Running Warehouse says the Columbia Montrail Bajada III (hereinafter, Bajada) is “a versatile trail running shoe that can handle a variety of trails” due to its “reliable cushioning and traction.” Is it?
The latest version of the Bajada from Columbia Montrail offers a great fit: It’s snug, but roomy in the right places. The shoe weighs 12 ounces but feels more like 10 ounces under the foot. It has a FluidFoam midsole, a sticky Gryptonite Trail outsole containing an immense number of small lugs providing multi-directional grip, a Trail Shield to protect one’s feet, horizontal and vertical flex grooves, and a 10m drop. As with most running shoes these days, it has a seamless “socklite” mesh upper.
Columbia Montrail generally includes an upgraded, deluxe commercial-grade sockliner in its trail shoes, and this is the case with the Bajada. Another extra feature is the set of elastic laces that provide comfort and “give” yet can be securely tied for peace of mind.
While walking to nearby trails, one will note that the Bajada offers a soft, comfortable ride. And the shoe feels like it is just the right height – not too high off the ground and not too low.
On a gravel and dirt trail the Bajada offers good ground feel while remaining protective. On a mown grass fire trail it delivers fine grip and yaw control. You can feel the shoe moving from side to side, but it returns to center quickly. On a hard-packed dirt trail the Bajada feels light and fast. It’s like driving a roadster on a curvy country road.
The toughest test for a trail shoe tends to be how it handles a hard rock trail with both large and small rocks underfoot. The Bajada earns an A-minus for grip, and a B to B-plus for both protection and absence of slippage. You know a shoe has passed with flying colors on a hard rock trail when no cuss words are emitted by the runner!
Although the grippy lugs on the Bajada appear to be relatively small, they provide tremendous purchase for moving uphill. This would be a nice shoe to use to run up the Ventana Canyon Trail in Tucson, Arizona.
On city and suburban roads the Bajada demonstrates its credentials as a hybrid shoe. It’s bouncy on asphalt, earning a B grade for responsiveness. On sidewalks it proves to be as stable as earlier-year Montrail shoes, such as the Montrail Fluid Feel from 2013. (The Bajada offers more stability than the FluidFlex F.K.T. or the Caldorado II.)
On roads the Bajada delivers B-grade cushioning. The springiness provided by its insole is not dissipated; energy builds up supporting forward motion momentum. Speaking of momentum, one can get up on one’s toes and/or high-step in the Bajada to engage in speed training. Yes, it will deliver a fast response if and when you need it.
The Bajada does most everything well. It is quite likely the Columbia Montrail model that will work best for the average runner. (While I found the Caldorado II to be excellent, it rests upon a level of firmness that works for only a certain percentage of individuals.)
At a price of $110, the Bajada provides exemplary grip, protection, cushioning, and responsiveness. It’s a hybrid model that can be used as both a trail runner and a road trainer, and it will prove to be more than satisfactory for mid-range and long-distance runs.
Photo credit: Yes Sport