Hands-on Gear Review

Vasque Monolith UltraDry - Women's Review

Vasque Monolith UltraDry
Price:  $130 List | $97.46 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Easy to break in, comfortable, supportive underfoot, effective water resistance, inexpensive, lightweight
Cons:  Rubber on sole provided suboptimal traction, mesh paneling could wear quickly
Bottom line:  This model combines comfort, durability, and support in an affordable all around boot.
Editors' Rating:   
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Boot Type:  Lightweight/Midweight
Weight Per Pair (pounds):  1.63 lbs
Upper:  1.8mm nubuck leather, abrasion-resistant mesh
Manufacturer:   Vasque

Our Verdict

The Vasque Monolith UD Mid is a top ranking boot that with a lightweight, comfortable feel. The Monolith scored highly in all categories as an affordable, lightweight hiking boot. They are comfortable and stable in all types of terrain and held up to stream crossings nearly as well as the some of the full-leather boots such as the Oboz Bridger BDry Mid - Women. Overall, these boots stand up to the abuses of the trail without feeling heavy or bulky. We wore these boots on long day hikes with lots of elevation gain and loss, and the boots worked great on this kind of terrain. They kept our feet feeling good all day and held up to carrying up to 20 pounds of weight, making them great for day hiking.

Searching for a shoe?
The Vasque Monolith Low - Women's is a low-cut hiking shoe, constructed with the same design features as the boot we tested. For a reduced price of $110, this could be a great option for shopper intrigued by the great value of the Monolith who don't necessarily need the protection of a high-top.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Boots for Women of 2018


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jane Jackson

Last Updated:
Monday
May 29, 2017

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The Vasque Monolith UD Mid holds its own as a great, affordable option for a mid-weight hiking boot that is both durable and comfortable.

Performance Comparison


Wearing the Vasque Monolith for a full day hike on their first day out of the box was risky  but proved that the Monolith are incredibly comfortable and supportive from their first day on the trails.
Wearing the Vasque Monolith for a full day hike on their first day out of the box was risky, but proved that the Monolith are incredibly comfortable and supportive from their first day on the trails.

Comfort


We wore these boots for hours on their initial break-in hike, which can be risky with hiking boots because they sometimes require multiple trips to break in. The Monolith, though, proved to be comfortable right away and just felt better and better throughout the day. The EVA Midsole is flexible like a running shoe but the TPU Mid Foot Shank gave the sole the stiffness to last all day. Similarly, the combination of materials in the upper — leather and mesh — makes the shoe feel supple initially while still having the structure to mold to the foot over time. The Ahnu Sugarpine had a similar feel, with a flexible midsole, but a feeling of overall stiffness that could support the foot for a long day hike. Other boots with this leather and fabric upper construction, like the Salomon X Ultra or even the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultras allow for a faster break-in period and a more comfortable overall fit than an all-leather boot.


The width of the shoe caters to many different foot shapes. Boots that cater to a wider foot shape include the Ahnu Sugarpine II and the Keen Targhee III - Womens. We found the Monolith to be the most comfortable for hikers with wide feet without looking or feeling overly wide. The gusseted tongue and lacing pattern also allows for a great range of adjustability all the way down into the toe box.

Even with a heavy pack  the Monolith kept our feet comfortable and supported all day on the trail.
Even with a heavy pack, the Monolith kept our feet comfortable and supported all day on the trail.

Support


The Monolith UD has a slightly shorter ankle shaft than some of the other hiking boots we tested, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in padding. The lower ankle shaft does provide protection and support for the ankle, while still allowing for plenty of forward flex and ankle mobility. The heel height measures 135 mm from the ground, which is an average height for a hiking boot. The added ankle height provides a cushion for the ankle bones and protection from water, both rain and standing water on the ground. The Ahnu Sugarpine and the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX - Women have similar ankle height and thus provide similar support around the ankle. The mid-range ankle height was also useful on steep trails where the midfoot support was more beneficial than a rigid ankle boot.


Weight


At 1 lb 10 oz, these boots are right in the middle of our fleet of boots this year in terms of weight. They are slightly heavier than the Merrell Capra Bolt - Women and the Columbia Redmond Mid - Women, and are substantially sturdier and more durable because of this. A slightly heavier boot means that it will hold up better to longer hikes with heavier loads.


Other boots that fall into this midweight category, such as the Best Buy award winner, the Keen Targhee III or either of the Ahnu models. These are all good options for an all-day hiking boot. They all perform well carrying a moderately heavy pack but would be less ideal for a multiday trip because their lightweight design reduces padding and support underfoot. For trips where you'll be carrying more weight, a slightly heavier boot like the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra's will provide plenty of support and cushion. Alternatively, a stiffer and thus even heavier option, the Oboz or Lowa Renegade, will be ideal for long distance hiking.

The soles of the Monolith have a moderate tread pattern  which kept us on our feet on loose gravel and dirt  but the rubber is not as sticky as other boots we tested  and the boots did lose traction on granite slabs occasionally.
The soles of the Monolith have a moderate tread pattern, which kept us on our feet on loose gravel and dirt, but the rubber is not as sticky as other boots we tested, and the boots did lose traction on granite slabs occasionally.

Traction


The simple design and moderately aggressive tread pattern were surprisingly effective at keeping us on our feet, even on the slippery, well-traveled trails of Yosemite Valley. Gravel never got stuck in between the gaps in the tread, and the boots retained traction on loose dirt reliably. The boots received a lower scoring in our metrics for traction because the rubber is not as sticky as some of the other boots we tested. The Keen Targhee III Mid - Women's had much better traction for a boot of similar weight and price.The multi-directional lugs do provide traction, but the rubber itself did not provide as much grip as boots with Vibram rubber. For boots that provide maximum traction with extremely sticky rubber, the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultra - Women, the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's, as well as the Ahnu Montara III and Oboz Bridger Mid BDry - Women's, offered the greatest traction, with slightly more aggressive tread patterns than the Monolith; these contenders scored 8 out of 10s, compared to the Monolith's 7 out of 10.


Water Resistance


The Vasque UltraDry waterproof technology proved to hold up to creek crossings and kept our feet dry all day. The mesh and leather upper kept water out while allowing our feet to breathe in warm summer hiking conditions. The breathability of the UltraDry technology was similar to the eVent liners found in the HOKA ONE ONE Tor Ultras and the Ahnu models. This combination is the best of both worlds and Vasque did a great job finding a balance between water resistance and breathability.


Though they do not have the brand name "Gore-Tex" coating like the Salomon X Ultra Mid 3, we were surprised to see that the mesh panels that make up the Monolith's upper withstood creek crossings without any water seeping into the inside of the boot. Other boots that scored well in terms of keeping our feet dry were the Lowa Renegade, Ahnu Sugarpine, Ahnu Montara, and Oboz Bridger.

The leather and abrasion resistant mesh upper make the Monolith incredibly durable for the price and simple design. This is one of the main reasons they received our Best Value Award.
The leather and abrasion resistant mesh upper make the Monolith incredibly durable for the price and simple design. This is one of the main reasons they received our Best Value Award.

Durability


With 1.8 mm leather and abrasion-resistant mesh construction, these boots are made to last. Even after days and days on the trail, these boots may have gotten caked in dust, but they never showed signs of wear. Though they are made with a combination of materials, the seams are reinforced and the design remained fairly simple. In most boots, it is these seams that show wear first, but this was not the case with the Vasque Monolith. In addition to being durable on the seams, the Monolith has a thoughtful lacing system that includes a gusseted tongue and reinforced eyelets that allow for adjustability and that will withstand the test of time. This is another part of the boot that wears quickly, and Vasque took that into consideration when constructing the Monolith. The Keen Targhee IIIs actually performed much better in terms of durability, due to the fact that their uppers are more leather than the Monoliths.


The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid - Women's, our Top Pick winner for durability, took the cake in this metric, outperforming all other competitors and coming out on top, scoring a 9 out of 10. The Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX - Women was trailing closely behind, also outperforming other contenders, but not quite overtaking the Monolith. While the Monolith held up great during our testing, the construction did not seem quite as durable as that of the Salomon X Ultra, which seemed to hardly even get dirty after a day on the trail. Boots with a higher price tag seem to last longer, which is why our Best Value winner is probably not the boot that will last you for 10 years. For these reasons, the more expensive models, like the Salomon or Lowa Renegade, are going to outdo the more budget options in terms of durability.

Best Application


These are a great all-around hiking boot. With plenty of cushion and support, the Vasque Monolith holds up to all-day hikes with ease. Even carrying weight, these boots still maintain their comfortable and stable nature. The Vasque Monolith is on par with some of the best hiking boots out there, for a great price. Their ideal application is on day hikes or moderate backpacking trips, as they are suitable for all conditions. They handle well in rough terrain and have the traction needed to travel over rocky trails.

The Vasque Monolith boots are a great option for long day hikes. They handle well on all kinds of terrain  from steep hills to the flats.
The Vasque Monolith boots are a great option for long day hikes. They handle well on all kinds of terrain, from steep hills to the flats.

Value


The Vasque Monolith is a well-rounded hiking boot that does not empty your bank account. They held up to tests in water resistance, durability, and stability and still managed to be some of the most comfortable boots we tried out. For $130, they are a reasonable price for such a well made, durable shoe. Their sizing caters to a wide range of foot shapes, selling the boots in both medium and wide. In the medium version, we found the toe box to be wide enough to fit a wider foot, but not so much that the foot is swimming. The boots also come in a hiking shoe version with a low ankle height. Being lightweight and inexpensive, these would be a great option for a light hike. Our Best Buy Award winner, the Keen Targhee III - Women's, are a bit more expensive than the Monolith's, but the extra $15 will give you a boot that lasts longer and is more supportive overall.

The Ahnu Sugarpine is a comparable option for price and quality, but we felt that the Vasque Monolith provided more support and was slightly stiffer, making them a better option for long distance hikes.

The Monoliths toe the line between a lightweight hiking boot and a supportive boot that will hold up all day. They are durable and comfortable from day one  and are avaliable for a reasonable price.
The Monoliths toe the line between a lightweight hiking boot and a supportive boot that will hold up all day. They are durable and comfortable from day one, and are avaliable for a reasonable price.


Conclusion


The Vasque Monolith is the perfect balance between a lightweight hiker and a boot that can hold up on the most rugged trails. The mesh and leather upper make them breathable, while the UltraDry technology actually keeps water out. They felt great right out of the box and we never felt hot spots develop, even after hours on the trail. For only $130, these seem to be the best option for a mid to lightweight hiking boot without spending too much. They also fit true to size and have the option of a medium or wide foot width. Comfort, durability, and water resistance were all considered in the design and construction of the Vasque Monolith.

Jane Jackson

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Most recent review: May 29, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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