The folks at Vasque were kind enough to send me this year’s update to their Taku GTX boot to test out … and then I immediately took a fall on my bike and sprained my wrist, which made it very painful to tie shoe laces together. But after a few weeks of healing, I was able to take the Takus for a test run in Elysian Park over the weekend, and came back very impressed.

For most SoCal trails – especially during the hot months – the Vasque Breeze is my boot of choice. It’s super lightweight, incredibly breathable, and durable – I’ve been pounding the dirt with a pair I bought back in ’06, and only now do they look like they’re nearing the end of their lives. But when you’re up against water or snow, you’re going to want to trade that ventilation for a little more protection. That’s where the Taku comes in.

These boots have a full leather outer and a solid Vibram Neo Day Hiker sole as well as a breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex liner, which will definitely keep your feet dry in wet conditions. But the best part? All that extra protection actually shaves an ounce off the weight of the Breeze!

I was very surprised when I laced these boots up and started hiking – as I was expecting them to weigh a bit more. But they were light, nimble, and tough – even jumping on protruding rocks went unnoticed by the bottoms of my feet. Ankle support was fantastic, as it has been on every pair of Vasques I’ve worn, due to the tight uppers and grippy lace loops. It wasn’t that hot this weekend, but my feet never got clammy on the hike and I didn’t need any break-in period, either.

Vasque bills the Taku as a hiking boot, but I’d be comfortable using this as a light backpacking boot, too. I’d probably want to add an aftermarket insole if I was carrying equipment for anything more than an overnighter, though.

I know we don’t get much rain out here, but if you’re in the market for a good cool weather day hiking boot or boot to use while snowshoeing, try out a pair of Vasque Takus the next time you’re in an outdoor store.

The Vasque Taku retails for $165 at REI.

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