Vasque Footwear has been a footwear manufacturer in the outdoors industry since 1964.  They are a reputable brand that generally puts forth products that are well-received by its consumers.  Some of their footwear eventually make their way onto a few “best product” compilations by various organizations.  One of these footwear is the Vasque St. Elias GTX Boots, which currently sell for $199 (at the time of writing this article).  However, despite some outlets praising the St. Elias GTX, you will find that those same boots are met with mixed reviews on their official website.  This came as a surprise to me as I happen to be a fan of the St. Elias GTX, which are currently my dedicated hiking boots.  I have been using these boots for one and a half years and have yet to be displeased with them.  For those of you looking for a new pair of hiking boots, or on the fence about Vasque’s St. Elias GTX Boots, this article may help clear the air and aid your decision.

Important Reminder: You can perform the utmost extensive research regarding which boots are best suited to your wants and needs.  Unfortunately, footwear happens to be one of the most subjective pieces of gear available; in addition, all feet are different (I assume you all have seen someone with real-life-sasquatch-feet before).  Just a friendly reminder to provide yourself with an opportunity to try on the boots you’re interested in before you find yourself unable to return them.

Technical Specifications (Vasque Footwear)

Vasque | St. Elias GTX Boots

  • Weight: 3 lbs. 1 oz. (1378g)
  • Upper: 2.3mm Waterproof Nubuck Leather 
  • Midsole: TPU Shank, Midsole with EVA Cushioning Pods
  • Outsole: Vibram® Frontier with XSTrek Compound
  • GORE-TEX®
  • Available in Men’s and Women’s Sizes
  • Imported

 The Good…

During my winter block leave from the Army, my friend (a former Marine) and I decided to take an impromptu trip to Utah.  Since this was a spontaneous trip, I did not have a pair of hiking boots for the trip.  My friend spoke highly of the St. Elias GTX, so I made the decision to pick up a brand-new pair for the trails we planned to hike.  Although I was initially concerned about wearing a fresh pair of boots out-of-the-box without a proper break-in period, these boots performed well, especially given the weather conditions.

Arriving at the campgrounds, there were only a handful of people present throughout our stay (just as we hoped for during the holidays).  Our stay was also accompanied by an enduring storm; this entailed icy paths and nature’s generous cocktails of snow, rain, and hail.  My St. Elias GTX paired with my Kahtoola MICROspikes performed surprisingly well out-of-the-box.  Having hiked in a few highly reviewed boots from different manufacturers, I can indubitably say the St. Elias GTX were the most comfortable boots without any break-in period.  They performed well during this trip just as they did on my most recent excursion this month to the mountains and desert.  My feet felt light, secure, well-supported, cushioned, and were never wet from any water or snow.

Vasque | St. Elias GTX Boots
Photo illustrating weather conditions. Bighorn sheep obscured by snowfall.
The testing grounds. One of the few opportunities presented to take clear(er) photos.

The Bad… 

The bulk of negative reviews for the boots are regarding poor lace quality or sizing.  The latter can be avoided by properly sizing your boots before purchase or wearing them during a trial period if at all possible from a retailer.  For example, while REI may not offer the best discounts on products, they have arguably one of the best return policies; a product can be returned within one year of its original purchase to any REI location or by mail (it should go without saying to not abuse it).

Regarding the boot laces, several users claimed the laces ripped within a limited amount of uses.  I myself never had a problem with these boot laces after owning them for some time, but I’m also never one to be caught without any paracord (550 cord) in my pack, just in case.  If you find yourself enamored with these boots, but concerned with the quality of laces, I recommend replacing them with paracord.  Another option would be replacing the original laces with a superior boot lace such as the nearly indestructible Rhino Laces that were featured here on The Loadout Room, twice.

It is worth mentioning that a few users have reported eyelets or lace hooks breaking off of the boots.  While there are only few of these reported incidents, it can be red flag while shopping for a new pair of boots.  As an owner of these boots I personally don’t have a lack of faith regarding the quality of the boot as they have lasted me this long with a fair amount of use.  A majority of hiking boots will always have their small share of poor reviews from online retailers.

Vasque | St. Elias GTX BootsVasque | St. Elias GTX Boots

The Verdict 

The boots can be expensive at $199 a pair, but some online retailers like Amazon sell it for considerably less. If the Vasque St. Elias GTX fits your budget, and more importantly your feet, then these may be the next pair of boots for you; they’re comfortable, offer great support, and the Gore-Tex does its job well.  Let me reiterate again that what may fit “best” for one person might be considered intolerable by another.

 

Do you own a pair of the Vasque St. Elias GTX Boots?  Let us know what you think in the comments below!