Hiking has become one of my favorite hobbies in recent years. Seven years ago I went on a great hike to the Grand Canyon with my friends. We hiked the Bright Angel Trail down to Phantom Ranch one day and left the South Kaibab Trail the next day. I wasn’t prepared then for how strenuous the hike could be and I didn’t have the best equipment.
During the hike I realized that having a great pair of walking shoes is important, even though you can get by without a few things. When I got to Phantom Ranch all those years ago I was crying – not because of the beauty of the natural landscape around me, but because my feet hurt after hiking 12 miles and thinking about hiking 1
How I tested
For our SELF Certified Sneaker Awards 2020, I tested the Vasque Talus XT GTX using criteria recommended by experts. You can read more about their criteria here. I tested these hiking boots by driving to my local hiking location on the Hudson River in New Jersey. I really wanted to test how these boots hold up over rocky terrain, water, and steep inclines. The loop I did was a 1 mile loop. Most of the terrain was pretty flat, but I made it to an area with lots of steps and steep inclines.
The thing I love most about these shoes is that I couldn’t feel any stones under my feet. I’ve walked in a lot of hiking boots, and sometimes the soles of those shoes are so soft that I can feel every rock and branch I step on. In the Vasque Talus XT GTX I felt like I was walking on air. During my first hike, I jumped over rocks, branches and stairs without feeling anything sharp under my feet.
The next time I tried these shoes out, I was recently in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia for a hiking weekend. This time I was able to test this out with a three mile loop to Jones Run Falls.
Read on to find out more about how the Vasque Talus XT GTX performed in relation to each of our expert-informed criteria.
The fit of these Vasque boots is great. I usually wear an 8.5 in most sneakers (although I’m an 8 in other shoes) so I have a little more room for my toes. These boots have enough space in the toe box for my toes to move, and they also have great support from my ankle and whole foot. I have a wider foot, so I always have to make sure that the toe box on all of my shoes has a little more leeway.
Shape of the shoe
The shape of the shoe is very nice too. If this is your first time trying on real hiking boots, you might think that the shoe is a bit bulky compared to hiking boots, but it fits my foot perfectly. Most of the hiking boots and shoes I’ve been wearing lately have been about a pound and they look and feel like a sneaker but have a better outsole to provide more support. With these hiking boots on, the two pound five ounce weight feels a little heavier on my foot. However, because of the waterproof leather and Gore-Tex outsole, I also feel like the weight helps me better handle harder surfaces while keeping my foot planted after every step.
How my body felt during and after the activity
After hiking in Shenandoah National Park all day, my feet felt wonderful. I’ve been on hikes three or four miles ago that require me to stop halfway to take a foot break. I usually take off my shoes near some water and relax my feet from either sweat or pain. With these shoes on, I had a swing in my crotch towards the end of my hike and even passed a group of people who were having a tough time on the hills. I wore these for the rest of the day through to dinner. The next day I expected to feel a little sore after not hiking for a few months, but my body felt great and my feet were ready for another trail.
I have to say the best thing about these shoes is how supportive and comfortable they are. I can definitely do a mile or two of hikes to longer full-day hikes.