New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Running Shoe Review

New Balance Vazee Summit

I have been left with a bitter taste in my mouth after running in New Balance Shoes in the past, but there has been nothing but the savor of sweetness and satisfaction with their new trail shoe the Vazee Summit.

Billed as a comfortable yet aggressive trail shoe with an instinct for wet and slippery surfaces, we wanted to see if these shoes live up to the hype. At Gear Professor we believe that you can’t make a good decision about purchasing a product unless you are armed with accurate information about how that product will perform. We also love getting our hands on new gear. Here is how the Vazee Summit stacked up:

Methods
As with all research it is important to start with a plan of how you want to conduct the study. For this review, we decided that we needed to test out these shoes on a variety of surfaces in both wet and dry conditions. To do this I took these shoes to the trails of the Wasatch Mountain range, the rugged coast line of California’s Crystal Cove State Park and all the way across the pacific to Taiwan.

Results
After this extensive testing it is safe to say that The Vazee Summit by New Balance is a shoe that can hold it’s own on a variety of surfaces: the results of the Vazee Summit testing are as follows.

Fit
When you first put on this trail shoe the unique tongue construction wraps your foot in billowy softness making your foot feel safe, protected and ready to hit the trails. This shoe fit my foot well. I like a snug secure fit and this met both of those requirements. If you have wide feet or prefers a lot of toe splay this shoe may not be the best choice for you. The shoes did seem to fit true to size.

Outsole
The outsole is made up of aggressive multidirectional lugs that are made with Hydro-Hesion Rubber construction. New Balance states that this rubber has a stickier grip on wet surfaces. We tested this claim out in multiple locations. First these shoes were taken to crystal cove state park where they were worn on the slick tide pool rocks. The shoes were tested along side a control of bare feet, and a pair of Solomon wings pro. Compared to the control and Salomon Wings Pro, these shoes performed well. I only fell once in them compared to the many times I fell in both my bare feet and the Salomon’s. These Shoes were also taken up steep wet trails in torrential rain on a trip to Taroko Gorge National Park in Taiwan. Again these shoes performed well on these slick surfaces. With each step I felts secure in my footing. The shoes performed well in muddy conditions as well. The lugs are spaced far enough apart that they did not hold onto excess mud. A huge benefit when you forget to bring a spare change of shoes and your friends decide to go to dinner right after you go for a long run in the mud. Nothing worse than walking into a restaurant with shoes caked in 4 inch thick mud.

Overall the shoes had good grip on wet surfaces, dry surfaces, and on both sand and gravel. Though the shoes are designed for the trail we tested them on the pavement as well. They had a generally smooth ride and were comfortable for shorter distances. The rubber on these shoes is quite soft and wear patterns were noticed early in the review. These shoes wore down at a rapid rate when we were testing them on hard surfaces.

Rock plate
The Vazee Summit sports a fore foot rock-plate for foot protection from sharp objects. The rock-plate was tested by jumping off of an 8-10 foot bolder onto sharp gravel multiple times as well as on some very rocky trails in the Wasatch Mountains. The rock plate withstood all of my best efforts to damage my feet.

Ride
With a 10 mm heel-toe drop the Vazee Summit trail shoes are not made for the minimalist. That being said these shoes did not have the large rubber box feel on my feet like some trail shoes tend to have. Even with the 10 mm drop and aggressive lug stack there was ample ground feel and responsiveness when using this shoe.

Conclusion
The Vazee Summit is a great trail shoe for multiple terrain types especially slick environments. It has a nice look and a snug, secure, comfortable fit. They are light and the rock plate protects the forefoot well. The rubber that is used on the outsole is great on wet slick surfaces such as wet rock or gravel but this makes the shoe vulnerable to wearing down rapidly. Overall this shoe looks good, performed great in a variety of situations, and had a nice responsive ride. New balance has definitely impressed me with the Vazee Summit trail shoe.

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