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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Breeze III GTX boots > Test Report by Andrea Murland
Vasque Breeze III
GTX Boots (Women’s)
Field Report - August 15, 2017
Long Term Report - October 8, 2017
I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.
Description & Initial ImpressionsThe Vasque Breeze III GTX boots are waterproof mid-height hiking boots. The manufacturer’s website gives quite a bit of information about their construction, which I have summarized here:
Upper: 2.0 mm (0.08 in) waterproof nubuck leather, air mesh
Outsole: Vibram Contact Grip with Megagrip compound
Midsole: TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) shank, all terrain compound midsole with EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) cushioning pods
Footbed: Dual Density EVA
As listed, the upper of the boots are nubuck and mesh. There are three section of mesh on each side of the foot, as well as two sections on each side of the ankle. The tongue is also covered in mesh. The outsole of the boot has a moderately aggressive tread, narrowing and rising at the arch. The sole curves upward towards the toe of the boot, wrapping up over the front of the toe. A small toe cap sits above the sole, but doesn’t extend onto the top of the toes. A rubber bumper also wraps around the back of the heel above the sole. There are ventilation ports with a rubber “mesh” on both sides of the heel and toe in the rubber. The flat laces run through a webbing loop at the front and then four webbing loops on each side of the tongue before going through a webbing loop in the centre of the tongue. There are three metal “quick-lace” eyelets on each side of the boot, at the top. The tongue is padded and gusseted to the level of the top quick-lace. The ankle collar is also padded and has a webbing loop at the back. The boot is 16 cm (6.3 in) high at the front of the ankle collar, and 13.5 cm (5.3 in) high at the back, coming to above my ankle.
The insoles are removable. They are very thin, with some minor support under the arch. The forefoot portion of the insoles have holes that go through the full thickness of the insole.
The boots appear to be well-made, with no visual defects.
Trying It OutI slipped on the Breezes with a pair of mid-weight hiking socks. They slipped on easily and were of comfortable length, with lots of room in the toe. I have a fairly wide forefoot and need a high toebox, and my first impression was that the boot was a bit snug across my metatarsals. The toebox seems wide and high enough. I would have picked a wide boot if it was available in my size, but the wide option didn’t start until the next size up from what I need. The footbed felt thin and not particularly supportive. Overall, however, there were no immediate glaring problems with the fit. While lacing up the boots I immediately noticed that it would be easy for me to over-tighten the laces through the top of the foot. I then noticed that I couldn’t seem to get the laces to catch in the quick-lace eyelets. I started paying attention and realized that with the flat laces, if I didn’t have the laces in the right orientation, they wouldn’t slide into the eyelet. That’s something that I’ll have to pay attention to through the test. I don’t think I’ve ever used flat laces with a hiking boot before, but maybe they’ll make the laces less likely to come untied.
I went for a walk to my garden and back and spent a couple hours in the boots there. They felt stiff, but that’s to be expected from new boots! The boots were comfortable for the short walk. There was no discomfort in the heels or slipping.
As I am currently testing aftermarket insoles, I tried them in the boots as well. They slipped in easily and didn’t seem to cause any issues with discomfort or slippage in the boot. There seemed to be enough height in the toebox to accommodate them.
SummaryThe Vasque Breeze III GTX boots are waterproof mid-height hiking boots that appear to be well-constructed and comfortable out of the box. I do have a couple of things that I will be paying close attention to; specifically, the width of the forefoot and the ease of lacing. I will be testing the boots with both the stock insoles and aftermarket insoles and will report on both experiences.
Field ConditionsOver the past two months, I’ve hiked about 200 km (125 mi) in the Vasque Breeze III GTX Boots. I’ve used them all over the southern Canadian Rockies and into Montana, USA. I used the boots on a three-day trip, two two-day hikes, seven day hikes, and for one rope rescue practice. The days on the backpacking trips ranged from 8.6 km to 25.5 km (5.3 – 15.8 mi) long, and the day hikes were between 9.3 km and 20 km (5.8 – 12.4 mi) long. I didn’t encounter much rain, but I did wear the boots on snow and had to wade through a shallow section of lake once, as well as multiple shallow creeks. The temperature during the day was between 20 C and 35 C (68-95 F) each day. Walking surfaces ranged from well-maintained dirt trails to off-trail river bed, to off-trail sharp Rockies talus and scree.
ObservationsFit & Comfort:
During this first part of the test, I have worn the Breeze boots with after-market insoles that I was also testing. I found the boots to be comfortable right out of the box and had no problems with heel slippage or blisters. The bottoms of my feet would typically start to get sore between 15 and 20 km (9.3-12.4 mi), earlier if carrying overnight weight. When I wrote my Initial Report, I noted that the boots seemed a bit snug across my metatarsals. This turned into some dull pain in my first metatarsal on my right foot somewhere in that 15-20 km (9.3-12.4 mi) range as well. The toebox is high enough for me. I occasionally have felt my toes in the front of the boots while descending, but it hasn’t been a problem.
I find the Breezes to be a bit softer than I like for scrambling and long days. My primary boots for the last several years have been stiffer in the ankle, full-shank, and stiffer torsionally. I found it hard to adjust to the softer sole in these boots. Initially I was quite off-balance when on rocky terrain, though I’ve mostly adjusted now. I still find that I’d prefer a stiffer boot when in scree and talus.
Waterproofing & Traction:
I have had no issues at all with the waterproofing in the Breeze boots. They have kept water out during brief rain, when hiking in snow, and during brief forays into creek or lake water. I wore gaiters while doing some extended hiking on snow to keep snow out of the tops of the boots.
Traction has generally been good in the Breeze boots. I haven’t hiked in a lot of wet weather yet, but so far my experience has been that the soles provide sufficient traction on steep rock. I haven’t had any major slips yet!
The boots are looking pretty worn for only being two months into the test! The sharp Rockies talus hasn’t been friendly to these boots. The nubuck has many scores and small flaps, and the cushioning of the mid-sole that’s on the sides of the boots is abraded. The lines of stitching that sit just above the toe cap are basically gone, with just the remnants of threads poking out of the holes. The front of the toe is a very odd place to put stitching and expect it to survive!
It’s not really a comment on the durability of the Breeze III GTX, but my pair of boots has some nubuck missing from the edge of the tongue on both boots. A little rodent (I assume) took a liking to them one night while they were in my vestibule and I was sleeping, and I woke up to nibbled boots. Thankfully they didn’t do too much damage!
I wore these boots with gaiters and with trail crampons, and they worked fine with both.
I seem to collect a lot of debris into these boots. In rocky terrain I seem to have to empty little rocks out of them frequently. I pulled out my insoles after about a month of testing and discovered that underneath was full of rocks. I’m not sure why I seem to collect so much stuff, but it’s been a bit annoying.
Lacing the boots has been a bit of a challenge. I noted a couple of possible concerns in my Initial Report. The first was the potential to over-tighten the forefoot portion of the laces. I was conscious of that and didn’t have any issues while hiking. I tie a double overhand knot above the first set of eyelets so that I can really tighten the ankle section for descents, and that seemed to work. My second concern with the laces was that the flat laces were hard to get properly seated in the eyelets. Although I tried to be careful of my lacing, more than once I found myself walking with a perfectly tied lace that was flopping about, having come out of the eyelets. The flat laces are otherwise fine, but I don’t like the combination with the hooks.
SummaryI have pounded quite a lot of trail in these boots in the last two months. Overall, I have found them to be functional and comfortable. However, I prefer a stiffer boot for long days, carrying weight, or rocky terrain. These boots are a perfect on-trail day-hiking boot for me. During the Long Term reporting phase, I will be trying out the stock insoles in the boots and continuing to use them on the trail.
Field ConditionsI have continued to wear the Vasque Breeze III GTX boots for numerous adventures over the past two months. I have used the boots on five day hikes, a two-day hike, and a three-day hike. The days on all of the hikes were between 10 and 18 km (6.2-11.2 mi). Trail conditions were similar to what I saw during the Field Testing phase, ranging from dirt forest trail to rocky alpine terrain. Temperatures were slightly cooler, between 10 C and 25 C (50-77 F), and I finally had one partial day of rain.
ObservationsMy thoughts on the Breeze boots haven’t changed much in the past two months. My observations from the Field Report stand. However, a few comments follow about some new observations I’ve made.
During the Long Term testing phase, I wore the boots with the stock insoles. I found these insoles to be less cushioned than the after-market ones I had previously used, as well as have less arch support. They didn’t cause me any blisters, though, so it was more a matter of comfort than any true issues that lead me to prefer the after-market ones.
I finally got the opportunity to walk on some wet terrain, and I found the traction to be adequate. I was in forest at the time, so was on rocky dirt trails. I didn’t do any more slipping around on wet muddy rocks than I would expect!
One more comment about the lacing to finish things off. I think that my boots came untied less than usual with the flat laces. However, the picture to the right shows a common occurrence with these boots: tied laces that have come out of the hooks. I took that picture on the very last hike of this test; I was unable to figure out how to consistently lace them properly over an entire season!
SummaryThese boots have accompanied me on many days of backcountry adventuring this summer. They were immediately comfortable, with adequate support, while being quite lightweight. I find them to be perfectly functional for day hiking, particularly on-trail, but prefer a stiffer boot for backpacking or scrambling.
Flat laces with the hooks
Softer sole than I like for backpacking
Exterior durability – worn stitching & nubuck
Thanks to Vasque Footwear and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test these boots. They will remain in my gear closet, ready to go for day hikes!
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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Breeze III GTX boots > Test Report by Andrea Murland