The New Balance Vazee Summit is a lightweight trail shoe that excels on runnable terrain at faster speeds. The shoe also has enough versatility to handle longer distances and more technical terrain.
The New Balance Vazee Summit is a lightweight trail offering that continues in the tradition of shoes like the MT101, MT110, and MT110v2. Where the Vazee Summit stands out relative to its predecessors – as well as its current competition – is in its combination of agility, comfort, and speed. Although the Vazee Summit gives the first impression of a speed shoe, in reality it has just enough comfort and underfoot protection to handle longer distances on more technical terrain. The upper material further enhances the comfort of the shoe with its soft, glove-like fit. The net result of these features is a truly versatile shoe that is capable across a range of distances, speeds, and surfaces.
The biggest drawback of the Vazee Summit is likely to be its 10mm heel-to-toe drop. Although this is a bit less aggressive than the prior version of the shoe (which had a 12mm drop), runners who are accustomed to drops in the 0-6mm range may find the Vazee Summit to be a bit too forward and aggressive for their liking. Heel strikers also might find the handling to be awkward and a little clunky.
For trail runners looking for a short distance racing and speedwork shoe, the Vazee Summit would be an excellent choice. The Vazee Summit also would make an outstanding long course shoe for performance oriented runners who can handle reduced cushioning and lighter weight. The Vazee Summit is probably not the best choice for runners who need significant cushioning or support. Note that the shoe runs at least ½ size small.
Comfort Given the racy feel of the Vazee Summit one might think it would not be a comfortable shoe but this is definitely not the case. The midsole material provides just the right amount of give and cushion to keep the ride from feeling harsh. The stretchy boot like upper fits extremely well, but can get a little warm.
Speed The 10mm heel-to-toe drop combined with the moderately responsive midsole material make the Vazee Summit ideally suited for faster running. The turnover of the shoe at higher speeds on flat and slightly downhill terrain are among the best in this weight class.
Security of Fit Despite the relatively flimsy upper material, the Vazee Summit generally does not present any fit issues. Secure lockdown is achievable without excessive lace tightness, and the midsole material is firm enough to prevent inconsistent compression. The bootie-like interior of the shoe makes for a slightly more secure fit than the prior version.
Agility The agility of the Vazee Summit is somewhat hindered by the large heel-to-toe drop. This can cause the heel to hit the ground prematurely on tight terrain. However, the forefoot is quite low, and fore- and midfoot runners who are able to stay on the front of the shoe will likely find it to handle quite well. The slight narrowness of the shoe also aids in precision foot placement.
Responsiveness The Vazee Summit has excellent responsiveness without feeling overly stiff or harsh. The energy return is particularly notable on runnable climbs as well as cruiser grade downhills, and really helps the shoe fly along. The responsiveness also is beneficial during longer runs when the runner is fatigued.
Protection The thin upper material of the Vazee Summit provides minimal protection against trail hazards. On the other hand, the full length outsole and rock plate provide more than sufficient protection underfoot for most surfaces and trails. The Vazee Summit is probably not the best choice of shoe for highly rugged trails or cross-country routes.
A competitive road cyclist in his younger years and lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Jacob discovered his love for long distance trail running as an adult. He lives in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe. Follow him at Google+.