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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Breeze LT GTX > Test Report by Tim Tessier

VASQUE BREEZE LT GTX
TEST SERIES BY TIM TESSIER
INITIAL REPORT
April 26, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Tim Tessier
EMAIL: timothy_tessier@yahoo.com
AGE: 52
LOCATION: Greensboro NC
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

Backpacking Background: I hiked as a child with my father and started hiking with my now 17 year old son 9 years ago. We now routinely take 20 mile weekend hikes (2 nights) approximately once a month year round. Additionally, we take one, 5 - 7 day extended trip each summer. Most of our hiking is done in NC, southern VA, TN, KY, and WV. We go regardless of weather so we have experience in all types of conditions. We do not tend to travel very light, with a typical pack weight of 25 lb (11.3 kg) exclusive of food.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Vasque
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: Vasque.com
MSRP: US$130.00
Listed Weight: 2 lb 2 oz ( .96 kg)
Measured Weight: 2 lb 9 oz (1.16 kg) Size 13
Other details:
The Vasque Breeze LT GTX (boots) are considered to be a "crossover" product from Vasque. It is designed, per the website, to provide "trail runner quickness with the sensibilities of a boot." The net result appears to be a VERY lightweight hiking boot that still offers a real sole and good solid protection for my feet.

The Breeze has a synthetic leather upper with generous mesh ventilation panels on both sides. The toe has a hard cap which extends back on both sides to the widest point of my foot. The sole is a lightweight Vibram product made of a non-marking material. The lugs are not as deep, and the tread pattern is not as aggressive as on some mid-weight hiking boots.

The interior of the boot is fully lined with Gore-Tex. The insole is easily removable and is somewhat thin. I will be anxious to see if the insole provides adequate support for a long day of hiking with a pack. The laces are of a nylon weave and seem to be fully adequate in size and thickness.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My first impression when I took these boots out of the box was that they seemed extremely lightweight.

IMAGE 1

I examined them closely and could find no flaws whatsoever in the quality or workmanship. There are no bad seams, glue marks. or anything else other than a top quality product.

After looking them over closely I tried them on. I pulled on a pair of sock liners and then mid-weight wool socks and slipped them on. The size felt quite comfortable and the seemed to wrap snugly around my foot. I laced them up and walked around the house for a little while checking the fit. The boots were immediately supple on my feet and honestly were as comfortable as a pair of sneakers.

IMAGE 2
Bottoms up!

I was immediately impressed with the fit and feel of these boots. They did not have any clunky feel at all, yet they provide a very noticeable and welcome rocker motion as I walk. All in all, I was initially very impressed with the way these boots feel walking around indoors. I am still somewhat afraid that they may be too lightweight to provide adequate support on a rocky trail. This will be thoroughly tested.

TRYING IT OUT

I wore the boots on a weekend car camping trip to a sports car race in Virginia. The weather was clear and hot. I wore the boots as I prepared to go, driving, and while there.

As I wore the boots around the house getting ready I was amazed at how comfortable they are. They really feel like a good pair of sneakers. The sole articulates easily, and doesn't ever feel clunky.

I spent several hours on my feet and the boots felt great. The boots were not hot at all, although the weather was approximately 85 F (29.4 C). After several hours of standing, walking, and stooping down to set up a couple of tents etc. my feet felt fine. There was virtually NO break-in problems or feeling that they were anything less than ready to go.

IMAGE 3
Styling with my jeans


Walking around a race track is radically different than hiking up a mountain carrying a pack. I am very anxious to test these boots under a load on a real trail to see if they provide adequate support. I will also be anxious to see if they provide adequate stiffness in the soles to handle a rocky trail.

SUMMARY

My first impression is uniformly positive. The boots seem very well made and extremely lightweight. They fit well and the soles provide an excellent rocker motion while not feeling clunky at all. The boots feel much more like a top quality pair of sneakers than they do hiking boots.

They are comfortable right out of the box and require no break-in period at all. The quality of construction is excellent.

My only reservations will be the focus of this test... are they sturdy enough to provide adequate foot and ankle protection on the trail, carrying a pack.

Please check back in late June as I will attempt to answer this question in my Field Report.

I want to thank Vasque and Backpackgeartest for the opportunity to test these boots.

This concludes my Initial Report.

Field Report - June 30, 2009

To date I have had a number of opportunities to wear the boots around town, on a couple of day-hikes and on two backpacking trips.

One of the day-hikes was in a local park. I walked for approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) on a shady woodland trail without any significant elevation change. The other was in Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina. This trail starts as a broad, heavily used wooded trail, and then involves a scramble up slickrock when you reach Hanging Rock itself. This hike involves a climb of several hundred feet from the parking area to the top of the rock itself. Both of these hikes were on warm, 80 F (27 C) days, under clear skies.

The first backpacking trip was in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Mount Sterling. This trip involved a very strenuous 4 mile (6.4 km) climb in which we gained almost 2,500 feet (762 m). The weather was lovely, with clear skies, low humidity and a cooling breeze blowing on a day that was in the approximately 75 F (24 C) range at the base of the mountain and approximately 60 F (16 C) at the crest. This trail, while long and steep, is a dirt path through the woods and did not significantly test the soles in terms of either traction or sturdiness.
IMAGE 6
Finally, I took these boots to "the graveyard of boots". This area is otherwise known as the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. We followed a trail that was originally built in the 1920s as a railroad to expedite logging the area's trees. Now the trail is extremely rocky with everything from bedrock, to boulders, to railroad ballast, to tiny pebbles. The rockiness is made more of a challenge by the springs that bubble out of the cut grade and flow across the trail. When you reach Shining Rock itself you can scramble and climb on an exposed quartz rock face. When we went in on Saturday the weather was absolutely perfect with highs around 80 F (27C) and a stiff wind. However, we awoke Sunday morning to a driving rain that was not forecast and did not relent. Needless to say, these boots received a thorough thrashing.

For dayhiking in clear weather I can say these boots are an absolute joy! They are lightweight, breathe extremely well, and are quite comfortable. With no break-in required I would not hesitate to buy these on Saturday and head for my favorite trail on Sunday. I found it noticeably easier to keep up with my 18 year old son who normally can walk his old man into the ground going up a steep grade. The traction on the slick rock of Hanging Rock was terrific and I can't report one single slip or misstep due to any issue with the boots.

When carrying a load on the Mt Sterling trip in the Smokies I found them to be still adequate, though there was noticeably less arch support than I am accustomed to. Traction was no problem on the dirt path. The light weight and breathability of the boots was a welcome change for me compared to other boots I have worn on this sort of terrain. I felt, on this trip that the light weight and cool comfort of these boots was a fair trade-off to have a little less arch support and general sole support than I like.
IMAGE 7
The Shining Rock trip was designed to be, and indeed was, an acid test for these boots. As mentioned above, the trail we followed out to Shining Rock itself is quite rocky. As we followed this trail carrying a fairly light weight (for me) 20 lb (9.7 kg) my feet began to get sore from the constant pounding. When we reached the rock itself I scrambled about 30 feet (9.1 m) up the face of it and the traction was terrific. Leaving there we took a different trail and crossed two ridges on a narrow trail that was still somewhat rocky. After about 8 miles (13 km) total distance we made camp. I was grateful for the chance to remove my boots, and more grateful for the Advil I had in my first aid kit as my feet were quite sore.
IMAGE 8
We awoke Sunday morning to a pouring rain that was not forecast. I had a jacket with me but no rain pants or gaiters. We had less than 2 miles (3 km) back to the truck but my feet were completely soaked when we arrived. I am not sure at this writing if that was due to water running down my legs and into the tops of the boots, or if the boots were leaking but, in any event, the boots were soaked through by the time we arrived at the truck. It is my opinion, which will be proved or disproved in further testing, that the boots did not stop the water. I say this because they felt soaked completely through in less than 2 hours of use in the rain.

Summary

These boots are advertised as a crossover boot, between a fastpacker boot and a true mid-weight hiking boot. I have to say, that is a very fair representation of their capabilities.

These boots are terrific for day hiking or light duty backpacking. They are fine on forest trails that are not particularly rocky if the user is not carrying a heavy load. However, on a rocky trail, they do not, to my mind, provide the level of stiffness and protection in the soles that I personally prefer.

They did not seem to be waterproof during the rain. However, this may have simply been the water running down my legs as I had walked through significant areas of standing water on the trail the previous day and had experienced no leakage. This will be tested more thoroughly in my Long Term Report.

This concludes my Field Report. Please check back in late August for my Long Term Report.

I wish to thank backpackgeartest.org and Vasque for the chance to review this excellent product.

Long Term Report - September 1, 2009

I have had one extended opportunity to wear the boots since filing the Field Report. This was a 3-day, 28 mile trip to Dolly Sods Wilderness Area in West Virginia. This area is a breathtakingly beautiful, but extremely rugged area of high meadows and hardwood forest. There were a few steep sections but generally we were walking on relatively benign grades. The difficulty comes however due to the rocky nature of the area.

This area is very rocky, making the footing tricky. Part of the trail follows across rock outcroppings marked by cairns, and in other places is a gravel path. Additionally, it is nearly always very wet and this was aggravated by the fact that it had rained heavily for the entire week before we arrived, and rained heavily for 6 straight hours on our last morning there. This meant that trails that are normally rocky were shallow streams, and trails that are normally soft dirt were boot-sucking mudholes.
IMAGE 4
Rocky trail


Additionally, we negotiated several stream crossings by rock hopping, but due to the rain, the rocks were under a few inches of water. Thankfully, this time we were prepared with both rain pants and gaiters.

I have to say, the Vasque boots performed better than I expected. Even though I was carrying a pack that weighed in at 24 lbs (11 kg) plus water, the rocky footing did not particularly bother my feet. The traction is excellent and I did not slip, even on rocky stream crossings. The light weight and great traction was a very nice combination in those areas in which we were navigating rocky outcroppings. At the end of each day my feet were tired and slightly more sore than I would have liked but certainly nothing excruciating.

IMAGE 5
Nice Stream, Oh Wait, that's the trail


As for the waterproof properties of these boots I will say that they are waterproof to a point. I was wearing gaiters constantly on this trip. As long as we were just splashing through puddles or mudholes I did not detect any water leakage in these boots. However, if we got into an area where the lacing area of the boots was covered in water I immediately felt leaks on the top of my foot. There are vents on either side of the laces and I believe that the water is coming in at that point. When I reached camp both nights, and the truck on the third day I must say that my socks were wet. However, in terms of wet hiking conditions these were truly extreme conditions.

IMAGE 9
Typical stream crossing


After many miles of wear over 4 months time these boots look fine. There is not the slightest hint of any stitching coming loose, soles wearing out, or any other structural issues.

Final Summary

I have thoroughly enjoyed wearing the Vasque Breeze LT GTX boots. They look and feel great with jeans as an active casual shoe. They are very lightweight and comfortable when being used for dayhikes when wearing a lightweight pack. They offer excellent traction and great ventilation.

They are also comfortable when carrying a full pack on wooded trails. When they are truly tested by rocky and/or wet trails while carrying a pack they are not, in my opinion, quite up to the task. When I end an 8 - 10 mile (13 - 16 km) day in these conditions I feel noticeable pain and soreness in my feet. I also find that they are not adequately waterproof in extremely wet conditions.

As stated previously, I believe that the claims made by the makers of these boots are spot-on. They are an excellent compromise or crossover product. If I were a trail runner they would probably be too heavy and clunky for my taste. However, as a traditional backpacker they are pleasingly comfortable but not quite up to the strenuous conditions I sometimes hike in.

Here's what I like about them:
- They are extremely well ventilated
- They are light and comfortable
- They offer excellent traction in virtually any conditions

Here's what I don't like about them:
- If water reaches the laces of the boot they leak.
- They don't offer as much protection in the soles as I prefer

I do want to say thanks to backpackgeartest and to Vasque for the opportunity to test these boots.

This concludes my review. See you on the trail!

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Breeze LT GTX > Test Report by Tim Tessier



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