The Vasko 2 from Feelmax is a cold-weather, water-resistant outdoor shoe with an incredibly thin sole and thicker lining that aims to excite minimalist adventurers as the temperatures dip and the terrain gets tough. They are great for trails and cold weather running and may be a strong contender for favorite winter running shoe! Read on for the full review!

What Feelmax Says

Here’s what Feelmax says about the Vasko 2:
Outdoor barefoot shoe for demanding weather conditions. Constructed out of water-reppelant fabric and thicker lining for all wet and cold weather activities.
  • Weight | 7.9 oz
  • Total Stack Height | 2.5mm – 4mm sole
  • Barefoot scale | Good flexibility and feedback. Newly designed sole gives more traction, but does not detract from thin design. Very wide ankle area and somewhat wide toebox.
  • Ideal Uses | Late fall and winter road running, trails, mountain climbing, tree parkour.
Pros
  • Water-resistant
  • Warm inner lining
  • Thin sole
  • Many reinforced sections for durability
  • Large volume interior
Cons
  • Excess lacing
  • Elastic laces are a bit too stretchy
  • Collar is a bit loose
Sizing My size 42 Euro Vasko was a good and true fit for my feet. There is a relatively generous toebox and a very wide ankle area. If you have wide feet or add ankles, this shoe will be a great fit for you. There is a very large opening for your feet and you can increasingly tie down your foot with the lace system. I do wish that the laces went up just one more eyelet for extra security or that elastics were a but less stretchy. The shoe felt a bit loose on my feet when running and I had to really cinch up the laces, leading to a lot of excess lacing. I think that a little bit of velcro would be helpful to keep all the lacing in line
The laces are quite long on the Vasko 2
The laces are quite long on the Vasko 2
Some creativity may be required to get your laces in line.
Some creativity may be required to get your laces in line.
Take a spin around the Vasko 2s via these photos!

Sole

The Vasko 2 uses an update version of Feelmax’s NatuRun outsole, called “Sierra”. This sole is similar to the one that they had in the Kuuva 3 winter boot that I reviewed last year. It is 2.5mm – 4mm thick, according to Feelmax, but I could not find any contouring or variation in thickness throughout the sole. The entire sole appears to be perfectly flat and roughly 2-3mm thick. Aside from Feelmax’s 1.3mm sole for their Niesa trainer, this is the thinnest sole that I have ever used for a trail shoe. The Sierra sole is very flexible and provides a fantastic amount of groundfeel that I describe as being very similar to the Vibram EL-X or KSO EVO.
The flexibility of the Vasko 2
The flexibility of the Vasko 2
New for the Sierra version of the NatuRun sole is the addition of deeper lugs, micro “cleats” on the forefoot, and a horizontal toe lug section. This is a sole that is made to tackle all kinds of rough terrain and conditions. It’s a huge improvement over the old sole in terms of traction and grip. In my testing of the Vasko, I hit up my favorite rocky trails around Massachusetts and did some tree climbing around Brookline and Jamaica Plain. I am happy to report that this new Sierra sole has excellent ground feel and plenty of grip for climbing trees and the new lug design definitely gives the Vasko 2 plenty of trail capabilities. In my positive review of the Trek Ascent LR, I noted that the new Vibram sole has plenty of protection for rocks—perhaps a bit too much protection. With the Vasko 2, the pendulum has swung in the other direction. If you are looking for the thinnest possible sole for trail or winter running, you will definitely enjoy this new sole. Personally, I like my soles as thin as possible, but with a hint of give upon landing. In the past, I have found that some ultrathin shoes feature soles that were a bit too “plasticky” in terms of feel—I would actually rather run barefoot than with a plastic-feeling sole!
The Sierra sole strikes an excellent balance between being thin and flexible, but giving me just enough protection from rocks, lugs for traction and a bit of support upon landing. It’s not a super foam or super rubbery sole, but its just the right amount of density and comfort. I expect this sole to be just as durable as the previous NatuRun sole. Feelmax were really smart in having different lug patterns throughout their sole. The big toe has a horizontal lug pattern for climbing and toe-off and the ball of the foot has the most aggressive tread as this is the part that will experience the brunt of your landing force and the most torque when you really dig into the ground. The arch section is basically bald for smoothness and to allow the rest of the foot to do its thing, while the outer sections of the sole are more squared off for stability and grip.

Fit and Materials

Feelmax has taken the incredibly colorful Vasko and muted the colors for a more rugged look and reinforced everything weak point that would normally fail on a shoe. In fact, there are some sections that are triple reinforced for incredibly durability and protection from any root or rock snags. The toe-area is made up of three layers of criss-crossing ripstop nylon and there is a tough toe-cap to add extra protection from stubbed toes. The outer pinky toe area also gets some suede reinforcements as well. In my experience, these are the parts of the shoe that fail first The outer fabric is water resistant. It is not waterproof, but was more than adequate for keeping my feet dry during a sprinkling rainshower and through loads of wet foliage piles.
The lining is very cozy and thick. My feet felt like they were wearing very comfy fleece socks inside the sole and the shoe is barefoot friendly; no need for socks, if that is your preference. The Vasko shoe kept my naked feet warm and cozy during my runs in temperatures as low as 9 degrees farenheight. In my testing, I performed multiple back-to-back runs against the Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated and they are actually a bit warmer than the wool-lined Vibrams. The very fact that these are closed toe, rather than five-finger, shoes makes the Vasko a bit warmer than the Trek Ascent Insulated. You can think of it as mittens vs gloves; all things being equal, having your fingers together in mittens will be a warmer experience than gloves due to the amount surface area of your fingers–and toes–being exposed to the cold air. The Vasko 2 should be more than adequate for below freezing road and trail runs. These puppies just might be the ultimate winter running shoe. As the Vasko 2 are so warm, you can expect your feet to sweat during the warm months. As such, they are not appropriate for summer runs. Interior is excellent in terms of comfort. No socks necessary. I could not find any rough seams or everything seems very smooth inside the shoe. Personally, I plan on using these for trail-running throughout the winter and I think that they would benefit from a slightly taller cowl to keep out snow and debris.

Performance

The Vasko 2 are excellent for trails and cold weather running. They are a bit heavier than my typical running shoes, but they extra warmth, water-resistance, and grip that they provide are a good tradeoff for the extra weight. There are faster shoes out there, such as the Vibram Bikila LS, Merrell Vapor Glove 2, or Mizuno Wave Universe 5, but there is a great deal of difference in terms of the capabilities of the Vasko 2 compared to these more road-centric shoes. I would say that the shoes most comparable competitor is the Vapor Glove 2, but that shoe loses its traction and usefulness when things get slushy or cold. The Vasko is better suited for cold weather, while the Vapor Glove is great for warmer months. On an especially warm day, my feet began to get a bit sweaty inside the thick linking of the Vasko 2, so this is definitely going to be a cold-weather shoe for me. This will vary depending on your individual feet and whether you wear socks. I always opt to run without socks to best assess the ventilation and construction of my shoes, so my feet run the risk of getting their own interior atmosphere. The Vasko 2 are probably my favorite tree-climbing and hiking shoes for cold weathers. While I love my huaraches for hiking adventures, there is a definite need for something that will allow my adventures to continue once snow begins to fall. Normally, I prefer to run in huaraches on trails, but the new Vasko 2 has got me loving shoes again. The Vasko 2 really fulfills my fall and winter running needs. It is a huge improvement over previous Feelmax models and combines the incredibly rare qualities of thin sole, flexibility, traction, and water-resistance, and warmth.

Summary

The Vasko 2 from Feelmax has become my new favorite winter running shoe. Its unique combination of flexibility and warmth are fantastic for a true minimalist that does not want the fun to stop when the poor weather settles in. The Vasko 2 is live for pre-orders on the Feelmax website and are around $100 once you factor in Euro to USD conversion. If you are a minimalist adventurer that hates the treadmill in the winter, you should check these shoes out!