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Hands-on Gear Review

Vasque St. Elias GTX Review

St. Elias GTX - Women's
Price:   $200 List | $133.00 at Amazon
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Pros:  Comfortable, stable, great ankle collar, available wide and narrow
Cons:  Heavy, permeable leather needs treatment
Bottom line:  This all-leather midweight hiker performs at the top of the group in every category except weight, making it a great choice for nearly any application.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Vasque

Our Verdict

The Vasque St. Elias GTX is an incredible midweight hiking boot, representing a modern upgrade on the classic backpacking boot. Like an old-school backpacking boot, the St. Elias is stable and supportive, durable, and water resistant. However, it's not nearly as heavy as its five-pound (or more) predecessors, and it's a real glutton for comfort, too. Lightweight EVA cushioning in the midsole and synthetic materials in the collar complement traditional full grain leather and Vibram rubber soles. It ticks all the right boxes for a boot to tackle nearly anything you throw at it.

That said, the current trend toward lighter, faster hiking boots has partly lead to this boot tying for the heaviest boot in our review. The St. Elias was beaten out this year for the Editors' Choice award by the more nimble, more stable Salomon Quest 4D II GTX. Not lagging far behind in scoring across the metrics was the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid, which packs a lot of performance into the lightest of the midweight boot class.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Hiking Boots of 2017

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Score Product Price Our Take
79
$230
Editors' Choice Award
Our Editors' Choice award winner is a very versatile boot that combines unsurpassed ankle and foot protection, stability, and water resistance with a comfortable design, without being too heavy.
75
$200
This all-leather midweight hiker performs at the top of the group in every category except weight, making it a great choice for nearly any application.
74
$230
This boot is a midweight hiker that weighs just under 3 lbs, while its high collar provides excellent stability and water resistance.
72
$180
Top Pick Award
If comfortable, lightweight boots and happy feet are the most important characteristics for you, our Top Pick for Comfort is everything you've been looking for.
68
$135
Best Buy Award
Our returning Best Buy award winner is a solid lightweight hiker, featuring super comfort and toe protection in an inexpensive package.
67
$175
The Lowa Tiago is a lightweight hiker that provides exceptional stability and water resistance for its weight class.
66
$350
This burly midweight hiker strong choice for difficult terrain, providing great stability, traction, and foot protection, but lacking in breathability.
64
$250
Top Pick Award
Our Top Pick for Scrambling is a lightweight hiking boot that combines durability with excellent traction for going vertical on rock.
62
$239
This super stiff and stable, durable midweight hiker is built for the alpine environment, but not for comfort.
61
$160
If you want to cover lots of ground lightly without needing much stability or water resistance, this rockered lightweight hiker is right up your...trail.
60
$230
The heaviest of the lightweight models, this hiker scores above-average in traction and stability, but was found lacking in comfort and durability.
48
$100
This very lightweight model is best applied to day hiking with only a light pack, or none.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Ross Robinson & Brandon Lampley

Last Updated:
Sunday
November 27, 2016

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This boot held its own in all our performance metrics except weight, and shared the highest awarded scores for traction and durability. We frequently reached for this $200 pair for longer adventures on foot. All-around performance in a comfortable boot is a great reputation to have, and this boot is just that.

Performance Comparison




Walking tall in the St. Elias GTX in a desert canyon.
Walking tall in the St. Elias GTX in a desert canyon.

Comfort


This boot and the lightweight Keen Targhee II Mid both earned 9's in comfort. The Vasque St. Elias impressed us from the start with footbed and ankle comfort, and continued to impress through long days with a pack. The boot's front upper is supple enough to snugly lace easily, and the dual density foam insole is one of the best stock insoles.

We found the ankle collar comfortable when laced snugly. The collar is flexible and soft in the right places, and there's enough leather that the ankle feels protected. The lacing system works well. Laces slide easily through the lower four eyelets when tightening, and the middle locking eyelet does its job well. The upper lacing is comfortable and secure through two upper hook eyelets.

Finally, this model breathes well, considering its full-grain upper. We found the Salomon Quest 4D II to provide better ventilation, though.

This product from Vasque combines great comfort with traction  even in tricky  loose sediment-covered downhills.
This product from Vasque combines great comfort with traction, even in tricky, loose sediment-covered downhills.

Stability


Vasque uses a lighter, more supple synthetic material in combination with full grain leather around the ankle. We found the design to provide great lateral stability for the ankle, while being more pliable when flexing forward. The height of the ankle collar and the forefoot width both measure less than found in the Salomon and Lowa Renegade GTX models. These two boots also outmatched the St. Elias in torsional rigidity, and therefore scored higher in this metric.

This boot's combination of impact cushioning from the EVA insert and support from the midsole and shank make it supportive enough for carrying loads and cushioned enough for long miles with them.

Loose rocks underfoot will cause little worry when laced up in the St. Elias.
Loose rocks underfoot will cause little worry when laced up in the St. Elias.

Traction


We awarded this product the highest score for traction along with a few other boots in this review. Its Vibram Frontier sole performed better than most during our tests on dry granite slabs. The boot did well going up and down a scree slope, and kept us from sliding out when traversing muddy passes. Its performance on wet rocks and while scrambling, though, wasn't as impressive.

Bustin' up a scree field ain't easy  but the St. Elias helped make it as manageable as possible.
Bustin' up a scree field ain't easy, but the St. Elias helped make it as manageable as possible.

Weight


This product tied for the heaviest boot of all twelve boots on our scale, weighing 3.43 lbs. While there are certainly heavier boots in the market and from the past, we more often reached for a lighter pair, such as the HOKA ONE ONE Tor or the Keen Targhee II Mid.

Water Resistance


From the outsole to the tongue gussets, we measured 6.125 inches, enough already to earn a high score in this metric. Additionally, our feet stayed bone dry for five minutes walking in the lake's edge. With minimal seams, we expect the Vasque St. Elias to maintain it's fine waterproofing longer than the Lowa Renegade, which has many more seams near the forefoot.

Though this boot's performance on wet rocks wasn't on par with its high standards in other areas  it certainly never left us hanging.
Though this boot's performance on wet rocks wasn't on par with its high standards in other areas, it certainly never left us hanging.

One thing to note: before treatment, the leather upper really soaks up water. However, when the uppers are dry, this boot breathes better than several other midweight hikers.

Durability


For the most part, we love the upper's construction. Good quality leather with a minimum of seams. All seams are double in the upper, too, minus in the ankle collar. The molded rubber toe cap sewn under the leather upper is a unique feature. Other rubber toe caps often fail where they are glued to the upper. The thread tension used and the trimming of the leather leads to a slightly upturned edge that protects the seams' thread from abrasion.

A nubuck leather upper and Vibram Frontier outsole  with an EVA midsole and TPU shank in between. The St. Elias is a heavy hitter across the board.
A nubuck leather upper and Vibram Frontier outsole, with an EVA midsole and TPU shank in between. The St. Elias is a heavy hitter across the board.

One area of potential concern are the moving hinges on the bottom four eyelets. We're not sure how much this mobility improves the lacing system, if at all. In general, we find moving parts to add more points of potential problems. Moreover, the soft material of the exposed EVA cushioning easily gets chewed up in rocky terrain, but doesn't present any functional problems.

Best Applications


The St. Elias GTX is ideally suited for those who want a durable midweight boot for carrying moderate loads backpacking and hiking. It's a perfect choice for an early summer hike of the John Muir Trail in California, and other similar trails. It's stable enough for the talus hopping and snow on the high passes, and quite comfortable powering through flatter miles.

Are those St. Elias tracks? No  that's just a bear...
Are those St. Elias tracks? No, that's just a bear...

Value


This product is a great deal, at $200, for hikers who want to be prepared for any terrain. If you don't need the burlier features of a midweight hiker, lightweights like the Keen Targhee II and the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Summit are more affordable.

Conclusion


We believe this is the one of the best, most versatile boots we tested. Plenty comfortable for folks that want good ankle support when day hiking, and perfect for extended backpacking! With narrow and wide boots available, we recommend the Vasque St. Elias GTX for anyone seeking one boot that can do it all with a bit of the old and new school.

Something old and something new. This Vasque model combines some of the best features of older hiking boots with modern technology  creating a superb hiking boot.
Something old and something new. This Vasque model combines some of the best features of older hiking boots with modern technology, creating a superb hiking boot.
Ross Robinson & Brandon Lampley

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 27, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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