We can only recommend these boots for a limited group of hikers. While the mid-cut design makes the Montara look like a stable boot, it offers embarrassingly little support even under light loads and on moderate trails, and does not offer enough stability for any substantial backpacking weight. While a few hikers with high-volume feet will appreciate the high-ankle abrasion-protection and easy, cruising comfort of this shoe-like boot, most will probably find it uncomfortably out of its elements in most unpaved terrain.
If you’re looking for comfortable shoe with some boot characteristics for mild trails, this may be your ticket. But if you’re looking for a shoe that can handle rocky trails featuring any sort of elevation gain, you’ll want to look elsewhere. Overall, I was disappointed with the Montara’s loose, flimsy feel and inability to support my foot on even moderately unstable terrain.
Unlike the Vasque Talus UD or Oboz Mystic Mid, the Montara does not bill itself as having been built on a women’s specific last. Perhaps that’s partly why the shoe felt very wide and loose compared to others; my heel slipped out of the heel cup and squished around in the toe box with every step.
SUPPORT & STABILITY
Ahnu claims this boot “can handle packs up to 40lbs…” We disagree strongly. This boot has a striking lack of stability even under no load at all. There was minimal support on uneven terrain due to the flimsy, insubstantial upper construction (you can see the boot collapsing on itself in the photo below—note the buckling of the upper along the sidewalls). Oddly, there is high, tight ankle lacing, which is somewhat useless given the overall loose fit and collapse-prone upper.
The Montaras are not uncomfortable boots. The fit is simply more comparable to a sneaker than a hiking boot, which makes it perfectly adequate for in-town use or very light hikes/walks. Caveat: although the Vibram outsole looks substantial, the midsole is thick enough that I could feel the stones underfoot (which got fatiguing after several miles).
We were conflicted about the value of this shoe. On one hand, it uses premium materials—the eVent waterproofing and Vibram outsole are two examples. There’s no skimping there. However, you can find boots with better performance, and much more versatility, at the same price. (E.g., Garmont’s Amica Gore-Tex and Vasque’s Talus UltraDry.) We don’t factor in style or aesthetics—that’s up to you.
THE TARGET CONSUMER
Those who enjoy light, short, flat-trail walks and want a stylish shoe that will protect their feet from wet weather will appreciate the Montara. Also, if you have a wider foot and like a more high-volume fit, this shoe might be right for you. Be aware that the Montara is not appropriate for extended outings – the flexible midsole will cause foot fatigue
HOW WE TESTED IT
I tested the Montaras on a 10-mile hike of New Mexico’s Wheeler Peak—10 miles and 3,000 vertical feet that included everything from easy, mellow trail hiking to rugged, steep scree slopes—in rainy, cold weather. No pack weight. For consistency, all boots were tested with Goodhew’s ridiculously comfortable alpaca and merino wool Sedona sock.