Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX Hiking Boot: Gear Review

I wore my last pair of Vasque hiking boots for five years before they got to a point where they needed to be replaced.  They were perfect from day one through day 1,825 (or so).  When I headed into REI to look at new boots, I naturally picked out a pair of the Breeze 2.0 GTX hikers.  I can happily say that I’m very satisfied with the performance of the new Vasques after about 20 miles of mixed hiking – despite getting off to a rocky start (I’m not talking about the terrain).

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When I tried them on at REI they felt a little big.  They were the same size as my last pair so I chalked it up to not wearing the right socks.  I didn’t think anything of it; they’re Vasques after all, and I love Vasques.  I brought them home, took more pictures of them than any other pair of shoes I’ve ever owned, and put them back in the box.  I had to keep them clean until their first venture into the woods of course.

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The following weekend came and it was time to test the new boots in the woods.  There was still snow on the ground so I thought I’d get a good idea of how these boots would perform in different situations.  Much like the tread on your car’s tires – I didn’t realize how bad the old boots had gotten until I put a few miles on the new ones.  The boots performed great on the 6 mile hike – but my feet never got perfectly comfortable in them.  DCIM100GOPRO

They still felt big – even with the right socks on.  I stopped a few times to adjust the laces and make sure my socks weren’t bunched up – but nothing helped.  My feet weren’t in pain but the boots just didn’t feel right.  I wore them a lot that week around the house and doing yard work to break in the (break-in not required) boots.  Still not feeling 100% about them – I decided to take them back to REI to see if I could swap them out for a different pair.

Sidebar – REI will accept returns up to one year after purchase as long as the item only has normal wear and tear.  This is a pretty amazing thing that you won’t find in other retail industries – my boots were still dirty from the hike I had done, and they quickly offered to help me find another pair of boots, no questions asked.DCIM100GOPRO

I proceded to try on every boot that they had in the store – Merrell, Keen, Asolo, Oboz – nothing felt right.  I tried on another set of the Vasque Breeze in a half size smaller and my toes were completely squished.  Did something happen to my feet?  Was this actually a “It’s me, not you” situation?  I began to get really discouraged and thought about bringing my old Vasques to a pedlar to have new soles put on them.

I asked for the pair I had brought in to return back and decided I would try and break them in some more to see if that helped.  Before leaving; my wife suggested that I try a different insole.  I hadn’t really thought about it, and decided it was worth a try.  I put a set of the Superfeet Green insoles in the new Vasques and took a few laps around the store.  The toe box still felt a little big – but the boots were more comfortable.  Knowing that I still had plenty of time to return the boots, and the insoles, if it didn’t do the trick – I proceed to checkout  (with an armful of other stuff as well).  I wore the boots that week with the new insoles to get used to the new fit.  I still wasn’t 100% sure that this would fix my problem – but I wanted to give it a thorough test.  Mt Tammany was that test.DCIM100GOPRO

The 3.5 miles of mixed terrain; steep ascends, loose rock, boulders, mud, and water proved to me what these boots can do when I’m not obsessing over how they fit.  I  didn’t feel like I was moving too much inside the boot and the insoles gave me great support.  Having completed that hike, and a 7.5 mile trip the following weekend, I’m confident that this setup will keep my feet happy (and super) for the next few years.  Vasque-Breeze-GTX-Hiking-Boot_0001

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