Saturday, October 24, 2009

Searching For The "New" Montrail Vitesse

Why do shoe companies discontinue popular shoes? I asked this question over and over with the Montrail Vitesse, a popular trail running shoe that had been in production for over a decade. I first started wearing the Vitesse when a company called One Sport produced them and shortly after became Montrail. Very little changed between the the first pair I owned and the pair I picked up just a few weeks ago after scouring the internet.

Had I known Vitesse was to be discontinued I would have stocked with as many that would have fit on my credit card. I became suspicious of a discontinuation attempt a little over a year ago when all the online retailers I usually purchase them from quit carrying them. I called Montrail several times to learn if they were to be discontinued or just out of stock. Montrail assured me they were not discontinued and to keep looking on the net. I found a pair or two but when they were all worn out I could not locate any more. I once again called Montrail to verify that they were not discontinued just really hard to find? This time Montrail gave me the bad news that they in fact had been discontinued and I was S.O.L.

Having not stocked up I found myself looking for a replacement to my favorite trail runners and hikers for almost the last 15 years. I read all the trail runner reviews and posts on the net to see what other runners were saying. A couple of possible replacement names came up and over the past six months I have gone through 4 different pairs of trail running shoes finally ending up back in a pair of Vitesses I was lucky to come across.

You really don't realize what you have till it's gone. I ran for the first time in the Vitesse again today about 6 miles and it was nice to be back. I am sure all the other shoes below are fine products but they are not Vitesses. There are several features I like about the Vitesse that sets them apart from other trail runners on the market. They have a super stiff out sole with rock protection that really makes them stable on the trail and gives them the ability to run over any pointed rock without feeling a thing. The tread is also super grippy which is perfect around here because a good part of the year the trails tend to be loose and rocky. The outrigger on the lateral side prevents the shoe from inverting and thus protects the ankle from spraining(which happens to me a lot). The toe and heel protection can just about take anything without hurting your foot and the roomy toe space is nice. There is also a nice built in "bootie" which keeps rocks and dirt from getting in and ruining your day. Really the perfect shoe for me which I day hiked Mt. Whitney at least a half dozen times and ran who knows how many thousands of miles in.

Montrail Vitesse atop a mountain of trail runners

The best trail runners ever!?

My first attempt at replacement- Patagonia Release
The Release was a new product that Patagonia had just come out with. I thought this might be a decent replacement for the Vitesse but I was wrong. At 14.5 oz it is 1.5 oz heavier than the Vitesse but surprisingly I found it to be much wimpier. Two problems I found with this shoe was that I could feel rocks through the out sole and the lack of support allowed my foot to move to much. The tread was comparable to the Vitesse but what it lacked forced me to bench this one in just under a month. *Side note- the toe of this shoe is angled up and my friends teased me I was wearing "elf" shoes.

Attempt #2- Montrail Hardrock '09
Since it was from the same company I thought it might have similar features. It was similar in stiffness and a little lighter at 11.8oz(just over 1 oz each) but the tread did not work for me with our trail conditions. I found the lack of bite in the tread caused me to slip quite a bit and forced me to bench these shoes in just over a month.
Attempt #3- La Sportiva Wildcat

I read on the internet other runners speaking of the similarities between the Vitesse and the Wildcat. I didn't find too much in similar as I found the cushioning to feel too spongy and the mesh outer to allow too much foot movement. The tread was grippy enough to be comparable and the thick cushioning softened the blow of rocky trails similar to the Vitesse. The weight was 12oz each, just under an ounce lighter than the Vitesse.

Attempt #4- Inov8 Rocklite 315
Of all the shoes, I probably feel this is the closest to the Vitesse. It's weight almost makes you forget that they are on your feet at 10 oz each. The grip is crazy and almost feels like you are running in cleats. I enjoyed these shoes but maybe because I am bigger for a neutral runner at 185 lbs and 5'11" they weren't enough for me. I could feel rocks on the bottom of my feet somewhat and the lightweight construction allowed my feet to move around a little more than I would have liked in the shoes. The low profile design allowed for what I like to describe as good contact with the ground though.
Verdict- As much as I would like to say there is a replacement for diehards looking for the next Vitesse, I haven't found it yet. All the features the Vitesse has makes a perfect trail runner and hiker for me. I am going to wear my new pair until the stitching falls out and maybe by that point Montrail will see the error in their ways and BRING THE VITESSE BACK! Dave


Adam said...

I feel your pain I'm down to my last pair of Vitesse and I don't know what to do? I've been through four pair. It was my Whitney shoe taking me from the portal to the top and back in 11 hrs I've guided for backpacking carrying 80+lbs packs w/ clients gear, no problems ever. Same thing happened to me with 5.10 and the Mountain Master my other Fav but not for the same uses other than using these two shoes to keep my time in my my Montrail boots to a minimum as much as possible, for comfort and weight saving reasons(and whenever possible we may have to run for an injured client while guiding. Now I find out the boots are also no longer made and I love those boots Classic welted construction allowed crampons everything I needed nothing unnecessary.
Why does this happen I realize as a company you want to improve but they could have kept the Vitesse. If it's not broken don't fix it and certainly don't take it of the market unless image is playing a factor? Wish you the best, I knew there were other folks going through this but no warning was not cool. Happy trails.

Multi-use Trails Coalition said...

Unfortunately shoe manufacturer have gone ultra-lightweight and these heavy duty runner/hikers are a thing of the past. Hopefully the trend will swing back to this style of shoe at some point, until then search the web and stock up!

AKS said...

Well, I anticipated the Vitesse being discontinued so when I found them for $30 online I bought five pairs. I have been breaking a new pair out each time the old pair wears out ever since. Unfortunately I've found that the upper and the glue holding on the sole do not age well even in a box kept in ideal conditions. So they have been wearing out at an increasingly fast rate. I'm now down to the current pair and just one more in the box. Sigh...

So if anyone reading this thread has found a suitable replacement I too would be among many grateful runners/hikers.