Boot Review: Vasque Velocity

Pillows underfoot might be softer, but they won't last like these cushy shoes.

"Poofy." Not the first word that typically comes to mind when describing shoes, but that's how one tester describes the Velocity. Others agree, giving rave reviews to the dual-density EVA padding, which offers thicker, more resilient midsole cushioning than others in the test. The poof factor is balanced by a rigid plate that enhances torsional stability, and grippy tread that holds fast on wet and dry surfaces; I even found purchase on algae-covered boulders.

The breathable nylon uppers are quick to dry, but also kept out sand on dusty desert runs. The lacing extends higher up the forefoot than other models, increasing stability and holding my skinny heels down. Synthetic leather reinforcements on the toes, heels, and upper perimeter mean the Velocity won't fall apart, even when you get the stumbles after 20 miles in the summer sun. Weight watchers' warning: Like the Dunham and Merrell, these are a few ounces heavier than the lightest of the bunch. Most testers got a good fit (aided by two widths), but shorter-toed testers found them long in the forefoot.

Overall: 4.0 (5=perfect gear, 1=save your money)

Price: $85

Sizes: men's 8-12 1/2, 13, 14, 15 (8-11 1/2, 12, 13 W); women's 5-10 1/2, 11 (7-9 1/2, 10 W)

Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.

Contact: (800) 224-4453; www.vasque.com