TAYLOR: The Finnish brand VJ has been cranking out very specific trail shoes since the early ’80s and has recently expanded to the US. There’s nothing subtle about any of their models, each of them aggressive and ready for any element and all terrain. The VJ MAXx is their most cushioned and least aggressive shoe. It contains a few unique touches that I haven’t experienced in many other shoes while reminding me of more well-known brands such as inov-8.
TAYLOR: The grip on the VJ MAXx is serious. Like serious enough to question if it’s actually the best out there. Better than MegaGrip? Yes. Grippier and more durable than Graphene Grip? Quite possibly. The butyl rubber outsole kicked some major butt on the trails. The lugs are only 4 mm, which will work for almost all surfaces except very thick mud.
Make way for more extreme-ness. Underfoot, you’ve got a firm slab of foam with cushioning units in the forefoot and heel. The firm ride is great for the terrain it’s meant for: technical and fast. It also packs a little punch of responsiveness that reminds me of the Brooks Catamount. A 6 mm drop (29-23 mm) seems to be a sweet spot for the technically inclined trail shoe.
An atypical full-length rock plate is slid between the outsole and midsole to ensure the utmost protection. The plate is one of the main differences between the VJ MAXx and shoes like the Merrell MTL Skyfire and the Inov-8 Trailroc or Terra Ultra. This shoe has very little ground feel, which I usually like, but the underfoot security comes in handy when rambling above treeline and rocky peaks and scree.
The upper continues the theme of protection. A dual-layer mesh with kevlar as reinforcements won’t go down without a fight. It’s noticeably stiff but has some great lockdown in the forefoot and midfoot thanks to the FitLock system. Security isn’t an issue with the VJ MAXx.Shop VJ MAXx
TAYLOR: This shoe is firm. It sure needed some miles before it broke in enough to truly start holding my foot how I expected. The forefoot and midfoot loosened up a touch and there was just enough flex.
Also, heel slip is a factor when first out of the box. I tried a lot of different lacing styles and all cut into my foot until the shoe loosened up. Buyer beware.Shop VJ MAXx
TAYLOR: If you choose to lace up the VJ MAXx cue your favorite heavy metal band because these things go hard. A firm underfoot is sure to keep your focus on the next few steps because of the protection it gives. Check this shoe out if you often find yourself on sketchy terrain or even OCR courses.
You can pick up the VJ MAXx for $160 by using the shop link below.Shop VJ MAXx