The Vasque Grand Traverse hiking shoes are sturdy-soled and constructed with suede leather uppers, a design that is more common in hiking boots. Designed to offer the dual function of a hiking shoe and climbing approach shoe, the soles also have Megadrip compound rubber for added traction on the rocks and other slick trail surfaces. With the reputation of Vasque as making some of the best hiking footwear, we had high expectations for these versatile hiking shoes.
Vasque Grand Traverse - Women's Review
Cons: heavy, narrow fit
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Vasque Grand Traverse hiking shoes are sturdy and firm for supportive hiking on rocky terrain.
The Grand Traverse hiking shoes are not the heaviest shoe in our review, but they feel the heaviest on our feet while hiking. They are a few ounces lighter than the the Merrell Moab Ventilator and Salomon X Ultra GTX, but due to a bulky sole and heavier weight upper material, the weight feels like more. As mentioned elsewhere in the women]s hiking shoe review, a few ounces should not be the sole determining factor in choosing a hiking shoe, but it is important to not feel weighed down by the actual feel and fit of the shoes.
The lining is synthetic and provides comfort to the inside of the shoe. They are comfortable hiking shoes and are well padded. The arches are well supported but the ankle support is low. On some of our testers' feet, the low heel was not an issue, but for some of us, the heel was difficult to secure in the shoe; our heels would pull up and out while hiking. This is difficult to address with lacing alone. A high heel cup/ low ankle rise is a concern that will be relevant to some hikers and not to others depending on personal heel shape and fit. On longer hikes, the narrow shape of the shoe offered little space for expansion and breathability. We experienced the highest degree of comfort on day hikes and rocky trails.
The Grand Traverse offers a lot of lateral support and arch support. The soles are durable and firm. This limits the overall flexibility of the shoe, but makes them stiff and supportive. The firmness was limiting on easy hikes and walks, but on strenuous and rocky terrain, the support was appreciated. There is little balance between the firmness and flexibility- they are mostly firm. Over time, they break-in slightly, but this took many miles of invested time and energy before any noticeable softening occurred.
The ball of the heel rests into a well-supported cup, but the ankle support is low on these shoes. For hikers with high ankles, this may present an issue. Our feet were able to pull out of the shoe in stride. For other testers with low ankles, this issue of design was not noticeable. This is a personalized fitting concern to address. Hiking shoes are designed to offer less ankle support than hiking boots, but some ankle support, even if minimal, is still important. For great ankle support in a hiking shoe, the Salomon Ellipse - Women's and the Merrell Moab Ventilator - Women's offer substantially more ankle support that is consistent among reviewers.
Theses have one of the best lacing systems of any of the hiking shoes we reviewed. The laces weave through three distinct eyelets and even cross through an inner pocket attached to the top of the tongue where abrasion may be an issue. The laces run the length of foot to less than two fingers width from the toe of the shoe. We loved the ability to fully adjust the laces to be tighter or looser in specific regions of the foot for the best fit possible.
Vibram Ibex, Isogrip and Megadrip compound rubbers grace the soles of these shoes. This adds a stickiness and stability that most hiking shoes do not offer. The added compounds are commonly found in climbing approach shoes. This combines to make the Vasque Grand Traverse versatile in applications where gripping soles are necessary. On slick rock crossings and while summiting rocky peaks, the rubber soles excelled. The tread is semi-aggressive, which performs less competitively than the Salomon X Ultra GTX but maintains enough technicalities for hiking on trail and minimal rock usage.
These shoes are designed as a hybrid between a hiking shoe and approach shoe for rock climbing. This is a worthy marriage as many hiking shoes lack the stickiness of rubber sole or simple design to wear as an approach shoe. And likewise, some approach shoes lack the technical hiking capacity of a hiking shoe. Merging the two applications together lends to a versatile hiking shoe. It should be clearly noted that the Grand Traverse was reviewed as a hiking shoe and tested minimally as an approach shoe. In our review, we found that the sizing differences between a hiking shoe and approach shoe tend to be significant enough that these are best suited for hiking and minimal rock travel such as hiking to rocky summits or on short rock slab crossings. None of the hiking shoes in our review are more versatile for hiking and rock climbing approaches. We recommend the Salomon Ellipse or the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh as the most versatile hiking specific hiking shoes and for more insight into rock climbing approach shoes, check out the Approach Shoes review.
Water resistance is not a notable attribute in these shoes. Any water contact above the rubber sole will result in wet feet. For a great waterproof shoe, look for a model with Gore-Tex, such as the Salomon X Ultra GTX- Women's.
These are among the most durable hiking shoes we reviewed. The suede leather uppers and compounded Vibram rubber soles create durable contact points for diverse trail conditions and terrain as well as enduring abrasion. Due to these hefty materials, the shoes feel heavy. The actual weight is only ounces different among other hiking shoes, but the leather upper with patches of mesh coupled with sturdy soles adds to a heavy feel. No other shoe provided similar sturdiness on the sole. There was little to no flexibility of the shoes in most terrain conditions. For a durable hiking shoe that is also flexible, the Salomon Ellipse GTX hiking shoes are our Editors' Choice award winner.
The Vasque Grand Traverse hiking shoes are intended to function well as rock climbing approach shoes. We found them to be considerably bulkier in weight than other approach shoes. Most approach shoes are sized to offer a closer fit so that they may also serve as climbing shoes on moderately easy terrain (dependant on the climbers skill level and preference), but hiking shoes are best sized comfortably roomy. When trying on hiking shoes, as mentioned in the Buying Advice article, it is best to fit and size in the afternoon or after activity to assure the foot has had an opportunity to expand to its active, heated size. With this in consideration, hiking shoes tend to be sized true to size or up ½ to a full shoe size. This conflicting sizing makes these a comfortable hiking shoe but a too-big approach shoe. This hinders the ability of the shoe to truly serve both functions with comfort and fit.
As one of the highest priced shoes in our womens hiking shoes review, we would expect a more versatile, well-rounded hiking shoe that is lighter in weight. The Merrell Siren Sport 2 - Women's, our Best Buy awarded shoe, is almost $40 less and rates higher on all metric points with the exception of versatility. The Salomon X Ultra GTX hiking shoes are closely priced to the Grand Traverses and offer more technical features, a design suited for agility, and are more versatile in varying terrain and seasonal hiking conditions.
These hiking shoes are durable in construction and sturdy in the soles. For a hiking shoe that is ideal for day hiking and peak bagging, the firm sole lends to comfort and overall support.
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Most recent review: May 5, 2015
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