Vasque FootSync Technology Debuts in the Transistor FS

Vasque logoEarly in 2010, Vasque is introducing a pair of new trail shoes – the Mindbender and the Transistor FS. While the Mindbender is Krissy Moehl’s go to shoe, we’re going to focus on the Transistor FS for the moment. In particular, we’re going to talk about a couple of the new technologies found in the Transistor and how they came to be. First off, we’ll let Vasque designer and Leadville 100 finisher, Brian Hall, explain how the new technologies came about. They we’ll explain FootSync, the foundational technology in the Vasque Transistor. If you like video, you can watch Brian Hall explain FootSync. You’ll want to stick around even if you aren’t a shoe tech guru, as we’ll be giving away 5 pairs of the Transistor FS to readers interested in helping iRunFar review the shoe.

How Did the Vasque Transistor FS’s FootSync Technology Come to Be?
Vasque designer and trail ultrarunner Brian Hall explains how he came to develop the FootSync system.

For me, developing this technology was an evolution of several ideas involving fit, stability, and reducing weight over several years. At its essence, FootSync adapts to the runners foot, getting them closer to the ground for improved stability and feel, without sacrificing comfort. We were able to achieve this by taking away material instead of adding, so the end result is a lighter overall shoe.

It was important for me to develop a new platform that didn’t have its roots in road running technology. The demands of running on trails are very different. I took a more holistic foot approach, instead of having heel or forefoot centric technology. I wanted a shoe that adapted seamlessly to both your foot and the terrain. I looked at stability as a low center of gravity and superior whole foot fit over adding dense posting material or other corrective measures.

In a lot of ways this was a dream project for me. To be able to create something new based on my own running experience as well as the experiences of several talented athletes. I have a passion for this kind of work and this is an exciting first step in a process that will continue to evolve. It is a really exciting time in running shoe development. There is a lot of debate over the foundations of traditional running shoe technology, and I think we are in store for some new thinking and exciting developments that will change the status quo.

Vasque FootSync
Vasque FootSyncNow that Brian Hall has filled you in on how Vasque’s FootSync system came to be, we’ll tell you more about what it actually is. As you may have gathered, Vasque has coined the primary new technology in the Transistor, FootSync. FootSync is all about fit. More correctly, they are all about fit as FootSync has three distinct components: the Immerse 360 last, a Flux Foam footbed, and Wave Form midsole. We’ll try to explain each of them without all the marketing hype.

Immerse 360 Last
Vasque Immerse 360 LastFirst off, what is a shoe last? The last is the 3D-form around which the upper and bottom portions of a shoes pieced together. It is the last that gives a shoe it shape, which means that while you may never see the last used in making your trail running shoe, it may very well be the most important piece in determining the fit and function of the shoe.

Most shoe lasts are constructed with flat bottoms… for the sake of convenience. Vasque’s Immerse 360 mimics the foot in all dimensions, including under the foot. This should help provide a more solid (though not in the sense of being stiff) platform for your foot. It’s worth noting that the Immerse 360 last results in a narrow heel pocket to lock in your foot. Vasque developed the Immerse 360 last using thousands of foot scans in the Red Wing Shoe Company’s vast foot scan databank.

Flux Foam
Vasque Flux FoamWith the FootSync system, there is no sockliner (a/k/a insole). Instead, you run on the strobel, the upper most, non-removable part of a shoe’s bottom portion. Take our word that you wouldn’t want to take out your insoles and run on most strobels. Strobel materials are rarely comfortable on the foot, there is often a 90 degree angle between the strobel and the upper (insoles are used to taper this angle), and the stitching is not designed to be run on.

Insert Flux Foam as a solution. Flux Foam is a firm, slow rebound foam that retains a foot’s shape when the foot is lifted rather than instantly rebounding to the foam’s initial shape. It’s not that the Flux Foam permanently molds to your feet. Instead, the Flux Foam gradually molds to your feet during your run.

Let’s think big picture for a moment. So with Flux Foam you can now run without an insole. Hmm, that means you’re closer to the ground. And more stable. And more in tune with the trail. Seems like a good way to use technology to get closer to natural running.

Waveform S/C Midsole
Vasque Waveform SCThe Waveform S/C Midsole is the yin to the Immerse 360 last’s yang. Basically, the midsole contours your foot’s bottom. There’s no need to insert fancy marketing speak for a basic component aimed at a comfortably supportive though not over controlling midsole.

FootSync Video
If you’re more of a visual or auditory learner, watch this short video in which Brian Hall explains FootSync.

Vasque Transistor FS Review Giveaway
Vasque Transistor FSAs we mentioned at the top, we’re giving away five pairs of Vasque’s Transistor FS for iRunFar readers to test. By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to provide us with your feedback on the shoe to use in a future iRF Transistor review if you are selected as a winner. (You’ll have 3-4 weeks to test the shoes.)

To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment with your name and town (so that we can identify the winners) by Friday, February 27 at 5 p.m. PST. We’ll be choosing most of the winners at random, but reserve the right to select one or two winners based on the creativity, quality, or other compelling characteristics of a reader’s comment. If you enter, please check iRunFar next weekend so we can get the shoes out to you ASAP!

[Disclosure: Vasque is giving us a little something for publishing this article. We’re cool with this. Heck, the post was our idea! Seriously, we came up with the idea, then asked for some support, and then negotiated five pairs of Transistors to giveaway to you, the iRunFar readers. Win. Win. Win.]

There are 78 comments

  1. Jason Gardner

    I live in Atibaia São Paulo Brasil. The terrain here is very hilly and rocky. Most of the nearby trails are very technical and poorly maintained. So a good shoe that grips my foot and the trail is pretty important.

    To give you an idea of how I would use them, here is the website for the trail running circuit where I would be using the Vasque Transistor FS.
    http://www.corridasdemontanha.com.br/
    Jason

  2. Nick Lee

    I just came off a dismal performance at the Moab Red Hot 50k+ in Moab. Karl Meltzer beat me by almost 4 hours–yes, I said dismal (not that I was any match for Meltzer even on my best day). I'll be training hard for the next two months to redeem myself at my first 50 miler in April. I live in Colorado Springs, CO and with spring on the spring right around the corner I'll need a shoe that can handle sunshine and snow sometimes all in the same run. I'd love to be a tester.

  3. TrailClown

    I'm not going to try and think of anything creative to say, but I think this is really one of the coolest new innovations I've ever read/heard about. I mean, why is it that my Teva running sandals are so comfortable? Because I'm basically running on a curved last shaped to fit my foot's shape, and it's low to the ground. So this will be an awesome shoe, with the new Flux Foam on top of a form-fitting Last, in a trail shoe body, and I'd be stoked to test them and write all about 'em. There is hope for my weary old feet!

  4. Dan Rose

    I've been impressed (but not 100% sold) on a few Vasque pairs in the past; Most recently the Aether Tech SS. I think we should all applaud their constant push to innovate and break the mold (or last, as it were) and improve traditional trail shoes. I'd love to help test out the Transistors on the Massanutten trails and see how they hold up.
    Dan Rose (Washington, DC)

  5. Matt

    Some of the selling points are that it reduces weight and keeps your foot closer to the ground. Could we have some empirical data to support this; i.e., what is the weight of the shoe and what is the height in millimeters of the heel and forefoot? I live in Atlanta and I'd love a pair (men's 11.5).

  6. Chris

    Well, when I think of Vasque trail shoes, I'm thinking "built like a tank, cross between a full blown Mountain boot and hiking shoes, with a hint of trail shoes thrown in, as an afterthought". Perhaps these shoes could change my mind? It would be cool to use them on my upcoming trail race in Chattanooga, TN at the site of the StumpJump 50K in March.

    Chris from Murfreesboro, TN.

    mta – I own a pair of Vasque VST's, hense my "hindsight". :)

  7. Chris Freet

    The trails near my home here in north east PA are hilly, rocky and wet. One trail specifically has mud and guarantees wet feet all summer long, even in the hottest months. Perhaps a test on the Laurel Highlands Ultra is in order :-)

    Chris Freet, Honesdale, PA

  8. Ken

    I'd love to have a test of the shoes. My primary training runs are on the rocky, sloppy, hilly Ouachita Trail.

    And besides, I just finished my first official race this weekend, I think I deserve a present.

  9. Megan

    I like that they are trying to make the foot closer to the ground. I wonder if you actually feel closer to the ground when you wear them? I live in San Antonio and could test them out on some rocky trails.

  10. Greg

    I'd love to try these new Vasque shoes out on the rocky trails of the Texas Hill Country. I live in San Antonio and ran the Bandera 50k last month. I've used the Vasque Velocity shoes on these trails in the past. I'd love to compare this new shoe to the performance of my old standbys. Thanks.

  11. Dana Royer

    I'd love to test these puppies out. I've been moving towards neutral, lower profile shoes to combat my weak ankles, and I'm curious how they compare to my other shoes (wildcat, mtn. masochist). It would be cool to strap these on for my hilly & technical 50's this spring (Wapack, Pittsfield Peaks).

    Dana Royer (Middletown, CT)

  12. Brian Hall

    To Matt, here is your empirical data. All data points are for a men's size 9 and production spec.

    Weight: 10.8oz
    Forefoot height: *13mm
    Heel height: *23mm

    * We use a dynamic cushioning in the forefoot and heel that is made up of injection molded EVA and negative space. The Flux foam piece adds 3mm over the midsole.Combined, this allows you to "sink" into the shoe, so effectively you are lower than the numbers above. You will also notice a slightly lower forefoot/heel ratio as comparied with most running shoes.

  13. Tom

    I run 200 mile per month here in Iowa, so I should be able to give them a good test. I have a 100 mile run coming up in April and one in October with shorter ultras this summer.

    I'd like to give these shoes a shot. I haven't worn Vasque since I purchased a pair of Sundowners for backpacking back in the 1980's, of which I have fond memories.

  14. Brian

    Upper Arlington, OH

    Would love to have a new shoe to start trail running in and give feedback. First 50 Mile race scheduled for April 2010 (road race). Then switching to trail running to continue in my ultra training.

  15. Paul J

    I live in San Diego, CA and this is my first year doing Ultras. I've got Oriflamme 50K in Mar, PCT50 in May and San Diego 100 in June. Needless to say I'm going to be going through a few pair of shoes and I'd love to give these Vasque's a go.

    I run on every type of trail we have to offer out here from hard pack fireroads to soft over grown forest trails to the variety of surfaces the Pacific Crest Trail has to offer. Last weekend alone I was mountain running on rocky ledges on the PCT and the next day I was a little further North on the PCT running through wide open cow pastures. If you guys have a pair left I'd love to give these guys a beating and see how they hold up.

  16. Patrick

    Oh, great gods of trail shoes, please bestow on me your favor in the form of Vasque trail shoes. I promise to be good to the trails by spending my time with you, and you can have my first born son (he'll be a great runner, promise)!

    Love,

    Patrick

  17. Darrin

    I'm training for my first ultra and need a new pair of trail shoes. Will give the shoes a great workout and can send regular reports, with all distances verified by my Garmin 405.

    Darrin
    Ridgefield, WA

  18. Tuck

    "Vasque’s Immerse 360 mimics the foot in all dimensions, including under the foot. This should help provide a more solid (though not in the sense of being stiff) platform for your foot."

    Egad, sounds horrible. It will feel comfortable at first, but prevent proper (i.e. natural) biomechanics, and it will weaken the muscles of the feet, making injury more likely. I'll pass.

    "Can Good, Supportive Shoes Become Addictive?" http://www.americaspodiatrist.com/2009/08/can-goo

  19. Matt

    Hello,
    I'm a professor of biomechanics and exercise physiology at Stetson University in Florida. My latest pair of shoes from a certain (formerly) Seattle-based company that starts with 'M' is coming apart at the seams after only a month of trail running here in sandy central Florida. Although I have been a devotee to this M******* company for years, I'm not feeling very optimistic about buying their products again, especially in light of the lack of customer support I've received so far. So, one reason you should choose me to test your shoes is that I run a lot and, more importantly, I'm open to new (to me) brands and have read a lot of positive things about Vasque. I love my Sundowners (10 yrs old), and my father-in-law is an aerospace engineering professor, who has had 2 pairs of the Vasque Velocity, which I convinced him to buy based on my reading about them. Together, he and I can do some extensive testing on a new pair of Vasques with the FootSync technology; I'm a biomechanist and he's a real-live rocket scientist, for Pete's sake!

    I teach a section on gait analysis (including shoe types and characteristics) in my biomechanics course as well. If you send me a pair, I will discuss the technology you have in place with your new shoes. The Strobel you have, in particular, is interesting to me, given my disappointment with most shoes' insoles.

    Please, Please, Please would you send me a pair?! I'm passionate/borderline-fanatical about trail shoes, and your company has my attention!

    Prof Schrager

  20. Kirstin Corris

    The Immerse 360 last sounds exciting. I've been dabbling in some lighter shoes lately and upping my miles (on the snow-packed trails of DC AND the treadmill). I'd love to give these a spin on the trails!

  21. Jen

    I NEED SHOES!

    After abusing them up and down volcanoes and muddy trails (and I use the term "trails" liberally…more like a cow track!) during The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica two weeks ago, I had to retire my trusty old Adidas…More like a funeral than a retirement party actually!

    I would love to review some Vasques for you while training for STORMY – my first 50-miler!

    Jen in Campbell River, BC

  22. Carsten Jorgensen

    Denmark is not particular well-known for trail running. I am participating in my first trail race in April. The race is called “Helvede i Nord” which translate to something like “Hell in North”. The course consists of very small trails, horse riding paths and a longer passage on the beach.

    I am currently running with the Inov-8 X-talon 212 shoe and this shoe has a very low profile which suits me very well. I cannot really image how a running shoes without the insole feel like and this has made me very interested in testing the new Transistor FS.

    Carsten (Copenhagen, Denmark)

  23. Will T

    I like Brian Hall's outside the box thinking and shoe design from the ground up with a trail runner in mind.

    I usually run in the heavier VST or Blurs. I'm prone to roll my ankles and I like that beefy "rollbar – is what I call it" feeling to keep my ankles from rolling over, but with that high heel and rollbar protection whenever the ankle goes further then the rollbar can correct, then I get real bad ankle sprains.

    I've been curious what a "low heel" shoe could do for my ankle sprains if I could feel the ground better, but I've been hesitant about super light shoes as I fractured my 5th metatarsal in a pair of lighter shoes. I'm curious if this footsync could cure the problem and would be excited to put a pair to the test.

    Also a question for Brian Hall – I'm wearing a pair of Vasque #7598 w/ boa lacing right now. Didn't pick them up in a store. Can't find any info on them. Do you have any?

    Will in Fall City, WA

  24. Kevin Higgins

    I’m looking forward to trying these wheels. My all time favorite shoe was the Vasque Amp. Went through 8 pairs. Now running in a lighter shoes (Montrail mountain masochist) like them but they don’t have the “out of box” feel like the Vasques. Phoenix, Arizona

  25. Carson

    The trails here in Western Colorado are just starting dry out. I'd love to give the Transistor a try. Plus, I could really use some new shoes. Have they made it to retailers yet? The only place I've seen them is on Cabela's webste.

  26. Jeremy

    I live in Irving and I'm a beginning trail runner. I have a number of trail ultras coming up this spring and summer and I'm considering what shoes to get. Right now my choices are narrowed down to NewBalance MT100s and Vibram FiveFingers KSO Treks. However, these Vasque shoes sound pretty sweet.

  27. Randy

    Count me in – I will represent the Canadian Contingency running on Five Fingers when I can in the summer and a variety of shoes for the snow and shoulder seasons (typically la sportiva and inov8). Calgary gives me access to a huge variety of trails…….

  28. Mike - Mechanicsburg

    Snow snow go away, fall somewhere in the west coast or mid west so we folks in the East can go out and play! Times are tough here and my computure is low on RAM (new Garmin software is a pig). Have tested products in the past. Promise to entertain.

    I have a group of trail races to test the Vasques!

  29. Bill Susa

    I'm in the process of figuring out which trail shoes I'm going to try out this year and the Vasques would certainly get a thorough "test-drive" here on the rocky trails in and around Burkittsville MD.

    Bill

  30. Spencer King

    I live in Indiana PA (western pa) the trails around here are very steep and rocky often times going straight up the fall line(makes the downhills quite a ride)most of the trails are covered in about 3ft of snow right now but looks to be disappearing quickly, it was 40 degrees out today! I love the fact I have easy trail access right out my front door and spend most mornings enjoying the scenery. I would love to try these shoes out at the Hyner Challenge 25k on April 17th, probably one of the hardest 25ks around( 4,300 ft of vertical gain!) as well as the Laural Highlands 50k( my first) When looking at a shoe I usually look for something as close to the ground as possible with minimal padding. I currently run in a pair of NB mnt 100s, five fingers or a pair of La Sportiva Skylites and would interested in comparing how these match up with the new Vasque models

  31. Tamara

    I'll review some shoes … and test them in the Northern and Southern hemsipheres in the time period!

    Bellevue, WA (…heading to NZ for some trail running too)

  32. Heidi

    Hi Bryon! I normally can be found trail running in Washington (I live in Seattle and did the Orcas 50K recently) but I'm planning a trip next month to Nepal. Maybe I should take these shoes and see how they hold up to a few weeks of trekking around Everest?

  33. Michele Jensen

    I'd love a pair! I live in Littleton, CO and am a huge pair of Vasques since I've been running with the Gortex ones this winter.

  34. Steve Sweeney

    Who isn't looking to feel the trail underfoot? With the description of the shoe last and design, I'm ready to try them and eventually use them on Ultra Trail Runs!

  35. paul rondeau

    Hey Byron, i'd love to be one of the test subjects,i'am in the market for
    a new pair of trail shoes,with a couple of 50k in the next couple
    of weeks and a 50 miler in 2 months i can give you some awesome
    feedback with the brutal trails out here.

    Paul in PHX.

  36. Tony Mollica

    Byron I would love to get the opportunity to test one of these new Vasque shoes! The technology sounds great and the idea of having no insole is intriguing. Anything that would allow me to go for it more on a trail run; and reduce the need for caution is something that I'd like to give a try! I am not an elite trail runner, but a regular guy who loves to run trails. I think I would be very representative of the experience that an average trail runner would have.

    Thank you for your consideration!

    Tony Mollica
    Athens, Ohio (aka God's Country)

  37. Brian Hall

    To Will T,

    Where did you get that pair?! You can't find any info because they never went into production. This "style that never was" is called the Hydrocity Tech. It was a spin off of the Aether tech, but with drainage for running in wet, hot environments. In the end, a little too niche, so no one bought it…and alas, we never built production shoes.

    1. Will T.

      Thanks for the inside info Brian on the Hydrocity Tech. They drain amazingly well up here the NW, too bad they never made it into production. I guess I'll just have to make them last, since I won't be finding them in the store anytime soon. By the way, they caught my eye at a Vasque Sample Sale and I just had to give them a try. I'm always looking to try new, unique shoe designs.

  38. Kim

    If you'd like a 50 year old female ultrarunner to test the Transistor on rugged muddy, snowy, uneven, sandy, rocky trails, complete with cow pies, burrs and cheat grass, in Boise, Idaho, I can produce a well written, comprehensive review to provide feedback on this exciting shoe techology.

    Kim Neill
    Boise, ID

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