One of the challenges I have found with trail running, especially on technical trails, is finding a shoe that is light weight, protective, yet also has a low profile so that I get to feel the terrain under my feet and can react quickly to changes in surface. I was excited to have the opportunity recently to try a pair of Vasque Transistor trail shoes – the model I tested was the FS7534. Never having run in Vasque shoes before, I was intrigued by the description of the construction and that Vasque had created the shoe after listening to feedback from trail runners.
Vasque have used what they call a FootSync Fit System that results in a low profile shoe that eliminates the need for a separate insole. Your foot sits about 5mm lower, and closer to the ground, than in a “conventional” shoe. A lower and contoured midsole, and a contoured surface outsole, not only brings your foot closer to the ground, it is also designed to increase the amount of proprioceptive feedback that the wearer receives from the trail. As a result of the construction changes, the shoe weighs in at a light 11 ozs, depending on size. Vasque claim that the light weight and innovative construction have not resulted in any sacrifice in comfort, with upgraded cushioning also built in.
When the shoes arrived the first thing that stands out is the color. Mine came in super lemon / peat, and they look attractive and racy from the box. Next thing I noticed is the light weight – I could feel as soon as I lifted one from the box that it was marginally lighter than my usual shoe of choice, La Sportive Crosslites. Initial impression once I tried the shoes on was that you can really feel the “lower profile” construction of the shoe. Your foot literally feels closer to the ground. The lacing system was a little stiff, probably just first use that will ease up with more runs logged on them. Sizing was fine; I slotted into my usual 10.5 US size and felt very comfortable from the start. The Transistors have a wider toe box than I am used to with the Crosslites – I wondered how this would be as I have had issues with other shoes where my feet have ended up moving laterally inside the shoe and left me with uncomfortable forefoot blisters. The rest of the shoe felt snug and supportive.
First run was on a mix of paved and dirt roads. Initial feel of the shoe was great. Very light and responsive straight from the box. I was running at an easy pace with a client and had to hold back from pushing on and letting the shoes run free. I deliberately tested whether I would have a problem with movement of the forefoot in the toe box by including lots of lateral bursts to the side of the road – no problems! All my running is through the forefoot – my heel just about touches on landing. The shoes offer excellent forefoot support and cushioning and felt very comfortable even at my initial slow pace. Grip is excellent as a result of the outsole using rounded edges and tapered lugs to hug the terrain underfoot. Feet kept dry inside the shoe running through wet snow – the shoes also dried out quickly on the outside once left to dry. Didn’t have any chance as yet to try out their abaility to keep dust and debris out – given Vasque’s background I wouldn’t imagine this is a problem. Good level of protection offered by the shoe, my feet survived several attempts at bouncing off rocks and kerbs without bruising.
Since then I have worn the shoes on further runs on lower elevation trails and dirt roads. The shoe is very responsive and eats up the miles without any compromise. I am longing to give them a run out on technical, rocky trails, once the snow melts. I have really enjoyed the opportunities I have had to “dance” in the shoes so far on unstable snow packs and kerbs. For anyone looking for a lightweight, very responsive trail shoe that looks as good as it runs, this could be the shoe for you. I’ll keep you updated with my impressions on those technical trails – roll on Spring! Vasque Transistor FS retails at $100.00 a pair. Find your local retailer at the Vasque website – the shoes are in the shops now! http://www.vasque.com/