There are a ton of reasons why I’ve chosen boardsports over action vehicles; why I surf instead of boat, why I go to the Driggs skatepark instead of mountain biking (mostly), and why I ride instead of ski (at least 75% of the time). Part of that is the feel of the sports themselves, that sideways slip-sliding carving free-spirited worship of the arc and the line. Part is the evolution. It took skiers like 7000 years to learn to spin past 720; snowboarders invented double-corks in less than 30. The other is style; like a physical rebel, nonconformist, board “skate” style. And Vans has defined sport evolution and style almost since day 1, in the process becoming one of the most distinctive and innovative footwear brands around. Enter the Vans Ultrarange Hi Gore-Tex MTE — the most recent evolution of board style and engineering, guaranteed to find the feet of all the best riders you know.
Vans Ultrarange Gore-Tex MTE: A Mountain Shoe Made For You to Live In
Full disclaimer: I’ve long loved Vans. Old school Cabs were the first shoes I really picked out on my own. And I’ve been married to skate style for so long I used to romp around ski town evenings in deep snow bonfires in my leather skate shoes, sacrificing my feet at the throne of a statement. I’ve been rocking waterproof skate shoes since I first found DVS’s offerings and so when Vans came out with the MTE a few years ago, I picked up a pair of their Duck Boots. The Vans Ultrarange Hi Gore-Tex MTE is not those. Those Duck boots were mostly waterproof but eventually, snow would seep in. On the other hand, they looked like my standard Vans Hi-tops, almost indistinguishable unless you were looking close enough at the studded soles and obviously the weather-fighting design. These new Ultrarange MTEs look like a skate shoe and a crusty granola-eating hiking boot got married and had some half-punk/half-backpacker super kid. In a word, it fits my life perfectly. I’ve gone skating in them and they perform like a decent skate shoe — obviously with the lugged sole I’m not getting the grip on my ollies and kickflips. And these are made for winter, for snow and mud and the nasty.
There are a lot of shoes with Gore-Tex. They all look like they’re made for trail-running and tree-hugging. Vans, despite making some of the best snowboard boots on the market, isn’t all about that. The Vans Ultrarange Hi Gore-Tex MTE are hardcore boots that look like skate shoes but are still completely waterproof, scuff-resistant, mountain-town tough. I’ve been stepping into every snow bank I can to try and get my feet wet, to try and wash the freshness off the shoes. Nothing.
I have other waterproof skate shoes that aren’t Gore-Tex but are infinitely hotter. Which 90% of the time means my feet are just sweating as I’m wearing normal kicks, usually from the house to the heated car to the office/bar/store/Mike’s house and so those other shoes get unbearably warm unless I’m hanging outside at night, maybe a like bonfire-type-situation or crosstown stroll home from the bar.
As for the lugs, they dig into the snow damn well. There might be some slipperiness on ice that comes from raised nubs, though the rubber toe plate they added is an advantage over the previous MTEs that just changed lug pattern. If anything, that’s the biggest weakness, a slipperiness on ice, but that’s the biggest weakness of rubber in general. Short of bigger, heavier, more solid plasticky lugs, you won’t find a better winter shoe. And absolutely nothing with the style this throws off.
VANS: OVER 50 YEARS OF STEEZE AND PROGRESSION
When the Van Doren brothers first started molding waffle-iron rubber shoes to sell directly to the public back in 1966, they invented a new way of doing things. They were central to the Z-Boys skate revolution, a punk rebellion against the status quo that redefined a whole segment of sport, one grounded in functionality and self-expression and limitlessness.
They also redefined the athletic shoe; moreover, they created a rad, high-performance athletic shoe that worked just as well for walking down the street with the spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid. And now they’ve done it — the Vans Ultrarange Hi MTE Gore-Tex ($115) is a high-tech snowskateshoe, the culmination of half a century of creating the new world while silently advancing what’s possible in the old, blending board counter-culture style with hi-tech in a way that speaks to and for everybody who’s ever ridden a board and liked it.