Vasque Pendulum Review

March 28, 2013
Vasque Pendulum
Security (of fit)
Stability (on impact)
Smoothness (while striding)
Speed & Agility

The Good

  • Excellent traction on most surfaces, including heavy mud and wet conditions; sheds mud quickly in front section
  • Very comfortable despite minimal padding in upper; glove-like fit around heel and mid-foot with plenty of toe room
  • Good stability over variety of conditions
  • Light and nimble enough for agile running, but supportive for high mileage

The Bad

  • High volume in upper means difficulty tightening shoe enough
  • Concave section under heel collects mud
  • Slightly flat-footed profile impedes natural rolling motion of foot strike

A lightweight and flexible shoe with a pared down but stable upper, but excellent traction and ample padding underfoot. The pendulum is fast enough for racing, while supportive enough for long mileage on rough trails – best for mid-foot runners, but with enough cushion for light heel-striking.

With its well-balanced combination of cushion, support, traction and quickness, the Pendulum is an excellent all-around shoe for mid-mileage training and occasional racing. Other than some closure issues and a more flat-footed feel than the quickest shoes, this shoe excelled on all but the rockiest terrain with good agility and great comfort. By far the best true trail running yet from Vasque.


Better known for their burlier hiking shoes, this is the best trail running shoe yet from Vasque (I’d venture to say it’s their first true trail runner). The Pendulum hits that rare trail shoe sweet spot where comfort and nimbleness combine seamlessly with protection and traction.

On first glance I thought these shoes would be sloppy in uneven terrain, but they held firm over all but the gnarliest trails. The narrow but well-placed overlays had just enough support to keep the foot steady without adding unwanted weight.  

Overall this shoe provided a quick, nimble ride, with a positive response to directional and terrain changes. With a 19mm heel and 13mm forefoot, the outsole was just soft enough to feel some cushion, but rarely felt squirrely underfoot. Although I felt the outsole could have used a more rounded profile – the landings tended to feel quite flat-footed, which may cause some braking force interrupting a smooth, rolling stride. The medium (6mm) drop favored a mid-foot strike, but there was enough under the heel to allow for light heel striking – however, I would not recommend this for heavy heel-striker, especially for long runs.

Despite its thin, breathable, minimally padded mesh upper, this shoe felt great right out of the box. The curved last cupped the natural contour of my foot: Its narrow heel cup held snuggly even on off-camber terrain, and the wide, slightly asymmetrical toe box allowed for my feet to splay naturally, resulting in surprisingly supple ground feel. And where most insoles simply take up space, the 3mm “Flux Foam” insole in the Pendulum had a firm, supportive feel, provided decent arch support, and held up well throughout our testing.
The only flaw in comfort occurred when cranking down on the laces: Because the shoe has a high volume, I had to pull the lacing all the way in until both sides touched. It was just tight enough, but runners with a lower instep could have problems sufficiently tightening the shoes.
Pronounced, multi-directional lugs and a grippy rubber compound provided excellent traction over varied conditions, including deep Northwest muck, and wet rocks and roots. Although they may feel a bit high for very smooth trails. Space between the lugs in the front however could be widened for better mud clearance, and a cavity under the heel also held mud.


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