Gear Review: Montrail Sabino Trail Mid GTX Boots

Want boots with maximum support and protection for minimum weight?

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.