Boot Review: Montrail Masai

Let others wilt in the heat; your feet are air-cooled by these ventilated runners.

Striking in appearance and performance. Testers agree on both points. The distinct look comes from a metallic mesh and curled toe design, plus a pronounced rocker that both aids fast striding and amps up the visual effect. Ventilation comes courtesy of the mesh toebox, which proved so breathable we could actually feel the breeze come through while standing still. The mesh means more dust and sand get into the shoe (despite full tongue gussets), but it also delivers quick-dry draining when you're in and out of water.

The Masai rounds out the airy package with a stable heel cup and excellent underfoot cushion, both of which help elevate the shoe from glorified trail runner to bonafide fastpacker. The bouncy padding is ideal for long days, and reinforcing plates protect against rock bruises. Traction is decent, though not quite equal to the best-of-test on slick, wet boulders. Strategically placed synthetic leather enhances durability, but like all shoes with predominantly mesh uppers, they won't last long if you're kicking around lava fields. Fit is forgiving for a variety of feet.

Overall: 4.6 (5=perfect gear, 1=save your money)

Price: $85

Sizes: men's 7-12 1/2, 13, 14, 15; women's 5-10 1/2, 11

Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.

Contact: (800) 647-0224; www.montrail.com