Vans UltraRange: The Best Vans Shoes for Outdoor Activities

To know Vans sneakers is to love Vans sneakers, what with the kind of classic style and looks for days. We’re talking about the kind of timeless style that calls to mind balmy, breezy spring and summer days without a care in the world. Hold up a second, though. Wake up from that daydream and follow us on a journey of a different sort, because Vans sneakers are as ready for adventure as any pair of kicks in your rotation. That is, if you make it a point to lace up the Vans UltraRange.

If you thought Vans only did classic slip-ons, affordable canvas sneakers or skate shoes for sticking that landing, think again — the Vans UltraRange sit in the middle of a sort of style Venn diagram. They offer the iconic, instantly recognizable look of Vans, with plenty of other bells and whistles thrown in for good measure. The Vans UltraRange are unlike anything else in the Vans arsenal, seeing as they’re a pair of outdoor sneakers you can actually wear, y’know, outdoors. They’ve got springy comfort and there are certain styles of the UltraRange that even serve as waterproof Vans

Not that you can’t take your low-top Vans sneakers to festivals and beer gardens and BBQ joints (you most certainly can, and you most certainly should), but when you’re debating between a well-stocked footwear rotation, the choice is clear in terms of rugged durability for summer adventures. It’s kind of like packing the right gear for an outdoor-minded excursion. You might think your springy low-top sneakers are going to provide plenty of comfort when you hit the trail, but sadly, you need something with more “oomph,” as it were. Enter the best hybrid sneakers on the market, made only the way Vans can make ’em. Think of them like the sneakers the brand would make if they wanted to make souped-up Vans running shoes, and that’s the comfort you’re getting here.

Long story short: You don’t know you need new hiking sneakers until you really, truly know you need hiking sneakers. So, then: Give your low-cut sneakers a break, leave the rugged leather boots at home — it’s hot as hell out there, after all — and lace up a pair of the Vans UltraRange. Without a doubt, UltraRange Vans are going to become your go-to sneakers where and when it counts.

Think of them like a modern evolution of the Vans you know and love, with plenty of bang for your buck, plus style, comfort and a smooth ride built right in. These aren’t the Vans you wore at the skate park or for summers at the cabin (those were the days, ehh?). These are a souped-up pair of wear-anywhere hybrid sneakers, best suited for long days on the trail and long nights bellied up to the bar (and yes, if you find the right color of the Vans UltraRange, they can do both). Hold your horses, though: Here’s what to know before you pull the trigger on finding the best pair of Vans UltraRange for your action-packed spring and summer.

What to Look For in Hiking Sneakers

  • Comfort: What separates the wheat from the chaff, the great from the average? As far as hiking sneakers are concerned, it’s all about comfort and the springy, bounce-back ability that’s so prized among hybrid sneakers (and really, among any pair of footwear you’re going to be rocking in potentially adverse conditions for hours on end). Luckily, Vans steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park with the right technology, like an ULTRACUSH™ midsole and a rubber outsole for added traction. You’ll want to look for proprietary technology and materials with plenty of shock absorption, not all that different from, say, your favorite leather work boots. It’s just, well, these are rugged sneakers instead.
  • Style: Yes, of course: You know we’d find a way to talk about the style you’ve got to keep top of mind, even when searching for seemingly simple hiking sneakers, right? No doubt about it, style still matters. Vans makes the UltraRange in a wide range (see what we did there?) of colors, enough to suit every taste, whether you favor bright blue or sleek black, or something in between. It helps that the Vans UltraRange silhouette is surprisingly slimmed-down compared to your typical hiking boots or work boots, and yet, these sneakers can go darn near every single place those hard-wearing work boots can take you.
  • Affordability: Come on, now. You knew we had to cover off on this topic, too, right? The great thing about hiking sneakers like the exceptional Vans UltraRange is the fact that they’re as affordable as a regular pair of sneakers, with the durability of more expensive hiking boots packed into one sleek, easily packable, go-anywhere set of kicks. Of course, as seems to be the case with Vans sneakers across the board, they retail for a very agreeable price, while forgoing the investment-level price tage you might encounter with handmade leather hiking boots and the like. Don’t fret about budgeting for beer money or extra camping gear: You’ll have some scratch left over after buying the Vans UltraRange sneakers you need for your next outdoor adventure. If you know, you know.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, who’s ready to stock your shopping cart with your new favorite pair of hiking sneakers? If you’ve got to have ’em right away, they’ve got to be the Vans UltraRange. These are our favorite UltraRange sneakers below, and we think we’ve given you plenty of chances to find that just-right pair of adventure sneakers for all your summer fun in the sun.

The Best Vans UltraRange Sneakers for Outdoor Adventures

Vans UltraRange EXO

Vans UltraRange EXO

The wide array of colorways is but one of the key factors that makes the Vans UltraRange so stylish (in addition to its trademark functionality), so we’re all-in when it comes to the classic UltraRange EXO in a neat shade of tan. It’ll stand out nicely against navy hiking shorts on the trail, or light wash jeans back home, and Vans says that the ULTRACUSH™ Lite midsole is going to provide comfort without weighing you down. We’ve all been there when it comes to clunky boots or heavy hikers, but these are the opposite of that. Sounds pretty darn great to us. How about you? We can’t get enough of our UltraRange Vans, and we’d expect you’ll feel the same way.

Vans UltraRange EXO SE

Vans UltraRange EXO SE

Here’s some great news for those of us (and we include ourselves in that bunch) who can’t get enough of Vans sneakers on the regular, whether it’s classic low-top canvas kicks or the iconic checkerboard slip-ons. And that great news? Well, it’s simply the fact that Vans makes plenty of varieties of the much-loved Vans UltraRange, including the EXO SE, which blends suede, textile and synthetic materials in the upper. The resulting sneakers are visually striking — in simpler terms, they catch your eye for more than a glance — and they’ve got that recognizable Vans stripe detailing. We didn’t mention this yet, but we will now: The stellar and supremely comfortable ULTRACUSH™ Lite midsole is along for the ride, too. Ultra shoes from Vans check all the right boxes, to say the very least.

Vans Track Pack UltraRange EXO SE

Vans Track Pack UltraRange EXO SE

Vans knows when to keep its greatest hits rolling for fans of the iconic brand, and in recent years, that’s meant churning out functional sneakers in the UltraRange line that everyone can enjoy and wear regularly. Take the Track Pack UltraRange EXO SE, a prime example of a pair of hiking sneakers that didn’t need to be upgraded, and yet got one heck of an upgrade anyways. You get the kind of traction that won’t let you down (get a load of the full rubber-wrapped reverse waffle lug outsole), plus that special-edition fabric blend on the upper. Last but not least, a dazzling lineup of colors (our favorite is the crisp Directoire Blue) give you some much-needed flair when wearing laidback summer staples like a grey polo and tan chino shorts.

Vans UltraRange Rapidweld

Vans UltraRange Rapidweld

As the UltraRange line has expanded, Vans has given its customers exactly what they need for nearly every occasion. Sure, the Vans UltraRange are a stellar pair of adventure sneakers any way you slice it, but what if you want something with a bit more tactical edge, a pair of UltraRange sneakers you can wear for travel or global adventures with anything in your suitcase? The sneakers you want are the UltraRange Rapidweld, featuring a slick all-black colorway (as but one option). The real highlight here, though, is the LuxLiner sock-fit construction, the kind that makes them supremely easy to wear with lightweight no-show socks on the trail or on the road.

Vans UltraRange Gore

Vans UltraRange Gore

Perhaps by this point, you’re starting to wonder how it could possibly get any better when it comes to the Vans UltraRange sneakers, right? Yes indeed, these are functional, they’re dependable, they’re easy to wear with hiking pants or hybrid shorts, and the variety is unmatched. But just like a TV infomercial deal, there’s indeed more where that came from. The sharp UltraRange Gore features, as Vans so succinctly puts it, “textile, neoprene, and gore strap uppers,” all the better for sporty dependability and the type of easy-to-wear style that you can only get from slip-on sneakers. Make no mistake though, these are ready for nearly anything, and they owe a great deal of utility and traction to the mini lug outsole, too. The best part is, when you dash off to the trail or into town, you won’t even have to lace ’em up.

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Beau is Brooklyn-based style and lifestyle writer. He covers menswear, gear, spirits, craft beer and music. When not writing, Beau can be found shopping for vinyl or sipping on a Brooklyn beer.

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