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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Breeze LT GTX > Test Report by Kurt Papke

Vasque Breeze LT GTX Boots

Test Report by Kurt Papke

Initial Report - April 29, 2009

Field Report - June 25, 2009

Long Term Report - September 1, 2009

Tester Biographical Information

Name
Kurt Papke
Age
55
Gender
Male
Height
6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight
220 lbs (100 kg)
Email address
kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

I'm doing more branching out from my Upper Midwest roots.  I've done all of the Superior Hiking Trail and Border Route, Isle Royale.  This year included hiking in Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, North Dakota and Missouri.  Mostly Spring/Fall seasons, but started to do more winter hiking/snowshoeing last year. I pack ~25 lb baseweight but carry a LOT of food and do a 15-17 miles/day pace.  I alternate between hiking in boots (Raichle's, which have died from use), trail runners and Chaco sandals.

Initial Report

Product Information

Vasque has the Breeze LT GTX boots listed in their "crossover" category.  Their website indicates: "The Breeze Lite GTX melds trail running quickness with the sensibilities of a boot."  These boots are waterproof and breathable with a GORE-TEX liner.

Product Information
Manufacturer
Vasque
Manufacturer website
http://www.vasque.com/
Year Manufactured
2009
Size tested/used
13 men's
Available in sizes Medium 7-12,13,14,15
Color tested/used
Beluga/Olive Oil  (only one color available)
MSRP
$130 US

Listed
Measured
Weight
2 lb 2 oz (960 g)
2 lb 8.8 oz (1160 g)

Note in the above table the substantial difference between listed and measured weights.  This is likely due to the size of the boot; the product website does note state the size that was used for the listed weight, but it is likely much smaller than my size 13's.

front/back viewThe picture at left shows the front and back of the boots.  The product website states the following composition:
  • Upper: Synthetic Leather Leather
  • Upper: Airmesh Nylon Fabric
  • Midsole: Molded EVA
  • Outsole: Vibram Contact
  • Footbed: Dual Density EVA
The nylon mesh (which provides the breathability) and the synthetic leather are readily apparent in the photo.  Also visible is the generous padding around the ankles and in the tongue, the pull-strap with its yellow strip, and the lacing system.  The prominent Vibram labeling can be seen in yellow at the heel.

The excellent toe protection can be seen in the left boot.  The entire toe area is very rigid and should prevent serious toe stubs on trail rocks and roots.

The yellow stripes on the lacing loops are very visible in low light and will aid lace repair and re-lacing in the dark.


side viewIn the photo at right the extent of the nylon mesh is more readily seen, as is the lone lace lug.  The generous padding in the tongue can also be seen.

The GORE-TEX label for the waterproof liner is visible just below the lacing lug.

Laces: there are six courses of laces on this boot.  From the bottom, the first three are attached with straps to the inside of the tongue area.  The fourth is attached to a strap sewn to the outside of the upper.  The fifth is a plastic-reinforced (yellow) hole in the upper.  The final course is looped over the gray plastic lugs, which are generously sized for ease of capture while lacing.

I had no difficulties getting a nice snug lacing the first few times I put the boots on.  The laces themselves are soft and spongy making it comfortable on the hands when tightening.

sole
The photo above shows the details of the Vibram sole.  I find the design of the lugs quite interesting, with the light gray traction grips on the bottom of the ball of the foot for downhill descents.

There are two sets of lugs that I'm not sure I fully understand.  Both are in yellow Vibram with a small light-gray lug that appears to provide side-traction.  One is just behind the arch, the other on the outside ball of the foot.  They would appear to function mostly when the very inner or outer part of the foot is used, perhaps when crossing steep inclines.

The bright yellow piece at the back of the arch appears to be a small section of the TPU plate - it is very rigid.  Note also the hard yellow Vibram lugs at the outer part of the heel which is typically the highest wear spot.

insoles
The above picture shows the various insoles I will be using with the boots.  This is very important to me - I have Plantar Fasciitis and I need a lot of arch support to make it into camp without limping and a lot of pain.  The first one on the left in yellow is the insole provided with the boot.  It has some nice cushion and feels like it will breathe well, but not much support.  In white are my custom orthotics that have a very rigid base (blue plastic).  Next are two different models of Powerstep off-the-shelf insoles in blue.  The first on the left is the regular full-length model, the second on the right is the Pinnacle model that has substantially more cushioning, but fills up more of the foot box.

Initial Use

My first boot use was a simple local day hike of about 5 miles (8 km) on April 21, 2009.  The weather was sunny, around 50 F (10 C) with high winds between 7 and 30 mph (11 to 48 kph).  The altitude was around 1000 ft (305 m).  Walking surface was gravel and packed dirt.  I used the stock Vasque insoles on this hike.

Socks: I typically wear liner socks, and I consider them essential with this boot given the larger size I am using.  I wore merino wool liners with midweight merino wool hiking socks.  Observations:
  • The boots pulled on easily with the integrated pull strap.
  • The laces tightened nicely.  My feet felt snug.
  • Fit: in the recent past I have tried to purchase size 12 ½ footwear.  Since the Breeze boots are available only in whole sizes I rounded up to size 13.  They feel a little roomy, but my feet swell substantially when backpacking and with thick socks I am not expecting issues.  With two pairs of socks on the fit was comfortable. I didn't notice any forward sliding in the boot on downhills.  The width was snug, but I didn't detect any pinching.
  • Sole flex is excellent.  These boots flex at the ball of the foot almost as much as my trail runners.  This is critical for me to prevent Plantar Fasciitis flare-ups.
  • The temperature was quite low, so I didn't anticipate any foot sweating and experienced none.  Even in the car on the way to and from the trail, my feet did not get hot.
  • The gray color goes nicely with any color of clothing.
  • There is not a lot of cushion in the boot.  My feet were not sore after the hike, but I could tell when I was walking on gravel with small rocks.
  • Traction was good going up and down small hills.  I was happy with the grip.
  • I could tell I was wearing lightweight boots -- my feet felt very light while walking.
  • Good cushioning in the ankles -- they felt very protected.

Summary

So far I am impressed with these boots.  They seem to be a good compromise between foot protection and going lightweight.  I am excited about getting them out into the backcountry.

Likes:
  1. Lightweight
  2. My feet didn't get overheated
  3. Lacing works well
  4. Decent traction
  5. I like the judicious use of bright yellow for components I may need to find in the dark: pull-on strap, and the lace straps and holes.
Areas for improvement:
  1. Not a lot of cushion in the sole.  I'll be wearing insoles and socks with good bottom cushions.

Field Report

Test Conditions

Dates
April 23-26, 2009 May 1-3, 2009
May 20-24, 2009 June 11-14, 2009
Location
North Country Trail (NCT), Heritage section in northern Wisconsin Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) between Split Rock and Tettegouche state parks.
This was a car-camping trip, so only short sections of the trail were hiked in and between the parks.
Kekekabic Trail through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) of northern Minnesota. North Country Tail (NCT), Chequamegon section in northern Wisconsin
Hike Distance
(by day)
5.5, 11.6, 4.9 and 1.5 miles
(8.9, 18.7, 7.9 and 2.4 km)
approximately 5, 3 and 5 miles
(8, 4.8 and 8 km)
11.2, 9.1, 8.4, 10.0 and 8.6 miles
(18, 14.6, 13.5, 16.1 and 13.8 km)
4.5, 12.8 and 9.5 miles
(7.25, 20.6 and 15.3 km)
Altitude
1250 to 1800 ft
(380 to 550 m)
650 ft to 1500 ft
(200 m to 460 m)
1450 ft to 2000 ft
(440 m to 610 m)
1050 ft to 1650 ft
(320 m to 500 m)
Terrain
Heavily forested mix of deciduous and pine.  Streams, rivers, waterfalls, one beaver dam crossing.  Granite outcroppings. Heavily forested mix of birch and aspen.  Day 1 and 2 were ascent/descent trips, Day 3 was constant up-and-down.
Burned and blowdown areas to dense forests of poplar and spruce. Heavily forested with maple and pine.  Streams, lakes, bogs and beaver dams.
Weather
Nightly lows near freezing, daytime highs ranging from 45-65 F (7-18 C).  Winds were blustery, with a significant hail, electrical and rainstorm the night of April 24.
Nightly lows just below freezing, daytime highs ranging from 45-65 F (7-18 C).  Day 3 was sunny.
Lowest nighttime temperature was 29 F (-2 C), highest daytime temperature of 80 F (27 C) Coldest nighttime low was 41 F (5 C), daytime highs around 74 F (23 C), very light winds.  Mostly sunny with rain shower June 13.
Trail Conditions
Muddy, with stretches of ankle-deep running water from snow melt and spring rains.  The first few hours on April 24 included hiking in ankle-deep slushy snow.
Muddy with snow patches.  The real challenge was day 3 was a trail-clearing expedition, with lots of bushwhacking through thousands of downed aspen and birch trees.
Muddy, lots of standing water.  The trail goes through many bogs and over numerous beaver dams.
Mostly dry, with a few muddy and wet spots.  The beaver dam crossings were wet with slippery logs.
Socks used with boots
Midweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock
Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with Coolmax liner sock
Insoles used
Powerstep Full-Length
Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length
Total pack weight with food and water
46 lbs (21 kg)
Daypack only
60 lbs (27.2 kg)  This is far more weight than I normally carry, but I had to pack food for 8+ days in case I had to do a yo-yo hike.
Total pack weight = 44.5 lbs (20.2 kg)
Food = 10.8 lbs (4.9 kg)
Water = 5.0 lbs (2.3 kg)
Base weight = 28.7 lbs (13 kg)

Observations

North Country Trail - Heritage section

Wet NCTThis was my first backpacking trip with the boots, and with only the one dayhike described in the Initial Report to break them in.

As is apparent from the photo at left, this was a typical too-early spring hike with snowy, wet, muddy trail conditions.  There was a significant snowfall in the area just prior to our arrival, and the remainder can be seen in the woods in the photo upper left.  It was warm enough the create a rapid snowmelt, resulting in water running down the trails.

We often had to result to picking our way around the areas of water that were over our boots, as my compatriots can be seen doing in the photo background.

I came away from this trip very impressed with the waterproof construction of the Vasque Breeze LT GTX boots.  My feet remained completely dry until one deep crossing where I had no choice but to hop on my toes over a deep spot, but alas it was too deep and a little water slopped over the tops of the boots.  This is certainly not the fault of the boots -- nothing can keep water out of your boots when its deeper than the boot height.

We didn't have a lot of technical climbing on this trip, but we did have some tricky crossings including the beaver dam shown in the following photo:

Beaver dam
Photo courtesy of Paul Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Newspaper

The Breeze boots did a great job of helping me keep my footing on this crossing over wet, slippery branches and logs.  I made it across with no incident and with dry feet.  The soles gripped well, and the rigid toe guard prevented stubs from causing any damage to my feet.

The boots breathed exceptionally well.  The first day out was warm, sunny and dry.  The perspiration from my feet seemed to dissipate well.  Not all GORE-TEX lined boots are created equal - I've owned other pairs that did not seem to breathe nearly as well.  My speculation is that these boots breathe better due to the mesh uppers.  Between the excellent breathability and the comfort I didn't feel rushed to change into camp shoes in the evening; the following photo shows me preparing dinner by Wren Falls still wearing the Vasque Breeze boots long after we finished hiking that day:

Boots for dinner
Photo courtesy of Paul Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Newspaper

Fit: I did notice the first day that the outside of my little toes were sore and slight abraded.  I was wearing heavier (merino wool) liner socks, and switched to thinner, lighter (silk) liners for the rest of the trip.  This seemed to do the trick, and my toes never blistered.  I did develop a small blister on the inner right ball of my foot, which seemed to rub against the side of the boot.  As can be seen in the Initial Report pictures, the front of the boot is a little on the narrow side.  If the to box were made just a little wider, I think the fit for me would be improved.

Very near to where the above photo was taken I did turn my ankle coming down the trail with the boots on.  The ankle support of the boots is decent, but will not completely prevent ankle turns.  It did brace me enough to prevent a sprain or otherwise injure myself.

FlexOne aspect of the boot that really impressed me is the flexibility of the soles at the ball of the foot.  This is critical for plantar fasciitis sufferers like myself; if footwear does not flex at the foot ball, excess tension is placed on the heel which can lead to inflammation.

The photo at right shows the exceptional flex this boot has at this critical point.  The toe plate is completely rigid, but it ends right at the ball of the foot allowing the boot to bend.  As a result I suffered no foot pain from hiking on this trip.

I have owned one other boot that had similar flexibility, and the sole cracked after only a few days use right at the ball of the foot at the flex point.  I'll be keeping an eye out on these boots for a similar potential failure point.


Superior Hiking Trail

The conditions were a repeat of the NCT hike with wet muddy trail with snow patches.  The new challenge for the boots on this trip was the trail-clearing expedition on day 3.  The first 3 miles (5 km) or so were not too bad, as we were clearing the trail as we went.  At about 12:30PM the bar broke on the chainsaw, and the sawyer decided we would hike out.  We had a shuttle vehicle parked at Tettegouche state park which was closer than the lot where we started from, but we would be hiking through uncleared trail.

This turned out to be a real challenge.  There was a terrific ice storm in March that deposited about 2 in (5 cm) of ice on the trees centered on the area we were clearing.  The ice had brought down countless young aspens and old birch trees.  There were spots where I was literally walking on tree trunks, stepping from fallen tree to fallen tree.  This was an interesting traction challenge for footwear, and the Breeze boots handled the situation with aplomb.  I had no slips, despite the fact I was hiking without my trekking poles which just get in the way when clearing trail.

Once again I returned from the trip with mud-caked boots, but bone-dry feet.  I had no discomfort from wearing the boots on this trip, but the mileage was low.

Kekekabic Trail

The greatest hiking challenge of this trail is making it through the myriad blown-down trees (from straight-line winds) and fire-burned areas.  There are tree trunks and branches strewn everywhere on some sections of this trail, and it can be a real trial of ankle strength and boot support.  I had only one problem on this account when I was stepping over a blown-down tree and came down on a slippery branch that turned my ankle.  My leg collapsed and I fell to my knees, fortunately with no injury.  I don't think any boot could have prevented me from turning my ankle in this situation.

The trail also is very rocky in spots, from shale to boulders.  The Breeze boots handled these passages with aplomb.

Stream crossing on the Kek
My compatriots crossing a typical Kekekabic Trail stream

The Kekekabic trail is a lowland passage through the Boundary Waters wilderness, so we were slopping around in mud, over beaver dams and through lengthy stretches of flooded ground.  The picture above illustrates the type of stream we crossed several times per day.  Once again the Breeze boots proved to be absolutely waterproof and my feet remained dry.  We had one river crossing, hip-deep for me.  I removed the boots and used sandals for this exercise.

North Country Trail - Chequamegon section

The NCT green tunnelOn this trip I got another blister with the boots, on the inside of the ball of my right foot.  I suspect with the warmer weather my feet were sweating more, which caused the blister.  I also did not take my boots off during hiking breaks, which likely contributed to moisture buildup in the boots.

This trip did not stress the waterproof capability of the Breeze boots.  I sunk into muddy puddles up to my ankles a few times, but nothing like on my prior trips.  Most of the hiking was through the pleasant "green tunnel" as shown in the photo at left.

I had no problems with traction or slipping on the beaver dams -- the boots kept me steady in all the situations I encountered.


Summary

I love these boots.  They are an ideal compromise for the type of hiking I like to do: lightweight, yet waterproof and reasonable support.  I look forward to backpacking with them for the next two months.

Likes:
  1. Completely waterproof, no leaks
  2. Lightweight
  3. Great breathability
  4. Good traction
  5. Overall comfort including superior flexibility at the ball of the foot
Areas for improvement:
  1. Better ankle support.
  2. Widen the toe box slightly

Long Term Report

Test Conditions

Dates
June 2, 2009
July 11-12, 2009
July 25, 2009 August 1-2, 2009 August 15-16, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 23, 2009
August 29-30, 2009
Location
Catalina State Park north of Tucson Arizona
Mt Lemmon just north of Tucson, Mt Lemmon Trail (segment of Arizona Trail)
Wild Burro trail through the Tortolita mountains northwest of Tucson, Arizona
Mt Lemmon, Wilderness of Rocks Trail Mt Lemmon, Butterfly Peak Pima Canyon in Coronado National Forest near Tucson
Ventana Canyon in Coronado National Forest near Tucson Mt Lemmon, Samaniego Ridge Trail
Hike Distance
(by day)
3.8 miles (dayhike)
(6.1 km)
5.6, 1.5 miles
(9,  2.4 km)
5.7 miles (dayhike)
(9.2 km)
10, 3.3 miles
(16.1, 5.3 km)
7.6, 1.4 miles
(12.2, 2.25 km)
7.0 miles (dayhike)
(11.3 km)
7.0 miles (dayhike)
(11.3 km)
6.6, 2.3 miles
(10.6, 3.7 km)
Altitude
2700 to 3650 ft
(380 to 550 m)
7450 to 9100 ft
(2271 m to 2774 m)
2600 to 3300 ft
(790 m to  1006 m)
7000 ft to 8100 ft
(2100 m to 2500 m)
6600 ft to 7800 ft
(2010 m to 2380 m)
2800 ft to 4300 ft
(850 m to 1310 m)
3000 ft to 4800 ft
(915 m to 1460 m)
7150 ft to 9100 ft
(2180 m to 2774 m)
Terrain
The Romero Canyon trail goes straight up the foothills.  All ascent/descent, no level trail.
Mountain meadows, rocky ridges and trail.  All descent/ascent, almost no level hiking. Desert scrub.  I took the Lower Javalina trail on the way up which was pretty steep, the rest of the hike was through a wash.
Pine forests, rocky trail and outcroppings Santa Catalina mountains: pine forest at higher altitudes, scrub oak at lower altitudes. Lower elevations of Santa Catalina mountains: high desert with lots of brush and rocks
Lower elevations of Santa Catalina mountains: high desert with lots of brush and rocks Mountain meadows, rocky ridges and trail.  All descent/ascent, almost no level hiking.
Weather
Hot.  102 F (39 C) in full sun.  Low humidity though, my shirt never got sweaty.
Nighttime low of 60F (15 C), daytime high at lower altitude of 88 F (31 C) Humid for Arizona, and about 85 F
(29 C)
Night time low of 60F (15 C), daytime high at lower altitude of 90 F (32 C) Night time low was about 55 F (13 C), daytime highs around 85 F (23 C), very light winds during the day but became quite strong, gusting to around 25 mi/hr (40 km/hr) at night. Cool & humid at the start as it had rained heavily the night before, with a high of around 80 F (27 C) as this was a morning hike.
Clear.  Reasonably cool at the start (6:45AM) and warming up as the morning progressed.
Clear during the day, clouded up at about 6PM.  High temperature about 80 F (27 C), low of 60 F (15 C)
Trail Conditions
Rocky with some loose gravel.
Dry with some loose gravel.
Sandy in the wash, rocky in the hills.
Dry, some packed and dry dirt, some loose gravel, some rocky.
Trail is dirt in some areas, rocky in others.  Much of the trail had a steep lateral pitch as it was cut out of a steep mountainside.
Puddles at the lower elevations from the rain, but extremely rocky trail with lots of boulder and uneven rocks.
Very rocky trail with lots of dry creek crossings, heavy brush.
Some areas of dirt, bust mostly rocks and gravel.
Socks used with boots
Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with coolmax liner sock
Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with coolmax liner sock Lightweight merino wool hiking socks with coolmax liner sock Midweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock Midweight merino wool hiking socks with silk liner sock
Insoles used
Powerstep Full-Length
Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length Powerstep Full-Length
Total pack weight with food and water
Approximately 8 lb ( kg) day pack loaded with water.
Approximately 40 lbs
(18 kg)
Just a waist pack with water and GPS, about 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg)
One of my lightest baseweight trips, but with 5L of water carried I started out at about 35 lbs (16 kg)
Similar to prior trip, about 35 lbs (16kg)
Lumbar pack only, about 5 lbs total (2.3 kg)
Lumbar pack only, about 5 lbs total (2.3 kg) About 35 lbs (16kg)

Observations

Catalina State Park

View from Romero Canyon trail
View west towards Oro Valley from the Romero Trail

This trip to Tucson was the interview visit with my potential employer.  I had never been to Tucson before and wanted to check out the area.  Catalina State park was just minutes away from my hotel, and looked like it had pretty good trails, so thought I'd take a hike since my flight got in around noon.  It was hot and dry, but I wore the Breeze boots anyway.

As it turned out, it was a good decision to wear boots instead of trail runners or sandals.  The trail was very rocky; I needed the ankle support.  Despite the heat my feet never felt sweaty.  The air was extremely dry and any perspiration would quickly evaporate if the boots breathed.

Between the heat and the constant climbing I turned around after about an hour.  The picture above was taken near where I turned around.  I was winded, hot and thirsty, even though I had plenty of water with me.  Seems like this Minnesota boy is going to need a little adaptation to the local climate.

On the way down I did slip once on some loose gravel on top of a rocky area.  No boot would have kept traction in those conditions.  The boot performed well on the constant ascent and descents, with no sore toes even though I did not use my trekking poles.

Mount Lemmon - Mt Lemmon Trail

My first backpacking trip in Arizona!  I drove to the top of Mount Lemmon arriving at the summit mid-afternoon.  I took the Mount Lemmon trail (#5) descending down past the Wilderness of rocks.  At a point where my quadriceps started to fatigue I climbed back to my camping site for the night.  Its a lot harder walking uphill than downhill at these altitudes!

I was carrying a fairly lightweight pack, at least for me.  Most of my weight is typically food and water, and on this trip I had only packed food for one day, so it was a pretty light load.  I did use trekking poles, and had no footing problems nor sore feet.

Tortolita Mountains

I am exploring the hiking opportunities near where I live.  The Tortolita Mountain Park is just 15 minutes from my temporary housing, and I struck off one Saturday morning to check it out.  The Breeze boots did a nice job of keeping sand and stones out, as I did not wear gaiters, highly unusual for me.  This morning was quite humid for Tuscon, around 60% relative humidity.  The hike was fairly short, but my feet were comfortable and reasonably dry when I took my boots off at the end.  I am pleased so far overall how adaptable these boots are to hot and dry conditions.  I was quite concerned with the move to Arizona that I would have difficulties completing the test, as I feared the boots would be unbearably warm.  Not so.

Mount Lemmon - Wilderness of Rocks Trail

With a trail named "Wilderness of Rocks" one would expect a rocky trail, and I was not disappointed.  This was my most substantial backpack trip to-date, as I slowly acclimate to hiking at altitude and high temperatures.  The photo below, actually shot from the Mt Lemmon Trail above the month before, shows the type of terrain I was in down below during this hike.

Wilderness of Rocks from above
Wilderness of Rocks viewed from the trail above

I began the journey from the Sunset Trailhead off of the Catalina Highway, and hiked the Sunset Trail to Marshall Gulch.  This trail was very gravelly and rocky.  One of the reasons my baseweight was light on this trip is I left out some gear I had completed testing, but also left behind my water purifier, believing that it would be of no use.  There is a spring at Marshall Gulch, and I continued to follow a trickle of water running in the canyon for about 1/2 of the rest of the trip.

From the Marshall Gulch picnic area I followed the Marshall Gulch trail to Marshall Saddle.  This section of the trail follows the gulch bottom, and was mostly packed dirt.  At Marshall Saddle I finally picked up the Wilderness of Rocks trail and followed it all the way to the Mt Lemmon Trail, just a very short distance from where I turned around three weeks earlier.  I turned around and hiked back to a spot just short of Marshall Saddle where I set up camp for the night.  The next morning I hiked out early before the sun started heating things up.

On the return leg late in the afternoon of day one I encountered my first first rattlesnake in the wild.  I rounded a corner around a boulder and heard a very loud sizzling noise.  I jumped back, looked down, and indeed there was a 4 ft (1.3 m) Black Rattlesnake.  I was happy I was wearing my sturdy Vasque boots, and not my sandals!  Of course the boots would not stop a bite from a venomous rattler, but I was still happy I was wearing them.

Overall, the boots performed very well on this trip.  I did not take them off during breaks, yet I formed no blisters despite the heat.  I did notice that my feet were tired at the end of day one, which I attribute to walking on many sharp rocks and boulders.  The Breeze boots are good and sturdy, but the footplate seems to be designed to favor flexibility over the rigidity that would be required to fully protect against sharp rocks.  I did turn my ankle once on day one, so once again the boots showed that they do not completely protect hikers with weak ankles such as myself.

Mt Lemmon - Butterfly Peak

This was an easy overnight trip, my goal was just to explore the trails and spend a nice night in the wilderness.  This was the dustiest trail I have hiked on with these boots.  Enough of the trail was dry dirt that it kicked up and blackened the backs of my calves, despite the relatively high gaiters I was wearing.  The following picture gives a good idea of the terrain with trees at higher altitudes, and the Sonoran desert below:
Butterfly Peak views
View from the Butterfly Trail

The trail is barely visible in the lower right corner of the photo, but the steep lateral drop off is quite evident in the perspective.

I did take a short siesta at about 3PM where I took off my boots and socks and allowed them to air dry.  My feet were comfortable throughout the hike.  The Breeze boots provided sure footing on both dirt and rocks.

Despite everything I read about how its rare to see rattlesnakes in the wild, on this hike I nearly stumbled on my second rattler.  This one appeared to be a Diamondback that scared me half to death as I was going around a boulder.  In both cases I've encountered them in middle to late afternoon when they appear to be sunning themselves on the trail.  Once again I felt some small comfort that I was wearing sturdy boots.

Pima Canyon

Who would have thought that waterproof boots would come in handy in Tuscon in August?  When I arose early on the morning of August 22 I noticed it rained pretty hard during the night.  The trails would be wet.  Sure enough, the rocks were slippery and I was soon splashing through puddles with wild abandon.  The brush along the trail was also wet from the rain and early morning dew and soon my legs and shorts were soaking wet.

I experienced no slips or falls on this hike despite the challenging conditions.  Without a heavy pack on my back it was easy to keep my footing.

The trail is a gentler climb at the beginning, then slowly gets steeper, more rugged and more difficult to follow as most hikers don't venture too far from the trailhead.  I did about 7 miles total (11.3 km) in 3.5 hours, a respectable morning dayhike for me considering the steady vertical gain & loss.  I am somewhat limited when hiking with a lumbar pack to the amount of hydration I can carry, and my legs are not yet conditioned to mountain hiking, so I am still keeping my hikes pretty short.

When I returned from the hike and took off my boots I had a few small pebbles in them and my socks were pretty wet.  The water must have wicked down from the exposed socks.  This was one of the rare occasions when I did not wear gaiters with the Vasque boots.  It seems they are somewhat susceptible to allowing debris to enter from the boot top, so gaiters are advisable when wearing them.

Ventana Canyon

Very similar hike to Pima Canyon the day before, but the trail was dry.  The Ventana trail crosses the dry creek many times as it goes up the canyon.  This was a bit of a challenge to maintain good footing and not turn an ankle on a big boulder, but I had no issues.  Despite my advice above I went gaiterless again and had to pick some bits of debris off the top of my socks during the hike where they had entered at the boot tongue and were lodged there.  After the hike I shook out the boots and there was quite a bit of accumulated debris.

Samaniego Ridge Trail

The beginning of this trail overlaps the Mt Lemmon Trail, then splits off at about the 1.5 mile (2.4 km) point and begins to follow the Samaniego Ridge.  This was really tough going as this trail appears little used, and is not well-marked.  I lost the trail about 3 times and had to backtrack.  I had to turn around earlier than I had planned, as the trail was blocked by fallen trees, and appeared impassable thereafter.  It was a pity, as I was hoping to hit Samaniego Peak.  I reached my campsite for the night around 5PM.

The Breeze boots performed well again, but I did find a blister on the outside of my fourth toe when I took my boots off in camp, despite the fact that I had taped that toe to prevent chronic problems with the nail.

Summary

I believe I have tested these boots across an extremely wide variety of conditions over the past 4 months, from the cold bogs of Minnesota's BWCAW near the Canadian border to the dry deserts of southeast Arizona near the Mexican border.  Few boots could be used in such a wide spectrum of conditions and still turn in a satisfactory performance.  If I had to pick an environment I thought they were more suited for I would choose the Minnesota terrain.  The Tucson hiking environment does not require a waterproof boot, though I may change my mind on this account when winter arrives.

The boots have held up well despite the mileage.  After 4 months (and no cleanup) here's what they look like:

Breeze boots after 4 months

The tread shows little wear, there are no rips, tears or holes, and none of the stitching is frayed or loose.  There is some wear on the EVA of the midsoles, not on the bottom of the boot, but in the instep area.  This is not visible in the picture above, and seems to be cosmetic only.  There is however some wear developing in the webbing adjacent to the ball of the foot:

wear

The webbing wear can be seen towards the right of the photo.  This is an area where the boots really flex, and my suspicion is the webbing rubs against the stiff synthetic leather as the boots and feet flex with every step.  At this time this is only a cosmetic issue, but with very long term use it might be possible for this to develop a rip or tear.

I have greatly enjoyed wearing and testing the Vasque Breeze boots, and would highly recommend them to someone looking for a lightweight waterproof breathable boot.  I intend to continue to wear them when the forecast calls for wet conditions.  I recommend these boots be worn with gaiters, as they do allow trail debris and moisture in through the top of the boot as they do not hug the ankle.

Thanks to BackpackGearTest and Vasque for the opportunity to test the Vasque Breeze LT GTX boots.

Kurt Papke


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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Breeze LT GTX > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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