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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Clarion 88 boots > Test Report by Michael Pearl

VASQUE CLARION '88 HIKING BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY MIKE PEARL
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - June 29, 2018
FIELD REPORT - September 11, 2018
LONG TERM REPORT - November 06, 2018

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mike Pearl
EMAIL: mikepearl36ATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 44
LOCATION: Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 155 lb (70.30 kg)

I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and get out at every opportunity. I am a three-season, learning to be a four-season backpacker and year-round hiker. Currently, my trips are two to three days long as well as an annual week-long trip. I utilize the abundant trail shelters in my locale and pack a backup tarp-tent. I like to cover big distances while still taking in the views. I have lightweight leanings but function and reliability are the priority. I mostly travel woodland mountain terrain but enjoy hiking beautiful trails anywhere.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Vasque IMAGE 1
Year of Manufacture: 2018
Manufacturer's Website: vasque.com
MSRP: US$149.99
Listed Weight: 2 lb, 12 oz (1256 g)
Measured Weight: 2 lb, 5 oz (1051 g)

Color Available: Bungee Cord / Bossa Nova (Red / Gray)

Sizes Available: 7 through 14 (with most in half sizes)
Sizes Tested: 9

Materials:
Upper - 1.8 mm waterproof suede leather and abrasion resistant mesh
Footbed/insole - anatomical high rebound
Midsole - die-cut EVA*
Outsole - Vibram wrinkler with XSTrek compound

Features: TPU** stabilty heel clip

The Clarion '88 boots are designed for dayhiking with soles to handle the roughest trials while still providing cushion. The TPU heel ensures control by stabilizing the heel while Vibram outsole delivers durability and traction. The suede leather and abrasion resistant nylon mesh uppers are waterproof while the wicking lining provide comfort particularly in warmer, dryer climates.

*EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) two plastics, ethylene and vinyl joined to make a copolymer and turned into a foam making a light weight, water and corrosion resistant, insulating and shock absorbing material.

**TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a lightweight, durable, waterproof polymer.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Clarion '88 boots arrived in the standard shoebox tightly sealed in a thick clear plastic. The first thing I notice when removing the boots from the box is the color scheme and pattern. I find it neat and appealing; they're bold without being brash. Inside one of the boots I found an extra pair of laces. The ones the boots came laced in are a solid gray, like the gray suede of the boots. The extra are two-tone red and gray ones seen in the photos. I think the two-tone ones help complete the retro feel of the Clarions.

All materials and construction of the Clarions look top notch. All seams, stitches and glue points are even, tight and flawless. The lacing system uses a variety of components. There four metal D-ring eyelets, two at the toe and two at the ankle. At the Midfoot there are six plastic D-ring eyelets and four metal hooks above the ankle. The sole is an aggressive multidirectional lugged XSTrek Vibram. It looks capable of handling any terrain.

Now for the bump in the trail. I had a pair of Vasques in the past, an insulated winter boot. I ended up in a Men's 8.5 as the 9's in usually wear were too big. The Vasque 8.5's fit very nice and I was happy with them. So based upon that experience I went for an 8.5 in the Clarions. However I had to stuff my foot in them and my toes crunched up inside the Clarions. There was no way I would be able to hike in them. I requested an exchange for a size 9 that arrived very quickly.

The size 9 fit better but not perfect. The heel cup and shape forms to my heel nicely and the arch support is sufficient. Back to my pesky toes though and the 9's are just a little too long in the toe and too narrow in width. There is a slight squeeze to my toes from the sides. I hope that with a couple of trail miles the Clarions will break in and the squeeze will decrease.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There were no care for or use instructions accompanying the Clarion boots. However I don't feel any special directions are needed. I will practice my usual soft brush and mild soap when heavily caked in mud or dirt followed by air drying with insoles removed.

TRYING IT OUT

The Clarion '88's laced up on my feet I took a short walk around the pond with our dog. The first few steps IMAGE 2my foot balked at the narrowness. About a quarter of the way around this subsided. Then about halfway around the pond I started to notice the flex of the boot at the toe. It seems the extra space in the toe of the boot put a strange pressure on my foot. Then on the downhill section my foot slid forward in the boot. My toes moved closer to the front and the boot flexed more naturally with each step. They were more comfortable this way until then downhill ended. By the time I returned home I no longer notice either the tightness or flex of the boots. However when I removed the Clarions my feet relaxed and I felt the effect of pressure from being in a snug boot. I hope I can get my wider than longer feet to cooperate with the Clarion boots.

SUMMARY

The Vasque Clarion '88 boots are neat looking and well made with quality materials. The fit is less the perfect for my foot. They're not painful to walk in but ever so slightly uncomfortable. However I am hopeful that during the next phase of testing the Clarion's will break in and I'll overcome this minor fit issue.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Day Hikes

Sculptured Rocks - Groton, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 4 mi (6 km) from 790 to 1060 ft (240 to 323 m)
Pack Weight - 10 lbs (4.5 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 85 F (29 C) sunny and clear

Three hikes to Balch Hill - Hanover, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 5 mi (8 km) from 525 to 950 ft (160 to 290 m)
Pack Weight - 15 lbs (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 80 to 95 F (72 to 35 C) clear and dry to hazy and humid

Three hikes around Storrs Pond - Hanover, New Hampshire,
Distance and Elevation - 4 mi (6.4 km) from 525 to 400 ft (160 to 120 m)
Pack Weight - 15 lbs (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 75 to 85 F (24 to 29 C) cool and calm to damp and moist

Overnight Hikes

Guyot Shelter - Mt Zealand and West Bond, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 15.5 mi (25 km) from 2000 to 4540 ft (609 to 1384 m)
Pack Weight - 25 lbs (11 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 77 to 55 F (25 to 13 C) sunny and humid light breeze on summits

IMAGE 1

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This period of testing the Clarion boots and I saw many ups and downs, both literally and figuratively. I started the break in process slowly with several low mileage day hikes. In all they added up to 31 mi (50 km). There are a few steep sections, a few muddy spots and some gravel on these hikes. I felt the unusual flex in the toe decreased with the miles I put on the boots. The fit is still not perfect but my foot is no longer growing and I can't think of a way to shrink the boots. So I felt I was ready for some bigger miles over tougher terrain.

I headed out to grab two more peaks on my New Hampshire 4000 footers (1200 m) list. These are the 48 summits in New Hampshire that are 4000 ft (1200 m) in elevation or greater. I missed West Bond on a three day backpack years ago when I miscalculated my time and endurance. I skipped visiting this peak for food and rest in camp as the daylight and my energy quickly faded. Mt Zealand was missed on a winter overnight as one member of our team battled leg cramps. We deemed plunging farther into unbroken snow late in the day too risky. So we backtracked to the safety of a nearby hiker hut.

Now with the Clarion's I hiked into Zealand past the hut of the memorable winter overnight and onto West Bond for 7.3 mi (11.7 km). Then retraced some steps to the Guyot Shelter for 1 mi (1.6 km) where I stayed years ago my first time through this area. The trails here are steep, in two spots involving hands overhead to climb. They are also very rocky with jumbles of irregular shape rocks making up the trail. These are difficult, tiring miles. Below is a photo of the trail between Zealand and West Bond.

IMAGE 2


The Clarion boots provide excellent traction and stability on all trail conditions. They are not water proof as I found when I slipped and plunged a foot into a stream crossing near Zealand Falls. However they do dry quickly enough and breathe well. My feet felt warm but never sweaty at any time. These are all the "ups" I had with the Clarion's. The "down" occurred when I peeled off the boots in the shelter at the end of the day. The initial sensation was "aahh" as fresh air hit my tired feet. But the first few bare foot steps caused pain where my toes meet my foot. I chalked this up to a hard day of hiking. Then halfway back out the next day I had sharp pains in the arches of my feet at various times. At the end of the 7.3 mi (11.7 km) on the second day the balls of both my feet were sore and my left knee was not painful but uncomfortable.

I gave my feet and the boots a rest for a few days. Then I decided to wear the Clarions to work and around town. My feet did not hurt but I think this was because I was altering my stride. The reason I think this is because my left hip hurt at the end of the day. I have had no hip injuries or pains in the past. I again gave the Clarions a rest and the pains resolved.

SUMMARY

I have been hesitant to wear the Clarions since then as I feel the ill fit is the cause of these pains. Not sure if it was the number of miles, pack weight, terrain or some combination that caused the fit issue to translate to pains. Either way I will not use the Clarions again for overnight backpacks and this is not there intended use anyway. As the next stage of testing begins I will put the Clarions to use on my less demanding day hikes. I am having a hard time dismissing the Clarion boots as all other aspects of these boots are very good.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Mt Cardigan - Alexandria, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 5 mi (8 km) from 1600 to 3155 ft (490 to 960 m)
Pack Weight - 15 lb (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 68 F (20 C) cloudy with light breeze

Balch Hill - Hanover, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 3 mi (4.8 km) from 525 to 950 ft (160 to 290 m)
Pack Weight - 15 lbs (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 60 F (15.5 C) and sunny

Bolton Valley View Point - Bolton, Vermont
Distance and Elevation - 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from 1200 to 2200 ft (366 to 671 m)
Pack weight - 15 lbs (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 70 F (21 F) and sunny

Moose Mountain - Hanover, New Hampshire
Distance and Elevation - 5 mi (8 km) from 1350 to 2300 ft (410 to 700 m)
Pack weight - 15 lbs (7 kg)
Temperature and Conditions - 50 F (10 C) calm and sunny

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have used the Clarion boots on shorter day hikes, morning walks with my dog and casually around town. They provide excellent traction and ankle support, good breathablity and draw compliments. I have not experienced any more foot pain during this stage of testing. I attribute this to carrying lighter loads and lower mileage. These hikes can still be challenging though. Cardigans summit is bare exposed rock and steep in places. Moose Mountain has several stream crossing and lots of rocks to deal with. The Bolton view is accessed by a side trail of the Vermont Long Trail. This area is rooty, muddy and steep at the top. Balch is mellow but has lots of roots and pine duff to deal with in sections. The Clarions helped me stay upright and moving forward every step. My feet and toes were always well protected even when accidentally stubbing a few rocks.

Sadly my foot and the Clarions are just a different shape. The fit is not great for me. A foot longer than and not as wide as mine would be better suited for this boot. While a large part of the equation, it is the one and only negative I have with the Clarions. The materials and assembly are top notch and well done. The soles and traction are great. The styling and design are eye catching and fun. Several times around town people inquired about the boots and complimented them.

IMAGE 1

SUMMARY

The Clarions and I never had a Cinderella moment. But we were able to have several great hikes and many enjoyable miles. I still like the kind of vintage look their name Clarion '88 suggest. I value the quality and durability this boot provides. However when all is said and done because of the less than great fit I will not regularly reach for the Clarions. On lighter, shorter hikes and casual outings I can see wearing the Clarions but not on the more demanding longer ones.

This brings my Long-Term Report to an end. I would like to thank Vasque Footwear and Backbackgeartest.org for the putting this test series together.

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

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