Gear Review: Vasque Grand Traverse

In a perfect world, you’d have proper climbing shoes to scale a 5.9 route, but sometimes the world just isn’t perfect. During a spring trip to the Obed Wild & Scenic River in Tennessee, one of our footwear testers found himself at the base of a 5.9 climbing route with no available rock shoes in his size.

Rather than ditch the climb, he chose to rely on the Vasque Grand Traverse shoes he was wearing, and they fortunately proved to be a nice stand-in. Plus, he found that the Grand Traverse excelled as a general travel shoe for trips blending trail hikes and urban wandering.

Here are a few reasons to consider the Grand Traverse for your next trip… Grand Traverse

It’s a nimble climber

Like a true climbing shoe, the Grand Traverse has laces that you can cinch down in the toe area. This allows climbers to place their toes precisely and get immediate response as test footholds. Plus, the tapered toe and low-profile outsole allow the shoe to perch on thin holds and fit into tight spaces.

Our tester noted that he had decent traction while climbing, thanks to the Vibram outsole, which is stickier than what you’ll find on a typical shoe, but still durable enough to withstand months of walking on trails and sidewalks. Granted, the Grand Traverse doesn’t have true climbing shoe sticky rubber, so it limits your ability to smear.

While the upper is made of leather, the suede is very pliable, and soft fabric surrounds the heel, so you can flex your fee without feeling restricted.

It tackles the rough stuff

While climbing a couple of routes, our tester jammed the shoes into cracks and scraped them across the Limestone as he worked his way up. That kind of abuse can rip and tear your typical light hiker. But the up-armored Grand Traverse has a bomber toecap made of thick rubber, plus a strip of textured rubber covers the top of the toe for added protection and friction.

It’s comfy on the trail and around town

The upper of the Grand Traverse is made of soft suede leather, so your feet never feel like their trapped in a hot, clunky box. On warm days, we could walk in these shoes for hours without our feet feeling overly fatigued or hot. Also, there’s enough foam in the midsole to cushion your feet during a long day of travel that includes trail hiking as well as long walks on harder surfaces, like city sidewalks. Just keep in mind that the Grand Traverse can’t bear the load of an extremely heavy backpack, so you should only wear these for day trips with a light pack.

It’s sporty, but not too sporty

The Grand Traverse has orange laces, so it sticks out a bit, but otherwise it’s a pretty low-key shoe. Our tester was happy that it matched most of his travel pants, adding that it looks more like a sneaker than a hiker, thanks to the streamlined midsole and low lugs on the outsole.

Traveler’s Notebook

Retail price: $129.99

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