The Columbia Master of Faster are a hybrid trail running and walking shoe. Designed equally for those fast walking trips where running sections might well be on the cards, trail running or just as an approach shoe. With a Columbia Outdry waterproof liner and a nubuck and mesh upper, they’re sturdy enough for most off-path adventures but the use of a non-Vibram sole meant we were initially weary of how the shoe would perform when it was wet underfoot.
I initially set off on the Anglesey Coastal Path in these for a 50km yomp, which in hindsight was not a wise choice! While they’re perfectly comfortable shoes, breaking them in over a long hard weekend is foolhardy at best. It was a very warm weekend, and with feet that run warm as well the result wasn’t pretty. This was my fault entirely, and it’s not the fairest way to test out new shoes. I was lucky to only have a couple of blisters (including one on my little toe that meant I couldn’t walk in normal shoes for one leg, having to use barefoot trainers instead!).
On subsequent hill walks the shoe performed well, if still a tad warm. Not only were these use for walking and running, but for a fair bit of cycling and casual use (including gardening, oops!) as the most comfortable shoes to hand (or foot).
Returning to that non-Vibram sole, I needn’t have worried. The Master of Faster shoes felt very grippy on trail runs and walks, with the Omni-Grip sole performing as well as, or better, than a standard Vibram sole.
Despite the Columbia own brand Omni Dry lining, you can’t fault the waterproofness of the Master of Faster. They kept my feet dry after a half hour session powerwashing the patio, with only slight dampness inside that could well have been condensation due to the wetness on the shoes having a cooling effect. Likewise, they didn’t let much sand in unlike normal trainers or my non-waterproof trail runners on my usual dune runs. This makes them well suited for wet conditions such as rain sodden grass which can quickly soak through a pair of shoes, as opposed to muddier and boggier conditions where you may well sink beyond you’r ankles.
Overall, these are a bit too warm for summer running, though that depends on the individual. I run hot, so if you suffer cold feet then these shoes would suit. Footwear with a waterproof membrane tend to be automatically warmer than shoes without, so it’s often a choice between cool and damp or dry and hot. They’re exceptionally comfortable, waterproof, grippy and well suited to the cooler months for year round trail runners.