Approach any challenge with the Garmont Dragontail MNT GTX. If you are climbing on one of the Pacific Northwest’s magnificent peaks, you might find yourself on long approach hikes that take you through rain forests, scrambling over sketchy rock outcroppings, and through numerous creeks and snowfields. One solution to this problem is to wear your alpine boots during the entire ascent – and many do this. While this may seem like an easy solution, additional hours in heavy alpine boots can tire your legs and create friction points on the foot as the boot negotiates terrain it was not made to handle.
In my search for the perfect PNW approach shoe, I first looked at a light approach version by Scarpa. The lightweight construction didn’t provide much support on mixed terrain under a moderate to heavy climbing load. The smooth rock-climbing type sole also wore out and became slick in just over a year of use and was not good in the mud and wet forest floor found in the PNW.
Fortunately, I found the Garmont Dragontail MNT GTX. This Gortex approach shoe has traction Vibram soles and a sturdy construction that is perfect for the wet mixed terrain approach found here. The Vibram traction sole and sturdy construction gives great support under the heavier load of an alpine pack. In the wet conditions of the Pacific Northwest, dry feet are important. This was no problem for the Gortex Garmont Dragontail, the shoe kept my feet dry over several streams and hours in soggy snow melt. Another great feature is the oversized toe box; the toe box was super comfortable with plenty of room for my toes without squishing them together and allowing room enough for mid-weight socks.
Garmont Dragontail MNT GTX has an extended rubber toe box and rubber heel backstay to protect the upper and provide traction while scrambling. In addition, the shoe has heel lock features that reduce heel slip and prevent blisters. Garmont uses a proprietary moisture and odor management in the footbed to reduce odor after long treks. Be sure to check the size when purchasing, I normally wear a size 10, but took a size 11 in the Garmont Dragontail.
Scrambling over tough approaches is easy with the versatile Garmont Dragontail MNT GTX. The sole and extended rubber toe box provided excellent traction on rock. One downside of the solid construction is additional weight. The Dragontail is a little heavier than other approach shoes, light hikers, or trail runners. For those that like ultralight shoes, this may not be for you. For me, the versatility and the Garmont Dragontail’s ability to crush all the terrain I threw at it make it well worth the few extra ounces.