Vasque Rift ReviewNovember 24, 2012
- Sticky rubber sole gave outstanding traction.
- Low weight.
- Good foot support and heel retention.
- Solid and secure footing on uneven terrain—great scrambler.
- Well constructed.
- Not fully protective in scree and talus.
- The flimsy throwaway footbed provides little support.
- Sticky rubber soles will wear faster than regular ones.
The Rift’s low profile, supportive construction and sticky rubber sole put it close to the approach shoe class, especially when slabs and Class 3 or 4 scrambles are involved. It is a fine day hiker as well, but it really shines on more complex terrain. It’s not well suited for heavy loads, and the sides of your feet might take a beating in scree and talus.
The Vasque Rift is a suede and nubuck multi-sport, mid-volume hiking shoe that could function as an approach shoe.
Support and Stability
The heel cup is very strong, the sole is fairly stiff, and the upper fit closely and firmly which held me in place and made for confidence-inspiring foot placement in tricky terrain. The arch support was average for a hiking shoe.
Protection & Comfort
There isn’t much padding in the upper or cushioning in the sole which makes for a light shoe and helps keep a good feel for the terrain, but I took some hits against the sides of my feet in steep rocky terrain. The sole is fairly stiff, so there was adequate protection against sharp rocks underfoot.
Construction and Design
The comfortable upper is made from nubuck and suede, which had excellent abrasion resistance, was reasonably waterproof, fairly breathable, and pretty nice looking. The EVA midsole is somewhat thin, but it protected my foot well enough from rocks underfoot. The shoe has a sticky Vibram Spider sole. The footbed is, like many that come in hiking footwear, a barely functional throwaway.
Overall, it has a very comfortable medium-volume fit that stays snug from the heel to the ball of the foot, thanks to the to-the-toe lacing system. Owing to the close fit I went up a half size from my usual and that gave me a bit more room in the toebox. The Rift is built with a low profile and somewhat narrow sole. The sole is cut close on the sides, which is great when the footwork is tricky but that cuts down protection on the sides from stray rocks and scree.
While the Rift is a good hiking shoe that handled trails very comfortably, the low profile, sticky rubber sole, lightness, and close fit made it much better than most hiking shoes for scrambling. It’s close to an approach shoe.
The Rift doesn’t make claims to be waterproof, but I didn’t have any problem with wet feet wearing them in the rain. In a full immersion test, I started to get a bit of leakage on a seam after 5 minutes but the shoe didn’t soak through after 10 minutes of standing in water. That was excellent performance for a shoe with a breathable leather upper.
The nubuck and suede upper didn’t show much wear and there weren’t any problems with the stitching or gluing during the test. The sticky rubber sole wears a little faster than regular soles, but the great adhesion made up for that in my eyes.