Vasque Velocity 2.0

Lightweight Trail Shoes
Vasque Velocity 2.0
$120, 1 lb. 9 oz. (men’s 9)
Sizes: Men’s 7-12, 13, 14 and wide 8-12, 13, women’s 6-11
vasque.com

Hot feet are the fastest route to blisters. Keep your feet dry and cool and you’ve eliminated two of the three factors necessary for developing blisters (the third being friction, caused by imperfect fit). Several trail runs of four to nine miles each in the non-waterproof Velocity 2.0 convinced me they may be the most breathable low-cut trail-running shoes I’ve worn, thanks to very airy uppers that are virtually all mesh. I ran on some days so hot that my synthetic T-shirt would be soaked—but my feet and socks completely dry when I finished.

The shoes fit low- to medium-volume feet very well, with good wiggle room for toes. These are not minimalist trail-running shoes—the midsole delivers solid cushioning (a thick layer of EVA foam) and torsional stability, which I like, especially on longer runs. In fact, the Velocity crosses over well into light hiking, offering more support than most low-cut hiking shoes, thanks to a rigid plastic plate under the arch, a firm heel cup, a toe guard, and multi-directional outsole lugs that grip well on a variety of surfaces. It’s ideal for trail running and light hiking in summer, or ultralight backpacking (for people accustomed to a very lightweight shoe) because the excellent breathability means the shoes dry fast when wet. The Gore-Tex version costs $150.

See all of my reviews of hiking shoes I like.

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.

—Michael Lanza