Vasque, “inspired by history, driven by innovation,” is the brainchild of William Sweasy. After travelling to Europe in 1964, he realised a hiking craze was sweeping the continent and returned home “determined to create purpose-built trail boots to mobilize Americans outdoors.” In the decades that followed, Vasque steadily built a reputation for durable mountain footwear, a legacy that continues today. The company recently released their Breeze LT NTX -Mid, a robust yet lightweight hiking shoe, featuring recycled elements that promise to be “light on your feet, while being lighter on our planet.” Over the past three weeks, I’ve put them through their paces.
The Breeze may be a hiking-focused shoe, but Vasque has done a great job combining technical performance with a tasteful casualwear aesthetic. The shoe upper combines recycled mesh, 1.2-millimetre suede, and TPU yarn mesh and is available in a tan or black finish. The tan, blue, and orange colour scheme works well and manages to strike a middle ground between hiking specific and smart casual (the alternative black/yellow colour scheme is decidedly more technical in appearance but will probably age better). The Breeze incorporates a Vasque-exclusive Vibram Ground Control Litebase with Megagrip Compound outsole, Enduralast EVA midsole, and an Anatomical High Rebound footbed. Vasque has a warranted notoriety for manufacturing footwear that’s both lightweight and durable, and the Breeze is no different, tipping the scales at just 1 pound, 13 ounces, or 832 grams (Women’s: 1 pound, 8 ounces/682g). So how do these specifications translate in the field?
The first thing I noticed is that whilst they’re true to size, they are initially quite snug. But fear not, they soon loosen up. The shoes were super comfy right out of the box, the sole technology offering a level of cushion and impact absorption not dissimilar to my Hoka Speedgoat 4 Trail running shoes. It took about five days to break them in for longer hikes (I wouldn’t recommend taking any new hiking shoes on a big trip without first breaking them in locally). I’ve worn them daily for the past three weeks and walk on average 6.5 miles (10.4 kilometres) per day over mixed terrain (two shorter walks during the day to escape my desk and one longer evening walk). The Breeze certainly feels nimble despite their size. My current fast-hike/multi-functional shoe is the Berghaus Explorer boot (the latest model is the Explorer Trek Gore-Tex boot), which has been superb. The Breeze is noticeably higher on the ankle than the Explorer (see photo below for comparison), and this provides superior support on uneven terrain. The snug ankle bracing does hinder pivoting your foot slightly, but I countered this by slacking off the laces for riding my bike and driving.
Hiking alone means I’ve easily put 138 miles (222 kilometres) on the Breeze. The only sign of wear is a slight separation between the upper and sole on the inside of the right shoe (in my experience, this is quite common and has also occurred on my Berghaus Hillmaster II Gore-Tex boots). However, in fairness, these are samples and do not necessarily reflect the final product. I’ve owned my Berghaus Explorers for three years now, and the build quality has been exceptional; time will tell if the Breeze will hold up to such extensive punishment. All I can say at this point is that it’s clear Vasque has paid particular attention to “high wear” areas. Hence, the Breeze features a toe box, sidewall protection, and heel bumper, which improve waterproofing and durability. Further still, the Breeze showcases heavy-duty lace eyelets and incorporates metal upper lace hooks rather than plastic, which are far better suited to the tension exerted on this area (I’ve had plastic hooks fail in the past).
Waterproofing is excellent, and even when intentionally submerged above the mesh upper layer for a timed minute, my feet remained bone dry, which is impressive considering the Breeze remains breathable. I’ve come to expect outstanding performance from Vibram outsoles, and their Ground Control Litebase is no different. There were a few occasions where I scrambled up exceptionally boggy hillsides, and I expected the shoes to clog up and slip beneath me, but they provided sure footing throughout. The intricate tread pattern is not dissimilar to summer golf shoe spikes, offering exemplary grip whilst being evenly spread to efficiently dislodge mud. I have Vibram soles on my Berghaus Hillmaster IIs, Berghaus Explorers, Hoka Speedgoats, and Bedrock sandals, and it’s no surprise they’re such a popular choice for manufacturers. Vibram specialises in what they do and is consequently class-leading. Lastly, there’s a handy heel loop for slipping boots on.
The Breeze LT NTX -Mid is an impressive technical shoe, which offers all the mountain functionality you’d expected from a fast-hike boot, yet retains a casual look that’s perfect for everyday use. Despite an initial “breaking-in” phase, I’ve found them to be superbly comfortable hiking, scrambling, riding, driving, working outside, and for general life. I’m a big fan of combining high-top technical shoes with comfortable platform pedals for bikepacking, and the Breeze is definitely a good option for extended rides where hike-a-biking is on the cards.
These boots are a suitable option for overlanders who want a hard-wearing outdoors shoe without sacrificing the all-day driving comfort and suppleness provided by less technical alternatives. It’s clear that Vasque’s primary objective was to create a “city to summit” shoe, and this goal has certainly been achieved.
$170 | vasque.com
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