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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Zephyr II Hiking Boots > Owner Review by Andrea Murland

Vasque Zephyr II Hiking Boots
OWNER REVIEW by Andrea Murland
August 27, 2009

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 23
Location: Rossland, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 125 lb (57 kg)

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don't have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3000 m (1600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies, Selkirks, Purcells, and Monashees. I try for a light pack, but I don't consider myself a lightweight backpacker.

Product Information

Manufacturer: Vasque
Manufacturer's URL: www.vasque.com
Year of Manufacture: 2008
MSRP: US $180 (This is from Vasque’s website, which was revised in August 2009 and no longer lists a MSRP)
Sizes Available: Medium Width US 5-11, Wide US 6-10 (Women’s)
Size Reviewed: Medium Width US 6 (Women’s)
Colour: Burnt Olive/Pale Khaki
Listed Weight: 1286 g (2 lb 13 oz) – from Vasque’s website prior to August 2009 revision, no size specified
Measured Weight: 1148 g (2 lb 8.5 oz) – both boots, well-worn + dirt

Description

The manufacturer describes the Zephyr II GTX as “a modern boot for the serious hiker and backpacker”.

The manufacturer’s website listed (prior to the August 2009 revision) the following materials used in the construction of the boot:

Upper: 2.0 mm Waterproof Nubuck Leather
Upper: Abrasion Resistant Polyamide Mesh Fabric
Midsole: PU / EVA / TPU
Plate: TPU Torsion Control
Outsole: Vibram Summit
Lining: Dura
Footbed: Dual Density EVA

overview

The mesh on the upper of the boot is around the tongue and collar. The collar is quite padded for comfort, and the tongue is gusseted to keep out debris, water, and anything else trying to get in. The rubber toe rand covers a significant area to protect from toe stubs. There is a nylon loop at the back of the collar to help pull the boot on, and the insoles are removable. The Zephyr II boots have a waterproof Gore-Tex membrane. They are 6 in (15 cm) high, and come to just above my ankles.

The laces on the boots go through four metal eyelets on the top of the foot, then through a metal lace lock, and finally through a metal “quick-lace” eyelet. When lacing the boot, the laces are pulled up through the lace lock and then towards the front of the boot and down to slide the lace beneath the small teeth in the eyelet. The lacing can then be completed by crossing the laces to the quick-lace eyelet and tying. To release the lace-lock, the opposite motion is required – a pull on the lace up and towards the back of the boot. The lace lock keeps the laces on the top of the foot tight if the boot comes untied, so that only the upper section of the lace needs to be re-adjusted.

Lace Lock

Field Conditions

The boots have seen considerable use in a short period of time. I purchased them in the spring of 2008 and broke them in on day-hikes in the Rockies. The boots were then used for 2.5 months of backpacking in the Alps, as well as another 1.5 months of frequent use while travelling and walking around cities, towns, and shorter trails. In the winter, they were used for snowshoeing when it wasn’t cold enough to warrant my insulated boots, and they are now being used for day-hiking and backpacking in the Kootenays. Overall, I have hiked over 950 km (590 mi) in these boots, 75% of that with a full (approximately 35 lb or 15.8 kg) pack. In addition, I have probably walked another 100 km (60 mi) around cities and towns while travelling.

The boots have been used on varied terrain: dirt, mud, boulders, scree, snow, ice (glacier), and slippery forest vegetation (pine needles and leaves, for example). Although some of the hiking has been in rolling terrain, most of the hikes have been a long, continual ascent followed by a long, continual descent.

The boots have been worn with Smartwool medium-weight hiking socks for all hiking.

Review

When I purchased the Zephyr II boots, I was looking for a backpacking boot that would be comfortable, supportive, and durable. I wanted a boot that was lightweight, waterproof, and had a removable insole. I used the supplied insoles, but I like having the option to replace them or to take them out for easy cleaning.

Comfort & Fit:
The boots were comfortable right out of the box. Breaking them in day hiking in the Rockies, I had one small hot-spot on one heel, but no other issues. They were comfortable and cushy. Although they didn’t have great arch support, the ankle support and lateral stability in the boot were excellent. The sole was pretty stiff, but not absolutely solid, and the rocker fit my natural walking gait. I loved them!

A lot of rock and a lot of snow!
hiking in Germany
The first backpacking trip that these boots walked through was a 5-day trip in Germany through forest, sub-alpine terrain, a lot of rock, and a lot of snow. The boots were great: no blisters, very comfortable and supportive, and my feet stayed dry in the snow, except when my socks got wet above my boots and wicked water down into the boot or I got snow into the top of the boot. I did find that my feet were a bit sore after the second day, but so was everything else, so I didn’t pay too much attention.

As the summer progressed, I found that the boots got progressively less comfortable. I never had blisters on the back of my heels, but I developed them on the bottom and side of my heels and the ball of my foot. I also found that my smallest toes were very sore and inflamed. The soreness in my feet also got worse. I found that they would be not too bad in the morning, but as I walked the soreness and sensitivity would increase, and by mid-afternoon I could feel every rock that I stepped on and I was wishing that our camp was close so that I could stop and take off my boots. Overnight, the soreness would decrease, though my feet were often very stiff in the morning. I’m sure that a lot of the discomfort I was feeling was due to excessive abuse of my feet and not the boots, but the boots were not providing the level of comfort that I was looking for.

I found that the ankle and lateral support in the boots were good. I did sprain my ankle quite badly (when I fell off the side of the trail – no fault of the boots), but I was able to walk several hours to our camp and then walk two more days with the ankle taped to finish the 14-day hike.

The lace lock is a great feature. I missed the life lesson on how to make a double knot stay tied, so I am continually retying my laces. The lace lock makes it so that I only have to re-tie the top section of the boot, and the boot doesn’t feel sloppy on my foot as the laces loosen. Tying and untying the boots is a bit slower because the laces have to be pulled through the teeth, but retying on the trail is much faster.

The first backpacking trip that I took in 2009 was also a 5-day trip, and many of the same problems occurred. Again, I had no blisters on the back of my heels, but over the course of the trip I developed blisters on the outside of my left heel, the bottom of both feet at the base of the big toe (which then progressed up between my toes), and on the side of my first metatarsal head. I also found that my smallest toes were getting sore. I think that these boots are a little too narrow through the toebox for me.

Waterproofing:
The Gore-Tex membrane has kept my feet dry. The only instances of wet feet that I have had with these boots have been due to water entering the boot from the top from rain, snow, or stepping in a creek. My hiking partner was very jealous of my dry feet when we had poor weather!

Traction:
Durability Issues I have had no problems with traction in these boots. The soles have performed well on dirt, mud, rock, snow, ice, wet grass, moss, and everything else I’ve come across.

Durability:
I’ve never used a pair of boots so heavily and frequently before, so I wasn’t expecting these to deteriorate so quickly. After just over a year of use, most of that in the space of 3 months, there are a few spots on the boots that are very worn.

The sole is noticeably worn down, but still has excellent traction. The tread on the sole is still deep enough to be effective, and I have no concerns in this area.

The fabric on the collar on the inside of both boots is frayed and worn. I’m not sure what this is from, since I don’t think I rub my ankles together when I walk. The fabric on the upper inside corners of the tongue is also worn through.

The inner lining on the right boot has detached at the heel, just below the collar. This makes putting the boot on a bit difficult; I have to get my foot in without wrinkling the lining. It may also affect the waterproofing, if it has broken the Gore-Tex membrane, but I can’t say for sure.

The insoles have compressed and worn a lot. The left insole is worn through under the ball of my foot. I plan to replace the insoles with an aftermarket footbed which offers more cushioning and arch support, but does not take up any extra room in the toebox.

The leather and mesh on the body and tongue of the boot are in excellent condition. There are some nicks and stains on the leather, but it does not appear very worn.

I was worried when I first got the boots that the laces would fray at the lace-lock due to pulling the laces through the teeth, but the laces aren’t any more worn at that spot than anywhere else.

Summary

Overall, the Vasque Zephyr II met my needs. The boots were waterproof, lightweight, and had good lateral stability. However, I am disappointed by how worn and degraded they are, and they are not the most comfortable boots for me anymore.

Thumbs Up:
Waterproofing
Lace lock
Traction
Lightweight
Lateral stability

Thumbs Down:
Durability of fabric on collar and seams
Durability and comfort of insole
Changing fit over time



Read more reviews of Vasque gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland

Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Zephyr II Hiking Boots > Owner Review by Andrea Murland



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