Friday, April 29, 2011

Gear Review of Vasque Mindbender GTX

Vasque Mindbender GORE-TEX® Footwear

I only get to bring three pairs of shoes that need to work for me for 5 months. Motorcycle boots are a no-brainer. Obviously a pair of flip flops makes it into the mix because they are lightweight and very practical (showers, swimming, easy to put on in the middle of the night to go pee, …).
That leaves one more pair to do everything else. These better be some mutli-purpose shoes and they better be comfortable.
After some deliberation, I decided to go with the Vasque Mindbender GTX shoes for no other reason than they fit my feet so well. That's always a good start when choosing a shoe- fit. The roomy toebox allows my duck shaped feet some wiggle room and the stretch GORE-TEX® Panel across the tongue holds my instep securely in the shoe.
With fit taken care of, I need a shoe that is waterproof because walking and running through wet grass and shallow streams works a lot better with a shoe that doesn't let water in. Of course there is a giant hole in the top of the shoe (where my leg comes out) but keeping water out of the rest of the shoe is a good thing. 
Waterproofness and durability are also top on the list since I don't like wet feet and I can't exactly get a new pair of shoes half way through the trip. With a GORE-TEX® Liner, my feet stay dry (unless I fall in a creek and the water comes over the top) and since Gore is always involved in the design and testing of the shoe, it is going to be durably waterproof.
It is hard to get exercise on a long motorcycle trip and running is one of the few ways I've managed to get my heart rate up. The Mindbenders are designed to be trail running shoes (and they are great at doing that) but I've pushed them quite a bit and run on the pavement as well. I've probably logged 150km of street running this trip and so my knees seem to be doing ok.
If there is a downside to these shoes (and every review needs to talk about some place for improvement), the rubber outsole on my right heel came detached from the midsole somewhat early on. It is now a little flapper on the back of the shoe. I could easily reglue this, but just haven't gotten around to it. Also, and this will happen with any waterproof footwear, after I fell into creek and my shoe filled up with water, it took a long time to dry, and in the process got a little stinky.
But with 120 days on these shoes, I'd say they are doing pretty darn well. I'm planning on putting them on my feet today to go trekking in the mountains above Bariloche.

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