Columbia Master of Faster Review

First Impressions

The Master of Faster is one of Columbia’s top of the line light hikers. And as you’d expect, it packs a bunch of the company’s proprietary technology into a cool looking package. I received a silver grey/green pair (castlerock, lime green to be exact) for this review and was impressed by Columbia’s unique take on the classic light-hiker form.


Talk about an assault of shoe-making technology. Out of the box, Columbia’s Master of Faster makes no secret of the fact that Columbia builds a range of proprietary features into their products. Large logos proclaim that the Master of Faster uses the company’s Omni-Tech waterproofing and Techlite cushioning among other innovations. Both features worked well on these shoes.

The Omni-Tech upper uses a fairly dense mesh for the side panels with a more ventilated and gusseted tongue. I found that this provided sufficient waterproofing while still allowing good breathability.

The Techlite cushioning does a nice job of isolating your foot from the terrain while not being too overbuilt. The soles wraps up around the sides of the Master of Faster for increased stability. The triangular tread design has smaller, more dense lugging in high wear areas at the inner side and outer heel. The Omni-Grip rubber compound is harder than Stealth rubber. It provides decent traction but not as much stickiness.

Upper: Omni-Tech waterproof, breathable nylon mesh
Sole: Omni-Grip rubber
Weight: 24.5 oz per pair

Rounding out the Master of Faster is some nice padding around the ankle and tongue and a composite toe cap to guard your forefoot.


The Master of Faster feels stiff right out of the box but break in with only moderate use. The laces go almost to the toe – approach-shoe-like – allowing for a very custom fit. Overall, they run true to size so choose whatever size you normally do for hiking/athletic shoes. They come in at just under 25 oz and were the lightest of our test.

Final Verdict

Nice shoe. Takes a touch of breaking in, but once that’s done, you’re good to go. I did not experience any hotspots or rubbing, and breathability was good. Definitely a solid choice in a light hiker.

First Impressions:



Final Verdict:

Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide. And thanks to Columbia for providing product for this review. Written by Matt K.


  1. Chad Maurer October 22, 2011 at 9:17 pm -

    CAUTION, while these shoes do all the things they say they do, they DO NOT LAST. A friend of mine and I both bought them this summer and both pairs are already worn out after a few months. They have completely split at the forefoot bend and other places and even shoe repair glue will not save them. I hike quite a bit (20+m/wk), but I thought this was absurd. I don’t think they even have 200 miles on them yet. Warranty them, you say? NOPE. Columbia said that this was “normal wear and tear” and would not do anything. They said “if they were a bigger company” they could “afford” to do something. Not gonna go into the implications of a statement like that here. Sad, because I liked them.

  2. Matt K @ GearGuide October 23, 2011 at 9:48 am -


    Thanks for the comment and sorry these shoes didn’t live up to your expectations. I have somewhere around 100 miles on my pair and honestly they still look almost new. Everyone’s “mileage varies” as they say, so let me know if you run across a product that works better for you.

  3. Megan August 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm -

    I bought a pair of the women’s version over a year ago, and they’re still going strong. I started with short 4-6 mile hikes, but I’ve been going on quite a few longer hikes this year(12-20 miles) in preparation to hike Mt. Whitney in September. Do you recommend sticking with these for Whitney or should I invest in some boots? If so, do you have any you could recommend?

  4. Matt K @ GearGuide August 17, 2012 at 10:18 am -

    Hey Megan: Thanks for the comment. First off, I’m jealous of your trip to Whitney. September should be a fantastic time on the mountain. Second, I’m glad you like the Master of Fasters. Lot’s of folks have success with the lighter weight trail and trail-running shoes on longer hikes like the ones you describe. Depends on terrain, the load, your preference, physical conditioning, etc. More traditional boots will provide additional stability if you’re carrying a pack on Whitney’s rocky terrain so they’re worth considering. Brands we like include Scarpa, Lowa and La Sportiva. We also tested products from AKU recently and found them very comfortable and supportive. When shopping, go late in the day (after you’ve walked a bit) and try on multiple pairs. Also make sure you break them in before attacking Whitney. Best of luck to you.

    BTW, here’s a great write up on Whitney from Modern Hiker, in case you haven’t seen it already.

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