The Montrail Rogue FKT II is a solid all-around performer that can handle a variety of surfaces. Although the shoe does not necessarily have any stand-out features, it is also relatively free of shortcomings.
The Montrail Rogue FKT II is a solid all-around shoe with an excellent balance of features. While there is no single aspect of the Rogue FKT II that stands out as remarkable, the overall combination of its characteristics make for a reliable performer over a range of distances and surfaces. The shoe is comfortable and cushioned while still maintaining some degree of responsiveness, and the shoe has the traction and protection necessary for rugged terrain.
The major limitation of the Rogue FKT II is its agility and handling. The foot sits fairly high due to the larger than average heel height (27mm), which reduces stability and creates a somewhat clunky feel. Given that the Rogue FKT II is better suited for the slower speeds of long runs and ultramarathons, this may not initially be an issue. However it can be problematic for fatigued runners on technical terrain. A secondary concern is the imprecise fit, although this will be runner specific to a certain degree. Another limitation, that at first seems minor, but can be a big annoyance was the laces. Several testers reported having to stop and retie the laces several times throughout a run. It also was a challenge to get them tied to the correct tension.
The Rogue FKT II is the type of shoe that would make a solid mileage workhorse for most runners. Mid-pack and recreational athletes would do well with the Rogue as their primary training and racing shoe. Performance oriented runners are likely to find the shoe a bit underwhelming, except perhaps for very long distances.
The main difference between the original and current version of the Rogue FKT is the upper. The midsole/outsole remains unchanged. Columbia Montrail added their new lightweight tongue and made the upper thinner overall to reduce weight. The final product is not markedly different however.
Generally, this shoe is not a terribly uncomfortable shoe, but there were a few things that contributed to its lower than average score. For most testers, the Rogue FKT II ran at least a half size small which coupled with its high 10mm drop caused a lot of discomfort at the toes. The high drop also could make the heel feel clunky and it is just too steep of transition. The upper breathes fairly well and is decently comfortable. The tongue, designed to be lightweight, didn’t provide quite enough cushion from the laces and tended to move around a good deal. The FluidFlex midsole is firmer than that in the FluidFlex FKT II and not as flexible. The cushion is adequate for most long days however, and will probably be more durable than the FluidFlex FKT II which is one reason why it is the longer distance shoe of the two.
For being considered a long distance shoe by Columbia Montrail, the Rogue FKT II has some considerable speed to it. One of the benefits of the 10mm drop is that it does pitch you into a forward leaning position which helps with turnover and foot placement. Not all the testers felt that this shoe was fast mainly because there was not a lot of pop off of the midsole. This was not designed as a hard core race shoe but it more than happy to respond well when asked to move quickly.
Security of Fit
Generally, these hold your foot pretty securely. They do fit on the narrow side and the toe box is a little pointed, which contributed to most testers wanting to size up. Lacing again was the biggest problem. It is hard to feel secure in a shoe when you can’t trust the laces to stay tied while bombing a technical descent. The fit is fine, but seems to just be imprecise, and finicky, where it is either too loose or tight.
Agility and handling are probably the areas in which the Rogue FKT struggles the most. The challenges here arise from two issues. The first is the overall height of the heel, which causes the shoe to feel clunky and imprecise. The second is the narrow ground contact area, which reduces stability during hard cornering. These issues are less noticeable at casual speeds on fresh legs, but this is probably not a shoe in which to bomb technical downhill. However, even though the tread pattern remains unchanged from the previous model, it is surprisingly grippy. The outsole gripped well in snow and on hard packed trails.
The Rogue FKT II really is a surprisingly responsive shoe, similar to how the speed of it catches you by surprise. With its firmer midsole and rock plate, the shoe does have a nice push to it. Having that rock plate built in does make this a stiff shoe, which typically translates in to a more responsive shoe. A few testers did note the stiffness took some getting used to. The lighter weight upper probably has a little to do with the improved score from the previous model which was rated as pretty so so.
This was the Rogue FKT II’s lowest score and significant decrease from the previous model. Underfoot protection is excellent. The firm midsole, rock plate, and full rubber outsole is a recipe for protection. The toe bumper did its job well and was not overly obtrusive. The main fall back on this shoe is the thin upper and narrow midfoot. This is a recipe for catching a sharp rock to the side of the foot. For a shoe with such a technical outsole that is designed for rugged trails, a little more lateral foot protection would go a long way.
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HOW WE TESTED
Out testing spans the course of several months. Our testers spend a few weeks running at least 50 miles (typically much more) in each shoe. They live all over the country so each shoe can be put through our testing protocol in a variety of terrains and conditions. Each tester is encouraged—to the best of their ability—to test the shoes in as many different terrain environments as possible: in the mountains, on dirt roads, buffed single track, technical terrain, etc. In addition to varying terrain, our testers have to test each shoe at different efforts including a long run, easy running and fast running. As mentioned above we test for six different criteria: comfort, speed, security of fit, agility, responsiveness and protection.