Salewa’s Mountain Trainer 2 are an update to Salewa’s very popular mountain walking shoe designed for hiking and scrambling in the kind of environments you might find in Snowdonia. They’re much like an approach shoe in that they offer a very solid walking platform with quite a stiff sole that takes a little bit of breaking in. The upper is also built of stiff material and the lacing is very precise, it extends right down to the toes to ensure you can get the right fit over your foot. Having said that, the upper needs to loosen off a little before you can really yank on the lacing and pull the material in.
The fit is quite unusual, when you first put them on it feels like they want to pull your foot forward into the shoes rather than back into the heel as is normally the case. The ankle area also feels quite low so it’s a different feeling from most walking shoes. On ascents though, the heel locks right into the back of the shoe, and you don’t get any heel slip at all. On descents, the pronounced heel brake helps with control and there’s enough room in the toebox for the toes to feel comfortable.
Although the Mountain Trainer 2 initially feel stiff and like they’re going to be uncomfortable, they offer mile after mile of support and stability that allows you to just keep going, even over seriously tricky, rocky, undulating terrain that could otherwise tire out your feet and legs. As a result, there’s inherent comfort but not a lot of trail feel, making the Mountain Trainer 2 more suited to reaching for a foothold or scrambling over rocky terrain than for a walk through the woods or a countryside ramble.
Build quality is absolutely superb, really up there with the best. Everything feels like it’s going to last and you’re going to be able to use these shoes in tough environments without worrying about them.
There’s a full low-profile rubber rand that stretches all the way around the base of the upper, which really protects from abrasion from rocks. The upper is 1.6mm suede leather of the highest quality. It’s the sort of material that’s going to last.
The Vibram outsole is made for prolonged heavy use. What that usually means is that the rubber is a harder compound so is not so grippy, especially on slick surfaces. We did find that to be the case with the first iteration of the Mountain Trainer on a greasy Tryfan ascent. In dry conditions though the Mountain Trainer 2 is as grippy as it gets.
It's worth noting that these shoes are incredibly expensive but are worth every penny. Put to the use they were designed for they will last much longer than a cheaper pair of shoes and save your feet from a lot of pain in the process.
If you do loads of mountain walking in scree, difficult rocks, and lots of ups and downs with a little bit of scrambling in between, the Mountain Trainer 2 are an excellent choice for your footwear. For anything less than that they’re overkill.