Vasque Breeze 2.0
$80, 1 lb. 10 oz. (youth 6)
Sizes: kids 10-13, youth 1-6
Finding boots for kids that not only look like adult boots, but are also really built like high-quality adults boots, can be like looking for an honest man in our nation’s capitol. So I was especially pleased with how well the kids’ Breeze 2.0 performed when my 13-year-old son wore them for more than a week of trekking hut to hut through Italy’s rugged Dolomite Mountains, encountering a full range of conditions: rain, mud, puddles, and snow.
While he only carried a daypack weighing eight to 10 pounds, we hiked for several hours every day in terrain with significant vertical elevation gain and loss daily. I’m confident the EVA midsole provides enough support and cushioning for his usual backpacking load of about 18 pounds. Yet, the boot also has enough forefoot flex to it to feel fairly light and nimble to him—a big comfort factor for kids.
The proprietary waterproof-breathable lining kept his feet dry through many wet days (helped at times by him wearing low gaiters). The suede leather and nylon uppers deliver a good balance of durability and breathability, so his feet didn’t overheat, and the boots showed no wear after more than 50 hard trail miles and a lot of bashing against rocks. That’s thanks in part to a sturdy, rubber toe bumper. The widely spaced, deep outsole lugs and in-cut heel bite well in a variety of trail conditions, including packed dirt, mud, loose stones, and even snow, and the rubber gloms onto smooth rock respectably well—although these aren’t sticky scrambling shoes. Even details like the lacing demonstrate the boots’ quality and durability, with metal lace hooks at the top and nylon lace loops below that keep the laces from slipping across the midfoot.
The fit was good for my son: His heels didn’t slip when he walked, his toes never got slammed into the front of the boots, and he developed no blisters. He readily wore them in towns off the trail without complaint. I’m glad whenever my kids’ gear does its job; but of course, no one was happier about these boots than my son. If you want kids to like hiking and backpacking, outfit them with gear that’s as good as what you’re using—especially boots. The Vasque Breeze 2.0 for kids clear that bar.
See all of my reviews of kids outdoor gear and apparel.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.