Vasque always excites me at Outdoor Retailer. For two reasons. The first is that I swear they have a mold of my foot locked deep in the catacombs of their product development dungeon and they bring it out every time they make a women’s-specific boot or shoe.
In all the years I’ve been backpacking in Vasque boots, I’ve only had one blister and it was the fault of an inferior sock (hence the reason I only wear Darn Tough Vermont these days). The second is that they’re a Minnesota-based company, and thus, they have earned additional love from me.
They debuted four new performance boots for Fall 2013 last week for backpacking and playing in the snow.
Weighing in at a svelte 3lbs, 1oz, the St. Elias GTX is Vasque’s lightest and technical backpacking boot. The new A.S.E. midsole, an EVA derivative, brings the lightweight features of EVA with the compression and abrasion resistance features of PU in an all new material. Strategically placed EVA cushioning pods conform to the irregular terrain of the trail while providing athletic level cushioning to the heel and forefoot while the full length lasting board offers the support needed when hiking off camber trails and carrying heavy loads. Available in both men’s and women’s sizes. MSRP $189.99
The Arrowhead UD is a lightweight boot that is ideal for snowshoeing and hiking. Between a breathable reflective lining with 200 grams of insulation to reflect feet’s natural heat, and 200gms of Thinsulate. A full-coverage softshell shroud shields the boot from ice and salt crud, asymmetrical zipper, and single-pull Kevlar® lace system allow for quick, on the fly adjustment while snowshoeing and hiking. A rubber heel kick locks into binding straps. Available in men’s sizing only, in two colors. MSRP $169.99.
For the ladies, the Skadia UD (named after the Norse Goddess of winter), is a technical, athletic and lightweight insulated boot that is ideal for snowshoeing, long hikes in the snowy backcountry, or après ski. UltraDry™, Vasque’s proprietary waterproofing membrane, provides 200gms of 3M Thinsulate™ to keep the piggies warm and dry. A single-pull lacing system makes adjustments in the field a cinch and a rubber heel kick locks into binding straps. Available in two colors in women’s specific sizing. MSRP $159.99.
The Northstar UD is perfectly insulated for cold, urban jungles, après ski and light hikes on snowy days. Using 200gms of 3M Thinsulate™ to keep feet warm, these pull-on boots are made with 1.6mm waterproof full grain leather and Vasque’s Ultradry™ waterproof membrane. A water-resistant, quick-release side zipper and stretchy softshell make them easy to put on and take off. Available in multiple colors in men’s and women’s sizing. MSRP $149.99.
All four boots will hit retail in Fall 2013.
Since we’re talking about boots, it’s prudent to discuss socks. Socks used to be nothing more than an afterthought. But the right sock delivers the best experience. Darn Tough Vermont's already has an outstanding line of hiking socks, but in Fall 2013, look for their Light Cushion Hike/Trek sock. It has all the performance of their traditional cushion sock, but with 50 percent less wool yarn weight. Fit, temperature regulation, wicking ability, cushioning and durability have not been compromised in the making of this sock.
If you're in the market for a warm sock to wear snowshoeing, look for their bulk-free, ultra-light, high-performing Function 5 (F5). It will have five precisely located comfort pads to help offset the pressure points inherent to most ski boots. The Edelweiss is the ladies’ version. Available in Fall 2013.
If you live in Minneapolis, which if you do, you're really going to want to look at Vasque's new insulated line, you can pick up Vasque and Darn Tough Vermont at REI.