During ski season, when I'm not in ski boots, you'll be hard pressed to find me wearing anything else on my feet other than a ratty old pair of beat-up Vans high tops. Once the snow starts to melt, however, my footwear selection starts to grow again, including climbing shoes, biking shoes, and most importantly, hiking boots.
When looking for a new pair of hiking boots, I ask myself a lot of the same questions as when I'm shopping for ski boots: Are they comfortable? Can I see myself wearing them for long hours at a time? Will they stand up to some heavy abuse? Do they look good on my feet? The new Vasque Clarion '88 answers yes to all of the above and more.
New for this year, the Clarion '88 sports a throwback design to Vasque's original Clarion boot that debuted in 1988, with updated tech and features making it ready to take on any hike or backpacking trip.
I think what I love most about the Clarion '88s is their pure simplicity. While every part of the boot was clearly well thought out in the design process, there aren't any superfluous bells and whistles that a lot of newer hiking boots have today. Looking back at their design from three decades ago, it's clear that Vasque held true to the classic mantra, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
The body of the boot features 1.8-millimeter waterproof suede leather and abrasion resistant nylon mesh, perfect for springtime mud and puddles, and a moisture-wicking liner makes it perform best in warmer, dryer climates like the Colorado Front Range, where I plan on putting a lot of miles on these boots in the upcoming months. A dual density EVA midsole provides plenty of comfort while the Vibram outsole provides plenty of grip and still gives the boot the classic look it sported 30 years ago.
While I dread the soon-approaching day where I hang up my ski boots until next winter, warmer weather and a new pair of boots has me pretty stoked for hiking season. It might not be as fun as going skiing, but at the end of the day, it's all just about having fun in the mountains.