The unusual BOA lacing system makes this smart, grippy trail shoe stand out from the rest. The Vasque Aether Tech has the comfort of a robust trainer but less cushioning and more generous grip, making it more suited to rugged mountain terrain.
Quick, simple turns of the glove-compatible dial tighten and loosen the laces quite evenly, with optional extra lace loops for a tighter fit at the front and middle of your foot. These are easier to hook into place before you put the shoe on. Having typically girl-sized and -shaped feet (narrow, with less volume) I wanted to pull in the laces more lower down, but could only get the dial to tighten from the top. Tightening the cheese-wire-strength, skinny lace cables without using the dial is tantamount to finger suicide, so people with wider, higher-volume feet would find these shoes ideal.
You can feel the soles grip around rocks and roots beneath your feet as you run and walk in the Aether Techs. Although they wouldn’t look out of place in a gym (if you cleaned the mud off) the sturdy sole and reduced amount of cushioning allow your feet to feel the right amount of underfoot lumps and bumps to balance comfortably on the rock, grit, grass and mud you encounter on less well-trodden mountain tracks and paths. Wide lugs allow excess mud to fall out as you move, and a slight, unobtrusive arch adds to the support they give. The only downsides are that they are relatively heavy among the shoes tested here at 642g (pair, women’s size 6) and the question of whether you get on with the unconventional BOA lacing system.
Upper 1.2mm synthetic nubuck leather
Lining quick-dry mesh
Sole plate: TPU-injected nylon textile; outsole: Vasque Aether; footbed: dual density EVA
Sizes 6-10.5 (women’s); 7-14 (men’s)
Weight 642g (pair, women’s size 6)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 12
Stockist details (01524) 822084; www.vasque.com
Verdict: Buy the Vasque Aether Tech if you are not so concerned about weight and want a simple, grippy trail shoe that’s cushioned but still responsive enough for your foot to balance over uneven terrain and is easily tightened and loosened with gloved hands.
Review by Claire Maxted
First published in Trail magazine May 2009