Hands-on Gear Review

Vasque Grand Traverse Review

Price:  $120 List | $83.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Very light, breathable, comfortable with light loads.
Cons:  Not durable for rough rock, little foot support
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight per pair (size 12):  1lb, 12oz
Upper Material:  Suede Leather, PU armored textile mesh
Lining Material:  Wicking lining
Manufacturer:   Vasque

Our Verdict

The Vasque Grand Traverse is a lightweight shoe that bridges the gap between approach shoes and hiking shoes. The upper incorporates breathable mesh panels - rather than all leather - to reduce weight and create breathability. The sticky rubber Vibram sole provides better traction on smooth rock than hiking shoes, but doesn't edge well compared to other approach shoes. We love this shoe for multi-pitch climbing, where its light weight is much appreciated.

If you are looking for a do-everything approach shoe that can climb technical rock, our Editors' Choice winner Five Ten Guide Tennie is a great choice. The La Sportiva Boulder X, our Best Buy winner, is a heavier do-everything shoe that hikes better with heavy loads, but doesn't climb as well compared to the Guide Tennie.


RELATED REVIEW: The 10 Best Climbing Approach Shoes for Men

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Brandon Lampley

Last Updated:
Tuesday
March 31, 2015

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The Vasque Grand Traverse earned high scores in our hiking comfort and weight metrics. It is a great shoe for moving light and fast in the mountains. The sticky Vibram sole smears better than hiking shoes. For folks with sweaty feet, it is the most breathable model we tested.

Performance Comparison


Where does this route start again? This light shoe is one of our favorites for toting up multi-pitch climbs for the descent. Here  you can see it clipped to Brandon's harness.
Where does this route start again? This light shoe is one of our favorites for toting up multi-pitch climbs for the descent. Here, you can see it clipped to Brandon's harness.

Climbing Ability


This approach shoe earned a climbing ability score just below the middle of the pack. We found the very flexible design doesn't edge or crack climb well, but does provide better than average smearing on both sandstone and granite.

Edging
While this shoe does incorporate an edging pad all along the inner margin of the sole, the soft EVA midsole doesn't provide the stiffness or support for good edging.

Smearing
Smearing is the place where the Grand Traverse made our top five performers list. As opposed to edging, a very flexible sole contributes to good smearing ability, and the sticky Vibram Ibex sole creates good friction.

The Grand Traverse earned a smearing score right in the middle of the approach shoes we tested  and sticks to rock much better than hiking shoes.
The Grand Traverse earned a smearing score right in the middle of the approach shoes we tested, and sticks to rock much better than hiking shoes.

Crack Climbing
The Grand Traverse can handle an unexpected bit of crack climbing on a long day out in the mountains better than hiking shoes or trail runners, but it was not one of the better performers among the approach shoes we tested.

Comfort


We rated the Grand Traverse one of the more comfortable products we tested. It is light on the foot and more breathable than any other we tested. If you have sweaty feet or often climb in warmer climates, this is much appreciated. Eight eyelets form the lacing system on the Grand Traverse, including one that tightens webbing that extends around the ankle collar. This feature, notably present on the award winning Keen Targhee 2 hiking shoe, provides a secure fit for a variety of foot shapes in this generally low volume product. While this shoe does have a gusseted tongue, it attaches much lower inside the shoe than others. Unfortunately, while it keeps dirt and sand from your sock, it traps this debris in a hard to remove spot down low in the shoe.

The PU reinforced mesh panels and tongue on this model breathe much better than any other approach shoe we tested.
The PU reinforced mesh panels and tongue on this model breathe much better than any other approach shoe we tested.

Support


This shoe provides little foot support - it doesn't intend to. Rather, the Grand Traverse is designed to minimize weight for folks with strong feet or who are carrying light loads.

Weight & Packability


The Grand Traverse is the second lightest product we tested. Our size 12 test model weighed in at a light 1 pound and 12 ounces for the pair. While the Evolv Cruzer is much lighter, for a lot of folks the increased support and durability the Grand Traverse delivers make it a much more versatile shoe. While it is not the best climber, our lead tester loves this shoe for carrying up long routes for the descent.

One of many  many laps in the Happy Boulders comparing each test model's edging and smearing ability. Unfortunately  we found that this shoe gets eaten up by rough rock.
One of many, many laps in the Happy Boulders comparing each test model's edging and smearing ability. Unfortunately, we found that this shoe gets eaten up by rough rock.

Durability


Although this shoe received the second lowest durability score we awarded, it will hold up reasonably well considering its lightweight design. The toe rand covers more of the upper behind the pinky toe than a lot of other models, and the mesh portions of the upper are reinforced with a PU overlay.

Best Applications


This is an excellent lightweight shoe for toting up multi-pitch routes. Clipped to your harness or stuffed in a climbing pack, it's great. For Eldorado Canyon or Tuolumne Meadows, this shoe provides a good combination of hiking comfort and good friction for slabby descents without weighing you down.

The Vasque Grand Traverse is a great choice for fast and light hiking adventures that traverse rock slabs as well.

If you want a light  sticky  breathable shoe for multi-pitch approaches and descents  this is a great choice.
If you want a light, sticky, breathable shoe for multi-pitch approaches and descents, this is a great choice.

Value


At $130, there are better do-everything shoes in this review. However, for folks that do not need the climbing ability delivered by our award winners, and want a more lightweight shoe, this is a great choice.

Conclusion


The Vasque Grand Traverse provides a great option for climbers that want a very light approach shoe to carry up multi-pitch routes for the descent. For hot weather, and folks with sweaty feet, it is also the most breathable product we tested.

The lightweight upper of this model will not stand up to the abuse scrambling the rough granite in Joshua Tree deals out.
The lightweight upper of this model will not stand up to the abuse scrambling the rough granite in Joshua Tree deals out.
Brandon Lampley

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Most recent review: March 31, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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