Vasque Breeze LT Mid GTX
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz. (men’s size 9)
Waterproof: Yes (Gore-Tex)
What we like: Impressively light, nimble, and supportive for the weight.
What we don’t: We experienced considerable durability issues after one backpacking trip.
See the Men's Vasque Breeze LT Mid See the Women's Vasque Breeze LT Mid
Minnesota-based Vasque is best known for their traditional hiking boot designs with substantial leather uppers and stiff constructions, but their Breeze LT Mid is aimed squarely at the lightweight hiking and backpacking crowd. We put the boot through a thorough round of testing, including a 35-mile backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon, and were impressed by the feathery weight, excellent support, and rugged outsole. However, some premature durability issues gave us serious pause. Below we break down our experiences with the Breeze LT Mid GTX. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best hiking boots.
Table of Contents
- Stability and Support
- Build Quality and Durability
- Fit and Sizing
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
Upon trying on the Vasque Breeze LT Mid for the first time, I was struck by its lightweight and supportive feel. I’ve been primarily trudging around in the since-discontinued Salomon Wings Sky GTX for the past couple years, and it was immediately evident that hiking footwear had evolved in a major way. While I initially thought the relatively thin EVA foam midsole might be undergunned when carrying a 40-pound pack, I’m happy to report it offered ample protection and cushioning while walking over sharp rocks. That said, I did have one comfort-related concern with the Breeze LT: the stitching that runs up the back of the heel caused a slight pain point on my first outing. But after a short break-in period, the irritation dissipated significantly (although it remained slightly noticeable). In the end, the Breeze LT might not be a great match for those with sensitive feet, but I found it was comfortable on everything from quick jaunts to a four-day, 35-mile backpacking trip.
Clocking in at 1 pound 10 ounces per pair for a men’s size 9 (the listed weight is 1 lb. 11 oz.), the Breeze LT felt exceptionally light and nimble on the trail. Compared to the first iteration of the LT (2 lbs. 2 oz.), Vasque trimmed serious weight, and the latest Breeze LT now undercuts most of the hiking boot competition. In fact, the running-shoe-inspired design is similar in weight to many rugged trail runners. For comparison, similar hiking boots like the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX (1 lb. 14 oz.) and Merrell Moab 2 WP (2 lbs. 4 oz.) add significant heft. Even compared to waterproof trail-running shoes like the Brooks Cascadia 15 GTX (1 lb. 7.4 oz.) and La Sportiva Akyra GTX (1 lb. 11.4 oz.), the Breeze LT is still impressively competitive. And perhaps most importantly, despite the low weight and fairly minimalist design, I found the Breeze LT to be plenty of boot during our extended backpacking trip.
While the previous version of the Breeze LT also featured a Vibram rubber outsole, the latest Megagrip compound is much grippier—definitely more trail runner than hiking boot. I found the star-shaped lugs stuck confidently to everything from soft sand to rocks, and the sole even performed well on snow. All told, despite being loaded down by a heavy pack, the shoe’s tread bit nicely into all surfaces it encountered. And equally important, after abusing the Breeze LT for four days straight on the challenging Escalante Route in the Grand Canyon, the lugs showed only minimal signs of wear.
While the Breeze LT Mid doesn’t deliver the same stability as a heavier hiking boot, it provides ample assurance for most trail days. While I was initially concerned that the boot’s low weight and feathery feel would translate to less support, I was pleasantly surprised on technical terrain. Here, I have a tendency to enjoy the scenery rather than scan the ground ahead of me, which occasionally results in rolled ankles. However, I have yet to suffer that fate in the Breeze LT. The boot is soft and flexible underfoot but provides a solid and supportive platform for traversing rocky sections of trail. For comparison, I found it to be considerably more stable than Altra’s Lone Peak 4 Mid (since updated to the Lone Peak Hiker), which felt much sloppier on similar terrain.
The Grand Canyon proved to be an ideal place to test the Breeze LT’s waterproof Gore-Tex membrane: in four days, we faced monsoon-level downpours, pelting hail, and fresh-snow-covered sections of trail. During creek crossings and while filtering water, the boots effectively sealed out all moisture. However, while it was nice to have dry feet while trudging through a couple miles of snow at the rim, I found the Breeze LT took a long time to dry out afterward. That said, this is common amongst all waterproof boots (non-waterproof models dry much faster), and I appreciated that the membrane did its job. If you prefer the faster drying time and better breathability of a non-waterproof model, it’s worth checking out Hoka One One’s Sky Arkali or Altra’s Lone Peak Hiker, as Vasque doesn’t offer a non-Gore-Tex Breeze LT.
Waterproof boots aren’t often lauded for their breathability, and the Breeze LT predictably didn’t ventilate well. When temperatures reached the high 60s Fahrenheit, the boot became noticeably warm despite the heavily meshed upper, even when paired with a lightweight wool hiking sock. While never unbearable, my feet were quite toasty and a bit uncomfortable after long, warm days on the trail. That said, I should mention that I tend to run rather warm during high-output activities, so I typically choose non-waterproof footwear. All things considered, I didn’t find the Vasque boot to be any swampier than other Gore-Tex-lined models I’ve worn, and I appreciated the added layer during the snowy ascent out of the canyon.
While breathability wasn’t great, I was most disappointed by the Breeze LT’s lack of durability. After only 15 miles, the thin rand along the inside of the boot started to delaminate from the upper, peeling away from the ball of my foot along the instep. Although this only happened to the left boot and I hope it was an isolated incident, I was thoroughly disappointed—after all, I had barely even used the shoes. But apart from this noteworthy issue, the rest of the boot held up quite well to significant abuse on the trail. The outsoles show minimal signs of wear, the upper is free of any defects, and the other portions still look as good as new.
I have an average foot in most ways and went with my typical men’s size 9 in the Breeze LT. The fit worked well overall: my heel was properly locked in for extended climbs and there was just enough room in the front of the boot to keep my toes comfortable during long descents. That said, I found the Breeze LT fit on the tighter side. I actually prefer a snug fit as I find it helps with accurate and precise foot placement on technical terrain, but I was only able to comfortably wear a moderately cushioned hiking sock (Darn Tough’s Micro Crew Cushion) without my feet feeling constricted. Those with wider feet will most likely find the Breeze LT to be too tight. If that’s your situation, Altra’s Lone Peak All-WTHR Mid or the wide version of Salomon’s X Ultra 4 Mid are worth checking out.
Other Versions of the Vasque Breeze LT
If you prefer a low-top shoe rather than the mid-height boot reviewed here, Vasque also makes the Breeze LT in an ankle-height version ($160). Both models feature the same rugged Megagrip outsole, Gore-Tex liner, and athletic look and feel. That said, you do sacrifice the added ankle support with the low-top model, as well as additional protection against rock and brush. However, the standard shoe version shaves off 5 ounces and is a great alternative for those looking to go fast and light. The low-top model is also offered without waterproofing for $150, although as we mentioned above, the mid-height boot is not available without the Gore-Tex liner. And all variations are sold in women’s-specific models, with the main differences being colorways and weight (the women’s designs are slightly lighter).
- At 1 pound 11 ounces, the Breeze LT Mid GTX is made for fast-and-light hiking and provides a nimble feel on the trail.
- Excellent stability and support inspire confidence on technical terrain (however, those with heavy packs might want a more substantial and supportive boot).
- Midsole is soft and comfortable for long days but provides ample protection from sharp rocks.
What We Don’t
- Durability is a major concern—I experienced delamination issues after just two days on the trail.
- Doesn’t come in a non-waterproof model, and the Gore-Tex liner resulted in a noticeable drop in breathability.
- Stitching that runs up the back of the heel caused pain initially, but this quickly wore off.
- Snug, narrow fit isn’t ideal for those with wider feet.
|Vasque Breeze LT Mid GTX||$180||Lightweight||1 lb. 11 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Mesh|
|Altra Lone Peak All-WTHR Mid||$170||Lightweight||1 lb. 14 oz.||Yes (eVent)||Synthetic|
|Hoka One One Sky Toa GTX||$170||Lightweight||1 lb. 14.2 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Mesh|
|Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX||$165||Lightweight||1 lb. 14 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Leather / textile|
|Arc'teryx Aerios FL Mid GTX||$185||Lightweight||1 lb. 10 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Mesh|
|Vasque Breeze AT Mid GTX||$190||Midweight||2 lb. 11 oz.||Yes (Gore-Tex)||Nubuck leather / mesh|
Vasque’s Breeze LT Mid GTX is an intriguing offering in the fast-and-light category of hiking boots, but it’s not without competition in 2021. One of the Breeze’s closest competitors is Altra’s Lone Peak All-WTHR Mid, which is a waterproof, mid-height variation of the legendary Lone Peak trail runner. Both boots are billed as light hikers, provide similar protection, and boast comparable feature sets. And some will love the Altra’s Balanced Cushioning platform (previously called ZeroDrop) that positions your heel and forefoot an equal distance from the ground. All that said, the Lone Peak is a few ounces heavier than the Vasque and its wider shape makes it a little sloppier in technical terrain (although some will like the extra space for their toes). It’s a close call, and a final decision will likely come down to fit and preference on heel-to-toe drop.
Like Altra, Hoka One One is another trail running specialist, and their mid-height competitor to the Vasque is the Sky Toa GTX. Both designs cost around the same (the Sky Toa is $10 cheaper), feature light and flexible builds (the Hoka is heavier at 1 lb. 14.2 oz.), and utilize quality Gore-Tex waterproofing and Vibram Megagrip outsoles. In testing, however, we found that the Hoka lacked the support and stiffness needed for carrying a heavy pack over rough terrain, while the Breeze felt stable and confidence-inspiring over very rocky and steep sections of trail. But the clincher for us is durability: while still a lightweight boot, the Hoka has stood up better to regular trail use, while the Vasque broke down prematurely after just two days on the trail. Again, there are always sacrifices in going fast and light, but the Sky Toa strikes us as the better-built option.
Salomon’s X Ultra has been our top-rated hiking boot for years for its well-balanced build and excellent all-around performance, and the latest X Ultra 4 Mid GTX is yet another successful iteration. Both the Salomon and the Vasque feature a waterproof Gore-Tex liner, grippy outsole, and come in both low-top and mid-height versions. At 1 pound 14 ounces, the Salomon is 3 ounces heavier per pair than the Vasque, but the boot’s rugged construction and proven durability make up for it, in our opinion. And we also appreciate that the Salomon is offered in wide sizes, which makes dialing in fit much easier (the Vasque will likely be too snug for those with high-volume feet). In the end, despite the weight penalty, we give the edge to the X Ultra 4 Mid for its superior on-trail performance at $15 less than the Breeze.
The Breeze LT is a versatile boot given its light weight, but many hikers and backpackers might want additional support and protection for long climbs or uneven terrain. For these environments, we like Arc’teryx’s Aerios FL Mid GTX, which is a more serious design that comes in at just 1 pound 10 ounces per pair (1 oz. lighter than the Breeze LT). The Aerios’ outsole is made of the same impressive Vibram Megagrip compound, but the shoe has a noticeably stiffer feel underfoot and greater protection and durability thanks to the burly toe cap and TPU overlays along the sides. In the end, unless you prefer the Vasque’s softer and cushier construction, we think the Arc’teryx Aerios outperforms it across the board.
Last but not least is another option within the Breeze family: Vasque’s Breeze AT Mid GTX. Right off the bat, we’ll note that the AT is not a fast-and-light design (it falls into our midweight category) and weighs a full pound more than the LT at 2 pounds 11 ounces. However, the tradeoff is a major bump in support, stability, and protection, and you also get a hardwearing and high-quality nubuck leather upper that will stand up much better to long-term use and abuse. The Breeze AT does have a fairly traditional feel that’s noticeably less nimble than the LT, but the confidence-inspiring build is a great match for demanding backpacking trips over variable terrain. If you plan to stay on trail or are well-versed in packing light, however, the LT will be much more sprightly and agile.
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