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Hands-on Gear Review
Vasque Talus Trek Low UltraDry - Women's Review
Cons: Leather upper absorbs water, poor traction on slabs
Bottom line: A good shoe for someone who likes to day and overnight hike and only wants one pair of shoes.
This shoe impressed us in some areas more than others. The Talus Trek Low UltraDry comfortable shoe with padding in the forefoot as well as the heel, and it provides a good deal of support. We found the traction lacking though on rocky terrain, and while it has a waterproof liner, the leather upper absorbs water, bogging down the shoe. This is one of the most versatile shoes in our review though. You can wear it for day hikes close to home, and it has the support and structure for an overnight trip with a backpack as well. We felt the same about our Editors' Choice winner, the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry, but it had even better support and traction overall than this pair.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Shoes for Women Review
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Vasque Talus Trek Low UltraDry has a nubuck leather upper with Vasque's "UltraDry" waterproof membrane. The midsole is a molded EVA and it has Vibram's Nuasi sole.
The chart below shows how the Talus Trek compared to the other models in our test group.
We did find this shoe to be fairly comfortable overall. Unlike some other shoes, we didn't feel like this pair needed much of a break in period. The thick tongue prevented us from feeling any pressure from the laces. There is ample cushion in the heel and the forefoot, which other shoes, like the Keen Voyageur - Women's and Asolo Outlaw GV - Women's lack. We did experience a bit of heel lift though and our feet got rather sweaty in this pair, which had us knocking a little off this model's comfort score. We did have a good fit in this shoe width wise, and it also comes in Wide sizes, which is rare in women's footwear. The Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator - Women's was the only other pair in our test group that came in Wide sizes.
We also got ample support in this shoe. The arch is defined, the leather upper is supportive, and the sole is stiff, though not as stiff as the Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo - Women's. This shoe felt supportive enough to handle more weight than just a light day pack, so if you prefer to backpack in hiking shoes instead of boots you'll definitely want to take a look at this pair.
We had mixed feeling about the traction on this shoe which illustrates the issue we are sure manufacturers go through when designing their soles. Do you design for ultimate traction on the trails and dirt, or do you add in elements that will also stick to bare rock? These shoes worked very well on the trails and dirt. The lugs are aggressive and the heel strike area is massive (good for descents). However, once we got on bare rock we had some slippage issues and a lack of confidence in the rubber. Not being able to trust your footing is an issue when scrambling around, and the specific rubber used on this sole did not inspire confidence. (Note that Vibram makes dozens of types of shoe rubber, some more sticky than others.) Long story short, if you only hike on well-defined trails this shoe will still work well for you, but if you like to get off the beaten path a bit and bag a trailess peak or scramble around the desert, something like the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator is a better choice.
These shoes weigh 2 lbs in a women's size 10, which puts them on the heavier end of our test group. While they're a couple ounces lighter than the Lowa Renegades, you can still feel a noticeable difference between a pair like this and the ultralight Ahnu Sugarpine WP - Women's, which is about a half a pound lighter per pair than these ones.
So we ended up giving this shoe a rather low score for water resistance for several reasons. While it did not let any water in during our bucket test, the leather became completely saturated, making it much heavier. Some leather shoes, like the Lowa Renegade II and the Asolo Outlaw, absorbed little to no water, as did the synthetic upper shoes that we tested. In addition, the ankle opening is about half an inch lower than the Hoka One One Tor Summit and the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry, which gives slightly less coverage when crossing streams.
There are many parts of this shoe that are beefy and well made. The Vibram sole extends up to the toes with a little cap, and the upper is solid leather without any cutouts, which are frequent failure points. However, the leather is easily scratched by vegetation, and we noticed some permanent creases in the uppers after only minimal use. There is also a lot of exposed EVA on the sides and heel, which is not ideal if you are hiking in rough terrain.
The Vasque Talus Trek Low UltraDry is really just a cut-off version of their Talus Trek boot, and as such it's good for all of the uses that you might want a full boot for but prefer to wear shoes.
These hiking shoes retail for $140, which makes them a little more expensive that some models, like our Best Buy winner, the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator ($100), but within the range of the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry ($140) and Hoka One One Tor Summit ($160). Considering that they are suitable for both day hiking and overnight trips, you'll get a lot of versatility for the price.
While the Vasque Talus Trek Low UltraDry didn't win any awards this time around, it's still a great shoe and might be just what you are looking for, particularly if you have wide feet (it's available in Wide sizes for women — a rarity!), or want a versatile pair for all of your hiking needs.
This shoe is also available in a mid-height boot ($150). We also tested the Vasque Monolith UltraDry - Women's ($130) in our Women's Hiking Boot review and it was our Best Buy winner.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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