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- Price: $200
BACKPACKER Gear 360 Review
When you’re carrying a heavy pack, you need a boot that can keep up. Stability and support are the standout qualities of the Alp Trainer 2 Mid, which leverages sturdy construction and smart design details to provide a comfortable platform for gear-intensive, multiday treks.
The most notable feature is Salewa’s 3F system, which has nonadjustable metal cables running from the laces around the Achilles and heel. The cables keep the back of your foot in place when you cinch the laces down, even if you’re hiking through off-camber terrain. “On a luxe overnight into Wyoming’s Alaska Basin—I had friends in town, and wanted to show them the backcountry highlife—I carried 30 pounds up steep, rocky switchbacks and the boot provided the solid base I needed,” one editor says. The Alp Trainer 2 also has nine eyelets per side and lacing that almost reaches the toe, meaning he was able to cinch his foot down and navigate trail obstacles with nimble ease.
Although the Alp Trainer 2 might look like a heavy boot, at just under 2.5 pounds per pair it won’t feel like a cement block at the end of a long hike. A cushioned EVA midsole helps with that comfort as well, but the platform is still strong enough to support pack loads up to about 40 pounds. The boot’s Vibram Alpine Hiking outsole also has a unique design, with dense, flat lugs in both the toe and heel that help with traction for scrambles and steep slopes.
Finally, the suede upper—guarded by a large rubber rand—has proved durable over a handful of trips (although we haven’t put a ton of miles on this boot, these materials are built to last). The leather upper and Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable liner deliver what you’d expect for the category—great protection fro rain and creeks, but some sweat in the heat of high summer.
Outside+ Member Review: Mason Lindquist
Break in time was nil and the comfort only improved on day two and beyond. The high-quality insole along with the last of this boot provides excellent support through the heel and midfoot. The heel cup locked my heel in place through the toe-off phase, and more technical scrambling moves were no issue. Interestingly, while the forefoot profile looked initially modest to narrow, that was definitely not the case as my toes had plenty of room to splay. I welcomed this as the miles on the trail increased and my feet swelled. There were no hot spots or blisters, just pure comfort. And the gusseted tongue did a good job of keeping out trail debris.
Surprisingly, the Alp Trainer 2 Mid felt light on my feet and allowed me to stay nimble, yet easily supported my 25-pound backpack during a three-day trip in the Canadian Rockies. It provided more than enough torsional stiffness, certainly through the midsole and outsole. And that toe rand was welcome as I stubbed my toes several times on roots and rocks.
I have always been a fan of to-the-toe- lacing, as it allows for a more precise fit when things get a little more technical. The laces are fairly thin also and it will be interesting to see how these hold up over more mileage. But I do appreciate that they are flat, and never once had a problem with them loosening.
I thought the Vibram outsole was very good both ascending and descending. This outsole felt tacky on slabby, wet limestone, steep descents, and loose terrain. It did have a tendency to slide around a little when I encountered some muddy singletrack. The 4-millimeter-deep lugs proved their worth and the deep, 10-millimeter lugs on the heel provide solid braking power.
Nitpick: I didn’t love the offset heel pull tab. I found myself reaching back towards the top of the boot to pull it on, only to miss the pull tab all together.