Here is my LTR for the Vasque Aethers. Thanks in advance for being the Monitor of this series! It was great working with you. Gail
Long Term Report:
August 3, 2009
USA Locations and Conditions
During the field test period, I have worn the Aether Tech SS Trail Shoes during one backpacking trip and for trail running and day hiking. Actual use is estimated to be about 15 days. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to lakeshores and hiking trails. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to approximately 1300 ft (400 m).
Early June Backpacking Trip:
Location: Craig Lake Wilderness/North Country Trail - Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail, bushwhack
Distance: 6 mi (10 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days/1 night
Pack Weight: 26.5 lb (12 kg)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain
Precipitation: 0.52 in (1.35 cm)
Temperature Range: 31 F (-1 C) to 58 F (14 C)
Running and Dayhiking:
Location: Noquemanon Trails, Harlow Lake Trails (all in Michigan)
Distance: Usually 4 to 6 mi (6.5 to 10 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and light rain
Temperature Range: 50 F (10 C) to 85 F (29 C)
Performance in the Field
My early June backpacking trip was a short two-day trip in rugged conditions. Although the first and last part of this trip was on semi-maintained trail half of it was bushwhacking. It wasn't our original plan to be bushwhacking but I found out quickly that the Aethers were a poor choice for that endeavor. Due to the highly uneven ground and forest debris, my feet rotated sideways inside the shoes and were very unsupported. The Aethers also became sogged at areas where we traveled at the edge of a bog. This is not the fault of the Aethers as they are not waterproof.
I have come to the decision that the Aether Tech SS are not the best choice of footwear for me. Although I have owned and worn several pairs of other products by Vasque that I've been happy with, this particular model is too lightweight or unstructured for the types of activities I do. I believe the best use of the Aether Tech SS would by a person who is light in body weight and runs or hikes on semi-smooth dirt surfaces and wants a fast and light trail shoe for racing (racing flat).
The lack of cushioning and lateral support features are a big negative for use on the type of trails that I encounter. As stated in my field report those surfaces are highly irregular and rocky. I tried using thicker insoles and heavier socks to provide more cushioning but it was simply not enough. During the long term period I rotated the Vasque shoes with other trail runners that I have to not only give my feet a break but also to justify that I wasn't imagining that they didn't work well.
I did love the BOA lacing system and found it extremely easy to use as well as a neat way to customize the fit. The other main perk for me with the Aethers is that I found them to grip quite well on many types of surfaces wet or dry. I also liked the fact that the Aethers dried quickly when they became wet. This is a great asset when wearing the shoes day after day.
During the long term period I estimate that I put on an additional 75 mi (121 km) with the shoes. Other than the TPU overlay coming partially off of one side on one shoe (as shown in the picture above) the shoes look very well after four months of use. The BOA system is still working perfectly and the uppers and soles are in good condition.
In conclusion, the Vasque Aether Tech SS Trail Shoes are very lightweight shoes that are trail worthy for light duty. They have some great characteristics such as the BOA lacing system and outsoles with great traction but they lack cushioning and lateral support. I will most likely retire the shoes for trail usage but will still wear them for short excursions or yard work.
* Dries quickly when wet
* Easy to adjust BOA System
* Soles grip well all surfaces encountered
* Lack of cushion and support
* Not comfortable on continuous rocky surfaces
* TPU strip has loosened from side of one shoe
Thanks to Vasque and BackpackGearTest for this opportunity to test the Aether Tech SS Trail Shoes. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.
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