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A sure sign of a great hiker: when you have a rack of shoes to pick from but keep lacing up the same pair. For the last six months that’s been the Veja Fitz Roy, a low cut hiker with impressive stability, an aggressive tread, durable build, and sustainable materials. From the slick rock of Sedona to the muddy Maritimes, they’ve become my go-to footwear when packing for a day hike.
Founded in Brazil and now based in France, Veja is best known for its trendy sneakers (Meghan Markle once wore a pair). The Fitz Roy is their first hiker. At least part of the brand’s popularity stems from its social responsibility and sustainable practices. Before launching the company in 2004, the founders developed a supply chain with organic cotton farmers and natural rubber producers in Brazil. Recycled or bio-based materials make up 43 percent of the Fitz Roy, including natural rubber, recycled polyester, sugar cane and bio oils.
None of that affects the performance of the Fitz Roy: In a shoe that looks and feels like a casual runner, there’s a lot of support and protection. With a deep heel pocket, these shoes seem to suck my heel down and into the EVA midsole, creating a nested feeling. Panels of TPU, shaped like mountain peaks, run around the perimeter of the shoe, subtly adding extra structure. Hidden in the forefoot is a partial rock plate. Wandering down a bouldery Vancouver Island beach or exploring in the woods near Cape Chignetco in New Brunswick, my sprain-prone ankles felt safe in these six millimeter drop shoes. Loaded with cragging and camping gear, my feet were stable and felt supported on a smooth trail.
They’re still a low cut shoe, though. Carrying a heavy load on rough trail felt sketchy—the Fitz Roys are most at home on-trail and with moderate loads. Another ding: While the wide forefoot fit my fat feet well, the design will leave a lot of people swimming (Veja recommends sizing up.)
Veja specifically designed the Trek-Shell fabric upper for the Fitz Roy. It’s essentially a tightly woven, recycled polyester that—according to Veja—has similar durability to Cordura. Inherently water resistant, it’s also treated with a PFC-free water repellant. Hopping through puddles on a marshy trail near Nile Creek on Vancouver Island, moisture never soaked through. It took a half day of hiking in the rain to wet them out. On 75-degree trek near Phoenix, AZ, the fabric breathed well enough to manage my sweaty feet.
The outsole, lined with an alternating chevron pattern, supplied excellent grip on loose and mucky trail surfaces on both the up and downhills. Partially made from natural rubber, they also held on smooth stone, providing reliable stickiness scrambling up Sedona’s Castle Rock and on the granite slabs around Squamish, B.C.
While testing is still ongoing, after 100-miles I’m impressed with the Fitz Roy’s durability and comfort right out of the box. The shoe still looks almost new, with few scuffs and little sign of wear. And they look good, too. With a little cleaning, I feel comfortable wearing mine on the plane and around town after a long day on the trail. Yes, $245 for a light hiker is expensive, but if it holds up as well as it has over the last season, it’ll far outlast cheaper alternatives.