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 with 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.Editor's Note: This product review was updated on February 23, 2022, with more guidance on what to purchase.
Vasque St. Elias FG GTX Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Very durable, stable, great foot protection
Cons: Heavy, diminished breathability
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|Pros||Very durable, stable, great foot protection||Top-level hiking boot performance, excels in all metrics||Incredibly lightweight, comfortable||Well-cushioned, waterproof, durable||Excellent waterproofing, deep lugs for solid traction, heel brake in outsole|
|Cons||Heavy, diminished breathability||Expensive, not as great for hot and dry climates||Less durable than heavier models, thin sole||Heavy for their height, feet get especially sweaty||Average stability, difficult to lace up|
|Bottom Line||A beefy boot that provides excellent structure and support for carrying heavy packs in rough terrain||The gold standard of what a great hiking boot should be, and we heartily recommend it for those seeking the best possible performance on and off the trail||This mid-top hiking boot is ridiculously lightweight, though it offers excellent stability and traction for fast and light objectives||This affordable boot is super comfortable right out of the box and has the durability to go the distance||These high-ankle hiking boots are a great option for excellent waterproof protection in a relatively lightweight package|
|Rating Categories||Vasque St. Elias FG...||Salomon Quest 4 Gor...||Salomon X Ultra Mid...||Merrell Moab 2 Mid...||La Sportiva Nucleo...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||Vasque St. Elias FG...||Salomon Quest 4 Gor...||Salomon X Ultra Mid...||Merrell Moab 2 Mid...||La Sportiva Nucleo...|
|Weight (per pair)||3.26 lbs (size 11)||2.90 lbs (size 11)||1.85 lbs (size 11)||2.48 lbs (size 10.5)||2.41 lbs (size 43.5 EU)|
|Boot Type||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot||Midweight hiker/backpacking boot|
|Width Options||Narrow, regular, and wide||Regular||Regular||Regular and wide||Regular and wide|
|Waterproof Lining||Gore-Tex Performance Comfort||Gore-Tex||Gore-Tex||M Select DRY||GORE-TEX Surround|
|Upper||Nubuck leather||Leather and nylon||PU coated leather||Suede leather, mesh||Nubuck leather|
|Last Board/Shank||TPU Shank||4D Chassis||Molded shank||Nylon arch shank||Tempo|
|Midsole||A.S.E. with EVA cushioning pods||EnergyCell||SensiFit||EVA||Compression molded EVA|
|Sole||Vibram Frontier||Contagrip||Contagrip||Vibram TC5+ rubber||Vibram Nano XS-Trek rubber compound|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Vasque St. Elias proved to be a worthy competitor in our hiking boot 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 considering in your quest for the right hiking gear.
The St. Elias is one of the top scorers 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, and the 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 it does not include a lace lock.
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.
Several other boots were taller, lighter, and provided a higher level of torsional rigidity, and thus scored higher than the St. Elias in this category.
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 other models.
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. Those who seek outstanding durability, top-tier traction, and stability for big loads have several options to choose from in the midweight category.
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 we didn't 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 its fine waterproofing longer.
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.
Should You Buy the Vasque St. Elias FG GTX?
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.
What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?
If you do not need to extra burliness of a high-top boot, the Keen Targhee II Mid is a lighter and more affordable option. We also love the Salomon Quest 4 Gore-Tex for its all-around performance and comfort.
— Ross Robinson and Ryan Huetter
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