Review: The All-New Vasque St. Elias Hiking Boot

 

Vasque today isn’t the same Vasque you might know and love if you’re still hiking in a pair of full-grain leather Sundowners you bought in the ’90s (Sundowners is still one of the all-time great boot names). Their boots are no longer made in Italy, they’re a little cheaper (relatively) and are more mass market than hardcore hiker. I’ve tried quite a few models over the years and though I’ve enjoyed their lightweight boot, the Vasque Breeze, those are the only model I’ve kept and recommended. 

Until now. 

Earlier this month, Vasque released their updated St. Elias, a classic leather hiking boot. Since I’m a leather hiking boot aficionado, I knew I had to try them when I first heard about the boot about 5 months ago. I got an early pair for testing last fall and they’ve been my primary hiker ever since. Through autumn and a very wet winter, I’ve been impressed. 

 

 

Construction is pretty standard for modern hikers. The uppers are nubuck, and though I prefer full-grain leather, it feels to be of nice quality, offering the right amount of protection and stiffness. There’s a dual density EVA midsole, which has a pleasant, springy rebound; this adds a ton of comfort at the expense of being able to re-sole the boot, but that’s sadly normal these days. The outsole is a Vibram Megagrip compound in the Vasque clover lug pattern. I like that outsole and have found it to be plenty grippy, even on Vasques I otherwise didn’t care for. Weight is pretty good for a leather boot, at about 2 pounds, 14 ounces. And, these have a Gore-Tex membrane, for better or worse (I’m a fan).

 

These also come with a polyurethane footbed for a little more feel-good, and they’re decently comfy right out of the box. Again, this is what lots of mid-range bootmakers go for these days, which is great if you’re buying boots the day before a hike. Otherwise, I prefer a long break-in period, because if a boot needs that, you know it’s built to last. 

Since I’ve had them, they’ve been at the front door of my house, the first boots I reach for on a hike. Part of that is simply assuring I have enough miles in them to write about them, but also because they just simply work. And that’s all you can ask for in a boot. 

They hike very, very well. As most modern hiking boots are, they’re kinda tweeners. You could tote a massive load in these and feel supported on a week-long backpacking trip; they’re also great for a quick afternoon hike around the lake. Ankle and overall foot support both climbing and descending is confidence-inspiring and secure. Yet, they’re suitable for all-around walking too. I find myself grabbing for them even to walk to the store. They’re comfortable, supportive, and generally feel pretty good to wear. They feel like boots that cost at least $100 more than their $230 price tag. 

Now, I can’t quite say what the lifetime is for a boot like this. The hardware feels solid, the boot feels sturdy in the hand, the uppers appear triple-stitched, and the rubber rand is reassuringly tough. I’ve put well over 100 miles on them in the 5 months I’ve owned them and they still look and feel pretty new once I scrub off all the mud. They won’t last as long as my beloved, full-leather Scarpas or Zamberlans, but they appear as though they should serve well as the only hiking boot in your collection for at least a few years.

My only issue with Vasque boots over the past few years is the price often didn’t match the quality. The new St. Elias however, feels every bit like a $200+ boot. Since I’ve had them, they’ve been at the front door of my house, the first boots I reach for on a hike. Part of that is simply assuring I have enough miles in them to write about them, but also because they just simply work. And that’s all you can ask for in a boot. 

BUY • $230

 

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