The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Vasque St. Elias FG GTX Review

A beefy boot that provides excellent structure and support for carrying heavy packs in rough terrain.
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Price:  $200 List | $198.98 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very durable, stable, great foot protection
Cons:  Heavy, diminished breathability
Manufacturer:   Vasque
By Ross Robinson and Ryan Huetter  ⋅  Apr 30, 2019
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Stability - 20% 8
  • Traction - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Vasque St. Elias FG GTX is exactly what you might picture if you hear the words hiking boot. It is a heavy-duty, rugged boot built from a full-grain leather upper and has a sole that could walk across a bed of nails and probably not feel a thing. This boot is all about stability, foot protection, and waterproofness for hiking in tough conditions or carrying heavy loads. While it looks like an old school classic, the St. Elias is built with modern materials. It is in a similar boot class the Asolo Powermatic 200 GV though weighs nearly a pound less per pair.

Most of the boots in our review are a good bit lighter, however, and come with a comparable amount of performance for more demanding users. Our Editors' Choice Award-winning Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX was a better performer in several key metrics and weighs slightly less than the St. Elias.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very durable, stable, great foot protectionComfortable out of the box, fast and nimble, great stability, support, and water resistanceBest choice for rock and snow travel, durable, breathes wellAmazing comfort, stable, great tractionComfort of a trail runner with more support and stability, good all around performance
Cons Heavy, diminished breathabilityPotential durability issues with many seams, not as good for warm or hot environmentsWider fit, not the best lace locking systemNot as capable in off-trail terrain, rockered sole feels unnatural at firstNot as breathable in warm conditions, not great traction on smooth rock
Bottom Line A beefy boot that provides excellent structure and support for carrying heavy packs in rough terrain.Our Editors' Choice Award winner blends comfort, stability and traction in a boot that fits well right out of the box and provides top-notch performance.For rock scrambling, alpine approaches and moderate snow travel, the Zodiac GTX is a light weight mountain boot disguised as a hiking boot.Feels like you are wearing pillows on your feet. With cushy soles and hi-cut protection, they are a great choice for those who value comfort on the trail.This boot brings the comfort of a trail running shoe but adds in the support you would expect from a hiking boot, resulting in a capable performer in all trail conditions.
Rating Categories Vasque St. Elias FG GTX Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX HOKA ONE ONE Sky Kaha Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX
Comfort (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
Stability (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Traction (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
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4
10
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4
10
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6
10
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7
10
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9
Water Resistance (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Durability (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
Specs Vasque St. Elias... Salomon Quest 4D 3... Scarpa Zodiac Plus... HOKA ONE ONE Sky... Salomon X Ultra...
Weight per Pair (size 11) 3.26 lbs 3.3 lbs 2.66 lbs 2.5 lbs 2.28lbs
Boot Type Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot Midweight/Lightweight hiker Midweight Hiker/Backpacking Boot
Width Options Narrow, Regular, and Wide Regular Regular Regular Regular
Waterproof Lining Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Gore-Tex eVent Gore-Tex
Upper Nubuck leather Nubuck leather and textile 1.8mm Suede Perwanger Waterproof leather Waterproof PU coated leather
Last Board/Shank TPU Shank 4D Advanced Chassis BZ last None Molded shank
Midsole A.S.E. Midsole with EVA Cushioning Pods Dual density EVA PU + 3D EVA-MP EVA Injected EVA
Sole Vibram Frontier ContaGrip Vibram Drumlin / Mont Vibram MegaGrip Non-marking ContaGrip
Warranty 1 year 2 year 1 year 45 days 2 year
Sizes Available 7-14 US, wide and narrow options 7 - 13 37 - 48 EU 7 - 14 7 - 13
Color Options Yes Yes No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Vasque St. Elias proved to be a worthy competitor in our review, scoring well in most of our metrics. They were out-shadowed by several notable models that offered similar comfort and stability at a lower weight, but their durability and waterproofness make them well worth taking a look at.

Performance Comparison


The St. Elias tackles rough trails with ease  providing great stability and durability.
The St. Elias tackles rough trails with ease, providing great stability and durability.

Comfort


The St. Elias only falls behind the Salomon Quest 4D 3 and the ultra-plush HOKA ONE ONE Sky Kaha in this metric. The comfort is derived from the amount of structural support under the foot that gives protection from long days on the trail. A molded rubber toe cap gives additional security from tripping over rocks and roots. This was a boot that tempted us to change the stock insole, this dual-density EVA footbed is top quality.

The all-metal lacing hardware allows for easy and snug fitting, and the upper 3 sets of lacing hooks allow for customizing the fit around the ankle, though does not include a lace lock like the Quest.

The lacing hooks are easy to use and allow for a secure fit around the ankle.
The lacing hooks are easy to use and allow for a secure fit around the ankle.

Stability


The Vasque St. Elias has an updated chassis that features a supportive and stable midsole platform called the ATC (All-Terrain Compound). We found it to be rigid while remaining comfortable and were especially impressed at how snug and secure our ankles felt when the collar, made from full-grain leather outer and padded inner fabrics, was laced up.

Both the Salomon Quest and the Lowa Renegade GTX were taller, lighter, and provided a higher level or torsional rigidity, and thus scored higher than the St. Elias in this category.

The St. Elias can scramble up rocks thanks to its top-notch tread  and its tall ankle collar protects the foot when carrying heavy pack weight.
The St. Elias can scramble up rocks thanks to its top-notch tread, and its tall ankle collar protects the foot when carrying heavy pack weight.

Traction


The Vibram Frontier sole, with XSTrek rubber compound, performed better than most during our tests on dry trails and the lower profile lug pattern gave excellent grip on rock 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. For this purpose we were much more confident wearing the Top Pick for Scrambling boot, the Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX.

The tread design on the St. Elias is good but is not deep enough to allow it to excel on mud or snow.
The tread design on the St. Elias is good but is not deep enough to allow it to excel on mud or snow.

Weight


This product tipped the scales and was one of the heaviest boots in our review at 3.26 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 Sky Kaha or the Keen Targhee II Mid. Those who seek outstanding durability, top-tier traction, and stability for big loads may also like the 2.6-pound Zodiac Plus GTX.

Water Resistance


From the bottom of the sole to the lowest point of the tongue gussets, the St. Elias boots measured 6.2 inches, giving them a high margin for tromping through deep puddles and putting them close to the top of the pack in this metric. During our 5-minute submersion test, our feet remained dry and did not have any issues with water leaking in through the seams. Thanks to a minimum number of 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, but probably not as long as the Asolo Power Matic 200.

The Vasque St. Elias keeps the water where it belongs in our submersion test.
The Vasque St. Elias keeps the water where it belongs in our submersion test.

Durability


The St. Elias held up to our testing and we found no major flaws in its construction. The quality full-grain leather is stitched with a minimal number of seams so that there is less issue with the upper falling apart, and the pieces are stitched with double-seams throughout. The rubber toe bumper is molded to the outsole and stitched to the upper, giving it a more robust feel than other toe caps which are simply glued in place.

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.

Best Applications


The St. Elias GTX is a great option for those looking for a durable boot that is built for rugged trails in poor weather, and especially for those who want additional stability for carrying a large backpack on a long trek. This boot is perfect for someone hiking the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier, or a Northern section of the Appalachian Trail.

We love the St. Elias for its simplicity  excellent stability and proven durability.
We love the St. Elias for its simplicity, excellent stability and proven durability.

Value


With a price of $200, the St. Elias is a good value as it comes with great quality materials and craftsmanship. If you do not need to extra burliness of a high top boot, the Best Buy Keen Targhee II Mid is a lighter and more affordable option.

Conclusion


This is a quality boot made by a reputable manufacturer and is a great option for the hiker that wants stability, comfort, and performance. It is not lightweight by any means, but that heft makes it a more appropriate boot when the trails are rough and the loads are heavy.


Ross Robinson and Ryan Huetter