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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Montrail Sabino Trail Mid GTX Boots

Want boots with maximum support and protection for minimum weight?

by: Dan Larson

Montrail Sabino Trail Mid GTX (Courtesy Photo)
Montrail Sabino Trail Mid GTX (Courtesy Photo)

Price: $140
Weight: 2 lbs. 2 oz. (pair - Men's 10.5)
Sizes: Men’s 7-15, Women’s 5-11
As nimble as trail runners but with the height and support of a midweight boot, the Sabino Trail Mid is protective, supportive and light enough for swift, short- or long-haul hiking in just about any weather. From January through March of a relentlessly wet winter in Portland, Oregon, I racked up 180 miles and over 19,000 feet of elevation gain, with up to 45 pounds.

My feet’s verdict: “What winter?”

These shoe-boots are all but amphibious, with ankle-height waterproof protection from mud and wet terrain. On drenching all-day hikes along Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge (where waterfalls land right on the trail), the Gore-Tex lining kept the wet out and still breathed well enough that no sweat built up inside. And, when combined with gaiters and warm socks, the Sabinos kept my feet warm and dry while snowshoeing through rain-laden snow banks in Mt. Hood National Forest.

The Sabino Trail protected my feet from below, as well. Rocks, roots, and bumps in the trail were no match for the midsole, which is made of a full-length layer of hard TPU covered by shock absorbing EVA.

You know boots are comfortable when you forget about them—when the mind wanders and hiking takes you places no map will ever track. The Sabino Trail’s perfect fit helped me lose myself in the moment. A Y-shaped retainer surrounds the heel from the outside and holds it snug against the cushy padding inside, preventing heel slip and blistering. Meanwhile, the wide toe box allows plenty of space for my wide, Hobbit-like forefeet and long toes to breathe and swell as the miles and effort take their toll.

The Sabino Trail’s solid support added stability to my rapture, so that I didn’t trip in the midst of my bliss. Medial posting (solid structural elements made of compression molded EVA) are embedded in the heel and outside edges of the midsole; they kept my feet stable and ensured that my ankles never rolled, even on tricky terrain with a heavy pack. The lugged rubber soles also held fast to all but the slickest, deepest mud and submerged, moss-covered rocks. This stability and traction was really important to me as I hiked while recovering from a broken collarbone. Don’t tell my HMO, but for a few weeks, tripping would have sent me back to the fracture clinic—stat.

Overall, I found the Sabinos durable, yet light enough (about two pounds per pair) to go the distance for hiking and even running on a wide range of surfaces, from hilly trails to pavement. After three months of solid use, these boots show little wear on the uppers and lugged rubber soles. Gripes: My only issue with the design is that the tongue gussets don’t extend all the way to the top of the tongue—they end between the second and third eyelet, about an inch and a half from the top. As is, if I’m not wearing gaiters, water over 4.5 inches deep seeps in between the tongue and the rest of the boot. A fully gusseted tongue would buy me another 1.5 inches. Also, once saturated, the Sabinos took about a full day to dry—longer than I would expect from a synthetic, mostly mesh shoe.

Bottom line: These boots are a great choice for hikers who want to travel fast and far without sacrificing stability and protection in up to ankle-deep wet conditions.

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Reader Rating: -


Aug 13, 2011

Whoops. Should have listened to the reviews. Indeed the eyelet popped out when I was simply tying the shoes. Relatively new shoes, too. glad it happened at home than on the trail, though.

Steve W
May 24, 2011

I have an old pair of montrail gtx hiking boots that I wore on AT section hikes and a four day hike in the Grand Canyon. I really like them, they were comfortable and fit the shape of feet well. I don't recall the exact model name, but they were pretty popular eight or nine years ago.

So I thought I'd give these light weight "sabino" model a try. I've been wearing them with my blue jeans and shorts as a daily shoe for about a month. They were comfortable the first time I put them on. I haven't been on any trails with them yet, but I really just wanted a goretex boot style sport shoe to wear casually and drive my jeep wrangler. These are great.

Apr 13, 2011

Montrail is discontinuing it this year. A shame the review didn't come out a bit earlier. :) I'm hoping I'll be able to pick a few up on clearance later this year.

I love this boot. I just wish they made a version without Gore-Tex. GTX makes this a hot, sweaty boot in the summer, but I've really enjoyed using it as a winter-only boot.

Great boots.
Apr 11, 2011

I bought a pair in December when I had to work outside in the pouring rain for two weeks. My feet stayed completely dry the entire time. Now I use them for my weekly hike. They are so light and comfortable that I also wear them occasionally wear them as my regular shoes. I highly recommend them and have convinced 4 friends to buy them. They all are as happy with them as I am.

Apr 05, 2011

good boots

Jack Murray
Mar 29, 2011

Great review! A warm boot in winter without the weight of Sorels or Mucklucks is essential. How about a heated boot? Check out this review of a boot that heats itself:


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