Vasque Aether Tech
The Aether Tech has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best trail running shoes for 2023.
Not perfect, no shoe is, but a step in the right direction. Vasque make good stuff and know what they're doing, so this futuristic design is not just total gimmick.
Be warned, this shoe is technical. Not quite as technical as it could be, but it's not your average trail shoe - this is more for mountain running, adventure racing, multi-day etc.
For regular running on hard trails, paths and certainly roads forget it. Other shoes with more cushioning do that better. But if what you're doing depends a lot on foot placement, lightness, dexterity and commitment - jungles, steep terrain, raids etc - this is a good choice.
Weight-wise they are really, really light and they don't soak up much water.
They fit narrow and the toe box is narrow, which works for me, but I doubt every foot.
They have a rigidity that feels good, but whereas the uppers were fine straight out of the box, the shanks will take another run or two to conform.
They feel precise, with the sole nicely within the confines of the upper.
The hi-tech lacing system has its pros and cons and is as good as any other system. Personally I'd like to see it come a bit further down the foot, have bigger grip on the dial and I think the hypalon (or whatever it is) patch the things stitched into could be redesigned. otherwise its certainly convenient and flexes well with the foot.
The sole is an issue to me - as it is with all tech trail shoes. I'm yet to find one that's really good for serious rock terrain. These grip fine on dry rock, but for a technical shoe they could be sticky, have a bit more asymmetry and the inside toe edge be a little more receptive to climbing.
So there's my thoughts - probably enough to design a whole other shoe out of, and there's definitely room for that. I usually run in Salomons, and feel this shoe is in a direction Salomon hasn't gone into yet. I run 80-odd miles a week and will keep this on as my tech shoe for high-commitment stuff, but they are wasted on family trails.
I think they are the best in their very limited genre, but look forward to the next generation.
Materials: variety of space age stuff i dont know the names of
Use: technical trails w/ multi-day pack
Break-in Period: 2 or 3 solid runs
Price Paid: HKD895
What about the basics???
After several weeks of shopping around, and inner debates, I happened across this new Vasque trail runner. I was pleasantly surprised at the immediate comfort! Always having a hard time finding a comfortable fit (and a long time Merrell fan) I was sold!
Therefore, I'm not on the cyber-soapbox to persuade you of the premium performance, but focusing on the basics: This shoe is the most comfy, lightweight, attractively designed shoe that I've ever been proud to show off!!
Materials: synthetic leather
Use: fastpacking, scrambling, hiking, peak-bagging
Break-in Period: NONE NEEDED
Price Paid: $120
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