The Pendulum is the lightest shoe in Vasque’s line-up of trail running shoes. At 10.6 ounces, it is light for a trail running shoe, although most would consider it to be a medium weight running shoe.
I wear-tested a pair provided by Vasque. Read on for the verdict.
The Pendulum I received had a calm and understated color scheme, namely Jet Black and Sodalite Blue. There’s an alternate Formula One/Solar Power version that’s a spicier combination of red, yellow, and grey, but I found that the black and blue version looks great when paired with Jet Black bicycling socks!
The fit of the shoe is narrow, but it’s not overly snug or tight. The Pendulum has a squared off toe box that allows the toes to flex freely. The elastic laces on the shoes stay tied, and there’s an EVA midsole and a TPU plate to protect against rocks and other sharp objects.
When I first stood in the shoe, it felt high, although it feels lower in action. Walking in the shoe to a nearby trail, I felt like I had on a pair of Adidas trail runners. This was true for both the comfortable “feel” of the shoe and its appearance, with the flared heel that Adidas has often featured.
The Pendulum has a “toothy outsole” which looks like a sparse waffle sole. What’s unique about the shoe, for both good and bad, is that it comes with a 3mm FluxFoam insole. This is a two-density sock liner that’s thick in the apparently EVA-padded rear and shockingly thin up front.
I experienced a couple of issues with the insole. Firstly, the thin forefoot section is not built for runners whose metatarsals need a decent amount of protection beneath them. The thin part of the insole promotes the feeling that the Pendulum’s rubber forefoot is more flexible than one would expect it to be. But anyone with metatarsals that become tender on occasion will want to consider substituting the supplied sock liner with a Dr. Scholl’s Gel Sport insole. There’s a reason most running insoles are virtually uniform in depth from back to front.
Secondly, there’s a section of thick foam rubber that rubs against one’s arches, something that becomes irritating as the miles go by.
On a trail, the supportive nature of the low-profile Pendulum (which has a 6mm heel drop) comes shining through. On crushed gravel, the shoe is fully protective while delivering a firm but reassuring heel plant. The shoe makes concrete surfaces feel smoother, while providing a pleasing amount of bounce and energy return on asphalt. Because the Pendulum’s lacing pattern holds the foot securely in place, runs on hard-packed dirt trails are something to enjoy and appreciate, as are runs on grass-covered trails.
The Pendulum supplies excellent traction and protection on a hard rock trail. With this shoe, you can scramble wildly over rocks that would otherwise punish the feet. I found myself wanting to yell “Attack!” while running over a tough trail that usually beats me up rather than vice-versa.
The Pendulum is also a good walking shoe as it has a “roll through” forward motion that’s pleasing. Since the shoe has a relatively large heel pad for a trail shoe, heel striking runners can pound away on sidewalks, roads, and tracks in the Pendulum. It’s a shoe that will work well for mid-foot landers.
Verdict: The Vasque Pendulum is a midsized crossover vehicle for trails and roads. It works well as a trail shoe, a running trainer and as a walking shoe. While the shoe’s insole could use some improvement, this is a protective, highly performing shoe that can be purchased for a moderate price ($110).