|When looking for some new race shoes Vasque are not a manufacturer of shoes that would probably spring to the forefront of the average UK adventurer racer’s mind, however, they have been creating a reputation for themselves Stateside for 35 years and the Blur has won a Gear of the Year award from the influential ‘Outside’ Magazine.
The Blur is designed and marketed as a trail running shoe with emphasis on stability and control on rough terrain. The sort of lightweight, yet durable shoe that should appeal to adventure racers then…
The upper is constructed from sections of a suede-like microfibre and mesh nylon that I initially thought wouldn’t stand 5 minutes of heather bashing in the hills, but has really surprised me. The mesh is tough but breathable, though there’s more microfibre than there is mesh so the foot certainly feels warmer than in other shoes with more mesh on the shoe upper. Initial thoughts that the microfibre would be difficult to keep clean and would deteriorate rapidly were proved wrong and the upper is barely showing any sign of wear after 6 months use.
Scuffs and bangs against rocks are protected from doing any damage to the shoe or the foot inside, by rubber bumpers around the toe and heel.
The materials are lightweight and flexible for comfort but still supportive. The foot is harnessed to the midsole by supportive non-stretch straps connecting directly to the laces, to stabilize, reduce pronation and reduce load on soft connective tissue of the instep. The tongue and collars are well padded but although very comfortable I found they just held too much water when used in typical UK conditions, and took a good time to dry.
The midsole features TPU shanks and nylon plates to provide a high level of stability and also do a great job at protecting the foot from impact strikes on sharp objects underfoot. Whilst the midsole is stable and confidence inspiring on rocky terrain it is not hugely cushioning and I found it rather ‘clunky’ on road.
The outsole is comprised of large widely spaced lugs, that work extremely well on all rough terrain, and are first class on typical trail mud and wet roots. On the open fell they grip well on wet grass and they served me well in the snow of the Bergson Winter Challenge. The wide last provides plenty of space in the toe box for my wide feet (plus bunions!) but the lacing system and heel cup work very well to ensure that the foot is held firmly in place, even on steep traverses.
I’ve found these to be a solid shoe, that in some circumstances is among the best I’ve tried but some factors mean it’s not my first choice for other situations. I find the well padded tongue and ankle cuff very comfortable making them ideal to spend a long time in, however, this padding also holds water so wouldn’t use it when likely to be getting wet often. The aggressive sole works well on soft terrain and the midsole does a good job of preventing rock strikes from hurting the bottom of the foot, however, I found it a bit clumsy and heavy for running on harder ground.
All in all, a shoe that I’d rate highly for trail running, and worth looking at for expedition length adventure races, where the comfort, durability, and aggressive sole are more important than a lightweight, nimble slipper.
For more details please visit: http://www.vasque.com