Love these shoes!
I recently was in the market for a new trail shoe with some interesting strings attached to my selection.
I've been a very avid runner since I was walking and I'm now almost 44, as well as having torn a ligament in my knee a couple years back and having endured some intersting setbacks over the last year while finally bringing it back (no surgery!!)
I wanted a running shoe for use on trails with excellent support, stability and agility. I had been running this past winter using a pair of Gore Tex hiking shoes, which were excellent support and stability, but left a little something to be desired in terms of agility.
Enter the Mindbender. Having looked at about a dozen brands and wanting a shoe with conventional laces, a wider toe box, and all-around stability crossed with agility, this seemed to be the one. Just as important, the shoe is deep enough to allow custom orthotics to be worn if that's your thing, without feeling cramped or as if you're foot is falling out of the shoe.
Any new shoe can be the subject of trepidation for a long-time runner. We're a superstitious lot, and the idea of being in the middle of a ten mile run (and at the turnaround point) with a shoeful of blisters causes most of us to knee-jerk back to the same old shoes.
I can say that after wearing these for the last two months and a bunch of miles, I am very happy with them. They are not a minimalist shoe, but they are not a club-footed marshmallow either. They have been reviewed as not as sticky as some on wet rock and such, and this is true, but no shoe makes up for proper balance, technique and good thinking on wet rock.
They lend themselves to nice quick runs over mixed terrain thru the local woods and trails in such a way that I'm free to concentrate on solving the problem/ obstacle versus worrying about my foot placement, and I keep looking at my watch when I am done thinking that there's no way it was that quick or easy. The gear does not make the man, but good gear does not hold him back either.
In keeping with a certain mfg's "ASR" branding of their trail shoe, MY idea of all-season running and theirs may be different. The Mindbender is a breathable mesh shoe, so I would say that I will either regress to when I was 18 and enjoy running thru slushy puddles for its own experience, or revert to the Gore Tex shoes for the winter/ snowy months. They are VERY comfy on hot days, venting out heat and sweat nicely. This also lets them dry nicely when I am home, which is critical for being allowed to keep them in the house.
I plan running with these for quite some time. Yes, you will find that a golf-ball-sized rock under the foot will hurt a little when it finds the ball of your foot. Good technique and agility allows you to get off this and two steps later you will have forgotten about that rock and will be back on your stride.
I can't find anything to disparage about these shoes, and like them enough I believe I am adding a second pair of Vasque shoes sooner rather than later. I had a nice pair of Vasque boots back in college, a pair of original Clarions, and I am glad to be back in the fold.
Excellent show with one flaw
I have gone through two pairs of this shoe and have found it to be an excellent overall running shoe. I put 300 miles on the first pair and 630 miles on the second. I use them about 75% for street running and 25% for trail running. I wanted a single shoe that would work for both street and trail, and this shoe definitely fits the bill. I put another 26.2 miles on it for the 2013 LA Marathon. I also wore it for a four day backpacking trip in the sierras and for three weeks of walking around during a Europe vacation. So suffice to say, it's a versatile shoe.
I do have one complaint, however. In both pairs, a weakness developed after about 250 miles. The stitching at the flex point between the toe box and the main body of the shoe begins to unravel. Although I wouldn't say this affects the performance of the shoe, it looks unsightly, and based on the fact that it developed on two different pairs, appears to be a weak point in the shoe's design. I emailed Vasque about this, and while they were polite and suggested I start a warranty claim, I wouldn't say they were particularly concerned or interested in what seems to be a structural flaw with the shoe. It's one thing for a shoe to begin to wear out after time, but this strikes me as a very specific failure in a part of the shoe that is not subject to friction or other contact that would explain how the seam comes undone.
The only thing I will use for day hikes
The first time I used the shoes was on a 14 mile hike that has a 6,000 plus elevation gain, and I ran down the majority of the way. They felt great the entire time, no break-in was needed, and they were very comfortable right out of the box. I have always used hiking boots for hiking previously as I feared an ankle injury from the lack of ankle support from trail runners, but was pleasantly surprised how stable the shoes felt. I have very wide feet and the shoes were a perfect fit so I would not recommend them to someone with a narrow foot. After the hike on the first use I noticed a small tear on the top of the of the shoe above my toes (I probably gashed them on a rock). I took them back and exchanged them for a new pair, and have not had any problems yet. I hope they end up being durable because they sure fit and feel great.
Conquered wet, muddy Kauai trails
I bought these for a recent trip to Kauai to wear hiking. I had considered buying hiking boots but figured I would get more use out of these as I tend to do more trail running than hiking. My wife and I put in 4 good hikes and these shoes performed great. The real test was the Na Pali coast trail which muddy, full of wet rocks and roots, and involves several stream crossings. These shoes are light enough to not slow you down, but have enough tread to get you through slippery conditions. I didn't get the chance to break these in before my trip but found I really didn't need to. They fit like a glove (of course I wear custom orthotics which always helps in that camp). These are a great alternative to heavier, pricier hiking boots, and certainly effective for agressive day hikes.
I have run in Montrail Hardrocks for years. Loved the old version. The Mindbender is less cushioned but has enough cushioning. It also seems surprisingly stable. I run on lots of roots and rocks and never felt my ankles become tweaked or unsteady. The shoe is definitely lighter than what I am used to. I ran my usual 5 mile loop trail with lots of climbing and descents a few minutes faster than normal with the same effort. I wear normal width shoes but prefer a roomier toe box. The mindbender is definitely roomier. I wear Brooks Adrenaline 11.5 and that is my size in the Mindbender. I have used my Hardrocks for long day hikes with a light pack. I don't think the Mindbenders would be best for that. But for fast, stable and pretty cushioned trail shoes the Mindbenders are great.
My very first trail running shoe
I used to be an active street runner. I was averaging 6 miles a day. I was in a car accident and had a spine injury that required multiple surgeries to correct. After the surgeries I was never really able to street run again. I was told that I should try Trail/mountain running as it used different muscles and placed less stress on the back. They were right. I started out in my New Balance shoes and quickly found out that they were no good for this type of running. These shoes that I bought, changed everything for me. I have been running again now for 6 months 6 days a week and can't beleive how great this is. Would have gone to trails years ago had I known!!! These shoes are really good.
I am 5'9", 155 lbs and have fairly flat feet. I have been using the Vasque Velocity and wanted to give these a try as they are a tad lighter. I was at first a bit concerned about heel slip as they are lower than the velocity, but after running the lace through the eye loop and cinching them down a bit they were fine. They sure seem much lighter and quicker. I have put about 25 miles on them up in Auburn on parts of the Western States trail and they do the job. There was no discomfort at all on the first run. The toe box is pretty wide but if your feet are like mine (flat, overpronate) you will want that.
Stable trailrunner for long nasty trails
I got these to do runs and full day hikes in the mountains in MT. They replaced my Blurs which was my favorite runner. I feel agile, stable, and protected from rocky trails with these. They handle muddy trails decently and dry quickly so aren't bad in wet weather. They have about 700-800 miles on them now, with some 20 mile trail runs and hikes. Not a single blister, toe rub, or signs of wear.
The fit is a little wide across the toes which is great for distance, but if you have narrow feet it might be too wide. They are supportive, but not quite as much as the old Blurs. Although better toe room and lighter than the Blurs.
Great, but Workmanship Questionable
Ever since I bought Vasque trail runners six years ago (on a lark; I was on vacation in northern Arizona, needed new shoes, they were on sale), I've sought them out. Not all shoes fit my feet and these fit well indeed. I find them comfortable, springy, attractive, and lightweight.
My one complate is that they wear quickly. I'll admit, I use them alot. Still, I'd expect the sole to last longer than it has: I've had this model for six months and the heel is already peeling back. An earlier pair (different model) came unstitched at one of the toe seams.
That said, I'll keep buying them. The fit is too good.
very good shoe
Overall great shoe, very light (not minimalist light, but very light), wide toe box (better for wider feet or use a thicker sock, like I do). Ran about 120 miles on them, no sign of wear whatsoever..which is a good sign. After long runs (up to 16 miles for me at the moment) on hard packed fire roads and single tracks my feet felt great. The cushioning is just right, not too firm, not too soft.
I give it 4 stars vs 5 stars only because I have narrow feet and as mentioned above the toe box seems a little roomier that what I would like with thin socks and running on technical trails.