We test a lot of shoes here at SNEWSÂ® headquarters. So suffice it to say, when we received a test pair of Vasque's Pingora shoe (named for an imposing granite face in the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range of Wyoming), we were rather ho hum about jumping into them. We'll get around to testing them, eventually, was our attitude.
However, after some intense wear fast packing in the Sierra (mud, snow, rain, sand, wet granite slabs) and then a follow-up trip to New Zealand (we know, testing is hell) where our tester's feet were wet half the time, we're placing the now well-worn Pingora's reverently on our keeper shelf.
On the surface, and in catalog copy, the Vasque Pingora is a sticky rubber technical approach shoe clearly designed to strike a balance between climbing performance and hiking comfort. And it does just that -- well.
The technical outsole uses Stealth S1 rubber that grips the rock like a remora sucks onto a shark's belly -- even when wet. The low low-profile lug design doesn't accumulate mud, grit or slop, and the shoe edges remarkably well -- useful when traversing dicey zones where the climbing ain't hard, but the vertical exposure amps up the pucker factor.
The synthetic suede upper is waterproof and breathable -- but who really cares since the shoes are low top anyway so any moisture is likely to pour in over the top with ease. What we found most impressive is that even when wet, the shoes remain extremely comfortable and don't get sloppy -- a plus when scrambling over boulders on a six-mile journey down a rushing mountain stream that some brilliant soul decided to make the trail. What was most pleasing is that after a few hours of wear in dry conditions, previously soaked leather dried out to the point it was barely damp to the touch -- nice.
What our tester most appreciated is the distinct heel underfoot, which even on slippery terrain, he was able to use to securely hook rock edges and rough surfaces making an otherwise tenuous descent (one that left others on the trip tumbling and bumbling into the water) feel relatively benign.
Though the shoe is a bit heavier than a trail running shoe (1 pound, 15 ounces in a size 10), it is infinitely more supportive and secure while still remaining nimble enough to allow for relatively unencumbered jogging -- for short distances.
With a generous rubber toe rand around the toe bumper and extra support in the high wear and friction areas along the sole, these shoes are built for rough terrain and rough use.
SNEWSÂ® Applause Meter: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $90
For more information:www.vasque.com