The best trail running shoes are a combination of toughness, versatility, comfort, protection, and traction. When it comes to these criteria, the waterproof Mindbender GTX Trail Running Shoes from Vasque are superior. This review will tell you why, if you’re into trail running, you should seriously consider these advanced foot tools from Vasque.
These shoes are for serious trail runners — someone who runs trails consistently in all seasons (especially winter) and wants to have a good experience every time, rain or shine (especially rain… and snow… and mud).
If you’re running the Western States 100 — or you want to run it — then the Vasque Mindbender GTX trail running shoes are some of the best friends your pedal extremities can have. The same goes for winter trail running.
When I say that the Vasque Mindbender GTX Trail Running Shoes are like sport utility vehicles for your feet, I mean that, like a sport utility vehicle, they will handle a wide variety of conditions and performance demands.
Running is challenging for the body — it stresses the feet, legs, joints, and cardiovascular system. Trail running adds the further challenge of dealing with rocks, roots, gravel, mud, slush, rain, thorny plants, ice, cold, wind, snow, heat, and hills. Therefore, trail running shoes must be built to adapt to all those conditions, protect your feet, cushion your stride, help keep your footing, and hold up over time. (It wouldn’t do to have a trail running shoe that was good for a couple hundred miles and then fell apart.)
As a company, Vasque knows how to make the best trail running shoes
When it comes to shoes and boots, we all learn from experience that there are brands of footwear that we can count on to perform reliably. For me, I’d say the two shoe brands I’ve found I can trust the most are Merrell and Vasque. No product — shoe or boot — that I have bought from either of these companies has ever disappointed me. In fact, they’ve exceeded expectations.
So I am confident in recommending the Vasque Mindbender GTX Trail Running Shoes to you and figure that you’re 95 percent likely to be pleased with them. But don’t just take my word for it. Here are other reviews of this shoe…
Vasque Mindbender GTX Trail Running Shoe Reviews
The testers at Outside magazine winnowed all the trail running shoes on the market down to 4 models that they recommend for winter running this year. The Vasque Mindbender GTX is one of their top-rated shoes. Their thumbnail description of the shoe is: “A waterproof beast for technical trails.” (And by “technical,” they mean steep, narrow, and rough.)
They said that the sturdy toe bumper and armored upper of the Mindbender GTX “brushed off softball-sized rocks.” They praised the Gore-Tex liner’s water-proofness and said that the lugged sole gripped better than expected on both gravel and mud. The only two caveats they offered were not to expect this shoe to perform like a fast trainer when running on easier surfaces, such as roads (and I will second that evaluation); it’s built to take punishment and protect your feet, so naturally it’s a bit heftier than your everyday training flat. And narrow-footed testers tended to find the fit a bit “sloshy,” so if you have narrow feet, you may have to tighten them a lot, or consider another model. (If you have narrow feet, take a look at the La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0 Trail Running Shoe, another top choice by Outside. Read the customer reviews at Zappos at the preceding text link.)
Outside also noted that the Mindbender GTX is “tough enough for long mountain hauls and hefty enough to double as your light-hiking shoe.” These waterproof shoes are especially good for winter running.
Krissy Moehl, a professional ultrarunner who was chosen by Ultrarunning Magazine as the 3rd-ranked female Ultrarunner of the Year in 2009, has worn the Mindbender to race both the Western States 100 (where she placed 2nd) and the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (where she set the women’s course record).
In her review of the Vasque Mindbender, Krissy wrote:
“I love to be a tester for new products, and and love when everything works from the first time you slip them on. I knew when I ran a 15 mile road/trail run in these blue [Mindbender] beauties right out of the box that they would be my shoe for Western [States]. Start to finish in the crazy heat and through the river I never touched the laces till well after the finish. Eight weeks later, in a brand new pair, I toed the line for Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and thankfully didn’t have to worry about my feet for the next 25 hours. Give them a try.”
Another indication that the Vasque Mindbender GTX are some of the best trail-running shoes is that they were selected by the editors of Outside China magazine as their 2011 “Gear of the Year.”
The shoe reviewers at Liberty Sports magazine stated: “Rarely are shoe manufacturers able to find the right balance of stiffness and protection, but Vasque has done it with the Mindbender GTX.”
Several Mindbender GTX reviews noted that the shoe feels and performs like a lighter shoe when out on the trail. (This is something I have noticed in my own experience with Vasque trail running shoes.)
Here’s a video review of the Vasque Mindbender GTX by Kevin Fonger of ActiveGearReview.com:
Spec’s and Design of the Vasque Mindbender GTX
Vasque builds the shoe on the “Perpetuum” last, which helps flat-footed runners due to its straight shape — the foot lies naturally in the footbed, thus minimizing pressure points and rubbing. The outsole, based on Vasque’s Blur model, combines a cushioned, supportive upper with lugs on the sole made of a slip-resistant compound for secure traction on rocky terrain and uneven surfaces. The Mindbender GTX has a broad toebox, which allows toes to spread as needed during forefoot impact and long periods of running. The shoe has an Extended Comfort Gore-Tex liner that provides waterproof, breathable protection for your feet. It keeps feet dry while allowing perspiration to escape. This is an important factor to get right in any waterproof trail-running shoe.
Click here to find Vasque Mindbender GTX Trail Running Shoes on sale right now for a good price at Backcountry.com. Don’t wait to take advantage of this sale because inventory is going fast.
My Evaluation of Vasque Trail Running Shoes
I have used an earlier incarnation of this Vasque trail-running shoe and been amazed by its durability and comfort. I have had the shoes for 4 years and use them to run on Colorado’s punishing mountain trails. I also use the shoe as a fall and winter running shoe in general. Many times I’ve gone out for a run in the snow or rain. The Gore-Tex-lined shoes have kept my feet warm and dry in all conditions, even when the rest of me ended up soaked and bedraggled. I have run with these shoes at 3 below zero and 95 degrees Fahrenheit and they handled both temperatures comfortably. I also use them to run on icy streets and sidewalks in the winter and have found them to be stable, with good traction (though you always have to watch your step on ice). (For trail running shoes with excellent grip on slippery surfaces, check the previously-mentioned La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0.)
In addition (and as Outside noted), I frequently use these shoes for day hiking and just everyday wear — working in the yard, running errands, etc. For the amount of use I have given them, the sole and uppers are still in excellent condition, with just the lugs of the sole wearing down at the heel — and this after 4 years of hard use.
If you’re shopping for excellent, heavy-duty waterproof trail-running shoes that can also double as light hiking and everyday shoes, you should seriously consider the Vasque Mindbender GTX. You will more than get your money’s worth. They really are SUVs for your feet.
Find Them at the Following Retailers…
You can find Vasque Mindbender GTX Trail Running Shoes at the following trustworthy retailers of outdoor gear online: Big Sky Country, Backcountry.com (on sale right now), Moosejaw, Paragon Sports (on sale), and DepartmentOfGoods (also for a good sale price, as this is written).