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Hands-on Gear Review
Vasque Juxt Review
Cons: Not waterproof, weaknesses in durability
Bottom line: This inexpensive model provides great all-around performance for hikers in dry environments.
The Vasque Juxt has lots to offer at a low price, earning our Best Buy Award in 2017. It's a great choice for day hiking and light backpacking when avoiding water and rain storms. It's comfortable, lightweight, and versatile. With breathable construction and a clean, low-key look, this shoe is casual enough to hang in town for everyday use. This model fits average to narrow feet well, and wide sizes are available for folks that need more forefoot room.
This product combined price and performance the best of any model. If you're willing to pay more, however, you can take performance to another level. Our Editors' Choice winner, The North Face Ultra 109 GTX, is a better all around performer for hiking and backpacking in mixed conditions. And the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit WP is our new comfort king, featuring an extremely comfortable sole. That said, we quite like the Juxt, as it is more than enough shoe for the vast majority of terrain and conditions the average hiker encounters.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Vasque Juxt is a capable hiking shoe that covers all the bases well, minus water resistance, at a list price of $110. The upper is 1.6mm suede leather and a dual density EVA insole covers the footbed. The midsole consists of molded EVA above a TPU plate for the shank. The outsole is a proprietary Vasque Off the Grid rubber sole.
The Juxt is form fitting and comfortable right out of the box, rockered and ready for action. This suede leather shoe needs no break-in period and the padding around the opening is minimal, flexible, and feels great around the ankle. We also like the plushy mesh and suede tongue, which kept the laces from digging into the bridge of our foot. The toe protection is solid, with a stiff rubber rand around the toe box. Protection underfoot is only average, where pointed rocks are felt through the footbed, as well as only moderate shock absorption. For better underfoot protection, check out the Keen Targhee II.
Vasque has done a brilliant job with the unique lacing system: eight alternating traditional eyes and webbing loops let you adjust the tightness of the lacing better than most shoes. With no waterproof lining and small vent holes through the leather tongue, this product is more breathable than all the others. Folks with wide feet probably find the fit and toe box narrow, but wide sizes are available. If you desire to maximize comfort underfoot, though, you'll like the Tor Summit.
A full-leather pair of hiking shoes for only 2 lb. 0.2 oz. (size 11.5)? Yeah, we were impressed, too. There are a few more lightweight models in this review, but this is the only full-leather model, and we love its low weight. Other models, both lighter and heavier, make durability shortcuts with mesh tongues or uppers in order to drop weight. Not having a waterproof liner does help the Juxt keep its weight down. For lots of leather with a functioning waterproof liner, check out the Tor Summit or Asolo Agent GV, which hover within an ounce of this model.
The Juxt provides ample support for flat and rough trails on long day hikes. The TPU plate between the mid and outsole keeps the midfoot stiff while allowing the forefoot to flex, ideal for a hiker who enjoys playing on boulders and talus along trails. We also liked the reinforcement in the insole, which has a second layer of denser foam that extends from the heel to the front of the foot arch.
Strong-footed individuals will find them ready for medium loads on some backpacking missions. But stiffer, more supportive models like the Targhee II or Ultra 109 GTX are better for trips lasting more than a few days.
The Juxt is built for dry weather, a fact that also shines through in its purchase. The Vasque Off the Grid outsole sticks to dry granite with almost magnetic at-traction. Its thin sole increases sensitivity on rock surfaces, making it a good choice for scrambling up boulders for fun along the path. Moreover, it's great in loose gravel and rough, dry terrain in general. The large surface area contact from the sole also worked well on wet rock, where we achieved better than expected grip in these shoes.
The lateral tread isn't multi-directional or aggressive, which is part reason for its lackluster performance in mud and snow. For better performance on these surfaces, check out the X Ultra II GTX. While this dented the Juxt's traction score, we weren't too discouraged, because this shoe isn't made for those conditions. We were impressed with the overall traction from this proprietary sole, which outperformed the Vibram soles on the La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX.
A flexible forefoot makes the Juxt great for day hiking, and there is enough support in the midfoot for carrying a bit of a load. This model isn't burly like low-cut hiking boots. The fit is nice and snug, more similar to a running shoe, and the cushioning is adequate for picking up the pace to a jog for a few miles.
With an unassuming look for casual wear, these shoes earned a high versatility score. Just don't expect them to perform well in wet weather. For premium performance at higher prices, the Salomon X Ultra is a nimble speed demon, and The North Face Ultra 109 GTX provides even better backpacking performance.
The Juxt is the only model in this review that does not have a waterproof liner nor a gusseted tongue. As soon as water gets above the toe box and hits the laces, the dry feet game is over. Water rushed in and flooded the shoe without seconds in the stream test, as expected.
The suede leather upper is sufficient for short walks through dew-covered grass, but if you need more water resistance in your low-profile hiking shoes, check out the Asolo Agent GV, or The North Face Ultra 109 GTX for higher walls and more protection.
We are impressed with the durability of this shoe overall. The full leather upper handles the abrasion caused by rocky terrain, and a substantial protective rubber cap protects the toe. While the proprietary rubber sole isn't as long lasting some competitors' Vibram soles, it gives most folks six months or so of everyday use before wearing the lugs thin. Denser soles, like the ones on the Targhee II, last longer. The comfortable fit and unassuming look make these great everyday shoes, but if you want them to last longer for hiking, avoid a lot of concrete time. The relatively soft rubber soles provide increased traction on dry rock but wear quickly.
Our biggest area of concern pertains to the exposed single-stitching that connects the individual leather pieces of the upper. We ripped a few vulnerable stitches during a heel hook move while monkeying around on a fun wayside boulder, and can imagine the seam eventually splitting at that point. That said, we realize that our use of the shoe in this manner is not exactly typical. Another all-leather model, the Agent GV has more a more durable upper and stitching.
We love this shoe for just about all things hiking. That is until it gets rainy and muddy. With a flexible forefoot, but a decent amount of support and stability through the midfoot, the Juxt is both a great day hiking shoe and a good backpacker for those with strong feet. It is our favorite shoe of all we tested for off-trail desert hiking. Not only is the full leather upper durable for the rough terrain, it protects your foot from cactus spines better than products with mesh panels in the upper.
The Juxt lists at $110, which makes it the second-least expensive option of all shoes reviewed. We have seen it on sale for much less, too. We preferred this model over a few shoes that cost $75 more! Vasque cut costs by avoiding a waterproof liner and using a proprietary outsole, but the lack of name-brand components is not a handicap. Even at full price, this shoe offers incredible performance per dollar and wins our Best Buy Award.
If you hike in warm, dry weather, put this shoe on your short list. It's one of the more affordable hiking-specific shoes on the market and it performs way above its price tag. It's not the right choice for hikers in the soggy Pacific Northwest, but desert hikers and everyone else through the dry season will appreciate the great breathability in this full leather shoe. Excellent traction on dry rock and gravel, combined with low weight, make this a superb shoe for hikers that want to move fast in rough and dry terrain.
— Ross Robinson
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