Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Gore-Tex Women’s Shoes | Review  - Outdoors Magic

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Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Gore-Tex Women’s Shoes | Review 

Nicola Hardy tests out the classic Mountain Trainer's lighter sibling on trails in the Lake District

We’ll go through the shoes in focus in this review in a bit, but first of all it’s probably important to introduce the original design that they’re spawned from, the Salewa Mountain Trainer. This is a classic – almost iconic – approach shoe. Inspired by climbing shoes, it offers the stiffness, grip and technical capabilities to cope with gnarly, rocky territory; whether you’re on the approach walk to a trad climb, scrambling a rocky ridge, or hillwalking over rough ground. 

Yet it’s also known for being comfy straight out of the box (unlike blister-inducing, progress-hindering traditional walking boots), allowing you to move quickly and freely through the mountains. For many outdoor enthusiasts, Salewa’s Mountain Trainer shoes (now in their second generation, known as the Mountain Trainer 2 – £165) strike a fine balance between comfort, support, cushioning, weight and grip.  

One potential criticism of the classic Mountain Trainer shoes, however, is that they are a tad heavy and stiff, with a close-fit – meaning they aren’t ideal for gentler terrain or long-distance walking, where a lighter, bendier shoe with a broader fit would work betterEnter the Mountain Trainer Lite to solve this problem. Designed as a lighter, nimbler, more streamlined version of the classic shoe, the Lite version aims to hit a halfway sweet spot: all of the rugged, tough-as-nails scrambling capabilities of its predecessor, but with that slightly lighter (28g lighter per shoe) and more flexible build for better all-round comfort for general hiking. Can it achieve this tricky balancing act?  


I found the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite shoes pretty comfy straight out of the box. The extra rigidity they have for rocky terrain means they are stiffer than ultralight, trail running shoes, so they take a little longer to bed in and get used to. But they are still very comfy and I didn’t encounter any rubbing or blister-inducing pinchpoints, even on my first outing. The fit is wider than the classic Mountain Trainer, giving you an extra bit of toe-wriggling room for added comfort, while the overall low-ankled, approach shoe shape works well. The climbing-style lacing, which runs all the way to the toe box, means you can fine-tune the tightness of the shoe really well, while the flexible ankle cuff and spongy insole felt cosy and supportive. For all round comfort, I had no complaints whatsoever, and I felt the shoes struck an excellent balance between weight, flex and support: they didn’t feel bulky or cumbersome (like some heavy technical shoes), yet they didn’t feel too flimsy and lacking in protection (like some ultralight trail running shoes).  

Design Features

The Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite is “built for stability on rocky trails and mountain use in warmer conditions”, according to Salewa, while the added comfort of the Lite version means it’s “destined to become your favourite pair of hiking shoes” with “sure-footed, all-day comfort”. That’s a bold claim – but Salewa have the design features to back it up.  

Pomoca rubber outsole – which feels reassuringly sturdy and robust, with deep lugs and grooves in a variety of shapes and sizes – provides top-notch grip and traction. There’s also a ‘climbing zone’ at the toe, which makes ‘edging’ (balancing on little rocky ledges) far easier. The classic Mountain Trainer uses a Vibram outsole featuring very aggressive lugs, as well as a via ferrata tread zone for ladder rungs (it’s an Italian brand, after all, and they do love via ferrata in the Dolomites). But this Pomoca option feels similarly rugged and grippy and performs excellently.  

You also get a really sturdy rubber toebox (it’s not fully 360 as with the classic Mountain Trainer), but it provides ample coverage of your toes, protecting them effectively when being jammed into rocky cracks or crevices. There’s a really solid heel counter too, holding your foot in position securely. All of this means the Mountain Trainer Lite still inspires confidence over the gnarliest of mountain terrain, despite its slightly lighter build. 

The synthetic fabric upper is wear and tear resistant and it feels pretty durable, while the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining is – as you’d expect with GTX – both waterproof and breathable. It keeps rain and groundwater out, but allows sweat and moisture to escape when you’re working hard. There’s climbing lacing for a snug, precise fit tailored to the shape of your foot, complemented by Salewa’s 3F system – a thin cable, housed in rubber, that connects the top lace eyelet, instep and heel for improved flexibility, fit and firm support. Inside the shoe is a shock-absorbing EVA midsole for long-lasting rebound 

Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite Gore-Tex Women’s Shoes : Performance

I tested the Salewa Mountain Trainer Lite shoes out on a variety of trails around the Lake District this summer and autumn, as I set about hiking all 116 of Wainwright’s outlying fells. Despite being relatively small (the highest, Walna Scar, is only 621m) and generally detached from the heart of Lakeland’s towering mountain ranges, these dinky fells still threw up a surprising amount of rocky, rugged and steep terrain that put my boots to the test. 

I was definitely impressed with the Pomoca outsole. It gripped very well over mixed terrain, ranging from grass, muddy fields, rocky ground, forest trails and dusty, dry tracks, and I never once felt out of control. It is clearly made for gnarlier, rockier ground and that’s where it performed most strongly.  

The Gore-Tex waterproofing also lived up to its reputation, keeping my feet dry over boggy ground and during light downpours. However, because these shoes are low-ankled with a relatively low flood level (about 10cm), I often found myself switching them out for high-ankled boots in autumn or after periods of heavy rain. I’d describe them as suitable for three-season use, but better designed for warmer and drier conditions.

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