Normally, I like to leave my final thoughts about a piece of gear until the end of a review, but I’ll say it right up front with this one: The brand new Vasque Breeze LT GTX ($170) boots are the most comfortable hikers I’ve ever worn. Not just comfortable—they’re badass hikers. They climb. They grip in dirt, on rocks, in mud, and in the snow. They support. They keep water out. More than any other boot I’ve used, these merge the support of a boot with the comfort and lightness of a trail runner. Like, for real. They are impressive.

Of course, there are caveats. I’ve only put about 35 miles on these since I’ve had them, so I can’t speak to their durability yet. I have long, very flat feet, so comfort when it comes to boots might be a bit more subjective in my floppy-footed case. I’ve also owned Vasques that I adored at first that gradually became toe mashers later (and plenty more that always felt great). But I don’t anticipate that being a problem with the Breeze LT GTXs. They are more comfortable than my two-year-old Vans. It feels like I’ve worn these boots every day for a decade.

 

The fourth version of the Breeze is the best.

Vasque has made the Breeze line of boots for going on 15 years now, a dependable series of lightweight, easy-wearing boots meant for all-around performance. The newest iteration is a massive departure from the Breeze IIIs, which we already liked. The Breeze LT GTXs weigh only 1 pound, 11 ounces per pair (claimed weight for men’s 10). That’s a pound less than the Breeze IIIs and on par with a trail runner/hiking low like the Brooks Cascadia.

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That lightness appears to be thanks to the Vibram Litebase outsole, a relatively new outsole material that can be found on a few different hikers. Scarpa, for example, uses it on a few of their trail runners. It purports to cut the weight of a typical outsole by 25 percent simply through making it thinner; as much as 40 percent or so thinner than most Vibram outsoles. The tread isn’t affected (Vasque uses the Vibram Megagrip outsole for these), it’s just lighter than you’d expect but with the same grip.

 

It’s easy to see the thinness of the Vibram Litebase (upper left) vs a standard Vibram outsole.

Midsole feel is cushy with plenty of rebound. For a shoe this light, they don’t have the marshmallow feel that some trail runner-based hikers, like some of the larger offerings from HOKA ONE ONE do. They feel confident, snappy, and supportive on the trail. Hiking with a 40-pound pack didn’t stress my ankles or foot support with these boots the way trail runners sometimes can. Downhill sections didn’t result in toe crushing, uphills didn’t see any heel slippage. My size 12s are dead-bang true to size.

The uppers are light and, um, breezy, with microfiber panels that feel a bit like suede and are abrasion resistant. A stiff rubber toe cap provides more protection than trail runners, but can’t compare to a beefy leather boot. You won’t want to kick a granite boulder flush with your toes, for example, though, why you would ever do that is beyond me. There’s just enough of a stiff rubber cup for your ankle/achilles to provide backfoot support too.

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Great shoes for wet trails.

I stood in water crossings. Planted my feet in snow. Traipsed through mud. Feet stayed nice and dry the whole time. For boots lined with Gore-Tex, they breathe fairly well. I’d consider wearing these on warm weather hikes actually, they’re that comfortable. In fact, you might be tempted to break into a trail run in these—okay, fine, I did—and they felt right at home.

Back to those caveats. There is a lightness here that doesn’t exactly scream longevity. I have no reason to assume the Breeze LT GTXs won’t be around in my gear closet for the next few happy years, but until I’ve had them for an entire season, it’s hard to say for sure. The footbed could morph too, I suppose, but I think they’d end up feeling even more comfortable at that point. Hard to find any fault with these. I even think they look pretty cool.

 

I’ll be enjoying this view as long as these puppies will last.

If you’re a boots-only hiker, you’ll find a lot to like here. A trail runner devotee? You’ll be surprised at how natural these feel. I first saw these at last summer’s OR, and dutifully bided my time until they hit the market and I could give them a try. It was worth the wait.

$170 • BUY

Other super light boot options

Even lighter than the Vasques, the HOKA ONE ONE Sky Kaha are an astonishing 1 pound, 1 ounce, waterproof, and feel pretty much like a HOKA running shoe. If you like a shoe with a big drop and a spongy-soft feel, these are your hikers. $220

The Salomon X Ultra 3 Mids are a go-to for many hikers who want the best of both worlds, lightweight and with a boot’s ankle coverage. Just a couple ounces heavier than the Vasques. $170

They’re burlier and heavier, but the Scarpa Zodiac GTXs are true boots that stride the lightness/toughness line better than most. $269

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