Shoes & Gear

Vasque Mindbender

Vasque Mindbender

From the company long respected for their high quality hiking and backpacking footwear, the Vasque Mindbender will help you cover those same tough trails faster on the run.

The Mindbender is Vasque’s best selling and lightest weight trail running shoe, marketing for the Mindbender uses verbiage like “a rock solid shoe that will take you miles and miles” and “created to eat up miles without eating up your feet”. After logging over 250 trail running miles to test the Vasque Mindbender’s I’ll back up those statements and go one further, “you’ll wear out before your Vasque Mindbender’s do”. I’ve often found that running shoes can feel solid and supportive in the first run or two and quickly break in, or break down, only to feel soft and mushy from then on. From my experience the Vasque Mindbender is not one of those shoes, I’m still amazed after this many miles when I put the Mindbender’s on and notice that new shoe feel and stiffness.

vasque_mindbender_outsoleThe Mindbender is a stability shoe with pronation control. The outsole has a shallow tread pattern made of sticky rubber to improve grip, the thick midsole has both a TPU Instep Plate and a Textile Forefoot Plate for maximum rock protection. Over the past year I’ve transitioned to a low drop shoe, 4mm heel to toe, when I first put the Vasque Mindbender I was shocked by the extreme 13mm heel to toe drop. In addition to the high heel to toe drop the Vasque Mindbender has the thickest sock liner I’ve seen in a trail running shoe. Although the industry trend is toward lower profile running shoes there is still a large percentage of the trail running population running in 10mm and higher drop shoes that would be well served with the Vasque Mindbender.

One thing about the extreme heel to toe drop for me is it helps in my form training workouts making me really concentrate on my forward lean to get my upper body out in front of this shoe to prevent a severe heel slapping with each stride.

Even with all this cushioning and protection the Vasque Mindbender comes in at a respectable 11.5 oz., lighter than the Brooks Cascadia and La Sportiva Wildcat, two shoes I would put into the same category for weight, protection and comfort.

Best on rough, rocky trails

There are a lot of trail running shoes on the market right now that are promoted as “run anywhere” shoes, shoes that will work best for trail running but also get you a few miles from home to the trailhead on the road. Living 1.2 miles from a trailhead I transition from road to trail everyday, based on this experience I’ll say the Vasque Mindbender is best used only on the trail, the rougher and rockier the better. Fortunately I can get to my nearby trailhead running in the Mindbender’s only because I can run through granite covered yards and landscaping most of the distance and stay off the road itself, if you don’t have that option I’d recommend waiting until you get to the trailhead to start running in the Mindbender.

vasque_mindbender2Is the Vasque Mindbender the trail shoe for you?

If you’re new to trail running or run on extremely technical trails I would recommend trying on a pair of Vasque Mindbender’s at your local running specialty store to see if it’s an option for you, especially if you already wear a 10mm or higher heel to toe drop protective shoe and want to continue with a similar shoe. The Mindbender comes in wide widths, with the roomy toe box (not too large but more room than the average minimal shoe I’m used to) and extreme cushioning/protection the Vasque Mindbender is also a shoe I would recommend larger runners to check out.

You can read the Vasque blog and find additional information on the Vasque Mindbender and all Vasque footwear at

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