A 10mm offset trail shoe that runs like a 4-6mm offset. It’s light, grippy, nimble and fairly protective.
The New Balance Vazee Summit was designed to be a do-anything trail shoe. The concept was to make a shoe that has everything you need and nothing you don’t. That was a lofty goal. The shoe needed to be light and flexible, but rugged and protective and ready to take on different elements.
Starting with the upper, there is a lightweight, minimal construction that uses welded overlays to create a mud guard around the perimeter of the shoe, just above the midsole. We actually had some rain in California, so we were able to put it to the test. The mud guard did work and kept the mud away. The finely woven mesh kept out debris while being quite breathable. The upper did allow water from stream crossings to enter the shoe, but it drained quickly, which was a surprise considering the existence of the mud guard. There is a toe bumper to protect the ends of toes and the round toebox creates plenty of room around the toes.
Moving down to the midsole, there is Revlite, the same midsole foam used in the popular long-distance 1400 racing shoe. In fact, the Vazee Summit is built on the same last as the 1400. Unlike the very firm Revlite execution of the Vazee Pace and Vazee Prism, the Vazee Summit midsole is more compliant, just like the 1400. It’s not really soft or firm feeling. It simply dampens impact and quickly sets you up for your next step. We ran on hard packed dirt, through creeks and mud, over rocks, and also did some road running. We did runs from 45 minutes to 2 hours and 45 minutes and found the underfoot comfort to be consistently good.
Under the Revlite is a thin Rockstop rock plate. It allows the shoe to remain very flexible and adds a touch of propulsion. We found the rock protection to be adequate. It’s not a robust plate, nor is this a robust shoe. This is a light, low to the ground shoe that does an admirable job with rock protection. There are more protective shoes out there, but not ones that are as light and dynamic as this shoe. The Salomon Sense Pro comes close. It has better rock protection, but it is stiffer and doesn’t feel as nimble as the Vazee Summit.
The lugged outsole is made of hydrohesion rubber, which is supposed to provide good traction over a variety of terrain. Our experience confirmed this as we kept good footing over dry and wet rocks and loose and hard packed terrain.
If you’ve worn the New Balance Trail 101 you will be glad to know, the Vazee Summit is somewhat similar. In comparison, the Vazee Summit upper is much more comfortable, the outsole grip is better over more surfaces and the underfoot comfort is enhanced. While the Vazee Summit is about an ounce heavier than the 101, it doesn’t feel like it, and the improved comfort is worth the increase in listed weight.
What we like:
- The lugged outsole is fantastic. It grips rocky surfaces, feels good on hard packed dirt trails, sheds enough mud to maintain traction, and offers decent grip on wet rocks.
- The tongue is sock-like. A modified stretch-bootie tongue is attached to both sides of the midfoot and the toe-box. It’s light and thin with a minimal feel, but comfortable and keeps out debris.
- It doesn’t feel like a 10mm drop. A few of us prefer to run in lower offsets, especially on the trail, and this shoe felt much lower than its measured 10mm offset. This is a great example of why you should not limit your choice by specs alone.
- It maintained grip in California mud. Normally when we encounter mud on our local trails, you have to stop and kick off the mud or you will quickly be on your back side. The Vazee Summit shed enough mud to be able to maintain traction. I was surprised to find some mud still on the sole of the shoe, because it didn’t feel like the shoe had gained mud weight and my footing remained excellent.
What we would change:
- While the overall fit was good, two of us with lower volume, narrower feet, wished the midfoot had more lock down. But that might add weight and change the overall feel of the shoe. So sometimes what you want is not what you want.
- The insole could be improved. During most of our runs, we had no issues. But on a long run with a decent amount of wetness, Erik found the insole moved around and it had to be re-positioned. The insole is thin and flat, and the lack of any sidewall makes the insole susceptible to movement. We found this happened only in wet conditions during a long run (2+ hours).
How it Fits:
- Length: falls into the standard running shoe size and is just a touch long. But not long enough for us to size down.
- Width: a true medium fit and is also available in a wide.
- Heel: a medium fit and will work for all but the narrowest heels.
- Midfoot volume: best fit for medium to low volume feet.
- Toebox: the height falls between medium and low and the shape is fairly round with plenty of room near the smaller toes.
- Shape: this shoe has a curved shape and thus tends to be better fit for medium and higher arched feet.
Stack height: 27mm heel, 17mm forefoot, 10mm heel-toe offset
Weight: 8.8 oz (men’s size 9), 7.6 oz (women’s size 8)