Follow Aiden from our Bristol Shop as he takes on Salewa’s ultra-tough walking boot and gives his thoughts.
The Salewa MTN Trainer 2 Mid GTX is made to be a lightweight option for a robust,
waterproof, alpine trekking boot. Salewa’s journey starts in 1935 with a background in
leatherwork and saddle making. In the 1940s they saw success making ski poles, among
other goods, before exploding onto the international mountaineering scene in the 1960s by setting new standards in crampon and ice screw production. With this long-term history in mountain sports, they continue to bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the industry.
The MTN Trainer has been a classic Salewa approach shoe for scrambling, trekking and via ferrata. That same feature set has been brought forward into the MTN Trainer 2 and Mid along with some extra bells and whistles. The MTN Trainer 2 Mid offers a 360-degree rubber rand to protect against the abrasive rigours of the rocks you move over and past. Under that rand you’re protected by a 1.6mm suede leather upper offering another hard-wearing barrier to scrapes. Those upper materials are paired with a GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort lining to keep your feet nice and dry as you tromp to your heart’s content. This is mounted on top of a dual-density expanded PU midsole to absorb shock, while retaining the stiffness needed for rough terrain as well as a Vibram® WTC 2 outsole to stop you from impromptu ice-skating out of the mountains. The MTN Trainer 2 Mids have laces that continue nice and low right up to your toes, allowing more tuning for a precise fit, and a wonderful sock-like upper in the place of a standard tongue arrangement. Finally, the 3F wire system lets you really lock your feet into the boots, alongside the modular insoles allowing you to change volume as needed.
Testing in the Beacons
With my boots ‘in hand’, I headed off to Brecon, to give them a run for their money. The two protective layers of the upper weathered my abuse well, as I went out of my way to attack rocks all across the peaks of the Beacons. After a good scrubbing upon getting home, they look essentially as good as new, and not really worse for wear. A good rubber rand like they have is instrumental in protecting a boot especially towards the front, giving it much more longevity when subjected to these kinds of activities, as another pair of my randless boots can attest, after a scrambling heavy Cairngorms trip.
The GORE-TEX® lining of the boots was really put to the test, as the entire trip took place in constant driving snow, rain and sleet with winds of 40-70mph. My feet were kept nice and dry through my scrambling, multiple raging stream crossings, slogging through bogs, and standing in a puddle for 10 mins straight purely to be mean to them. My feet were parched until I got fed up of the wind and rain on the last day, decided to cut straight through a bog, and had to high step my way through water that was peaking at my knees (to be clear this was water far above the level of the boot tops which is entirely not their job to keep out).
I am actually a big fan of the midsole, as most boots of this stiffness suffer from becoming a bit clompy and less agile. This is often mitigated to some extent with a rolling sole, which makes walking better, but doesn’t alleviate the lack of agility in other respects. The MTN Trainer 2 Mids, however, have a stiff back end but are more flexible in the forefoot. This extra flex in the front allows you to get a better grip on things and be less limited when you’re more normally moving around, where a very stiff sole comes into its own with kicking steps in and using crampons. The stiffness retained in the back actually turned out to be great as I was kicking heel steps into the mud and grass to make my way down Fan Fawr while being blasted back and forth by the 70mph winds.
I was actually very impressed with the performance of the Vibram® WTC 2 outsole as well. The aggressive lugs kept me nice and secure on the mud and grass whether flat or moving on 45-degree inclines, but I was particularly impressed with the performance on the wet rock. Nothing is grippy on specifically scummy algae-covered wet rock, but any of the clean stuff I was actually very secure on. I often found myself being pretty careful climbing up something or balancing my way through flooded stream crossings, before realising I was being far more dainty than needed.
I found the 3F system was noticeable if you really cinch the boots down. It essentially pulls the back of the boot in to make it cup your heels more if needed. The sock-like upper was a great help in keeping the boots nice and comfortable. It adapts well to things like a high instep and makes the tongue extremely comfortable on the foot. It’s one of the features that I’d love to see on more boots. The second one is the adjustable insoles. They come as a softer upper footbed and a firmer lower one that are attached with hook and loop patches.
You receive 2 different kinds of these lower footbeds in the box, one taking up more volume in the boot and one less. This is a fantastically elegant and simple solution, allowing the boots to be more adaptable fitting both a lower and higher volume foot or different sock setups. Before this trip I made use of it, giving myself more volume to test some vapour barrier socks that were thicker than what I’d normally wear.
Fitwise the MTN Trainer 2 Mid is in the middle of the width range, made for a reasonably asymmetric foot, like many other performance-based mountain boots, and would fit medium-low to medium-high volume feet. That said, the proof is in the pudding, and everyone’s feet are different. If you think this might be the boot for you, the staff in our stores would be happy to do a fitting and make sure that this is the right pick to keep your feet happy in the hills, up a mountain, or on the moors.
Available in both men and women’s variants…