Vasque Breeze LT NTX: Don’t Sacrifice Support for a Lighter Hiking Shoe
We put this lightweight yet stable hiking shoe to the test
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Hiking shoes are one of those personal gear purchases that requires some trial and error. Understanding how a shoe fits and performs before you buy can increase your odds of success. Vasque has recently introduced a sustainable and completely waterproof hiking shoe that’s lightweight yet maintains support and durability.
Vasque Breeze LT NTX Specs and Features
- Weight: 1 pound 5 ounces
- Drop: 6mm
- Nature-Tex 50 percent post-consumer recycled waterproof membranes
- Anatomical high-rebound footbed
- Vibram Ground Control LiteBase with Megagrip Compound outsole
- Mesh upper is made of suede and 70 percent post-consumer recycled materials
Vibram Ground Control LiteBase Sole
Right out of the box, the Vasque Breeze LT NTX are stiff. A firm sole and ankle collar provides the wearer with confidence in each step on rocky, wet, or uneven terrain. However, while this sturdiness provides support, it doesn’t allow a lot of give if you have wider feet or they tend to swell. There is a break in period with these shoes. I would recommend wearing them around for a couple days before taking a long hike.
The waterproof technology is called Nature-Tex, utilizing 50 percent recycled materials. It is one of the most waterproof shoes I’ve ever worn with no leakage, even around the laces while submerged. I stood in a creek as deep as I could go without allowing water to flow over the ankle for a few minutes and my feet stayed completely dry. Puddles, light rain, tiny creeks, and wet grass shouldn’t pose a problem for the Breeze. Keeping your socks dry is always a nice perk when hiking in slightly wet conditions.
Recycled Mesh Upper
While this shoe is firm and waterproof, it’s also breathable and light enough for a quick pace in varying temperatures. The Breeze’s outer mesh is also made of 70 percent post-consumer recycled materials making them a better sustainable shoe option.
Testing the Vasque Breeze LT NTX In the Field
I took the Breeze shoes out for two, 8-mile hikes with 2,000 and 3,000 vertical feet of elevation after wearing them around town for a couple days to break them in. On the first hike I was pleased with the strength and mobility of the shoe and impressed by how well it kept out the elements. I noticed the back of the shoe moved quite a bit but I didn’t feel any discomfort. However, on the second hike with more elevation and some scrambling, by the time I summited, I had a large blister on the back of each heel. Movement is what causes blisters so a snug fit with the right amount of flexibility is ideal when selecting hiking shoes. That’s why I’d always recommend trying on a few different pairs. The Breeze is a well-built shoe with solid features; they just didn’t fit my feet well.
The Vibram Ground Control LiteBase outsole is extremely durable and grippy. Rigid bottoms and thick lugs allow you to tackle rocks and inclines powerfully with stability and sureness. The anatomical high-rebound footbed is designed to curve against the natural rise and fall of the bottom of your foot. It fits snugly and the firm contours are excellent at shock absorption, keeping your foot and ankles secure. It’s not the most plush or comfortable insole but it does absorb shock and fit the bottom of my foot well.
The anatomic build continues in the cut of the shoe’s opening. The back of the opening is narrow to secure the thinner back of your heel, though this caused me issue as my heel was anything but secure, resulting in blisters. This design might work for some people, but if it doesn’t fit exactly right, you could end up like me with an extremely rigid ankle collar moving against your heel. The tongue is also stiff but I thought it provided a good monaker for foot position and some subtle support without causing irritation.
What the Vasque Breeze LT NTX Did Best
With a narrow, snug fit, this low-drop shoe is great for hikers unwilling to sacrifice stability for less weight. The stiff style and uncompromising sole give the hiker control and confidence while still offering a light and breathable feel thanks to the mesh and thin suede upper. The waterproofing is top-notch if you plan on hiking rain or shine.
While hiking I felt protected and secure in the Breeze LT NTX. The shoes only weigh 1 pound and 5 ounces, but they are designed to be durable and withstand the elements. These will certainly last a long time with proper care. If you prefer a hiking shoe that hugs every part of your foot, the Breeze is just right.
What the Vasque Breeze LT NTX Did Worst
Personal preference is king when it comes to the best hiking shoes, and I felt constrained in the Breeze. While the Breeze is slender throughout, the tight space for your heel to fit caused a real problem by stiffly and aggressively rubbing the back of my foot. The backs moved up and down constantly on my heel. The narrow backs of the shoe trapped my heel in a vice grip and with no flexibility, simply rubbed my heel raw. I tried to fix the issue with a lace lock (using the second eyelet on your shoe to tighten the laces and lock your heel into place) but it didn’t solve the problem. This makes me think that although these shoes were the right size, they are designed for an easy pace and thinner feet. The Breeze failed to accommodate my bouncing stride and extremely average sized feet.
While fit plays a huge role in any shoe you chose, these are best for moderate hiking and not as well suited for scrambling on ridgelines where your foot moves at more aggressive angles. Women with narrow feet or hikers intent on a stable but lightweight three-season shoe will get the most out of the Breeze LT NTX. I like a wider footbox that allows my toes to splay, but these are ideal hiking shoes for those looking for increased support and breathability without feeling like you’re swimming in clown shoes.