Gear Review: Vasque Inhaler II GTX
A good shoe can make or break your hike, especially with feet like mine. Blister-prone with frequent in-grown toenails and a tendency towards severe heel pain, my feet were not made for walking. Stretching and post-hike massaging helps, but the biggest factor to a happy hiking foot has always been my shoe. I bought a un-researched heavy pair of Vasques in 2011 for my first two month stretch on the trail, and they’re still going strong. However, since then I learned to research gear and branched out to other brands. Until this fall, when I jumped at the opportunity to review the Inhaler II GTX’s from Vasque, a brand I knew from experience to be durable and comfy.
- 1 lb 14 oz
Circumstance of review
I live in a small mountain town set at about 9,000′ above sea level in Colorado. My spring, summer and fall weekends generally involve 10-20 mile overnights or climbing 14ers (mountains over 14,000′). In the past two months my Vasques have been up 5 peaks and traversed the passes between Crested Butte and Aspen, a 50 mile round trip (and their first weekend out). I was naturally concerned about blisters, hiking 50 miles in new boots before wearing them in. But, I was pleasantly surprised- just two little heel blisters, one on each foot! For some people this might not seem like a success story, but, believe me, it was cause for celebration for my feet!
One particularly nasty hike was up Mt Massive, our 15th 14er. We were rained on, then snowed on, then rained on a bit more the entire day. Our gear was soaked, my bones were frozen to the core, but my feet were fine! The Gore-Tex on these bad girls holds up to its name!
These boots are comfortable, waterproof, breathable and they stick to rocks. I don’t trust my feet, I’m clumsy and I tend to trip over small pebbles, so a pair of shoes with exceptional grip is imperative. These Vasques have the best grip of any boot I’ve tried. Many 14ers require some decent rock scrambling- normally a huge detriment to my hike. However, after four 14ers, one basically consisting of two miles of icy, snowy rock scrambling, I have full confidence in the grip of my Vasque’s soles!
Also, despite a few long days in the Colorado sun (being over 9,000′ closer to the sun really makes a difference), my feet don’t get sweaty and swampy in these boots. And, while they haven’t cured the heel pain I developed on the AT, they certainly help mitigate it better than other shoes I’ve worn. Finally, they’ve held up. A hundred miles in under two months is nothing to a thru-hiker, but in the sedentary world, it’s not too shabby. These boots are still as tough as the day I got them. My old Vasques from 2011 are still going strong, too, and they’ve got 1,000 or more miles on them!
The two cons I found to these boots are the price and the weight. They weigh 1 lb. 14 ounces each, and cost $160. I have a pair of comparable mid-height Gore-Tex boots from Adidas. The Adidas boots are lighter and cost about $30 less. However, from experience with both brands, I know that Vasques last far longer (I wore three different styles of Adidas’s on the AT, mostly due to the price factor; they didn’t hold up nearly as long).
All in all, I have been exceptionally pleased with my Vasque Inhaler II GTX‘s. The comfort, the trusty grip, their ventilation combined with serious waterproof protection all adds up to a darn good boot. The cost might be a little steep for some people, but the peace-of-mind that comes with such durability is worth every penny. I also prefer a durable, heavier boot that’s going to keep my feet happy come rain, shine, river crossings, snow fields, miles of PA rocks, boulder scrambling and everything else adventure throws my way!
Disclaimer: the preceding product was donated for the purpose of this review.
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