The Vasque Alpine GTX boots, made of waterproof full-grain nubuck leather uppers and lined with Gore-Tex, are said to offer all the support and protection needed for basic mountaineering, mixed routes and extended backpacking trips. Weighing just under 4 lbs for the women's version, which we tested in size 8.5, the boots appeared suitable for trail use yet stiff enough for moderate crampon work -- thanks to the nylon insoles with 3/4-length steel shanks give the right amount of forefoot flex while still providing torsional rigidity. With a pat on the back we sent our female tester into the Chugach Mountain Range of Alaska for a rugged 21-day test during a 50-day Outward Bound Leadership Training course. The following is from her test report:
"The boots, thanks to the padded double-tongue design and padded leather collar, offered great support, especially around the ankles which was ideal for traversing steep slopes and hiking over uneven terrain. I liked the fact that the boots were durable and heavy enough that my feet were always protected when kicking steps or digging toes into snow or ice for a self-arrest, but they were light enough to be reasonably comfortable around camp (we're talking mountaineering boots here, not fuzzy bunny slippers) and when simply walking along trails. The Vibram sole (a Vibram Clusaz dual-density outsole) provided excellent traction even in wet and muddy terrain. Over the course of three hardcore weeks I didn't suffer any blisters or hot spots; however, that could have just been me as I'm not typically blister-prone. I used them for one day of ice climbing and had no problems with crampon compatibility and managed to front point with moderate success. I did find that while the boots are reasonably difficult to actually get wet inside, if water did sneak inside -- as it did during several stream crossings -- it was hard to dry them out again. I would certainly recommend the boot for a combination of light mountaineering with mixed rock and snow or for hardcore backpacking when the traveling is mostly off-trail."
SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $255
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