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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Vasque Aether Tech SS Trail Shoes > Test Report by David Bradish

July 19, 2009



NAME: David Bradish
EMAIL: davebradishATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Southern California USA
HEIGHT: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I started hiking in my teens in Arizona and New Mexico, primarily focusing on winter hiking. Since 1991 I have hiked a lot with my brother-in-law Ray mostly in California's Sierra Nevada range, and the southern mountains. In winter I bring as much gear as necessary to be safe and comfortable. For 3-season hiking I try to follow the principles of ultra light.



Manufacturer: Vasque
Web site:
Product: Aether Tech SS trail running shoes
Year manufactured: 2009
MSRP: US $125.00
Size tested: US Men's 13 also comes in sizes from 7 to 15
Color tested: Andorra/Beluga also comes in Capers/Beluga
Weight listed: 1 lb 8 oz/680 g
Weight measured for my pair: 1 lb 12.4 oz/810 g

Vasque Aether Tech SS


The Vasque Aether Tech SS shoe is designed as a protective light weight shoe for trail runners. I do not run but have been using trail runners for all my 3 season hiking since fall of 2004.

The SS part of the Aether's name stands for Soft Shell as the upper of the shoe is made from soft shell type fabric. It is somewhat stretchy. The inside face of it is very soft, almost like a fine fleece.

Heel and Toe

To give the soft shell material support it has sections of TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) welded to the soft shell material. The TPU sections are the shiny black sections on the sides and back in the pictures. More support comes from areas of polyurethane nubuck, which is a type of synthetic leather. This is on the toe and the section running from the heel to the top of the lacing. Vasque is proud to claim the use of 30% recycled content in this material.


The Aether in the name comes from the Aether outsole used for this shoe. The multi colored sole has different shaped, size and depth lugs. It feels very grippy right now and I will look forward to seeing what kind of traction it has.

Boa tightened

They don't say this but I think the Tech part of the name comes from the Boa Lacing System technology used to tighten the laces on the Aether Tech SS. Instead of regular laces the Aether has cables that run through plastic cross points the length of the tongue and opening. The cables terminate in the Boa wheel at the top of the tongue. When the wheel is pushed down it clicks into place holding the cable locked. As the wheel is turned clockwise the cable winds around an inner reel tightening the cable and securing the shoe. The more I twist the tighter the cable gets.

To loosen I just have to pull the wheel up and it instantly releases the cable. I do not have to mess with turning the wheel counter clockwise to make it loosen. This is the feature that I am the most excited about. I have seen it on other boots and wanted to try it out.

Boa loosened

The Aether Tech SS has dual density EVA footbeds inside the shoes. The yellow areas are softer than the black areas. I normally put Super Feet or Shock Doctor insoles in my shoes right away but I will try these for awhile.


Below these are the midsoles. According to Vasque the midsoles are EVA with high rebound heel and forefoot inserts. Since they are covered with white fabric I can't see this.

The web site does not really give a lot of information and the box did not come with anything but a pamphlet for the Boa Lacing System. I do not know if the soft shell material is water proof. The site says that it combats moisture. I will find out as soon as I get hiking in them though.

Out of the box the shoes fit and feel great. They are very light compared to most of my hiking shoes.



I have used the Vasque Aether Tech SS shoes on the following day-hikes and backpacking trips.

I broke them in with three days of walking on the Huntington Beach bike/walking path. These walks were 4 mi/6 km each on blacktop with no elevation gain.

I wore them on a 9 mi/14 km day-hike in Whiting Ranch Regional Park. This was on dirt trails and had some climbing involved. The temperature was about 75 F/24 C

I wore them on a 21 mi/34 km two day trip to the San Gorgonio Wilderness. We hiked to a camping spot called Limber Pine and the next day climbed San Bernardino Peak before going back to the trucks.

I wore them on a 3-day backpacking trip to San Jacinto State Park and the area around it. I was on trails that went from dirt to rock and finally snow in elevations to just over 9000'/2740 m. It was very cold with temperatures that ranged from highs of 44 F/7 C to a low of 24 F/-4 C. I put 30 mi/48 km on the shoes with 8800'/2680 m of elevation gain. This picture is coming down the Deer Springs trail back to my truck.


Last was another trip to the San Gorgonio Wilderness to climb San Bernardino and East San Bernardino Peaks. It was cold and rainy and even snowed for a while. The low was 36 F/2 C. at night and was very cold during the day also. The total distance was 20 mi/32 km with 5630'/1716 m of climbing.


I was amazed at how light and comfortable the Aether Tech SS shoes were the first time I put them on. I wore them to work a couple of days and then wore them on the beach path near my house. They really did not need any breaking in I was just being careful.

One thing I noticed right away was that I could feel the wheel of the Boa Lacing System pressing against my foot.

Because of this I was a little worried about the 3-day trip. It was suggested that I carry a back up pair of shoes should it become a problem. I decided not to and found that I was worrying for nothing. Even with all the climbing we did I never noticed the wheel.

The traction was very good. We did not expect to run into much snow and were surprised by a lot of it where we were planning to spend our second night. Too much to tell the truth and we ended up backtracking all the way back to our first nights spot. No water got through the outer shell of the Aether Techs from the snow travel.

Nor did they let any water in on the trip to the San Gorgonio Wilderness where there was still snow in places from winter plus it started snowing new stuff at 11:30 our first day. But around 2:00 it turned to rain. That got the shoes saturated enough to finally let the moisture seep through at the toe section.

And one of the nicest things about the shoes is how comfortable and light they are. I do not need to bring camp shoes as these work just fine. My brother-in-law Ray took this picture the second day of the San Jacinto trip which was very cold. It was 35 F/2 C as we set up our camp site. Comfortable shoes + a warm kind of sunny rock + some Cabernet = backpacking bliss.


One strange thing I noticed when we got back from a water run was the laces on one shoe were loose but the wheel was not popped up. They had been tight when we made camp but sometime in the 3 mi/5 km round trip to get water it loosened itself. Maybe it got snagged on some brush popping it up and loosening the reel and then got pushed back down. I will watch to see if this happens again.

I do really like the Boa Lacing System though. It is very quick and easy to lace up and go. And except for that one time it has held all day with no problem.

So far the shoes have gotten pretty dirty but are not wearing too much. There are no pulled seams or tears yet. I will see how they look during the Long Term Report phase as I will be going on a long hard 4 day hike during it. This concludes my Field Report. Check back in two months for my Long Term Report. Thank you to Vasque and for letting me test these shoes.




I have worn the Aether Techs on three trips during the Long Term Report phase.

The first trip was a day-hike with two of my daughters to Mt San Jacinto, the first time for them. I carried a small pack with about 12 lb/5.4 kg in it. We went 11 mi/18 km in temperatures to 75 F/24 C on trails that were mostly rock.

Next was a 59 mi/95 km trip with 7340 ft/2240 m of gain over trails that went from sand to rock and even a stretch with a lot of mud and muck. My starting pack weight was 18 lb/8.1 kg. The temperatures recorded went from 30 F/-1 C to 80 F/27 C. The picture below is from the start of this trip.

Last we went back to the Mt San Jacinto area for an overnight trip with 5 kids. This time it got up to 80 F/27 C and I carried about 30 lb/14 kg in my pack. Again I put 11 mi/18 km on the shoes.



The Aether Tech SS shoes have still preformed quite well. I still find them to be very comfortable except when I am going down very steep trails with a lot of rocks. Then I can feel the rocks through the soles. I may put some Super Feet insoles in them to help cushion them.

I have not had any more occurrences of the Boa wheel popping open by itself. But I did think that I had broken the system on my left shoe on my first hike to Mt San Jacinto. When coming back down I noticed that the lacing was loose, but when I tried to tighten it again it tightened one side and spit out a big section of cable on the other. It would not tighten. I could not figure it out and left it loose for the return trip.

I contacted customer service at Vasque. They were very helpful and told me to just send them to them along with a description of what happened. Fortunately before I sent them off my brother-in-law, who has had the Boa system for a couple years took a look at it and found the problem. It seems that when walking through some sections of trail overgrown with Manzanita a branch caught the cable and popped it off one of the guides. This allowed it to have extra length in the cable on one side. He showed me how to loosen the entire cable and rebalance the entire length which then allowed it to spool back in correctly. But then he popped the cable back onto the guide and adjusted the cable back to where it was when I got them. Everything is good and the cable has not come off since then.

The traction has been very good. The shoes work great for climbing steep trails and the bare rock we find in many places like this saddle in the Sierra Nevadas.


I would really like to see this shoe offered in a waterproof version. Walking through high meadows early in the morning gets my feet soaked from all the dew clinging to the tall grass. I did find that they dry quickly while hiking though.

All told I found the Aether Tech shoes to be a very good backpacking and hiking shoe. Now that the test is over I plan to go back to a waterproof shoe for the Sierra Nevadas but will use the Aether Tech with its excellent ventilation for the desert sections of the PCT that we still need to do.

I would like to thank Vasque and for letting me test them.

Light weight
Boa System fast and secure

Not comfortable in rocky locations

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

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