Vasque Breeze AT GTX Hiking Boots Review

Vasque Breeze AT Hiking Boots Review
The Vasque Breeze AT GTX is a waterproof/breathable hiking boot with an EVA midsole and TPU shank that’s been engineered to take on challenging terrain. Good for backpacking, peakbagging, and off-trail use, these boots have plenty of toe and side protection for your feet and ankles with mesh and leather uppers that provide a good mix of breathability and support. The Breeze AT GTX boots require a short break-in period and run true-to-size, with wide sizes available for those who need them. They are available in men’s and women’s sizes.

Specs at a Glance

  • Fabric: Air Mesh
  • Reinforced Uppers: 2.0 mm Waterproof Nubuck Leather
  • Waterproofing: Gore-Tex w/ Extended Comfort Technology
  • Footbed: Dual Density EVA
  • Midsole: A.T.C. (All Terrain Compound) Midsole with EVA Cushioning Pods
    TPU Shank
  • Sizing: European sizes available (good for better fit)
  • Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz/pair

Many people prefer wearing hiking boots over trail runners for hiking and backpacking because they provide more foot protection than trail runners. (FAQ: When are Hiking Boots Better Than Trail Runners?)

By added protection we mean:

  • Built-up toes boxes that stop you from stubbing your toes or breaking toenails if you kick or stumble over rocks
  • Shanks and rock plates that distribute the force of your foot and prevent bruising to your heels, arch, and forefoot
  • Side protection against scree and rocks that can scrape or cut your ankles
  • A rigid heel counter to help prevent pronation and promote stability

Hiking Boot Anatomy Vasque

My Experience

I got these Breeze AT GTX Boots because I needed a pair of hiking boots that would provide good protection for trail maintenance, be warm enough for use in spring when there’s still lingering snow, and cool enough for use in warmer weather. Trail runners just don’t cut it when you’re clearing blowdowns with a chainsaw or levering boulders with a rock bar. I prefer the added stability and ankle protection provided by boots.

I also wanted a pair of boots I could use for bushwhacking (off-trail hiking), especially in spring when there’s still snow at higher elevations so my feet would stay warmer. Bushwhacking can really tear up your feet and lower legs when you have to fight through dense stands of shrubbery or scramble over rotting blowdowns where you can’t see your feet as you walk.

The Breeze AT is a warmer footwear option for mixed conditions in spring or late autumn.
The Breeze AT is a warmer footwear option for mixed conditions in spring or late autumn.

These boots have excelled at both of these activities once I got them broken in. The Breeze AT GTX Boots are not wearable right out of the box. That required about 25 miles of hiking in moderate terrain to soften up the uppers and ankle cuff. It’s best to do this off-pavement to fully exercise the uppers.  But that 25 mile break-in period is about half of the 50 miles it usually takes to break in a pair of all-leather hiking boots like the Asolo TPS 520 or a Vasque Sundowner.

I view the fact that these boots are lined with Gore-tex (GTX) as a plus in spring because it makes them warmer than unlined boots. But, I don’t get super excited about the fact that Gore-tex makes them waterproof because I can usually find a stream crossing, bog, or mud patch that’s deep enough to pour over the top of the ankle cuffs and make the interior wet. I care more about how fast they dry, which varies from one night to two (depending on how wet they get) when positioned in proximity to my woodstove. I can live with that.

The lugs on the Vasque Breeze AT’s are pretty tame by comparison to boots from other manufacturers
The lugs on the Vasque Breeze AT’s are pretty tame by comparison to boots from other manufacturers

The insoles included in the Breeze AT GTX boots are pretty lackluster foam inserts and I’d recommend replacing them with a harder wearing and more supportive alternative like Green Superfeet or one of their other models. Superfeet insoles are shaped and reinforced to lock your heels in the back of your boots and prevent the pronation or supination which can exacerbate plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. They also provide more arch and forefoot protection than factory foam inserts. With the exception of Oboz hiking boots and trail shoes, most hiking boots come with pretty crappy insoles in order to reduce their cost.

The tread on the Breeze AT GTX boots is also pretty middle of the road. The vibram lugs are not terribly deep or articulated for managing deep mud. Their performance on wet rock is good, but you do need to pay attention to your footwork. I like the fact that the forefoot is pointed more like a climbing shoe, with a rigid toe that helps in scrambling. The soles do have an arch and a heel brake so you can wear them with a gaiter, but they don’t have a gaiter ring, so you’ll want gaiters that can hook over your laces. The forefoot is slightly rockered (curved) which makes the boots easier to hike in, but the heel is flat for increased stability.

Comparable mid-weight hiking boots

Make / ModelWaterproof/BreathableWeight/PairPrice
Vasque Breeze ATYes2 lbs 11 oz$190
Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTXYes2 lbs 13 oz$230
Lowa Renegade GTX MidYes2 lbs 7 oz$240
Asolo Fugituve GTXYes3 lbs 2 oz$275
Salomon Quest Prime GTXYes2 lbs 8 oz$190
Arcteryx Acrux TR GTXYes2 lbs 7 oz$240

When comparing these boots, pay particular attention to the amount of toe and side protection they offer as well as reinforcements in the shank and midsole. Boots that have curvier sole (lengthwise) will be somewhat easier to walk in.

Recommendation

Vasque’s Breeze AT Hiking Boots are a good option if you’re looking for a waterproof/breathable hiking and backpacking boot that emphasizes foot protection and stability without being as heavy or warm as a full-blown leather hiking boot. They’re also surprisingly lightweight and agile with a lot more protection and support than comparable mid-weight hiking boots. A short break-in time (about 25 miles) is required to soften them up and eliminate hot spots under the tongue and around the upper cuff. These boots run true to size and are also available in wide widths. If you want a pair of stiffer and protective hiking boots for trail work, more rugged or off-trail hiking, they’re a good choice.

Disclosure: Vasque provided the author with a pair of boots for this review.

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