R.I.P the fabulous Montrail Stratos - now sadly discontinued.
After the liner in my last pair failed on the Wolds Way trek, an exhaustive internet search (i.e. searching until I was exhausted) of retailers failed to turn up any stragglers in my size, and my attention turned to the similar looking replacement in the product line: the Cirrus.
Montrail describe the Cirrus as “An evolution of our award winning Stratos GTX”. Some people had reported problems with the Stratos and I expected the Cirrus to be essentially a Stratos with these problems fixed or improved, together with some minor tweaks. It isn’t. The moment I tried them on I knew this was no evolution of the Stratos, it’s a very different species: chunkier, stiffer and heavier. In the spectrum of footwear, the Cirrus is a significant shift towards the boot end.
I scoured the internet for other replacement candidates and hunted down a few that were available locally. I wanted a lightweight waterproof mid-cut and there isn’t much choice in this twilight category between shoes and boots. The first difficulty I had was really unexpected and exasperating: many of the retailers no longer stock ½-sizes in many brands, e.g. Blacks in Manchester don’t stock them in any brand except Merrell. Good grief, have times become so tight that they have to resort to this?. It means that 50% of customers are denied the best fit, and my usual size for walking footwear is 9½.
I bought the Berghaus Pro Rush Mid XCR, the 2007 model on sale at just over half price at £49.95 (the 2008 model has a different tread pattern on the sole unit). This looked the leanest and slickest of the candidates with a cuff at the low end of the mid-cut range and a thin light upper, a little stiffer than the Stratos but not bad.
I also tried the Salomon Elios Mid XCR, which looks thicker and more substantial with a high tongue but is actually slightly lighter and has a very soft flex where the foot bends. The first real test of these was on the recent Loweswater Fells trip.
I’ve added more thoughts and details on these brief tests to the Footwear subsection on the main site.