Okay, fine, “bargain” is in the eye of the credit card holder. But in a day and age when people don’t even blink forking over $250 for hiking boots, that Vasque has managed to keep a boot as good as the Breeze at about $150 is, indeed, a bargain. Relatively speaking.
The Sundowner is, I suppose, Vasque’s flagship boot, but nine times out of ten, if I see Vasques on the trail, it’s the Breeze. They’ve made the boot for two decades and it’s easy to see the appeal. Comfy, burly enough for serious hikes and backpacking, but flexy and forgiving enough to wear as a daily shoe. Nothing flashy. Dependable. Pretty well made. I like that.
The Breeze is named that, has always been named that, because of its breathable uppers. It’s a polyester mesh, made with between 75 and 100% percent recycled material, depending on the particular area of the uppers you’re looking at. The shoes are also waterproofed, not with Gore-Tex this time, but with VasqueDry, their new proprietary membrane, made with 25% recycled stuff. Is it really that different than, say Danner Dry, or Gore-Tex, or any other waterproof membrane? No idea. But does it work? Yes.
I’ve had multiple pairs of Breezes over many years but never had a waterproof version until they released the current model in 2022. They’ve always been my hot weather boot. I’m happy to report the waterproof model with VasqueDry feels, as far as I can tell, exactly the same as the non-waterproofed earlier editions I’ve had.
I've put them through their paces in very hot NorCal summers. They've been my boot for long-distance hiking and scrambling up in the high Sierra for dozens of miles. First thing I noticed when scrambling around on dicey-ish tallus and slick granite was the shoes grip really well. Vasque uses its own soles with unique four-leaf clover pattern lugs and I’ve had mixed luck with some of their trail runners and lesser boots in terms of grip. Not these. I was super confident even in snow.
Lately they've been my go-to on muddy, wet hikes through Redwood forests. They happily grip greasy roots and slick rocks alike. Plus, they're light enough you can break out in a trail run if you want, which I often do.
Both the footbed and the midsole are EVA foam and they are nice, pliant, supple, and pretty dang comfortable. No real break in period needed here at least in my case. I just put them on brand new and started hiking. This is standard for these kinds of mid-range boots, but still, you never know until you get these puppies out on the trail.
I like the nubuck panels on the uppers, they shrug off sharp boulders and wicked, thorny brush without adding too much weight. The boots clock in (according to Vasque) at about 2.5 pounds, but they felt lighter than that to me. I’d guess because they’re simply comfortable to hike in.
Always, with any product, there’s a nit to pick somewhere. And I usually find something to gripe about, but I can’t think of anything that has bugged me about these boots. Maybe they could offer them in more colors?
My only problem is I already have specialized hiking boots for just about any possible terrain, so a jack of all trades like the Breeze can get lost in my gear closet. But if you’re not a gear nerd like me, this could easily be the only hiking boot you own and make you quite happy.
Words by Justin Housman