When Vasque chose to launch a new trail runner, they wanted to make a statement to the industry. So, the Pendulum represents the swinging back to a sense of balance in the market that has been flooded by minimalist and barefoot offerings. The new Vasque Pendulum is a great shoe for all kinds of trail runners.
Vasque Pendulum Features:
- Vasque’s lightest trail runner
- Built for real-world needs
- Close-to-ground natural footstrike
- EVA midsole with TPU plate
- Bonded upper
- Heel Height: 19mm
- Forefoot Height: 13mm
- Heel Drop: 6mm
- Weight: 10.6 oz (sz. 9 each) – 23.8 oz (sz. 10.5 pair, as tested)
- MSRP: $109.95
Swinging the pendulum back, baby
Over the years, I’ve tested a handful of Vasque’s trail running offerings. While good, most of those shoes have leaned towards the light hiker end of the spectrum. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and is honestly more true to the Vasque brand. As such, Vasque didn’t hop onto the minimalist craze, but chose to wait things out until the market swung back to a more favorable spot. That spot is where the new Pendulum rests.
Combining much of what makes the minimalist shoes desireable (light weight, minimal drop, close-to-ground) with all that makes up a more traditional shoe (support, traction, protection), the Pendulum offers the best of both worlds. Utilizing bonded construction, the mesh uppers provide excellent breathability while the support bands provide excellent foot support. Gone are the days of chunky external bands to support the foot (thank goodness).
The Immerse 360 Last is built very anatomically and features a highly-curved design. This design forces your feet into the proper position for optimal running. At first, that position felt a little forced because it’s more pronounced than other shoe designs, but in time it became natural and comfortable.
On paper, the 10.6 oz Pendulum don’t match up with other lightweight designs, but on the trail, that weight is carried well. Because of the immersive fit, the shoe becomes one with your feet. There is no lag time or foot slap inside the shoe — just a cohesive fit that feels like a natural system.
On the trail, the Pendulum’s really shine. Soft, loamy dirt is met with powerful traction and rocky, loose terrain is equally tackled with the agility of a mountain goat. I’d say that the outsole offers an excellent “do it all” level of traction. The only negative is it can have a tendency to collect mud. Uphill and downhill traction is otherwise superb.
I dig the fit for my normal-shaped feet and low arches. The Waveform S/C midsole comforms to your feet and provides an excellent platform for fast-paced running and long-distances. My mid-to-forefoot strike is met comfortably with this shoe. A slight rocker would be nice, but the Pendulum’s feel smooth and natural on the trail.
Foot protection is right where it should be to provide the proper balance between protection and trail feel. Additionally, the lacing system allows you to pinpoint the fit for your particular tastes. The forefoot offers excellent wiggle-room and accomodates wider-than-normal socks, like Injinji’s, without becoming too tight.
- Real-world minimalist shoe for the masses
- Excellent comfort out of the box
- Curved last locks the foot in place
- Mesh uppers offer breathable performance
- Bonded uppers reduce bulk
- Last may feel too forced for some feet
- Slight hot spot behind ball of right foot on initial runs
The Bottom Line: Vasque Pendulum
This year’s crop of real-world trail running shoes are impressive. I’ll put the Vasque Pendulum near the top of any trail runners I’ve tested. They are comfortable and supremely capable for fast-paced running or long training slogs.
Buy Now: Available at Backcountry.com