AllOutdoor Review: Vasque Breeze LT Low NTX Hiking Shoes
Eve Flanigan 10.04.22
It’s no secret that Vasque, of Minnesota, makes great outdoor shoes. When I mentioned to my septuagenarian mom, who’s still an outdoorsperson, that I was testing a pair of Vasque Breeze shoes, she practically lit up with memories of whitetail pursuits in her 1970s Vasque snow boots. “Best boots I ever had,” she said.
With that endorsement, it was easy to be enthused about this latest Vasque trial. The Vasque Breeze LT Low NTX Hiking Shoe (phew! Can I just call them Sue?) arrived in an attractive logo box that’s emblazoned with, “We believe we are all better on the inside when we spend more time outside.” It’s a pleasant reminder of the Vasque founder’s aim, to inspire more Americans to adopt an outdoors lifestyle.
These are attractive hiking low-tops, available in men’s and women’s. I chose brown, or Sparrow as Vasque calls it. The dark brown uppers contrast with bright yellow laces and a bright lime sole. The combo manages to be eye-catching yet stays sub-gaudy. I like it for hiking, but it won’t stretch to a business setting. As other reviewers have noted about Vasque’s color choices, I wish there were subtler choices so I could wear these shoes more places. Male consumers get a break here; with brown-on-brown upper/midsole/sole tones. The Vasque Breeze Women’s low-tops are also offered in an emerald green without the standout contrast.
Despite that minor complaint, Vasque did their customary bang-up job of mixing textures and patterns for a unique, attractive, and interesting visual effect. The combination of smooth and mesh materials, with varying complementary patterns, makes for a shoe that looks exclusive and deserving of the $159.99 pricetag. What’s astonishing is the functionality they squeeze out of the materials. These shoes manage to be light, breathable, and waterproof all at once.
More than previous shoes and boots of this brand I’ve worn, the Breeze LT Lows felt stiff out of the box, and in the first 15 minutes or so of hiking. But that seemed to level off, or maybe I got used to them, soon after. The Vibram soles have fairly aggressive, cloverleaf-shaped and knobby traction bumps that perform well on the steep, rocky woods where I first tried them. Living dangerously for a bit, I walked in the stark shadows of pines left standing after a fire that swept the area without warning in high winds last spring. It was a bit of comfort to know these shoes are soled in the same material wildland firefighters’ boots are. Should a hiker get caught in a hot spot, foot comfort won’t be among their concerns with these or other Vasque footwear. Those who want good protection from jutty or flaming things on the ground will like these.
The Big Bird-yellow laces on these shoes are round, and round laces are notorious for coming untied. So I double-knotted these and they did well. Truth be told, they’re holding up better to cactus snags than the flat laces on my other Vasque Satoru low-tops, a shoe I’m otherwise fond of.
Vasque advertises these shoes with sizes ranging 6-11, including half sizes, in regular and wide. I was unable to get them in wide and a search of the Vasque and Zappos sites also shows wide as unavailable. I ordered a half-size bigger, and that gave my bunion feet a good fit. By lacing to the farthest holes and using a lacing technique a serious hiker showed me, heel slip was eliminated, and my feet are happy as I can make them. A friend who’s a longtime Vasque fan says the brand always runs true to size.
These shoes offer limited flexibility with great sole protection and traction for anyone who prefers hiking in low-tops, which seems to be pretty much all the through-hikers I enviously follow on YouTube. I like that they’re not super-low as they don’t expose my socks under average-length pants, and the cushiony top provides a bit of a bumper around the ankle bones, something I think is a great compromise between low and ankle-covering footwear.
The Vasque Breeze LT Low NTX hiking shoe is another hit from Vasque, in my opinion. Our Vasque rep has informed AllOutdoor that the company recently revived the direct order function on its website after a hiatus. Zappos is a major distributor, too. Both sites price these shoes, in mens or womens, at $159.99 with free shipping. I’m proud to wear these kicks at the range, on the trail, or to the store. They’re rugged, but with style, and a little style never hurts. Now if they’ll consider simplifying their nomenclature, that’d be awesome. What makes sense in the office doesn’t always translate to good marketing, but who cares as long as the shoes feel good? As the old blues song suggests, I’ll call them the Breeze.