The Sundowner Classic has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best backpacking boots for 2020.
Reviewers Paid: $135.00-$215.00
Reviewers Paid: $160.00
First let me say that I have had three pairs of this awesome boot (that's 16 years worth). My last pair I had resoled twice before deciding to break down and get a new pair. What a mistake that was.
The new Sundowners are made over in China (what isn't anymore). They look the same but that is where the similarity ends. The fit is not anywhere close to what it used to be.
I read one of the postings that said they were made in China on the same last, if that's correct then the fit should be somewhat similar, but that's just not the case here. The toe box is weird and the volume of the boot seems really large, almost out of proportion with the rest of the boot.
I have had my new boots now for almost 5 months and I still can't get them broken in no matter what I do. Anyway, I just don't want to where them anymore. Oh where, Oh where have my beloved boots gone?
Materials: leather with gore-tex lining
Use: extended backing,trail and rough trail usage. day hikes. work.
Break-in Period: who knows?
Price Paid: $189
I bought a pair of Sundowners in 1988 and wore them for 16 years. I LOVED them. They finally wore out and I bought a new pair. This pair is NOTHING like my old ones. I have been trying for two years to get them broken in. I have to make myself wear them. They are stiff and rub everywhere. I have recently been reading other reviews. I checked and my new ones are made in China. I don't know if that is the difference from the old ones. But SOMETHING is definitely different. How DISAPPOINTING!
Use: day hikes
Break-in Period: two years and counting
Price Paid: $160
I have had more pairs of the Sundowner than I can recall over the past 15 years. I wish I still had one of my old pairs. The new ones, for me, are horrible. They raised the toe box up and did away with the narrow sizes. I just sent mine back.
The tight fit that has saved me from more than a few sprained ankles is gone. I suppose they need to save some money and make a shoe that is more in line with the largest possible demographic fit. What a drag.
I have met so many people over the years who love this shoe. The guys at the hiking store tell me that a lot of people are angry about the change.
Redwing, the parent company, says that they mad the changes "in response to customer feedback." Yeah right, the most popular shoe ever needed to be fixed.
Materials: Leather Gore-tex
Use: day hikes
Break-in Period: too long with this pair
Price Paid: $165
Do NOT buy the made in China Sundowners! I bought my first pair of Sundowners in 1997 and they are by far the best boot I had ever owned. I read the hype about the made in China ones, but I loved my made in Italy ones so much I had to go try a new pair on.
First off, the people at Red Wing didn't know a damn thing about their own boots, second they don't carry narrow sizes anymore and the standard size felt really weird, and third, you can take one look at the new boots and tell they are no where near the quality of the old ones.
I would never spend my money on such a cheap imitation of a legendary boot.
I went with the Asolo TPS 535 and they seem like a very comparable replacement to my old Sundowners.
Price Paid: $180
This boot is not the same Sundowner Classic made ten years ago. I have worn an older pair for over ten years, countless miles and climates, without any problems. This newer version is garbage. What happenned to my old boots? Now what do I do? Anyone have any suggestions for comparable boots?
Price Paid: $135
My Sundowners were made in Italy in 1996. I purchased them new in 1998. I then moved to an outdoor facility near Bucksnort, Tennessee, (yes, that's the real name) and lived for literally an entire year in them, all outdoors, all the time. In 1999 I moved back to Louisana and earned my Eagle Scout while wearing these boots (i.e. one weekend campout in varying states every month for four years). I put them away in 2003 after the area near the base of the tongue (where the laces begin and the shoe with each step) became cracked and leaky in wet environments.
I want to replace the Sundowners with another pair, but from what I've read the new ones are horrible in comparison. I believe I'll stay with Vasque, but shy away from any boot made in China.
Materials: Leather, Gore-Tex
Use: Heavy hiking, with and without ~20 lb pack.
Break-in Period: ~2 weeks
Weight: 185 lbs
Price Paid: $215
I wore a pair nearly everyday for eight years. Best boot ever. Nuff said.
Use: daily use and light hiking
Break-in Period: 2 weeks
I had heard of the good reputation of Vasque Sundowner as recommended by many of hikers I know. However, I must say I am quite disappointed with the quality and the feel of my boots. Mine was made in China. And this may explain everything about the degrading quality I experienced.
Vasque has ruined its own reputation by having their shoes made in China.
Materials: leather GTX
Use: light to rough hike with med to heavy pack
Break-in Period: too long
Price Paid: $200
I bought my pair three years ago. The Classic GTX is made in Asia now they are still an awesome boot! Even though Vasque switched production of these to Asia, rather than Italy, it is based upon the same classic last (foot mold/shape) that has gotten awesome reviews for decades.
I was skeptical that a boot could be blister-free and fit so well but after getting fitted and sized properly, I found these boots to be THE one. They took zero break-in time. I have done extremely steep climbs and descents in these boots and haven't gotten a blister. They are very, very comfortable and sturdy. These are the best boots I have ever had. Mine were made in Asia. Perhaps they do not have the same workmanship as when the boot was handmade in Italy, but I must say, even these Asian-made ones are AWESOME! They totally beat other European-made boots of today. I love my Sundowners.
Materials: full grain leather
Use: long distance hikes on rough trail w/ pack
Break-in Period: immediate
Weight: 3 lbs
Price Paid: $169
I tried two different pairs of these boots after hearing glowing things about them from friends who've had theirs for years and swear by them. The ones I purchased don't reflect this, though--they are terribly stiff, strangely narrow in the toe box (even the wider pair I tried), and loose in the heel--and I think I have fairly "standard" feet, perhaps slightly on the wide side. I now read that there is mounting dissatisfaction with the materials and workmanship since production shifted to China in the last few years and I must conclude that the pairs I tried out (was able to return them, thankfully) are substantively different than the older pairs. I don't recommend these unless you have very narrow feet in the toe and possibly wide heels (but who has wide heels?).
Materials: Leather with Gore-Tex
Break-in Period: After 1 1/2 months of wearing around town and home in attempts to break in, still stiff and uncomfortable
Price Paid: ~$160
These boots arent what they used to be!! Made in China...... give me a break!
I just purchased my third pair of Sundowners but it was the first purchase within the past 5 years. These new boots are garbage compared to the old Sundowner. I ordered them online and when I first opened the box I could tell right away this is not the boot I've been used to for the past decade. Matierial is much cheaper, the fit is lousy and most of all, the support is just not there. I even ordered whats called the Sundowner Classic so I guess the name means nothing.
This new boot rivals some of the cheap crap you can buy at Walmart or a discount sporting goods stores.
If anyone knows where to get the old Italian made Sundowner please email me at desertjeeper(no spam)@cox.net
Materials: Leather Gortex
As another reviewer noted, these boots have declined in quality as they are now being made in China. I have owned two pair of these magnificent boots and trekked many miles without blisters or tired feet. They have been amazing for my narrow and flat feet. I almost bought a pair on sale today, but I noticed that they didn't look quite the same. Then I noticed the "Made in China," on the inside. I know that my previous pairs were made in Italy.
The Sundowner MX on the shelf above is a newer version that is still made in Italy, but it isn't the same boot. So I'm reluctant. Maybe Vasque will return to their senses and offer the Sundowner in its original form again someday. Until then, I can't recommend this boot as highly today as I did some years ago.
Materials: Leather, gortex
Use: Medium weight backpacking
Break-in Period: minimal
Price Paid: $160 - 220
When I bought these a year and a half ago they were $210, Now at $175 I am a little annoyed, but hey they are great boots.
These are excellent boots for a week or so on the trial to day hikes to around town. They offer good support, waterproofness, comfort, and good looks. There is little break in period.
After reading the admirations and the complaints about this boot, I would like to say to say a couple of things:
The soles last, if you use them for which they are designed. These are not mountaineering boots, or designed for weight over 60lbs. Those who say they have no support, try strengthening those weak ankles, and carry less. Most people carry to much crap onto the trail they don't need!! Also too much weight tears up the trails anyway.
Also don't use use oils or conditioners like they are going out of style, moderation is the key for everything, too much over conditions any leather, which decreases the supprt of the boot.
Next, yes gore-tex can cause feet to sweat, if you are using them if hot, dry conditions with little chance of moisture. If you are get another boot! if you want versatilty gore-tex is the way to go.
Bottom line, the Sundowner is an excellant boot worth all the hype, and not much of the complaints. If you can BUY the Sundowner!
I also bought the Scarpa SL, for $90 bucks, haven't tested it yet, will here in march. I am breaking them in, and so far they are a perfect compliment to when I can't use the Sundowners.
Use: Mid-duty; rough trail with a 20-50lb pack
Break-in Period: a couple of days to a week
Weight: 3lbs or so
Price Paid: $175
I noted the wide range of experiences with these boots mentioned on this page and wanted to contribute my own observations. I have owned a pair since fall '98 and have done sixty or seventy (maybe more) dayhikes (always with 20 lb. pack) and a number of multi-day hikes with a pack at about 50 lbs. Most of the hiking has been in the Catskill or Shawanagunk Mountains, under a variety of weather conditions (Catskill rock can be very slippery, more so than Adirondack surfaces as a general rule). I am now preparing to have my pair resoled, as I would say the grip is now not as "crisp" as it might be, but as I weigh 200 lbs. plus I would say the wear I have had from the soles is well within reasonable expectation given the terrain and the wearer. I have used them in winter with instep crampons, and with snowshoes.
1. Provided leather is kept well waterproofed (I use Vasque's own preparation), it holds up well to damp conditions. I have waded up rivers and kept fairly dry feet, unless water has slopped in at the top! The Gore sock seems durable and does appear to work fine. As to problems with wet feet from sweat, I always double sock (usually Thurlo walking socks as an underlayer with wool ragg over), and if I am packing a full load I usually use a powder antiperspirant (which has been shown in US Army studies to keep chafing and blistering to a minimum). Insufficient sock layering may be the reason for some of the complaints here.
2. As mentioned, the soles do wear -- I cannot imagine a pair of boots that would not -- but are replaceable for a reasonable price (about $50 seems to be the norm -- Vasque has several firms that carry a full line of spare parts). The uppers scuff and discolor, but an occasional coat of polish helps, and I'm not wearing them to win any fashion contests!
3. The boot is advertised as light to medium weight, and I would certainly not use these in terrain where a technical boot would be more appropriate, nor with a full expedition pack (someone lighter might well be able to get away with this, for a while at least). They are not designed for this sort of wear and tear. I have generally found the ankle support very good, and the slight flexibility at the ball of the foot mentioned by one knowledgeable correspondent to be no especial problem to me (but feet are notoriously variable, and a boot that is heaven for one person feet may be unbearably uncomfortable on another). I generally wear boots inside for a few days to make sure there are no major incompatabilities before venturing outside -- that way I can return a poor fit in good conscience.
Use: Under 50 lb pack weight, not for severe terrain
Break-in Period: Variable, generally one dayhike
Weight: Slightly under 3 lb.
Price Paid: $175 currently