Vasque FootSync Technology Debuts in the Transistor FS

Early 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
Now 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
First 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
With 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
The 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
As 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.]

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

View Comments (78)

  • 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

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  • I'd love to give a female opinion on the shoe. I live in the mid-Atlantic so can give them a try on snowy, muddy trails.

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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)

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  • 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).

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  • 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". :)

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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)

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  • Well-explained, and that totally makes sense. That's a pair of shoes I'd love to try as a "closer-to-natural" trail running shoe.

    Turi Becker, Reno, NV

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  • Always looking to try a new trail shoe!

    Landenberg, PA

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • My wife will hate to have another pair of shoes around. Despite that, I'd love to try out something new.

    Dylan Wiek
    Minneapolis, MN

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  • Come on mama, papa needs a new pair of (trail) shoes!

    Bob
    Pownal, VT

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