Hitting the trail in a shiny new pair of hiking boots is akin to driving a new car off the lot: The rush of adrenaline, the boost of confidence, the fractional increase in speed that can only convey Yeah, I look pretty good right now.
Vasque’s new Skywalk GTX backpacking boots basically look like Corvettes coming out of the box: They’re aesthetically clean cut, pleasingly slim but weighted fairly heavily (2 lbs 13 oz.), so they rest satisfyingly in the hand. Vasque aimed to revive the design of the original boot from the 1980s while modernizing the technology to compete with the best boots on the market today. The result is a gorgeous shoe with all the specs to make the most backcountry-bound packers green with envy.
This is a sturdy boot; I was pretty accustomed to my ol’ faithful Keens, which have worn in to basically slipper-quality over time. Subsequently, the first time slipping them on sent a little nervous thrill through my mind. The body is stiff leather (tanned in the U.S., according to Vasque) with a polyurethane midsole and Vasque’s Pyrenees rubber outsole. It’s highly stable, but takes a lot of breaking-in. My first time out with the Skywalks was a simple 5-mile roundtrip hike up the sloping switchbacks of Icicle Ridge outside Leavenworth. I was nearly blistering by the summit, but I could already feel the gradual softening off the heels.
I have notoriously weak ankles which, in addition to squandering my childhood dream of being a figure skater, makes rocky ascents a treacherous undertaking. Luckily, the Skywalks more than compensate for my biological disadvantage; they’re fully supportive throughout the ankle, making rock scrambles significantly less dangerous.
The summit of Icicle Ridge was blanketed in about three feet of snow. The Skywalks have a sturdy tread, and combined with the waterproof Gore-Tex lining, traversing banks didn’t create much of an issue. They braved mud and creeks without slippage.
The only issue that arose when it time to descend. Downhill tends to wreak the most havoc on my legs; I step fairly heavily, which puts pressure on my toes and knees. I’ve lost many toenails due to this bad habit. The Skywalks have a fairly narrow toe, and while I loved the aesthetic value of this feature, it did create an issue when marching back down the switchbacks. I had sore feet by the time we reached the trailhead again, and was starting to lose feeling in a few toes. This may just be something that has to be worn in over time, and even now it’s not unbearable, but it does play into my planning process.
Vasque’s Skywalk GTX is overall a great boot. It’s durable, stylish and undoubtedly long-lasting. For those seeking a classic look and a trustworthy design, the Skywalk is a solid choice. For a student like myself, $200 is a substantial investment, but like a new car, I plan on racking up some hard miles.
- Leather tanned in the US
- GORE-TEX® with Extended Comfort Technology
- Comfortable yet stable
- Polyurethane midsole
- Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz.
- Available now
- Price: $200