Product Review : Vasque Mindbender

Over the last few months I have done several mini “reviews” of shoes I have tested at various events. How many people have wondered what my shoe of choice is during the in between? Did we all assume I was traveling barefoot? Or is it not a pressing question?

For those in the category of “What DOES she train in these days”? I have the answer.

The Vasque Mindbender

A few months ago I reached out to a PR request via one of my FitFluential friends and placed a request to test and evaluate trail shoes. The pair in question were the Velocity 2.0’s and I was excited when I received a response to my inquiry. I was even more pleased when the woman had actually read through my information and visited my site (LOVE that personal touch) and noted the Velocity was not the best shoe for me. She noticed I was training for a 100K and instead offered me the Mindbender, a shoe designed for ultra distances and apparently the same shoe worn by Duncan Callahan for training and racing.

Here is the official pitch from the company:

I’ve worn these shoes as my primary trail runners since around May. I have worn them for a mile or two hike up to double digit runs. They have seen dry and flat, or grassy or muddy, hills and shrubbery, dirt, limestone, gravel and streams. Although I did not wear them on a full out ultra distance, I believe my experience has given me a reasonable amount of information to draw a few opinions.

  • The Vasque Mindbender’s have an amazingly large toe box. My feet are wider in the front than the heel, giving me with issues when finding shoes. If I order “wide” normally the heel then isn’t secure. For me to say these shoes have a wide toe box, it must be extra wide. This is SO HELPFUL on a hotter day when my feet tend to swell and I still want comfort and ventilation
  • Speaking of ventilation, these shoes have a great mesh design and are quite breathable. In fact I do not think I had any sweating issues and when I did have to go through rivers or streams, they did not stay wet very long and I barely noticed the water.
  • Aside from the wider toe box the other feature I noticed right away and loved was  traction. Normally I am cautious when flying down a rocky hill or ANY hill during a run. For some reason the bottoms of these shoes seemed like dozens of tiny fists grabbing between rocks, roots or debris and keeping me from doing anything dangerous or painful. This made a huge difference in my pace and confidence as well as post-workout soreness.
  • Not performance related, but I like the color scheme. I am not a bold or flashy person and I like to try to match. For some reason I think I’m going to be on the cover of a magazine some day. The green/grey look went well with nearly everything I own.
  • There is only one “issue” I had with the shoes. Either they did not easily adapt from running/hiking in the same session or something about their build prevented my feet from easily adapting. In greater detail: When I would run in the shoes, they were amazing. I forgot I was wearing them and I could breeze through the miles. When I finished my feet did not feel “relieved” from removing the shoes it was simply the end of a run. When I walked or hiked in the shoes I had a very similar experience. If I was on a route and I found I needed to take walk breaks I began to have problems with the shoes. My feet would twist back and forth along the edges giving me hot spots along the insides of my feet. Approaching hills and going from a jog to a climb my arches would ache and feel as if they were not being fully supported. It was as if they needed to stretch out and form to the bottom of the shoes again.

Overall I really enjoyed these shoes and they are now a staple in my gear. I plan to wear them for any hikes and shorter runs or distances where I won’t have to take too many walk breaks. Personally I won’t be wearing them to my ultra since I will be doing a walk/run combo, but if you’re an ultra runner who doesn’t need breaks, is looking for a lighter but not minimal shoe with great traction, great ventilation and a wider toe box, Vasque Mindbenders are your golden ticket.

FTC Disclaimer : The shoes were provided to me free of charge in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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