When I unboxed the New Balance Vazee Summit Trails, I had the feeling these would be something special. I was first struck by the look of the shoes — very slick. They not only look fast, they are fast.
New Balance Vazee Summit v2 General Info
The 8.6-ounce Vazees are even a tad lighter than the original version, and the drop decreased from 12 mm to 10 mm.
A more significant change from version one can be found in the upper.
The new upper is made of a single layer of soft mesh with an overlay that runs from the saddle to the shoe’s front. This helps keep the foot dry when hitting a puddle, creek or other wet obstacles.
Perhaps most notable about the Vazees is the $100 price point. Most comparable shoes like the Brooks Mazama are more expensive, making the Vazees not only fast and comfortable but more affordable.
New Balance Vazee Summit v2 Sole Unit
New Balance kept the same midsole and outsole (dubbed Sticky Hydrohesion Rubber) design as the original.
The lightweight RevLite EVA midsole cushioning — a common feature in New Balance’s racing collection — gives the sneakers the feel of well, sneakers, and not the hardness of some trail shoes.
Underneath, the widely spaced lugs promote confidence in runners with a firm grip and stable cushion on for just about any surfaces one would encounter on the trails.
I tested these on wet cross-country courses, through mud and moderate trails. The Vazees stood up to all these challenges.
I am not convinced that they would work well in highly technical terrain but then again, you wouldn’t need a trail sneaker built for speed in those conditions.
The narrow toebox may be a downer for some runners but it worked fine for me. The midfoot is extremely flexible and the rock protected forefoot, courtesy of a ¾-inch RockStop plate, promotes stability without any sense of collapse.
New Balance Vazee Summit v2 Upper Info
New Balance has created a thin upper that is also durable, and the protection extends throughout. The upper combines a Fantom Fit design for a comfortable fit and Meta-Lock technology for securing the midfoot lockdown.
Three are small slits cut through to provide adequate ventilation, especially during summer, and water release. The tongue is also fairly unique. It is softer and thinner than others I have worn or seen.
That may be a concern for those running on technical trails with rocks and other loose debris. I did find the tongue to be easily stretchable as I positioned it where it gave me the most comfort. The laces are somewhat thin but work well.
A thick gray blue overlay runs from the lace up over the entire heel counter. This rear piece contributes to keeping the rear of the shoe stable even during rocky ascents and descents.
The heel counter is firm but as it extends around the foot, there is a softness.
Yet, at the top of the foot, New Balance has etched on the words “Toe Protect.” And it does. The bumper works well to protect the foot from potentially damaging toe debris without sacrificing design or comfort.
New Balance Vazee Summit v2 Conclusions
Much to my wife’s dismay, I have acquired quite a collection of trail shoes. I figure there are about a dozen of them crammed into the closet just outside our garage.
Of those dozen or so pairs, there are three — including the Vazees — that I would describe as fast.
In fact — looking ahead to my next 50K, which is on a fairly flat and fast course — I am strongly considering running in the Vazees.
I firmly believe that they may provide the best combination of speed and traction for such races among all my trail shoes.
We thank the nice people at New Balance for sending us a pair of Vazee Summit v2 to test. This did not influence the outcome of the review, written after running more than 50 miles in them.