Hike New Hampshire
       
Trips in NH

Review by Rob
Quick Facts
(And Overall Rating)

Well ... I don't totally hate 'em, but I wouldn't buy another pair. Poor traction and weak leather kill an otherwise decent boot.
Type Lightweight, supportive hiking boots, designed for light to medium weight packs.. (Vasque's own words).
Construction Nu-Buck Leather / Fabric Combo
Mfg. Weight 2 lb, 14 oz
Features
  • Tan 2.4mm Waterproof Nubuk Leather
  • Dark Olive Cordura® Nylon Fabric
  • Sportee® 3-Bar Knit Blanket Lining
  • FiberFlex Lite Shanking System
  • Variable Fit System® Footbed
  • Moisture Barrier
  • Percussion® PU Midsole
  • Skywalk® Tri-V-Lug Outsole
  • Care: NaturSeal Liquid or Paste then Leather/Fabric Guard

Background
A couple of years ago, Chris convinced me that my favorite possessions in the world, my Black Death Boots, were a little overkill for short dayhikes and everyday use. And he was probably right. So we ventured to the Kittery Trading Post and started looking at light backpacking / dayhiking boots. I knew that I was looking for something lightweight, reasonably waterproof, and comfortable. I didn't want to have to break in another pair of boots for weeks; I wanted something I could take out of the box and wear immediately. I also wanted something that would be reasonably acceptable for wear around town, since nothing feels as good after a day of walking as a boot designed for hiking. Since Chris has had such good luck with his Vasque Clarion GTXs, I looked at a couple of Vasque models, and eventually settled on a pair of Clarion Impacts.

About the Impact
The clarion Impact is a typical lightweight fabric/leather hiking boot. It's constructed from nubuck leather and codura nylon. The look is decent enough that I can wear them in public and not get laughed at. The boots have a full rubber toe cap to prevent damage to the front of the boot. The sole gives decent traction in the dirt, but as far as I'm concerned, really sucks on slippery rocks and hard surfaces. In fact the soles are the main reason I wouldn't but another pair of these boots. Not only are they slippery, but they have no heel either, which is probably half of the problem with them not gripping hard surfaces. If anyone from Vasque sees this, the soles of these boots rot. They stink. They suck. I hate them! Other than that, these boots deliver pretty much what they promise. They're reasonably waterproof for a boot with a million seams and a large area of nylon. The hardware is sturdy, and they're as comfortable as sneakers with even a 25 lb pack on. And as long as you stay off of rocks, they will take you just about anywhere else you want to go. They give better support than sneakers on the trail, and they seem to keep my feet comfortable even in hot weather. In order to be fair to Vasque, they believe they have a pretty decent sole on these boots. Maybe I just don't know how to walk. Here's what they say:

The sole design...Skywalk® Tri-V-Lug Outsole
Secure footing on the trail is the requirement of every hiker. Vasque® together with the Skywalk Rubber Co. has created the Skywalk Syntonic Rubber "Tri-V-Lug" Outsole for exclusive use on the Clarion Impact and Clarion GTX. The Skywalk sole provides traction and stability on all terrain due to its unique multi-directional V-Lug pattern with stabilizing pins. Specially designed "saw tooth" lugs surround each V-lug for added bite. These "saw tooth" lugs are also placed at the toe for added traction on climbs. Built into the rubber compound is a level of slip-resistant that helps grab on wet, moss covered terrain. The Skywalk "Tri-V-Lug" pattern releases trail debris with each step, including excess water, preventing hydroplaning on smooth areas. To increase wear, a large surface area has been molded at the heel. The Skywalk "Tri-V-Lug" Outsole is a technological enhancement to multi-use Clarion Hiking Boot Series.

The other problem that I have with my boots may have been corrected in newer models. My boots have a nylon area over the toe of the boots. The ones in the new picture I got from Vasque do not. The nylon in the toe area gives me two problems:

  1. It's a big, not really waterproof area with a thousand little needle holes to stitch it in place. This means it leaks like a screen door on a submarine.
  2. The way the nylon is shaped puts a "pressure point" on the leather right across the top of your toes (the area where the boot naturally flexes when you walk). On my boots, this has resulted in cracking of the leather after only a couple of years.
I hope for Vasque's sake, they have fixed this problem.

The other problem I have is the durability of the rest of the leather itself. After only a couple of years, the boots are showing signs of cracking in a couple of places other than the toe area I described above. And there are areas on the sides that are severely abraded. In fact, these boots are showing more wear in the leather than my Merrells which are five years older and have thousands more hours of rough trail use on them.

Summary
So what exactly does all this mean? The Vasque Clarion Impacts are a decent day hiking boot. No matter what anyone tells you though, I wouldn't wear them on rough terrain with anything more than a 25 lb pack, both due to the lack of support natural to all fabric / leather hikers, and the tendency to slip off of any hard surface with less traction than hot asphalt on a sunny August day in Phoenix, Arizona. For the price I paid, I think I should expect a little more durability than what I am seeing. I have never been a fan of nubuck leather for durability reasons, and I now I remember why.

So, basically, these are decent boots that suffer from poor leather quality, and poor traction. As far as comfort, style, and support go, these boots live up to their promise. If you take only a couple of dayhikes a year, or even overnights on clear trails, these boots may work for you. If Vasque has improved the Impact over the last couple of years, maybe they deserve another chance. All I know is that I won't give them one ... I'll look for a pair of Merrill light hikers next time.

Please note that anything I say here is simply my opinion. I am an expert (and a legend) only in my own mind. For the official corporate scoop, check out this product at Vasque's Website. You can click here or on the banner below.

 

Go to Vasque's website.

 

Copyright © 1999-2008
Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy
Hike-NH.com