Montrail- Many of you know that Montrail was purchased years ago by Columbia. This was a frustrating move for many as the Montrail styles of old have slowly disappeared. Honestly, Montrail is one of those lines that always had more aura than they actually had great shoes so, with the exception of the Hardrock (that beefy ole shoe had a very loyal following and a great fit), I can't say the move really broke my heart. The reality is that creating great footwear is an expensive endeavor and I hoped that Columbia could infuse some cash into things and move them forward. Well, the first couple years were tough and didn't produce a single style that really stood out.
Fortunately, with the new Rogue Racer and Fairhaven, I think we've got some worthy options. The Rogue Racer is a relatively low profile, light shoe that will work really well for efficient runners who want a typical heel to toe drop but generally less shoe underfoot. The fit is snug but opens up in the toe box. Compared to similar shoes on the market, the Rogue Racer has enough protection under foot that it should hold up well to mileage and longer races.
Fun as the Rogue Racer is, the Fairhaven* is the shoe that might really gain some traction. This is a supportive trail shoe with a great fit that holds the heel and midfoot but has room in the toebox. This shoe will be great for the runner or walker who needs some added support with a nice fluid right. I expect it to offer another fit option to some of our best selling shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline ASR and 2160 Trail. The Fairhaven has plenty of bounce and isn't stiff enough to be a problem on the roads. All in all, these are both good shoes and great to see that Montrail's best footwear isn't necessarily a flip flop anymore (although we have those too).
From Vibram Five Fingers, we have a couple new shoes and some new colors in current favorites. New are the Komodo and the Bikila LS which are both great additions to the Five Finger collection. The Komodo is directed at fitness and cross-fit type workouts. It has a little substance under foot (comparable to the Bikila) and is secure moving side to side. It's equally appealing for those who want to do a little running in their Vibrams. The Bikila LS is putting a big smile on all of our faces down at FootZone. This running VFF has a lace that makes getting in and out much easier for those with higher insteps. The upper is secure and the laces offer enough flexibility that its going to fit most feet. All we can say is "thank you" to Vibram for this wonderful new fit option that will only enhance the minimalist experience.
Finally, from Saucony, check out the cool color updates in the Kinvara. We had great feedback to this shoe all Fall (even before it was listed as Oprah's favorite). It's great as a second shoe for someone wanting a lighter, more flexible option or a good everyday trainer for the efficient runner.
* Fairhaven is a little neighborhood/ferry terminal in the South part of Bellingham, Washington and is where I first worked at a running store while in College at WWU. So, I have a positive affiliation, but I promise that's not tainting my view of this shoe.