Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX Hiking Boot Review

Comfortable, stable, and very grippy, Salewa’s alpine-ready hiking boot is highly capable for navigating rough terrain with a pack

Table of Contents

3 lbs. 3.2 oz. (men’s size 44)

Yes (Gore-Tex)

Approach shoe-like feel with excellent comfort, stability, and traction for navigating tricky terrain with a full pack.

Heavy and overbuilt for hiking on well-maintained trails.

The German-based Salewa is well-known for its high-tech alpine boots and this is evident clearly in the mountain-focused MTN Trainer Mid GTX. I tested the boots in an extensive test on the trails of Canada and Patagonia with a variety of high-mileage days on difficult terrain using full-on packs. In the end they’ve performed to their name: Despite being heavy and bulky for shorter excursions on trails that are easy the MTN Trainer’s blend of stability, comfort, and shoe-like protection and grip is a fantastic combination for challenging tasks like climbing above treeline or scrambling with a bulky pack. Below, I’ll outline my experience using MTN Trainer Mid GTX. MTN Trainer Mid GTX. To find out how it compares against other models, read our review on the most comfortable walking boots.

Performance

Comfort

With an alpine-specific design and a similar feel to a shoe, it is the Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX provides a highly sought-after blend of stability and comfort on long, strenuous days with a massive pack. I would say that it is among the most comfortable boots I’ve had to the present. This is because the OrthoLite footbed and the Blight TPU midsole are comfortable and don’t feel too hard or flat The 3F system provides a significant improvement in support in the sole, heel, and instep. Particularly the lacing hook in the midfoot has an incredibly thin cord that connects it with the heel. This keeps the ankle and heel in place when tightly laced. In tests, it produced an extremely comfortable foot feel, and also allows for excellent flexibility in fit. Additionally, its low-cut Flex Collar offers an excellent range of motion for ascending and going down steep slopes while giving enough support to comfortably move through the rough terrain. Additionally, the lower sock-like upper, as well as the one-piece tongue and ankle make for a secure fitting from the top down and plenty of padding to ensure comfort throughout the day.

Another characteristic of this design is its approach shoe-like lacing system that can be easily customized as it extends down from the lower part of the ankle until the toes. The eyelets are not locked in this boot. is something I prefer to keep my forefoot free and clamping my upper (and is a feature of Salomon’s most popular Quest 4 GTX) However, I’ve managed to come up with a workaround by double-tying the laces into some of the eyelets lower. To give you an idea my feet that are wide can be prone to hotspots and blisters, however I’ve managed to avoid these pitfalls by removing the lacing around the toes and the forefoot. As a result with this MTN Trainer Mid GTX is one of the most comfortable and durable boots I’ve come across for transporting the weight of a large load over long distances and difficult terrain.

 

 

Weight

With 3 pounds 3.2 pounds and 3.2 ounces to my pair of size 44 men’s (they’re advertised at 3lbs. 1.4 oz. ) The MTN Trainer is a surprisingly large boot, yet it was lighter on the trail than its weight might suggest. Comparatively to Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX is comparatively lighter. scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX (2 2 pounds. 11.7 oz.) that I tried in Nepal seemed noticeably less clunky and bulkier. I was wearing the MTN Trainer when I was exploring Patagonia for treks that were more than 12 miles, with a full backpack and I don’t remember any moment that I was thinking about the weight beneath my feet. After submerging them into the river and adding some water weight, they did not feel heavy. For clarity that the MTN Trainer isn’t my top choice on daytime hiking on trails that are well maintained, however, the extra rigidity and durability is worth the cost when traversing technical terrain using a bulky pack.

 

 

Traction

Based on its design and technical intent there’s no reason to doubt it’s no surprise that the Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX can be described as a very grippy boot in difficult terrain. The Vibram WTC sole and aggressive tread pattern with deep multi-directional lugs have provided ample bite on everything from loose, marble-sized gravel to wet rocks in river crossings and sheer slabs in the alpine. I did experience a tiny slippage during the first of my excursions in the boots while walking over slick rocks on Vancouver Island, but that might have been an outlier since they’ve been all confidence-building ever since (even in the same terrain).

The boot’s front has an approach-shoe-like rubber cap. When combined with the incredible flexibility at the ankle I’ve managed to squeeze and twist the MTN Trainer into tight corners and securely press against granite slabs with no problem. This was particularly helpful in Patagonia as wind gusts often swept across the valley and forced me off my path, leaving me to find a new location to take my next step. Despite being constantly forced off the track and even halfway over a mountain that I planned to get rid of the trail, the MTN Trainer did not falter.

Stability and Support

I expected to sacrifice some stability and support with the Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX’s highly comfortable build, but that hasn’t been the case at all. Though not as stable as my more mountaineering-focused Scarpa Zodiac Tech, the MTN Trainer has proven to be very adept in typical alpine environments that required boulder-hopping with a loaded pack. I’ve suffered zero ankle rolls or balance issues on off-camber sections of trail, and the aforementioned 3F system has done its job of increasing support at the instep, sole, and heel while still allowing great range of motion. The boots were noticeably overkill while hiking on flat, gentle trails in Patagonia’s Río Elétrico Valley (they felt pretty stiff and overbuilt for the terrain), but that was to be expected given their more technical intentions.


Waterproofing and Breathability

Hiking boots designed with Gore-Tex waterproofing rarely let us down, and the Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX is no exception. I exposed the boots to numerous water crossings on our recent trip to Patagonia, including wading and rock-hopping through glacier-fed rivers, and I never once had to tiptoe around these obstacles. I did experience some debris and water droplets seeping over the top of the boot and found myself missing the taller elastic cuff on my Scarpa Zodiac Tech GTX in particularly deep waters, but the MTN Trainer nevertheless is a very capable and protective design overall.

Regarding breathability In terms of breathability, it was breathable. MTN Trainer promoted decent airflow due to the waterproof structure. My feet didn’t get too sweaty or hot during my hikes in temperatures that climbed into the mid-70s F in Patagonia and the Gore-Tex liner gave me an increase in warmth while hiking in slushy and snowy conditions in my home province of B.C. When paired with great midweight wool socks for hiking I’ve never needed to worry about having cold feet.

 

 

Protection

Along with the lacing system, the MTN Trainer’s protection is similarly reminiscent of an approach shoe. First and foremost, the boot features a thick rubber rand that wraps around the entire foot, providing 360-degree coverage against direct hits from obstacles like rocks and roots. For reference, I stubbed my toes numerous times during testing but never once felt the impact inside the boots. The heel is a similar story, with burly reinforcements along the back that don’t detract from range of motion. My only complaint (and it’s a small one) is that I wish Salewa added a little more protection at the inside of each ankle to better protect against rock strikes, but this would likely add even more weight to the already-heavy (and still very protective) design.

Build Quality and Durability

I hadn’t had any experience with Salewa boots before this test, but I’ve been impressed by the MTN Trainer Mid GTX’s premium and hardwearing construction. The boot clearly showcases the brand’s climbing and mountaineering focus and has held up well to typical alpine abuse: The wraparound rubber rand at the front is thick and has deftly fended off hits from rocks and roots, the metal eyelets and laces are holding up well, and even the thin cord that connects the heel to the midfoot is intact. There is some minimal wear along the tread, as well as a practically imperceptible tear near the rand and a little discoloration along the sides of the suede upper where I tend to rub my feet together. But these are purely cosmetic, and I have virtually no concerns about the boots’ long-term durability.

Fit and Sizing

I typically opt for a 44.5 in boots that use European sizing, but that size ended up being too long for my foot in the Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX. However, by sizing down to a 44, I was able to get a good all-around fit. My feet are pretty finicky and prone to issues like hotspots and rubbing, but the MTN Trainer’s wide toe box easily accommodated my foot’s higher-volume shape with just enough room to comfortably navigate steep descents (for reference, I paired them with lightweight wool socks). I did experience my baby toe rubbing on the inside of one of the boots, but this was after sustaining a blister while testing another shoe and thankfully didn’t get worse. Finally, as I touched on previously, the laces run all the way from the toe to the top of the ankle and make it easy to really fine-tune the fit.

Other Versions of the Salewa MTN Trainer

I tested the men’s MTN Trainer Mid GTX for this review, and Salewa also sells the boot in a women’s version for the same price. The women’s MTN Trainer Mid GTX is lighter at 2 pounds 8.2 ounces and sold in different colorway options, but the overall construction and feature set are otherwise identical. Within the larger MTN Trainer collection, Salewa also offers options ranging from low-top waterproof offerings to “Lite” variations that trade some of the standard boot’s durability for a thinner and lighter-weight construction. And for winter hiking, the MTN Trainer 2 Winter GTX tacks on four-layer insulation, Vibram’s Arctic Grip compound, and a wool collar and stretch gaiter at the top for added performance and warmth in the cold.

What We Like

  • Standout comfort with a functional mix of stiffness and flexibility for navigating tricky and uneven terrain with a full pack.
  • Great stability, support, and protection for demanding (and often abrasive) alpine objectives.
  • Approach shoe-like lacing system makes it very easy to customize fit.
  • Premium build quality and excellent durability, from the proven Gore-Tex lining to the thick rubber toe rand.


What We Don’t

  • Decidedly heavy at over 3 pounds, although the boots felt much lighter underfoot than their weight would suggest.
  • Overall protection is excellent, but I wish Salewa had beefed up the inside of the ankles to fend off rock strikes. 
  • The boots run a little long, and I ended up having to go down by a half-size to get a good all-around fit.

 

Comparison Table

BOOTPRICECATEGORYWEIGHTWATERPROOFUPPER
Salewa MTN Trainer Mid GTX$250Mid/heavyweight3 lb. 1.4 oz.Yes (Gore-Tex)Suede leather
Salomon Quest 4 GTX$240Midweight2 lb. 14.2 oz.Yes (Gore-Tex)Leather / textile
Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX$299Midweight2 lb. 6.4 oz.Yes (Gore-Tex)Suede leather
La Sportiva TXS GTX$179Light/midweight2 lb. 3.6 oz.Yes (Gore-Tex)Mesh
Zamblerlan Vioz GTX$325Heavyweight3 lb. 2.4 oz.Yes (Gore-Tex)Full-grain leather

The Competition

Salewa put together a seriously capable and alpine-ready design with their MTN Trainer Mid GTX, but there are several other options to consider for covering technical terrain with a heavy pack. Our top-rated option in this category for this season is Salomon’s Quest 4 GTX, which checks in noticeably lighter than the MTN Trainer at 2 pounds 14.2 ounces. But despite the drop in weight, performance still lines up well: The Quest has a great performance fit, aggressive stance, and well-executed lacing system that makes it very easy to dial in fit and lock things down. Like the MTN Trainer, the Salomon is also comfortable out of the box with a nice balance of padding and underfoot protection. You do forego the approach shoe-like rand of the Salewa, but overall coverage has been excellent, even on rough and demanding objectives. All told, given the similar performance at a lighter weight, we consider the Quest to be the more competitive all-around design.

The next option next up is the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX, which has the same similar traction of an approach shoe and the alpine-ready strength similar to the trainer from MTN. When analyzing the distinctions between the two, the Zodiac is the more stable choice and even cross-over for lighter mountaineering purposes however the price is more rigid and a firmer feeling underfoot. The Scarpa is a bit heavier in weight, at 2 pounds 6.4 pounds, but it’s not as protective and doesn’t have the 360-degree rubber rund found in MTN Trainer. MTN Trainer. If you want a better model, you can move into their Zodiac Tech GTX, which features a TPU insert in the shank and heel for better navigating through more technical snow and ice (for more details on the model, check out the Zodiac Tech review). No matter which model you pick All are extremely reliable and alpine-ready boots. the final choice will be based on your goals and your preference for the weight and protection.

Another shoe designed for tough mountains includes the La Sportiva TXS GTX. We’ve tried a variety of options from their TX range of approach shoes through time and the TXS still has the excellent comfort, protection and grip we enjoy with a mid-height hiking model. When I tested the boot, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of grip and protection, as well as the laces system is comparable that of the MTN Trainer’s, with laces that extend from the toe up to the ankle’s upper part. The most notable difference is in the ease of use The MTN Trainer was at ease right from the start with plenty of padding to cover a lot of terrain The TXS is noticeably less padded underfoot, and it felt quite hard and unforgiving with long-range goals. However, at just $179 and 2 pounds 3.6 pounds, it’s smaller and much less expensive that could be major deciding factor for a lot of.

A final alternative to have on your radar is Zamberlan’s Vioz GTX. Right away, we’ll note that the Vioz heavyweight leather hiker, which has its place for long slogs with a serious load (or even light mountaineering) but comes with sacrifices in responsiveness and agility. For reference, the Zamberlan is similarly hefty at 3 pounds 2.4 ounces, but the hardwearing leather construction, soft interior, and decidedly stiff structure are bomber on rough terrain. That said, unless you prioritize long-term durability and top-notch stability above all else, the MTN Trainer is the more approachable and modern option for most serious backpackers for $75 less.