Montrail Fluid Flex 2

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I was a huge fan of the Montrail Rogue Fly (reviewed here) last year, but hadn’t really paid much attention to new offerings until I was given an opportunity to review this shoe–the Fluid Flex 2.  We reviewed the original Fluid Flex here, but since I’m more familiar with the Rogue Fly, I’ll compare it to that.

Old and new. The Rogue Fly and the Fluid Flex 2.
Old and new. The Rogue Fly and the Fluid Flex 2.

First Impression

Dang, this thing is light! First thing I do is throw it on a scale, and my size 12s come in at 9.18oz. I also do my regular flex test, and it folds up in my hands pretty well.  The sole/tread look the same as my other Montrails, but the cushioning appears to be more pronounced.  I

Passes my flex test!
Passes my flex test!

also think hmmm, Montrail isn’t doing a lot to improve the look of their shoes.  Black and gray with yellow laces, but what the heck, it doesn’t matter.

Fit

The very first thing I notice is the pads around my Achilles.  The FF2 has pads on either side of the thin but rigid opening that keep the foot and ankle from slipping around, and it works.  Definitely a cool innovation that I haven’t seen before.

Behold! The Achilles pads!
Behold! The Achilles pads!

The shoe feels light and soft, but nothing too extreme.  I do notice that I have to cinch down on the laces quite a bit to get a good fit.  I’ve got a narrow/medium width, and this toe box is pretty wide…perhaps the widest I’ve worn in a trail shoe.  Feels big around the house, but it’s comfortable accommodating on a long run.  If you’re looking for a big and light shoe with tons of cushioning, this may be for you.

The Rogue Fly is narrow, it runs small, and feels like a 50k racing shoes, whereas the FF2 has more of a light trainer or longer trail run feel to it.  It also fit true to size.

It’s got a 4mm drop (15 and 11) that feels about right, and very minimal footbed contouring, making this shoe somewhere in the family of minimalism…maybe like a funky cousin…but I’d never call it a minimalist shoe.

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The midsole is a soft EVA foam that rides soft and light…probably at the end of the soft scale for me, as I’d like a bit more ground feel.  The upper is a double mesh material that allows for plenty of air flow and mud/water drainage.

The shoe has held up well for me (I’ve run speed, trails, hill work, some mud, and a fair amount of walking around during my injury) and it’s showing no signs of weirdness.

The tongue isn’t gussetted, and the opening is a softly rigid material that maintains its shape without any threat of rubbing or chafe.

Similar outsole tread to Rogue Fly.
Similar outsole tread to Rogue Fly.

Usage

The Fluid Flex 2 has a similar outsole to the Rogue Fly(small hexagonal lugs) and is perfectly adept at groomed trails, decomposed granite, single track, and mud. I wouldn’t trust the light tread on wet grass or ice, but not many shoes are made for those conditions, are they?

This shoe has got a ton of cushioning to it and would make my legs very happy in a 100k or longer.  If you’re the type that loves bounce, these may be for you.

Because of the wide toe box, I wouldn’t choose this shoe for a super technical course, but would gladly wear it in a 50k or 50 miler (or longer) with varied terrain.  This shoe isn’t designed for specific distances or terrains like some are, but instead has the capability to do a darn good job in nearly any situation.

Verdict

I like this shoe a lot and will have in my quiver as my “wide toe box” shoe.  The achilles pads are something I wish every designer included, and the hybrid tread pattern is one that I really like.  All that in a shoe that weighs barely over 9oz is quite a feat, and it’s one that’ll appeal to a wide variety of runners, especially to those looking for an all purpose trail shoe for less than a hundred bucks.

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