By T.C. WORLEY
From the first few steps I took in the Vasque Transistor FS shoes, I could tell that they were a responsive pair of trail runners. Though they look like an average pair of armored trail-running shoes with protection and cushion in the heel, the Transistors are actually quite thin and agile. Another major distinguisher: Unlike most shoes, the Transistors do not have a removable footbed.
Instead of a footbed, the midsole is contoured to cradle the foot. The result is less material between your foot and the ground, and, theoretically, more control and connection to the terrain underfoot. In my test, the Vasque design seemed to work. The shoes are light (about 11 ounces in a men’s size 9) and fast. I could feel sticks, rocks, and even acorns beneath my feet — in a good way.
Having given up the heel-strike style for a forefoot stride a few years ago, I’ve grown to appreciate a shoe that puts me a little more in touch with the terrain. Compared to other trail runners I use, including the Brooks Cascadia and Salomon XA Comp shoes, the Vasque Transistors better promote a forefoot stride.
But the Transistors are by no means minimalist or “barefoot”-style. They are flexible in the sole, but they are far more beefy than other low-to-the-ground shoes in the same category. The uppers are meshy and breathable, but they are also significant enough to protect your feet on the run.
Most at home on well-traveled trails or gravel paths, the shoes are designed for on-trail running; bushwacking through undergrowth in an adventure race would be a misuse of this model. Neither the uppers or the tread, which is minimal, are suited for heavy-duty offroad performance.
For fast trail running, I am a fan of the Transistors. Anyone who wants a light shoe that is low to the ground and responsive should put this shoe on their shortlist. $100, www.vasque.com.