Vans is a brand that has long been synonymous with skateboarding and skate culture. Recently, the Santa Ana, California-headquartered company has been experimenting in the outdoor footwear space dropping its UltraRange go-anywhere line of sneakers back in the summer of 2017. One of the follow-ups to the initial release has been the UltraRange AC, short for alternative closure.
The UltraRange was co-created with an in-house pro surfer and intended for those situations where you only have room for one pair of shoes on your travels — those on your feet. Think from city streets to boardwalks to mountain paths. The result is a feather-light, breathable low-top utilizing the signature Vans co-molded midsole and of course the waffle outsole for extra traction on different surfaces.
Improving on the recipe a little, AC possesses a unique seamless, one-piece upper that features a weather-resistant Rapidweld toe cap and hits of man-made suede on the heel counter. There’s also a Luxliner construction offering a sock-like fit, allowing you to technically wear them without laces if you so desired. A pull tab above the heel makes for easy foot entry. A classic sidestripe provides a subtle nod to the heritage from which this model was born.
Available in three colourways at launch, I grabbed the Catawba Grape Black variants, mainly for the all-black midsole. If I’m potentially hitting a hiking trail then the mall in the same day, the sneakers better be able to hide a little dirt.
After spending a couple of days walking around, I’ll say this off the bat: they may look like Old Skools, but the AC are narrower and fit quite differently. I’m a 9 in the former but these feel tight. I didn’t get a chance to try out a different size, however in the original UltraRange when I put on a 9.5 there was a lot of room in the toe box, if that means anything.
Select colourways of the Vans UltraRange AC are still for sale on Vans.ca.