Wed, Nov 14, 2018
My hiking experience started out much as anyone else's probably did: little knowledge, lots of enthusiasm, and all the wrong gear. My first hike was made in sneakers (or Tennis Shoes if you're a weird-o from out west), and I was lucky I never encountered water or rough terrain. Even as late as my senior year at college I was hiking with inferior products. But soon I realized the importance of a good pair of boots, and made my first purchase - Vasque Clarion GTX Gore Textm. I wore them for several years and liked them so much, my next pair or hiking boots turned out to be Vasque Clarion GTX All Leather Gore TexTM boots.
Above all, the most important feature of any boot is, of course, fit. I approached my most recent boot purchase with an open mind. I wasn't set on any one pair of boots, only on getting a solid, comfortable pair that would last me for a long time. So I went to the store, sat down, and started trying boots on. Asolo AFX 535 and Latitude, Merrell Grand Traverse GTX, and EMS Ascent and Mountain Boot. After all these, the Vasques were the most comfortable, with no pressure points or potential rub-spots. I believe this "perfect-for-my-feet" fit is partially due to Vasque's Variable Fit System (V.F.S.).
The V.F.S. is basically a removable footbed system in which you can change the sole of your boot according to your foot type. Each boot comes with the "B" (medium) footbed standard, but you can change that to match your foot type. For wide feet, you can change to the "A" (thin), for narrow, the "C" (thick) footbed. In addition, you can change the footbed based on the type of hiking you're doing if it's cold and you want thick socks, you can use the thin footbed, etc. And in what is probably Vasque's most intelligent move, the V.F.S. is available in both male and female versions.
Vasque seems to know exactly what we want in a hiking boot. Fit and comfort are exceptional (as stated), but Vasque has also paid close attention to the details of the boot. For example, the footbed has been designed with EVA rubber cushioning in the ball and heel, and has perforated vents for heat and moisture to be channeled away. The Gore Tex lining helps here, ensuring waterproofness and wicking. The boots stay tied tightly due to the Clarion's tight lacing, however this can also make them a challenge to get on quickly. Grip is good, although some may find the flat heel annoying if you have no balance (sliding down rocks, a higher heel can sometimes help you catch yourself). A toe cap prevents rocks and roots from tearing apart the toe, something that was a problem in previous versions of the Clarion.
Vasque's list of features:
Vasque's Lip Service:
Upper is rugged Cordura® nylon for lightweight breathability, and NuBuck full-grain leather. Features Gore-Tex® bootie for waterproof, breathable comfort. Nylon knit lining provides smooth entry and an abrasion-resistant inner surface. Vasque Monoflex insole is anatomically graded for good flex and rigidity. Polyurethane-foam midsole offers lightweight cushioning. Vasque Trailways® outsole varies in density for greater durability at high-abrasion areas. Sure-footed tread.
My Lip Service:
In short, I love my boots. They're sturdy and dependable, and when worn with my favorite socks, they remain comfortable over the long haul whether it be in 80o summer heat or 30o winter bathroom breaks. Fit is exceptional and during the right sale, the price is a bargain. Although these boots are rated only for medium weight backpacking, I have used them with a 55 lb. pack on a three day hike, with no problems.
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Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy