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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Breeze III GTX boots > Test Report by joe schaffer
Vasque Breeze III GTX Boots
Test Report by Joe SchafferREVIEWER INFORMATION:
INITIAL REPORT - May 17, 2017
FIELD REPORT - August 10, 2017
LONG TERM REPORT - October 1, 2017
NAME: Joe Schaffer
SHOE SIZE: 9 (42)
HOME: Bay Area, California USA
I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day on trail or a couple XC air miles (3 km) cavorting in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.
Product: Breeze III GTX
Weight: 2 lb 10 oz (1198 g)
Last: Arc Tempo
Upper: 2.0 mm (0.08 in) Waterproof Nubuck Leather, Air Mesh
Footbed: Dual Density EVA
Midsole: TPU Shank, All Terrain Compound Midsole
with EVA Cushioning Pods
Outsole: Vasque Exclusive Vibram Contact Grip
with Megagrip Compound
GORE-TEX with Extended Comfort Technology
Toe and Heel Ventilation Ports
Quoted from Mfr. Website:
A 2mm waterproof nubuck leather and abrasion resistant air mesh upper is designed to maximize breathability. Molded toe and heel counters add durability and are designed with vents to add increased breathability. A Gore-Tex membrane with extended comfort waterproof membrane provides guaranteed protection in wet environments while also being highly breathable. A speed lace system allows for quick fit adjustments and the locking ankle hook adds security and a positive fit.
A dual density compression molded midsole has a main chassis molded in Vasque’s All-Terrain compound for excellent compression resistance and torsional stability while the EVA comfort density provides athletic level cushioning and great step in comfort. An instep TPU shank balances the need for stability, while still remaining nimble. The Vasque exclusive Vibram Contact Grip outsole was designed specifically for use with the incredible Megagrip rubber compound, delivering great loose trail traction with uncompromising grip on rocky terrain."
Brown Olive/Bungee Cord
Slate Brown/Tandori Spice
Red Mahogany/Brown Olive
Sizes: (varies by color and size)
Men's Narrow, Medium and Wide: US 7 to 12 in 1/2-size increments; US 13 to 16 in whole size increments (40 to 49 in mostly whole size)
Wmn's Narrow, Medium and Wide: US 6 to 12 in 1/2-size increments (36 to 43 in mostly whole size)
My Specs: Men's 9 (42) Wide
Left: 1 lb 4 1/8 oz (569 g)
Right: 1 lb 3 7/8 oz (564 g)
Pair: 2 lb 8 oz (1,133 g)
Ankle height (inside): about 5 1/2 in (14 cm)
Length: about 11 3/8 in (28.9 cm)
Sole width at forefoot: about 4 1/4 in (10.8 cm)
Sole width at heel: about 3 1/4 in (8.3 cm)
Tongue width near top: about 4 in (10.2 cm)
Tread depth: about 5/32 in (4 mm)
MSRP: $179.99 US
Received: May 16, 2017
These are high-ankle mid-weight hikers with a sturdy last glued up and no stitching at the welt. Rubber toe bumper wraps up about halfway to an under-layer of rubber that is stitched to the leather upper. Fourteen nylon mesh vents of various size and placement aerate the shoe. The shoe has seven lacing points each side; four being fabric loops and the top three being metal hooks. At tongue center a fabric loop stabilizes the laces between the top fabric loops. The tongue is heavily padded, as is the ankle portion of the shoe. The shoe inside is lined with a silver fabric dotted in black. The shoe is mostly a dark greenish-brown with a few lighter green accents. The back of the shoe has a generously-sized pull loop. The footbed is removable. The tread is black Vibram in a fairly aggressive pattern. Laces are slightly stretchy synthetic tube of generous length.
I lust for the smell of new shoes even more than a new car or motorcycle tires; the Breeze IIIs do not disappoint. I will put them on my pillow until my first test use contaminates them. Resident fashion guru says they look especially good, but I am under instruction to take them off before going to bed. I've sampled a lot of great footwear, but I'm not sure I've ever put on a pair of shoes out of the box that felt so immediately supportive and comfortable.
These boots will face a number of footwear challenges. My feet are evidently a bit wide for their length and I'm often forced to choose a shoe that's a little too long, especially on the right foot which is 1/2 size (US & metric) shorter than the left. Of course I prefer lighter footwear, and I'm often forced to compromise between lighter weight and a clunker with a solid enough last to keep my feet from feeling rubble. Lighter shoes which may feel great in the store often soften too much in a couple hundred miles (several hundred kilometers); not that I'm out that long at once, but I get cranky at having to replace an expensive piece of gear that hasn't otherwise worn out. Having no tolerance for dirty socks I always wear gaiters. A WPB (waterproof breathable) liner is great for keeping the dust out of mesh boots, but if it doesn't breathe well my tender feet start wanting to communicate in blisters their dissatisfaction with the moisture and heat. I find WPB liners typically fail in a relatively short period of time and I've not had much luck getting seam sealer to overcome the leaks.
The heel width of my earlier Vasque boots is perfect for fit, but narrow enough at the ground I frequently turn ankles. I've loved them enough to keep using them, but not on solo outings. I don't know how many miles I put on them, but enough to wear out the tread and a tube or two of ShoeGoo. Now with the new Breeze III's the old Vasques are being put to rest. The Breeze IIIs seem to have terrific ankle support and no tendency to turn anyway. Inside the house is not a great test environment, but I'm feeling very confident these shoes will keep the ankle bones in place.
The rubble test for tarsal support will have to come out in the woods. I can already tell from wearing the shoes for a couple of hours in the house that the fit is wonderful. I am thrilled at how these shoes feel and wore a hole in my shirt patting myself on the back for choosing the wide size. And even with my two pair of hiking socks my feet are not hot and sweaty, so the WPB is working well while the feet are at rest.
The pull loop at the heel is big enough I can easily get my finger in it and it's wide enough I can give a good pull to get the shoe on.
The tongue seems very wide, as it needs to be to close the gap between the uppers. I'm thinking the design reason for this is comfort, and whether I'm guessing right or not I find the shoes flex really well. I don't much care for fabric loops as it takes too long to adjust the laces. There is payoff in that the lace tension doesn't change much from where it's put, but I probably prefer metal eyes. I like the three metal hooks as they are quick and make for easy tension adjustment for the ankle.
The footbed seems a little weak; and the tread not very deep. I'll reserve judgment until a hundred miles or so (160 km).
1. May 20, 2017: Garin Regional Park, California. 3 mi (5 k) mostly dirt trail, warm temperature, dry, about 500 ft (150 m) of gain.
2. May 22-26, 2017: Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite Wilderness, California. 15 mi (24 km) backpack over 9 mi (14 km) road and 6 mi (10 km) trail, 4,660-6,480 ft (1,420-1,975 m); 75-40 F (24-4 C); warm and mostly dry hiking with short stretches of water-covered trail. 44 lb (20 kg) leave weight.
3. Jun 5-8, 2017: Loon Lake, El Dorado National Forest, California. 10 mi (16 km) backpack (inc. two mi (3 k) on chip seal; and two mi (3 km) day hike; 75-36 F (24-2 C). 6,400 ft (1,950 m); half-dozen stream crossings each way, extended areas of inundated trail, small amount of scrambling over snow drifts. Lots of trail washed clean to granite rubble base. 45 lb (20 kg) leave weight.
4. Jun 13-16, 2017: Bergson Lake, Carson Iceberg Wilderness, California. 10 mi (16 km) backpack/3 mi (5 k) road hike w/o pack. 80-45 F (27-7 C), half-dozen small stream crossings. 40 lb (18 kg) leave weight.
5. Jun 20-23, 2017: Shasta National Forest, California. 8 mi (13 km) backpack about evenly distributed on trail, XC and road. 90-70 F (32-21 C) hiking temps. 5,720-6,840 ft (1,745-2,085 m) with a stretch of steep terrain--about a 1,000 ft (300 m) up in 2,000 ft (600 m). 35 lb (16 kg) leave weight.
6. July 4-9, 2017: Emigrant Wilderness, California. 11 mi (18 km) backpacking, including 2 mi (3 km) XC into steep granite. 80-60 F (27-16 C) hiking temps. 7,200-8,600 ft (2,200-2,600 m). Leave weight 38 lb (17 kg), return 31 lb (14 kg).
7. July 11-16, 2017: Yosemite Wilderness, California. 18 mi (29 km) backpacking; half XC in mostly forest and a little granite. 70-95 F (21-35) hiking temps in bright sun. 5,000-7,600 ft (1,525-2,300 m). Leave weight 39 lb (17 kg), return 31 lb (14 kg).
8. July 22-26, 2017: Willamette National Forest, Waldo Lake, Oregon. 2 mi (3 km) backpacking XC, 20 mi (32 km) hiking trail. Around 80 F (27 C) in bright sun. 5,400 ft (1,645 m).
9. July 26-29, 2017: Yolla Bolly Wilderness, California. 10 mi (16 km) backpacking trail. Around 85 F (29 C) in bright sun. 5,600-6,900 ft (1,700- 2,100 m).
1. GARIN: This was the first outing with the footwear and it was entirely successful. I wore my standard synthetic liner and mid-weight wool sock combination in the new shoes and felt comfortable from the beginning. I had no weight on me. Much of the route is pocked with cattle tracks, which when dried makes the clay rather difficult to negotiate. I had no trouble with ankle turns and felt completely supported. My feet did not get uncomfortably hot or more than slightly damp, so I would conclude the liner breathes well.
2. STANISLAUS/YOSEMITE: Road closure due to winter damage required walking 4 1/2 mi (7 k) from Cherry Dam at 4,660 ft (1,420 m) to Shingle Springs, 5,905 ft (1,800 m) on a very warm afternoon. I was a little heavy for the hike at 45 lb (20.4 kg) and probably a mile (1.5 km) or so of the road was gravel. I felt the sole of the Breeze IIIs not overly supportive of crunching over all that rubble and my feet were a little tired. The next day's hike to camp at 6,350 ft (1,935 m) was a relatively easy 3 mi (5 k) with a bit of scrambling through brush around trail obstacles and some splashing through trail water. The return trip was 2 mi (3 k) on the same route to camp at 6,480 ft (1,975 m); and the following day a mile (1.5 k) to the road and then 4 1/2 (7 k) more back to the parking lot at the dam.
The Breeze IIIs are shown as hikers on the Vasque website, so it isn't surprising the gravel part of the trip maxed out the last's ability to isolate rubble. I didn't have tired feet from the return trip, so losing about 8 lb (4 kg) suggests the shoes presently can tolerate a load on me of about 37 lb (17 kg) over rubble. I walked through enough water for my feet to feel cool several times, yet no water came in. My feet felt comfortable throughout the longest hiking day of just over 4 hours on the last day.
I noted a small but important issue with the rubber bumper. Skirting a number of fallen trees and deeper water spots on the trail put me through the brush, which I do a lot of anyway on XC hikes. Maybe it was just the devil having fun on a hot day, but quite a few times I got tripped up from a stick stubbing the top edge of the bumper. I would prefer the bumper as a single, smooth piece over the front edge of the toe box--it needs to come up as far as the underlayer that goes all the way to the seam.
Treading granite with wet soles found good traction as I never slipped in efforts to skip across as much water as possible, from one rock to another. I also had occasion tramping a granite dome in search of a campsite and traction held to the limit of my willingness to proceed. I feel maybe I've some shoes with better granite traction, but these are adequate as I'm beginning to doubt the prudence of proceeding until I wet myself.
The laces are perfect length. I do put a surgeon knot under the bow, and a half-hitch over it, providing the laces no opportunity to come untied and they never did. I usually put a surgeon knot at the top of the forefoot, but the fabric loops evidently hold the laces pretty firmly in place. I also didn't need to leave the forefoot lacing loose as the wider size of this shoe matches my foot width very nicely.
3. LOON: This hike proved two important things for me: A) Ankle support is terrific over rubbly trail; and, B) the waterproof liner works great. Much of the trail was walking on softball-size chunks of broken-up granite (rip-rap). I felt stable on it and suffered no strains. As I can sprain on smooth concrete, less worry on the trail makes for a happier hike. I surely slogged through a quarter-mile (0.4 k) of water and even stood in ankle-deep puddles waiting for my buddy to find alternate passage in his low-cuts. The shoes did not leak, nor did they breathe any less effectively after getting doused.
4. BERGSON: I can confirm that I don't like walking on roads with a backpack--a little more rubble feel than I like. Frequent stretches of road and trail were washed to rip-rap and I suffered no ankle turns at all treading the hazard.
5. SHASTA NF: This was hot hiking, but my feet remained fairly comfortable. I had little contact in water, and I avoided snow drifts on steep slopes. Traction on steep dirt was good. An hour of hiking covered steep and difficult terrain where I noticed the benefit of maneuvering my feet in lighter shoes. Ankle support was good.
6. EMIGRANT: Temps were so high the sign-in ranger told us we'd probably die in stream crossings. I assured him we were both outfitted with great water-crossing footwear. That there was a lot of trail water was true, but the concern for safety was way overstated for people not of a mind to drown. Lily Creek was running higher than I've ever seen, knee-deep and swift compared to a few wet rocks most of the time. I wanted to camp on the other side, so I just waded in. Partner didn't want to get her shoes wet, so I helped her across barefoot (she's much tougher than I). The shoes had about 16 hours to dry and they did thoroughly. Not that it made any difference to how wet they got, I wound up doing a lot of wading in the creek trying to find the errant sandal that yielded to the current at her first setting foot in the water. The point of my efforts was that the shoes were very stable in swift water. On the way back I removed footbeds and socks as we still had a couple hours of hiking to the car. The shoes did not dry, but they were comfortable enough I never bothered to stop and change into a second dry pair. After 3 1/2 hrs in the trunk, though, whatever accumulated stink was stored up erupted like taking the lid off a box of rotten worms. I had to put them on the deck.
In addition to walking in a lot of water the shoes also tested on snow fields and steep granite. I was very satisfied with their performance. Granite grip felt good. My feet didn't get cold in the snow.
7. YOSEMITE: The only water on this trip was the sweat running off me. It was so hot the bugs stayed in. When I got to Flora Lake I took my socks out and waded around for a while to see if that might detoxify the residual odor from the previous trip as I tried to cool off. That, and hanging in the air for three days did the trick. They aren't exactly flower fresh, but no longer at all noxious. (No fish appear to have been hurt in that experiment.) The route was trail, granite, brush and road, providing a full range of test ground. No news--rubble isolation is not quite enough to suit me with a load on; for day hikers they are adequate in that regard.
8. WALDO: The key part of the test here was the 20 mi (32 km) day hike around the lake carrying about 10 lb (4.5 kg). It's almost all trail with short bits of up and down. Trail is dirt, gravel, rubble and rock through mostly dense forest, but an hour or so in the open from a 20-year-ago fierce burn across the north end of the lake. The walk takes me 10 hours, so though I start early, I spend a lot of time in the heat of day. Bugs are an issue, requiring a steady pace to keep swarming to a less intolerable annoyance. I developed a small blister on one little toe and made a little one bigger on the other little toe. There were a few short pieces of mucky trail, but mostly dry hiking in high heat. My feet got hot and damp, of course, but remained fairly comfortable for the circumstance. I would rate the performance of the shoes as very high. Part of that rating is the fact that even as tired as I got, I never once turned an ankle in these boots. (Normally my daily range is about 5 mi (8 km).) As a refresher at the end of the hike I waded out into the lake to get the dust, dope and dead bugs off me. The boots were dry next day.
9. YOLLA BOLLY: Admittedly low on gas from the previous outing, this trip was a welcome series of sorties never adding up to more than 2 hours in a day. It was awfully hot with plenty of elevation gain on dirt and gravel trail very recently cleared of winter's downed trees. The steepest part was in and out of North Yolla Bolly Lake for 360 vertical ft (110 m) in 850 horizontal ft (260 m). Brief sections of this part were gravelly dirt with good trail, but where a slip in a traversing section would guarantee an unhappy result. I felt steady enough traction-wise and did not slip, nor did my partner in her Breezes.
126 test mi (203 km) / 89 hrs wearing to date.
10. August 3-11, 2017: Emigrant Wilderness, California. 35 mi (56 km) backpacking--27 mi (43 km) trail and 8 mi (13 km) XC. 75-90 F (24-32 C) hiking temp at 7,200-8,900 ft (2,195-2,715 m). Leave weight 41 lb (19 kg), return 31 lb (14 kg).
11. Aug 18-20, 2017: Blow Lake, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon. 3 mi (5 km) backpacking 55 lb (25 kg) and 3.5 mi (5.5 km) hiking trail. 70-80 F (21-27 C). 5,050 ft (1,540 m).
12. Aug 22-25, 2017: Waldo Lake, Willamette National Forest, Oregon. 1.5 mi (3 km) backpacking 55 lb (25 kg) and 8 mi hiking (13 km) XC in dry, open forest. 80 F (27 C).
13. Sep 8-11, 2017: Emigrant Wilderness, California. 12 mi (19 km) backpacking trail & XC. Leave wt 36 lb (16 kg) return 30 lb (14 kg). 70-80 F (21-27 C). 7,200-8,700 ft (2,195-2,650 m).
14. Sep 13-21, 2017: Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, California. 17 mi (27 km) backpacking trail & XC. Leave wt 43 lb (20 kg). 32-65 F (0-18 C). 8,000-10,100 ft (2,440-3,080 m).
15. Sep 26-28, 2017: Maidu Lake, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon. 12 mi (19 km) (9 mi/14 km backpacking 3 mi/5 k hiking) Leave wt 37 lb (17 kg) return 35 lb (16 kg). 70 F (21 C). 5,600-6,100 ft (1,700-1,860 m).
10. EMIGRANT. Between XC and washed out trails this trip involved quite a lot of rough hiking, as well as splendid sheets of smooth granite. I also had to do rather a lot of water skipping as the snow is still melting at high elevation and many streams that would be gone are still running down the trail, making the going wet. Even where dry, much of the trail now lacks any dirt cover over the foundation rip-rap. With gaiters I can hot-foot across about 15 ft (5 m) of 4-6 in (10-15 cm) deep water without getting socks wet enough to bother changing. Shallower water I can wade through and let the Goretex do its job. I spent a lot of time on this trip heavy, hot and tired; not to mention a few hours being grumpy because I couldn't get across Cherry Ck at Emigrant Lk Dam. In those times I tended to notice aching feet more than otherwise, particularly since I've another pair of Vasque boots designed for backpacking and with the type of sole that keeps my feet happy. The Breeze III's do have much better lateral support, however, and when days from the car and scrambling difficult terrain it is comforting to have confidence that the ankle sprain devil can be held to submission. I never once tested an ankle, and only once did I slip on granite. I fell into the creek fiddling around in Piute Meadow, but that was the fault of my trekking pole doing an inadequate job of testing the bank.
The bottom lace loop on each boot has broken loose at the threads. As shown, this is where I'd been anchoring my gaiters. None of the other lace loops has failed, but I'm going to nick this part of the design as way too wimpy.
Regarding laces, I like that they are flat as I've had no issues with them coming untied.
11. BLOW LAKE. This "car" camping trip was all hot, dusty trail that meandered easily through the forest with little in the nature of up and down. Most of the trail was dirt with little rubble and the heavy weight on the shoes was mostly not a problem. Whenever my feet encountered rubble, they were not happy. They did like not being dirty, though, as other hikers grumbled about the pummy dust working into their socks.
12. WALDO: Another "car" camping outing put a lot of weight on the shoes, all in dry forest. The soles worked out fine crunching over duff. In rubbly spots like dry creek beds my feet reminded me that the soles are not meant for heavy weight. Once again I was pleased to be able to lug the tonnage through the forest without even thinking about ankle sprain.
13. EMIGRANT. This hike was mostly trail, but about three mi (5 k) of steep XC. I was glad to have grippy shoes. I lost balance in downhill brush and landed wrong on an ankle, but no sprain. The ankle support is really good.
TOTAL TEST MILES: 219 mi (353 km) / 174 hrs wearing
SUMMATION: Vasque positions the shoe as a hiker and as such I would rate it among the best I've ever set foot in. They are supremely comfortable, run cool, keep water out, grip well in diverse conditions and provide excellent ankle support. As backpackers, though, I find them a little soft in the sole. (I like these shoes so much I bought a pair for my partner, who puts much less weight on them.) I will continue to use them on hikes, though will choose stiffer soles for backpacking.
Thank you Vasque and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these shoes. This concludes my report.
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