Finding just the right pair of shoes to accompany you on your travels and outdoor adventures can be a real challenge. You want something lightweight, comfortable, and easy to pack, but they also need to be versatile and good looking too. They should be durable enough to withstand plenty of punishment, and perform equally well on a hiking trail, as they do kicking around town. Fortunately, that is exactly what you get with the Grand Traverse shoe from Vasque, a company with a rich heritage in creating quality footwear for just about any outdoor pursuit.
At first glance, the Grand Traverse looks a bit like a hybrid of an athletic shoe, and a lightweight hiking boot. Its low cut design, vibrant colors, and combination mesh and suede leather upper combine to give the wearer the best of both of those styles. With the Grand Traverse, Vasque has managed to create a shoe that is relatively lightweight, and surprisingly comfortable, that feels very nimble on your feet. These shoes actually give the impression that you are wearing a trail running shoe, but with the extra support and stability that you would expect out of a light hiking boot.
Speaking of stability, Vasque didn't skimp in any way on the sole of the Grand Traverse, electing to incorporate a Vibram Ibex model, which provides an impressive level of traction on a variety of surfaces, both wet and dry. Whether you're hiking your favorite local trail, or wandering the streets of Kathmandu, nothing ruins your enjoyment quicker than discovering that your shoes can't grip the terrain properly. Fortunately, that isn't the case with these hiking shoes, which should serve you well in all but the most demanding environments.
I've put them to the test on slick cobblestone streets, dirt roads, muddy trails, and smooth sidewalks, without issue. I wouldn't want to take them on a serious hike in the Andes or Alps, but they are more than adequate for light duty on a less demanding terrain.
Vasque also incorporated a dual density EVA footpad, as well as a molded EVA midsole to help provide plenty of cushion, and protection for the bottom of the foot. This is particularly handy when hiking over rocky, uneven surfaces, helping to reduce tension and impact, while also decreasing the level of fatigue in your feet in the process. Considering how much we tend to be on our feet while traveling, this is certainly an excellent trait to have in any shoe. While putting the Grand Traverse to the test, I wore them on all-day excursions, only to find my feet were as relaxed and comfortable at the end of the day, as they were at the beginning.
One of the qualities that I value you from my travel gear is versatility that allows it to be used in a variety of activities and circumstances. Vasque says that the Grand Traverse shoes are designed for performance hiking, mountain biking, and car-to-car adventures, which should give you a good idea of just how versatile these boots truly are. They not only performed very well in every outdoor pursuit that I tested them in, they still looked and felt good enough for casual activities around town too.
Despite how much I love these shoes now, I wasn't sure that I would when I first put them on. Out of the box, I found them to be overly stiff, and a bit confined in the toe-box. Over time, however, they loosened up nicely, gradually becoming more and more comfortable as they molded themselves to my foot. Some break-in time is to be expected of course, but in this case, it seemed to take a bit longer than most other shoes I've worn in the past. Be warned, if you decide to add a pair of Grand Traverses to your travel wardrobe, you'll definitely want to allow ample time to break them in before you set off on an active holiday.
As an avid adventure traveler, I like to go as light as possible when I hit the road, often carrying no more than one or two pairs of shoes total. With the Grand Traverse, I feel confident that I have a pair of shoes that can serve as my only footwear on most trips, and as perfect secondary shoe when I'm doing something a bit more demanding. They are comfortable, stable, and built to last, which is exactly what we want on our feet, both at home and when traveling abroad.
Vasque also makes a women's version of the Grand Traverse. Check them out here.