Model: Skywalk GTX
When Vasque launched the original Skywalk in 1984, it was amazingly light for a legit backpacking boot, yet still extremely durable and supportive. Plus, thanks in part to multiple widths, it didn’t fit or feel like a clunky old waffle stomper—endearing it to a generation of hikers. Nevertheless, Vasque discontinued the mid-weight boot after two decades, when the market swung toward fast-and-light footwear.
Now the Skywalks are back with the same outward design— and now retro look—but upgraded innards. Made with rough-out leather (full-grain leather with the rough side facing out, enhancing durability) and nylon, with a deep-lugged sole, these waterproof boots are much burlier than they appear. In fact, don’t expect to just take these out of the box and start hiking. As with the originals, it took us about two weeks of break-in before they started to conform to our feet. But once they did, we fell in love all over again.
The svelte profile of the boot felt nimble when we scrambled over sea-slicked rocks along the southern coast of Turkey. Yet the stiff, strong materials—like the midsole made of PU with a TPU protection plate, which shaves weight from the original steel shank—protected our feet in rough terrain. “I didn’t have to tiptoe on sharp rocks, like some of my companions who were wearing lightweight shoes,” says one tester.
Rather than the soft foam padding found in many boots, the Skywalks are firm and stiff around the ankle to prevent rolls. Fit works for most feet, thanks to medium and wide sizes for both men and women. And while they’re no longer light for the category, they’re still more nimble than we expected given the support and durability.