight, fairly snug, low-volume fit (with just enough wiggle room in the toe box) allows it to excel at running fast, but we also found it to be a comfortable long-distance workhorse on softer, debris-free trails too.
This the shoe for you if: You’re looking for a fast and agile feel in a lightweight trail flat.
Weights: 8.8 oz. (men’s), 7.3 oz. (women’s)
Heel-toe offset: 4mm; 22mm (heel)/18mm (forefoot)
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