The Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX has become our reviewers' personal favorite. It is definitely one of the best hiking shoes in our test with a high level of support and stability while being capable of off-trail scrambling. There is enough mesh and synthetic material to keep them light on the feet, but they remain durable and resist wear. We love these shoes for day hiking, overnight backpacking, peak-bagging, and cross-country travel. They do it all well and give us confidence on our feet when in rugged terrain. There are lighter hiking shoes out there, but none that climb as well or are as supportive. This cross between a hiking shoe and an approach shoe is an excellent choice for the hiker who wants to go almost anywhere.Editor's Note: We added new information about our recommended hiking shoes to this review on November 1, 2022.
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Supportive, great traction, lightweight
Cons: Stiff, lacing is hard to tighten
Compare to Similar Products
Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX
|Price||$114.22 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
$112.49 at REI
$170.00 at REI
|$149.25 at Backcountry|
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$104.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Supportive, great traction, lightweight||Excellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, support||Super comfortable, durable, stable||Excellent comfort and traction, waterproof||Supportive, versatile, well-cushioned|
|Cons||Stiff, lacing is hard to tighten||Cuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favorite||Not great for off-trail, average traction||Expensive, not the most durable||Average traction, regular width is relatively wide, hard to lace tightly|
|Bottom Line||This is a burly hiking shoe capable of getting off the trail and onto rugged terrain||This is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking trips||These super plush hiking shoes feel like you are walking on clouds, perfect for long days on hard surfaces||A versatile hiking shoe built with the comfort and agility of a running shoe at an unbeatable price||A comfortable and versatile pair of budget-friendly hiking shoes with a casual look that's great for both the trail and the town|
|Rating Categories||Salewa Mountain Tra...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Hoka Anacapa Low GTX||La Sportiva Spire GTX||Columbia Facet 60 O...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Salewa Mountain Tra...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Hoka Anacapa Low GTX||La Sportiva Spire GTX||Columbia Facet 60 O...|
|Weight (per pair)||2.16 lbs (size 11)||1.76 lbs (size 11)||1.79 lbs (size 11)||2.06 lbs (size 11)||1.78 lbs (size 10.5)|
|Upper||Synthetic||Synthetic, textile||Nubuck leather, GTX Textile||Abrasion-resistant mesh||Seamless mesh|
|Waterproof Lining||Gore-Tex Extended Comfort||Gore-Tex membrane||Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex Surround||OutDry|
|Flood Level||3.5 in||3.25 in||3 in||4.75 in||4.25 in|
|Last Board/Shank||Nylon||ADV-C chassis||Not specified||Molded EVA||Not specified|
|Midsole||EVA||EnergyCell||Compressed EVA||5mm Ortholite Insole, Compression Molded EVA, TPU inserts||Techlite+|
|Outsole||Pomoca MTN trainer Lite||Contagrip MA rubber||Vibram MegaGrip||Vibram XS Trek with Impact Brake System||Omni-Grip rubber|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We love the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite for serious hiking and scrambling missions. It is burly, rugged, has exceptional traction and best of all — it is super comfortable right out of the box so you can hit the trails right away.
The Mountain Trainer Lite GTX is more comfortable than many other models we tested. Its uppers feature enough mesh and synthetic materials that flex easily. It does not have as much of a prolonged break-in period as other models that use similar materials. This low-cut hiking shoe has a nice, secure feeling ankle cuff that allows for plenty of movement. This shoe is stiffer than most, given that its intended uses are for mountain trails, so although the sole is rockered for a comfortable stride, the nylon midsole insert does give this shoe a firmer feeling on the trail than more cushioned models we review here.
Our only real issue with these shoes is the stiffness of the ankle cuff. The material used here is fairly firm, and even with boot-cut socks, we can feel the edge of that cuff dig into our ankles when we walk along a sidehill. This seems to diminish over time, but it is one of the remnants from the era of heavier and more rigid hiking boots that caught our attention.
No doubt about it, the Mountain Trainer Lite GTX is a rock-solid hiking shoe that gives above-average support on demanding terrain. We love this shoe for its exceptional underfoot stability, thanks to an integrated nylon midsole shank that lets them bound through boulder fields without putting extra undue stress on the foot. This stable platform also helps them to edge in challenging sections of scrambling.
This shoe is low-cut, meaning that the cuff ends just below the ankle, so they do not have the same support to protect from rolled ankles as do high models, but we felt adequate security. We prefer the lower cut that allows for more flexion when challenging climbing terrain.
Salewa makes shoes that can handle all types of terrain, and the Mountain Trainer Lite GTX is no exception. Featuring a Pomoca outsole that uses a blended rubber compound that is soft enough to smear on smooth rock, though durable enough to allow the sole's deep lugs to chew through mud and scree, these shoes have no problems when the going gets tough.
We took these shoes on hikes in the Sierra Nevada of California and the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. In these two very different climates with vastly different trail types and weather conditions, we found that the Mountain Trainer Lites can do it all. Wet or dry, slick or loose, the stable footing made possible by the stiff midsole and the high-traction patterned outsole made these shoes one of our top choices for traction.
When we first got our hands on the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX shoes, we were pretty astounded at how light they felt. With previous experience wearing the more beefy Mountain Trainer boots, we expected to see weight savings given that these shoes got rid of some heavier fabrics and shed some weight by not having as stiff a sole. We were impressed at their scant 2.16-pound weight per pair.
Too often, it becomes difficult to choose between mountain performance and on-trail comfort. These shoes do both well, and we like how easily they approach objectives and are a full half-pound lighter than their nearest competition in this style of shoe.
The Mountain Trainer Lite utilizes a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort waterproof/breathable insert to keep your feet dry while sloshing through puddles on the trail. On one hike, the Ozette Triangle Loop along Washington State's Pacific coastline, we had to hike through tidepools, avoid the incoming tide, and walk through a very wet rainforest. Our feet were bone dry upon our return to the trailhead.
However, a 3.5-inch flood height is not very high, so these shoes only work for minimally wet conditions. If you think you'll have to ford some deeper crossings, then mid or high-top hiking footwear might be a better choice.
With an all synthetic upper, the Mountain Trainer might seem less durable than other shoes that choose this weight-saving material. Still, there are a couple of useful designs that this shoe employs that keep them from being as susceptible to the rigors of cross-country travel as some of their counterparts.
Along the lower section of the upper, Salewa uses a wear-resistant material that covers the light mesh, making this area, which is typically prone to excessive wear, much more durable. There is also a thick toe cap that is molded to the outsole. The nylon laces are somewhat exposed, so there is a chance of abrading if you intend on exceptionally rocky scrambles. Still, we find these shoes quite durable, especially considering their weight.
Should You Buy the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite GTX?
This is an all-around solid hiking shoe that absolutely excels in traveling through rough and off-trail terrain. Curiously light considering their above-average support, these are shoes that won't slow you down. Stiffer than most, they are also a good choice for the hiker who demands a bigger boot's stability but craves the functionality of a hiking shoe. We find this shoe to do it all well, but we really recommend it to take you off the beaten path. These shoes are of great value. With top-tier performance, comfort, and traction, they are a hiking shoe that virtually everyone will be able to appreciate and benefit from.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If you want more comfort or a lighter weight shoe, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is a great choice to consider. This reasonably priced shoe has impressive and similar traction and support to the Mountain Trainer, with similar performance in several metrics but a higher score overall. Another favorite pick for us in regards to comfort is the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX.
— Ryan Huetter
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