Vasque Ultra SST (Spring 2014)$170 | 10.6 oz | 6mm drop | www.vasque.com
The Dirt: The Ultra SST (Shapeshifter Technology) is Vasque’s answer to this year’s maximalist trend, with a cushy, oversized EVA midsole. To keep its weight low, the EVA is stitched directly to the upper—eliminating extra material—and extends into the outsole, integrated insole and heel counter.
Its slip-on “bootie fit” can be adjusted quickly with a few cranks on the Boa quick-lace ratchet—a feature praised by most testers, except those with narrow heels who struggled to dial in a secure fit.
The outsole matches a road-shoe-like EVA/rubber tread pattern on the inner half with more rugged, multidirectional-lugged tread on the outer half, and outsole “pillars” designed to flex independently and boost agility on the trails.
Best For: Relatively non-technical terrain or door-to-trail runs.
Traction: The mixed-tread outsole performs well on pavement and dry, hardpacked trail, but suffers on much else. “On rocky terrain, the sole didn’t flex around things and so my foot just slid or squished around inside the shoe,” reported one tester.
Fit: The Ultra SST runs very wide and about a half-size long.
The Downsides: Testers complained about the Ultra’s sloppy fit; too much volume—as well as, according to one tester “many seams and edges” inside the shoe—led to blisters and hot spots.
Tester-Monial: “I really wanted to like this shoe because it has some cool technologies and ideas, but once I hit more technical terrain, it felt like I had to control the shoe instead of it helping control me.”
–Liz Stuart, Lake Odessa, MI