Vasque Juxt Review
Cons: Durability concerns, not good for wet weather
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The 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. A thick toe rand wraps around the outer toe box, helping to protect the foot from unexpected trips over rocks and roots. The light-duty sole is comfortable and flexes easily, though it does not offer as much underfoot protection from sharp rocks. For better sole performance, there are shoes with a more substantial outsole.
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.
A full-leather pair of hiking shoes for only two pounds? 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 to drop weight. Not having a waterproof liner does help the Juxt keep its weight down.
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.
These shoes felt a bit unstable on sidehills or edging, due to the flexibility of the sole. Some hikers may find these shoes to offer enough support to carry medium to heavy loads on an overnight backpacking trip, though we would tend to recommend a more supportive shoe.
The Juxt shines in this department, chewing up terrain both on and off the trail with ease. Whether traveling on gravel, sand or granite slabs, these shoes maintain stable traction and inspire confidence. These are great shoes if hiking exclusively on dry terrain, but we did notice a large drop in performance on wet rock or slippery surfaces.
The lateral tread isn't multi-directional or aggressive, which leads to lackluster performance in mud and snow. 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 some other models.
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, though we would not prefer these for overnight hiking trips. 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. Shoes with a waterproof membrane scored better as overall backpacking shoes.
The Juxt does not have a waterproof liner nor a gusseted tongue. As soon as the 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, and you should treat the outer with an aftermarket leather conditioner like Nikwax, but if you need more water resistance in your low-profile hiking shoes, check out shoes with 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 last longer. The comfortable fit and unassuming look make these great everyday shoes, but if you want them to last longer for hiking, avoid concrete. 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.
This shoe provides top value for its low cost. We preferred this model over a few shoes that cost much 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 the Vasque Juxt on your shortlist. 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. Great 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 and Ryan Huetter