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Patagonia Rover Shoe

Dave Alie reviews Patagonia Rover, Blister Gear Review

Patagonia Rover

Patagonia Men’s Rover Shoe

Size tested: 13

Stated weight per shoe: 249 grams (8.8 oz)

Color: Folios Green

Specs

  • Abrasion-resistant air mesh/synthetic leather upper with toe rand
  • Integrated 2mm footbed with Dri-Lex® lining provides temperature and moisture control
  • Soft-flexing 4mm drop midsole
  • 20% recycled dual-density EVA (heel is softer; ball harder)
  • 0.8mm forefoot ESS plate protects from rocks
  • Patagonia extra sticky rubber outsole
  • Construction: Strobel with integrated footbed
  • Men’s Stack Height (heel/toe): 16mm/10.5mm; integrated footbed: 2mm; midsole: 9mm/5mm; sole: heel – 1.5mm web, 3.5mm lugs; toe- 1.5mm web, 2mm lugs

MSRP: $125

Test Period: 8 months

Test Locations: Costa Rica; Rocky Mountain National Park, South Platte, Clear Creek, Boulder Canyon, CO; around town & various Front Range hiking/running trails; Costa Rica

The Patagonia Rover distinguishes itself in a crowded market by straddling the “trail runner” and “technical approach” worlds. Patagonia describes it as a “multi-sport” shoe that combines “the best attributes of a minimalist trail running shoe” with “mountain performance that goes fast and vertical.” Based on this description, Patagonia seems to have designed a product that fits within a number of different categories: trail runner, approach shoe, light hiker, and climbing shoe.

But as with any hybrid design, there will be necessary compromises. So the goal of this review is to discuss how effectively the Patagonia Rover functions across a range of activities and applications, so that you can figure out whether the Rover makes sense for you.

Caveat: first and foremost, I am a climber. And I’m a climber who also runs semi-regularly (both on trail and on pavement) to get into shape for alpine trips and other things climbing related. But I don’t run for the sake of running. So while I’ve run in the Rover on many occasions, my understanding of the trail running world is limited. With that caveat, I’ll discuss the Rover’s performance as a trail running shoe, but because I spend a lot of time hiking up to routes and subsequently climbing them, I will focus more heavily on the its capabilities as an approach shoe / light hiker / climbing shoe.

Anatomy

The anatomy of the shoe borrows heavily from a lightweight trail running shoe, with a mostly mesh upper, a 4mm-drop midsole, and a cushioned heel. The Rover also has sticky rubber on the sole and toe rand, laces that extend all the way to the toe vis vis-à-vis a climbing shoe, and a rock plate in the forefoot of the sole. The result is a lightweight, super comfortable shoe that I happily wear around town and in the mountains.

Dave Alie reviews the Patagonia Rover, Blister Gear Review

Dave Alie in the Patagonia Rover.

I would say that the sensitivity of the Rover is high, allowing you to feel the texture of the ground without letting rocks jab through the sole (thank you, rock plate). The Rover’s sensitivity is something that I have really appreciated both while running and when scrambling on steeper fourth- and low fifth-class terrain. However, I did notice my feet occasionally starting to ache on runs longer than 5-6 miles. That isn’t an uncommon phenomenon among more minimalist trail runners, so my main point here is that if you’re accustomed to trail running in a more minimalist design, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the Rover. But if you’re coming from running in stiffer shoes with thicker soles, like any more minimalist shoe, you’ll at least need to acclimate a bit.

Technical Terrain

The soft, sensitive build of the shoe can be a bit of a liability when it comes to climbing. When compared to more traditional approach shoes that have stiffer soles and a more snug fit, the Rover has a hard time holding an edge on steeper fifth-class terrain. I’ve taken them face climbing on the gneiss/schist of Clear Creek and the limestone of Shelf Road, and while no approach shoe will ever truly double as a climbing shoe, the Rover is fairly sloppy for technical edging. This is the result of both the softness of the shoe and the slight amount of extra room required in the toe box to make them viable as trail runners.

Also, though finishing up grad school this past year dashed my hopes of taking the Rover on a big wall, the overall softness mentioned above is enough for me to intimate that standing in aiders in the Rovers would not be pain-free. You just lose too much by ditching the rigid sole here.

The Rover’s lightweight construction and its mostly mesh upper is incredible for breathability, comfort on runs or long approaches, and packability. But mesh of any sort has little hope of enduring abrasive crack climbing as well as leather or nubuck found on more traditional shoes like the Five Ten Guide Tennie, the La Sportiva BoulderX or Ganda, or the Salewa Mountain Trainer.

Versatility

All that said, there are times when the Rover’s stripped-down design, light weight, and extremely compressible build and fabric choices are fantastic. Need something that won’t drive you crazy when it’s hanging off the back of your harness? The Rover definitely beats out most traditional approach shoes in this regard. How about trying to find space for two shoes in a pack that already has to hold your rack, water, and a shell? The Rover has a slight build with a slim profile and can easily be folded in half if need be.

Dave Alie reviews the Patagonia Rover, Blister Gear Review

Dave Alie in the Patagonia Rover, South Platte, Colorado.

Dry Time / the Rover as Water Shoe?

Because of the its mesh and synthetic leather upper, I took the Rover on several river trips and an extended trip through Costa Rica, where I knew the would be submerged in water for extended periods. They dried out fine and I’d do it again with them without hesitation. Granted, this sort of use is generally outside the wheelhouse of an approach / running shoe, but I wouldn’t be as psyched to do this with heavier, leather shoes that would likely stay wet for a long time afterward.

3 Comments

  1. nick b July 12, 2014 Reply

    Do these hold up for extended talus climbing/slogging? Also how do think these would do for a week-long hiking/scrambling/ridge traversing trip, not enough support or just fine?

    • Dave Alie July 14, 2014 Reply

      Nick,
      I think these do fine in talus and scree- they’ve held up well for me other than the delamination issue that I talked about in the review. Talus and scree are pretty tough environments on shoes; hopping between sharp granite boulders will chew through sole rubber on any shoe or boot given enough time. In that environment, the Rover doesn’t wear down appreciably faster than any comparable shoe. That said, the Rover, like other approach shoes, does have sticky (read: softer, less durable) rubber on the sole, rather than a beefier rubber that might appear on a full-on backpacking boot. This is great for security when scrambling, or wandering up fourth or easy fifth class terrain (as you would on a ridge traverse), but if you’re looking at mostly well-groomed trail, you likely won’t make much use of the technical rubber and could probably trade it for a harder, more durable sole material in another shoe.

      As far as support goes, they’re a hybrid running/approach shoe, so the generally the support factor is low. As a low cut shoe, needless to say there is no ankle support whatsoever. If you’re asking about support in the way that it is normally talked about in the hiking world, meaning support against rolling from side to side, then these don’t offer much. I don’t personally believe that that sort of roll support (like you might get from a high top boot) is of much use, and I’d much rather have a lighter shoe if I’m going for hundreds of miles. Especially on a ridge traverse, I would take light weight and agile over supportive and bulky 10 times out of 10.

      If, on the other hand, you mean under-foot support, say, for your arch, my experience with the Rover hasn’t made me suspicious of them. I have low arches, and I’ve not taken them out for a week straight (more 1 and 2 overnights loaded down with climbing gear), but I’m not aching in them on day 2 or 3 or anything like that.

      I hope that answers your questions, let me know if you’ve got anything else you’d like to know. Just out of curiosity, do you have a scramble/traverse in mind?

      Dave

  2. patg October 30, 2014 Reply

    great review……very thorough

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