Vasque Talus Trek Low UltraDry - Women's Review
Cons: Leather upper absorbs water, poor traction on slabs
Our Analysis and 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.
This shoe is 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, 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 had a good fit in this shoe widthwise, and it also comes in Wide sizes, which is rare in women's footwear. The Merrell Moab 2 is the only other pair in our test group that comes 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. This shoe feels supportive enough to handle more weight than just a light daypack, so if you prefer to backpack in hiking shoes instead of boots, you'll want to take a look at this pair.
We have mixed feelings 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 trailless peak or scramble around the desert, something like the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof is a better choice.
These shoes weigh 1 lb 12 oz in a women's size 7, which puts them on the heavier end of our test group. You can feel a noticeable difference between a pair like this and the ultralight North Face Safien GTX or Merrell Siren Edge Q2 WP, which are about a half a pound lighter per pair than these.
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. Also, the ankle opening is about half an inch lower than the Hoka One One Tor Summit, which gives you slightly less coverage when crossing streams.
Many parts of this shoe are sturdy 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 like 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 than some models, like our Best Buy winner, the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof ($120). They are within the range of the Oboz Sawtooth II 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.
— Cam McKenzie Ring