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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Clarion 88 boots > Test Report by John Waters


INITIAL REPORT - June 22, 2018
FIELD REPORT - September 23, 2018
LONG TERM REPORT - November 20, 2018


NAME: John R. Waters
EMAIL: jrw at backpackgeartest dot org
AGE: 69
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado USA
HEIGHT: 5' 7" (1.70 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts. I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in the Cooper Mountain range, with other day-long hikes on various other southwest and central Colorado trails. I frequently hike the mountains and deserts of Utah and Arizona as well. My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.



Manufacturer: Vasque, division of Red Wing Brands of America, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $149.95
Listed Weight: 2 lb 12 oz (1256 g) (pair)
Measured Weight: 2 lb 8 oz (1134 g) (pair)
Colors Available and Tested: Bungee Cord/Bossa Nova
Sizes Available:7 - 14 Medium
Size Tested: 10.5 Medium US

Construction details:

LAST : Sundowner Classic
UPPER : 1.8mm Waterproof Suede Leather, Abrasion Resistant Mesh
FOOTBED : Anatomical High Rebound Footbed
OUTSOLE : Vibram Winkler with XSTrek Compound
Copyright Vasque


The first thing I noticed about the Vasque Clarion '88 boots was how lightweight they are. The second thing observed was how sturdy they feel despite that lightweightness. Wonderful that the two features can be put together in on boot!

The Clarion boots are very attractive with the reddish and gray uppers. The main body of the boot is a tight weave red fabric with gray suede accents that wrap around the toe rand, lacing system, instep, and ankle. The accent fabric also appears to function as support.

These are mid-height boots which cover my ankles.

Five sets of metal and plastic loops form the forefoot portion of the lacing system. Two quick-loop fasteners finish out the lacing at the top of the boot. Flat (standard) laces are long enough to easily tie without having to double or triple "bow" them.

The interior of the boots is smooth and very nicely padded with the ankle areas very well padded and the partially gusseted tongue slightly less thick.
The stock insoles appear to be adequate.

Vibram XS Trek outsoles have a very slightly raised heel with lots of variously angled lugs. According to the Vibram hangtag, these outsoles are best for "mountaineering, hiking, approach, trail running, mountain biking, outdoor water sports, winter sports, motorcycling, military and law enforcement." I guess that about covers anything (and more), that I'll ever need!

The Vasque Clarion '88 Boots appear to be in perfect condition with no loose threads, excess glue marks, scratches, etc.


After my initial try-on, the Clarion '88 boots seem to fit great! I was very happy to find they are wide enough for my forefoot to move freely without being sloppy loose. The toebox appears to be adequate for my needs as well.

The padding around the ankles is very cushiony and the tongue is also protective but not too thick.
I found the curve of the arch to be nicely supportive.

I did not have to totally loosen the laces of the boots to get my feet into the boots. Unlacing the quick-loop fasteners at the tops of the boots opened the boots sufficiently for me to slip my feet into them.


This is not my first pair of Vasque brand boots. I've previously tested out the Vasque Kota Mid boots back in 2007. My experience with those boots encouraged me to try out the new Clarion 88. Since these are day hiking shoes and not backpacking boots, I hope to put lots of miles/kilometers on them over the next few months both on the trails and for casual wear while working around our ranch and on customer construction sites.



Well, I am calling it global warming. It has been hot here in Colorado. So every opportunity to hike here I have had to deal with temperatures between 80 and 105 F (26.7 to 40.6 C). Even at high altitudes up to 11,000 feet (3.4 km) the temperature didn't change much and there was (unfortunately) no sign of snow to cool things down.

Usually when I do a boot test, I wear the boots almost continuously, even when working and climbing my microwave towers. But, due to the heat, that wasn't the case for this test. That is not to say the boots didn't breathe well, but there were days where sandals or really light trail shoes were all that were comfortable.

We trekked:

* several miles along multiple trails in the Avon and Beaver Creek Colorado areas at altitudes from 7,400 ft (2.3 km) to over 11,000 ft (3.4 km)
* several miles along multiple trails in Fremont County, Colorado at altitudes from 5,400 ft (1.6 km) to over 7,000 ft (2.3 km)


* Comfort
Yes, these are comfortable boots. I didn't need to do any break-in. The interior padding is just great. The lacing system allows the foot opening to be 5 inches (12.7 cm) long, which gives plenty of room to easily slide my foot in without forcing it. I never felt uncomfortable due to the topography or due to pebbles and rocks under foot. I have pretty much come to expect a comfortable boot from Vasque.

I wear a 10.5 USA 43.5 EU size and there was never an issue with the width or the toe space.

I used these boots with pack weight up to 30 lbs (13.6 kg) and with day packs of less than 10 lb (4.5 kg) and never had a problem getting sore and uncomfortable.

I like high trail boots because I am always afraid of twisting an ankle when going downhill on steep grades over boulders and loose rocks. These fit comfortably up over my ankles and there has been no abrasion at all. And, because of the height, stability is very good and there is a comfort in knowing that the chances of twisting an ankle is reduced.

* Trail Conditions:

Most of the trails were rough and rocky. The boots did well over boulders and scree and didn't slip or slide or lose traction like some others I have tested. The tread is aggressive and the Vibram soles gripped well. My wife talked me into hiking up to Beaver Creek Ski Resort, which is 2 miles (3.2 km) on a concrete sidewalk at about a 45 degree incline and the boots protected me from the pounding quite well.

We put these boots through the test on bedrock, sharp shale, dry dusty soil and clay and down steep slopes with lose rock, sticks and fine scree.

Unfortunately, we are in a drought and there was no rain during any of our treks. We've were under red flag fire danger the entire time. So I can't report on wet traction performance. I'll run out as soon as we get some rain and do some boulder climbing, but I have to do it quickly because any rain we have here dries up real quickly. If we get some rain, I'd like to see how they perform in rain and wet clay soil, which is as slippery as grease and how they clean up.

* Wear and tear

So far there are no signs of cracking rubber (melting rubber either). No seam separations. Very little sole pitting, although the aggressive and deep tread does collect small pebbles which should be picked out before returning to a house with hardwood floors.

Even at the temperatures these were subjected to, my feet did not sweat as much as I expected and the boots do not stink at all. Due to the heat, I picked out the lightest hiking socks I had available when I hiked with these.

Keeping them clean was pretty simple since all they got covered with was dust.

These are pretty sharp looking boots, too. I like the design and color scheme.

The insoles have held up well. My sweaty feet didn't turn the blue insoles any weird colors and these are standard manufacturer foam insoles. I don't replace them for our tests and I don't feel that there is a need anyway since the boots have been comfortable the way they are..


I have another 8 weeks to continue putting these on the trails and hopefully I can get some colder and wetter weather. These are not Gortex but they are advertised as having a waterproof suede leather (no mention of the fabric between the suede being waterproof or resistant). If we don't get wet weather, I am very tempted to do some stream wading for the next part of this report just for kicks.

To see where the Vasque Clarion '88 Boots take me, please check back in mid-November.

Thank you to and Vasque for the opportunity to wear the Clarion 88 boots.

John R. Waters



Over the past eight weeks, I have been on several day hikes and a couple of weekend overnights base camps in southern Colorado. I've trekked throughout areas on trails that were on sheer cliffs, over lava fields and over high desert. In additional I hiked in the Royal Gorge BLM (Bureau of Land Management) District which abuts the north boundary of our property in Canon City, Colorado.

I can estimate that during this period I must have put over 50 miles (80.5 km) under this boot. Elevation is roughly between 5300 ft (1600 m) and 9100 ft (2770 m). The BLM land actually has no trails for quite a distance, so we bushwhack and use GPS to get back.

Backpack weights while wearing the boots have ranged from day packs of 10 lb (4.5 kg) to my overnight pack of 32 lb (14.5 kg).


These are summer boots designed for such and for desert wear. They did just fine under that environment of Red Canyon and Black Mountain in the Dixie National Forest in Utah. I hiked on hard, sandy and rocky trails that were, at times, only wide enough for 2 people and had almost 1,000 ft (.3 km) sheer drops into a canyon. Beautiful, wonderful area.

These boots never had a problem with the terrain and I never had a problem with sweating while wearing even regular hiking socks. I wear good hiking socks all the time, which helps me not get abrasions and controls my foot temperature better because good hiking socks are designed to breathe and wick sweat out to the top of the boot.

I did have a chance to try them on wet mud. It finally snowed here in Canon City, Colorado and when the snow melts here, it gets real muddy. So I had a short window of opportunity to take a hike in expansive soil mud. Basically clay and sand, it will expand as it gets wet and when walked on for a while, it collects on boots to add weight and another 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of height and width. This makes walking really awkward. These boots did as well as can be expected, but I didn't expect a miracle. I was able to scrape a lot the sticky mud off on boulders, but the deep tread kept a lot on the bottom of the sole which did wear off as I hiked more on dry land.

I also tried hiking though some small patches of snow. Though these are not rated for winter, I still wanted to see to what extreme they would perform. The snow on the leather portion had no effect, but it did visibly wet the cloth upper material. I didn't feel any dampness though the material, but I did feel the cold snow. I would not even try to take hikes in these boots in weather under 20 F (-6.7 C), especially if it is wet and/or snowy. For most of the hikes I was at temperatures between 60 and 90 F (15.6 to 32 C) in bright sun and dry weather with humidity under 40%.

I had no problems hiking up steep 40 degree slopes (see photo) with loose rock [photo]. No slipping at all due to the deep tread and Vibram's composition soles. In fact, when I was able to get the soles wet, I had no problem with slipping on boulders either. [photo]

The boots have performed quite well. I had no need to break them in when we started and there was no problem over time with not doing so.


These are very comfortable boots for me. I do not have fat feet though and since they fit like a glove, I would suggest that these be tried on at a store. I posted the size I used in the beginning of the review, size 10.5 US (43-44.5 Euro) (10 UK).

They protected me from ankle rotation and the soles were pretty easy to clean of mud even when the mud stuck out an inch (2.5 cm) around all sides. They are not designed for immersing in water; however since the bottom inch (2.5 cm) is leather and is water-resistant, small stream crossings will work just fine.

These will continue to be my go-to hot and dry weather mid-height boot.

Happy Hiking and Backpacking!

John R. Waters

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

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