The Vasque Breeze III mid hiking boot is a sturdy,…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Vasque for testing and review)
The Vasque Breeze III mid hiking boot is a sturdy, protective boot that is best used for hiking and backpacking in temperate and dry conditions. The ventilation features are a key element to the design of the shoe, but this shoe is only slightly more breathable than a Goretex or waterproof variety and runs warm on the trail.
- Comfortable with little break in time
- Very protective from rocks and roots
- Good sole grip
- Good ankle support
- Ventilation holes allow water to enter
- Heavy for a non-waterproof shoe
Fit and Comfort
Having previously backpacked with a similar version of this shoe, the Vasque Breeze 2.0 Mid GTX, I was hoping the fit and comfort factor would be similar, and it was. The Breeze III’s are a comfortable, solid feeling shoe that fits like a standard hiking boot. The heel is a bit roomy but not excessively so. The toe box is a little too narrow for my taste but didn’t result in any ill effects when hiking with a pack on varied terrains.
The thermoplastic urethane shank gives plenty of protection from rocks and roots, and the thick padding and nubuck suede of the uppers saved me entirely from those once every 10 mile ouches I’ve grown accustomed to backpacking in trail runners.
Vasque Breeze 3.0 Mids, a sturdy hiker
The protection and ankle support offered by the boots comes with a weight penalty. The size 10 1/2US tested weighed in at 2lbs 11ozs, while the stated weight of the GTX waterproof variety is similar.
The first trip taken with the boots was the 26-mile Eagle Rock Loop near Cado, Arkansas. Deciding to test the “out of the box” claim of comfort, I purposely broke the first rule of trekking and ventured out with no break-in time. By the end of the first day and seven good sized, rocky hills, I could feel hot spots forming on my toes. I applied a few strips of Leukotape and hiked on. The boots fit comfortably, though a slight break-in time is probably a good idea!
The temperatures were in the low to mid 80’s on that trip during the day, and the one constant I did note about the boots was the fact that they were warm to hot. More on this later in the breathability section.
Running warm in the Ouachitas
The foot bed is well cushioned and I’ve not experienced soreness in the bottoms of the feet after long days. The tongue is well padded and the shoe doesn’t feel too stiff around upper ankle. The fit and protection do make these comfortable boots, especially in rugged terrain.
The outsole is a Vasque Exclusive Vibram Contact Grip with Megagrip Compound. It’s a grippy sole that performs well on slick rock and wood. The boots feel very stable when walking and the bottoms are wide giving a good amount of contact with the ground. The soles are showing almost no signs of wear after over six months and 200 or so miles.
Grippy sole with great traction, also very durable
This is a not a waterproof or water-resistant shoe, it is designed for dry climates and to give maximum ventilation. I did not find that the shoe was significantly more breathable or cooler than similar varieties of Goretex mids and low style hiking shoes, however. The two main mechanisms for cooling that the boot employs are the air mesh panels on the upper that are interspersed between the suede and the lower area of the tongue, and the ventilation ports at the toe and heels.
Ventilation port on toe cap, mesh ventilation panels in between suede
The ports have a solid layer on the inside of the boot, and dust and debris don’t make it inside the boot. The ventilation panels are thick enough that no dust enters there either. Socks are clean when these boots are removed, unlike many trail runners that are thin enough to allow fine dust to enter the shoe.
While there may be a slight ventilating property to the ports, the boots feel bulky and warm, uncomfortably warm in temps above 70°F. While wearing the boots in 30°F temps I did notice an occasional breeze entering through the ports, so while airflow does occur, it isn’t a constant while hiking or at rest. The ports do let water in easily, so any attempt at rock hopping will most likely result in wet socks.
Drying times after immersion are what one would expect out of a similar boot made of Goretex or a nylon/leather patchwork boot. These boots will dry much more slowly than trail runners, and about the same or slightly faster than a Goretex boot. Not being waterproof and being constructed of heavy materials, these boots are prime candidates for drying by the fire or using hot rocks and shouldn’t suffer any ill effects.
I wore these boots with very thin nylon socks and summer weight wool hiking socks with no real difference in temperature regulation felt. I do prefer a hiking style sock with a thicker bottom in these boots, otherwise they don’t feel as comfortable to me.
Slippery, narrow water crossing
These are well made boots with double stitching and sturdy materials throughout. After over six months of use in varying conditions they still look relatively new. I would expect they would provide years of service at their current rate of wear on the soles. The shoes are still comfortable and supportive under a load.
While the Vasque Breeze III Mid are a comfortable, supportive backpacking boot, I was disappointed at the lack of heat moderation that they offered. While these boots did deliver on the promise of comfort, they did not live up to the claims of breathability, and that’s where I expected these boots to shine. I would recommend these boots to day hikers and backpackers that are looking for a sturdy, protective shoe who don’t plan on hiking in extremes of temperatures and who are in dry areas.