Shoe Review: La Sportiva Raptor and Synthesis Mid gtx, Salewa mtn Trainer gtx, Millet Trident gtx, Super Trident gtx and Garmont Dragontail MTN

Ok so this is a real mixed bag, but these are all shoes I have worn, abused and destroyed in the last 12 months or so. Despite big names, much marketing hype and sometimes misleading reviews I will try and give it straight, particularly as it's my money that paid for them all.
Obviously fit is hugely important, my feet are fairly standard for Northern Europeans, a fairly broad forefoot and across the toes and a low arch in a size 45, somewhere between a hobbit and a ballerina! (have you seen a ballerina's feet!?)

La Sportiva Raptor

La Sportiva Raptor
Firstly these really fit my feet, plenty of room up front, a very supportive mid section and incredibly stable heel, this shoe is so right in many ways. The lace system is simple, but given the elasticated integral tongue I more often than not just slip them on. Then we have the sole, stable in the right places and bendy where it needs to be, it will grip to pretty much anything. Lastly the mesh upper is super breathable making them really comfortable in hot weather.
The perfect hiking shoe? Well for me not quite, that super breathable mesh upper lets water straight in, now most modern ultralight hikers seem to love this but I struggle on multi week trips to stop my feet falling apart in the end. Bashed feet when tackling lots of boulder fields and scree can be wearing as can the amount of debris that finds its way through the mesh and don't try and kick steps in a snow slope with them. Good for about 500 miles so on long trips they will need replacing.

La Sportiva Synthesis Mid

La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX
Well I fell for the marketing guff and shiny reviews on their release expecting the "STB Technology stabilizes the foot by wrapping the midsole and unifying the midsole with the upper for the perfect locked-down fit" would be similar to the Raptor. Unfortunately there is nothing remotely fitted about this shoe, it has none of the arch support, heal stability or forefoot stability provided by the Raptor, it is just wide, baggy and the foot slides around on a flat innersole.
Despite all this they were light and waterproof which I needed for an upcoming hike, what the hell. Well they lasted 16 days, and it was only that long because it took a few days to hike out to a town big enough to replace them, by which time both shoes leaked, both lace systems were broken and the sole was coming away from both. If after all this you are still tempted do not attempt wet rock unless you enjoy skating!
I did contact La Sportiva's UK distributor on my return, Lyon Outdoor, who kindly provided a refund through the retailer.

Salewa mtn Trainer

Salewa mtn Trainer GTX
Whilst reasonably broad in the forefoot these are narrower across the toes causing some discomfort to the small toes. Support under the arch is quite pronounced and takes some getting used to, but once you are they feel particularly stable and comfortable( if your feet are the right shape). I have worn these a lot day to day on and around Dartmoor and in most conditions have been reliable except on damp or wet rock where grip is at best average.

Millet Trident

Millet Trident GTX
Broad across the forefoot, just broad enough in the toe box, a supportive heal and a very stable sole unit, goretex too. I had great expectations for these shoes and in many ways they are my favorites. The fit isn't quite as good as the Raptor or as comfortable to walk in but they still have great grip and a "connected" feel to the ground. Very happy across boulder fields, up and down steep scree or kicking snow steps.
So what's wrong, well they have had a hardish 25 days and they are in bits! Cuillin Traverse nearly 3 days (we are slow!), Ogwen valley easy climbs 3 days, La Porta Del Cel (Pyrenees) 4 days, Pic's Lliterola, Royo and Perdiguero (Pyrenees) 2days, Troumouse-Barroude-Rioumajou and return (Pyrenees) 4 days, Pic Grande Fache (Pyrenees) 2 days, plus a couple of bimbles on Dartmoor and a day climbing at the Dewerstone prior to going to Skye hardly makes the 25 but I'll be generous. The side protection rand is sewn, rather than bonded to the shoe like the toe bumper, and through abrasion both sides have blown out. 
I have tried contacting Millet about the poor construction/design flaw of these shoes but had no response.

Millet Super Trident

Millet Super Trident GTX
I bought these in the Pyrenees last year when the Sportiva Synthesis shoes failed so completely. I am not keen on Mids generally as I end up with sore achilles, as I did here, but there was little choice and the rest of the fit was good. They have covered a good 300 miles of hard mountain trails and show little real wear other than the rand blowing out again as above although these have retained their shape and integrity better than their fabric counterparts. However in both cases it seems ridiculous that footwear apparently created for the Chamonix Guides last less than a month and are less durable than a pair of trail runners.
If however Millet were to bond a rubber rand around the Trident Mid or Shoe as other manufacturers do these would be as near to perfect for me as I would expect to find.

 Garmont Dragontail Mtn

Garmont Dragontail Mtn GTX after 94 days hiking

I bought these in the Pyrenees (2016) as cover for a pair of Millet shoes (see above) that were falling apart. Fast forward to spring 2017 and I was undecided about what to wear for our Via-Alpina through hike. Knowing the Millet boots or shoes were unlikely to last even halfway, I wore the Dragontails to work and around Dartmoor in the run up to our departure. Pleasantly surprised they were chosen.
The fit is broad across the forefoot and very secure in the heal, with lacing down to the toes it is very easy to customise the fit. At first they felt harsh and "clumpy" but they wore in quite quickly becoming comfortable for long days even on hard ground, although not as comfortable or connected as the Millet.  
However I think the fit is a little short, great for scrambling but not so good for long descents. The original insoles are a rubbish piece of foam that once damp (sweat or rain) will just rot your feet, they need to be swapped out for a proper insole. The other negative was the Goretex leaked from the first rain storm we had in Slovenia which meant managing periodic bouts of wet feet over the next 90+ days.
All that said they lasted to the end, tired but relatively intact (my wife's boots had to be replaced at Samoens) so the general construction, apart from the goretex liner, is extremely good. As a result I will buy these again in the non gtx lite version as I think they will be great for summer scrambling and easy climbs.

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