Trail running shoes are like mountain bikes. They…
Use: Have been using them on treadmill but will take to trail once snow melts
Break-in Period: About a day - Walk around in them first
Price Paid: Pro deal to test
Trail running shoes are like mountain bikes. They take you off trail where the crowds are fewer and the flora and fauna is more prevalent, but are still effective for getting the job done on the paved trails and roads. This year, I’ve been taking the Vasque Transistor FS trail runners for regular spins. The Transistors are the latest and greatest from Vasque's footwear line.
I’ve been a wearer of Vasque hiking boots for many years so when they offered me a pair of trail runners to test out, I had to try them. I have no idea what Vasque does to their boots but their boot technology clearly bubbles over into their trail running shoes. There’s been too much snow on the ground for me to take these shoes out and run on an actual trail so I’ve been running on the treadmill regularly to get a good feel.
The Transistor doesn’t have a removable foot bed like so many performance shoes. While a shoe’s mesh or leather upper might be anatomically correct, where your foot rests is flat. Vasque is using a new technology called FootSync Fit System™ to shape an anatomical midsole and upper as one, eliminating the need for a foot bed. This makes the Transistors lighter and cozier than the average trail shoe, and keeps your foot closer to ground. This reduces your center of gravity, enhances stability, and, can probably help to prevent ankle injuries when running on uneven trails.
Stability and a balanced, natural feel is what I noticed most about the Transistors. The Flux Foam layer inside the shoe contours to your foot and delivers comfortable cushioning. At first glance, you wouldn’t think these shoes would feel the least bit comfortable, lacking a foot bed and all, but they are.
Just to make sure that Vasque wasn’t joshing me, I tested the Transistors side by side with my Ahnu Rockridge XTR trail runners. Both shoes had a low center of gravity and felt identical as far as height went but the real test came with a 30-minute run on the treadmill wearing the Ahnu on the right foot and the Vasque on the left.
Both shoes provided great stability, but Vasque won in the fit, comfort and weight category. The Vasque had a more molded, cozier feel while the Ahnu had some extra wiggle room. Finally, I felt that the Vasque absorbed more shock and impact than the Ahnu, making it a significantly more comfortable shoe to run in.
This is not to say that the Rockridge is an inferior shoe, it isn’t, but its purpose is more twofold: It’s a light-weight day hiker and trail runner so it’s designed to accommodate a heavier sock (I think).
Overall impression? The Transistor FS actually make me feel like running.