Vasque St. Elias Hiking Boot Review
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First Impressions on The Vasque St. Elias
Oh, I do admire Vasque and their boots. I had a pair of what I think were the Sundowners in the early 90’s. That’s when I discovered the amazing states of Colorado and Utah on a couple of College field trips. More so, I was introduced to this thing called hiking in some incredibly picturesque places. At the time while in college in the Midwest, the concept of getting outdoors to find incredible beauty was not even on my radar.
Furthermore, the Vasque Erickson GTX is one of their hiking shoes I also put to the test. This was probably back in 2014 or ’15. And guess what, I still have and use them. They still look the part, and aside from a shoe lace change and the occasional lathering of leather protection, they look great.
Hence, when the opportunity arose to give the St. Elias boot a once over, I jumped all over the opportunity. Keep in mind, with my Vasque history of success, I will do my best to pick this boot apart for any weaknesses or possible improvement opportunity areas. That said, Vasque has taken it to task to improve this boot for 2024 from its recent iterations. The emphasis being on more comfort, traction, and support. All this combined with todays advances in modern technology to enhance the outdoor experience.
Details And Features of The Vasque St. Elias
The upper is created using premium and sustainable materials. The full-grain and Nubuck leather feels durable and strong, yet soft and supple at the same time. The collar and tongue are padded for a soft and smooth fit for the top of the foot and the ankle area. I can appreciate that extra effort there, because usually I am not a fan of my ankles to be encapsulated in a rigid boot. That is definitely not the case here as there is freedom of movement and soft compression that I think will mold to my foot with time.
The finer details:
- 1.8-2.0mm Full-Grain Leather and 1.8-2.0mm Nubuck Leather
- 33% Bio Based Collar and Tongue Foams
- 80% Recycled Content Laces
- 60% Recycled Content Toe Box + Heel Counter
Midsole and Insole Of The Vasque St. Elias
All the exterior bells and whistles are great, but it’s under the hood where we can appreciate the beauty and comfort of such a boot. Admittedly, I don’t have the heartiest or toughest of under-footed soles. Hence, I can appreciate the finer and squishier things in life, and this is becoming more evident as the years tick by. That said, the comfort, energy return, and stability is immediately noticeable. A dual-density midsole encompasses an EVA support rim for stability combined with high-energy return EVA pods. In other words, numerous layers of advanced padding provide a solid balance for our feet. Below are some of the nerdy details, and you’ll notice the effort to create a more sustainable product.
- 20% Bio Content Polyurethane Footbed
- EVA Midsole + 20% Sugarcane
- 20% Recycled Content Insole Board
- 15% Glass Fiber Nylon Shank
Outsole Of The Vasque St. Elias
Vasque is calling the bottoms with a rather confident moniker as the “Ultimate Grip And Traction”. Up to this point, I do find that I have enjoyed the confidence to be able to navigate all that’s thrown at me. We all know Vibram as a rubber sole industry leader as many of my boots have some form or version of their technology. The Vibram Megagrip is an excellent use for this boot, and the smaller little modules feel like individual suckers as they can independently connect to varied terrain. I am looking forward to stream crossings, icy slopes, and rocky technical terrain come Spring time.
Out And About With the Vasque St. Elias Boots
To be honest, Initially I kind of thought I’d use these as my winter office boots. And by work, I mean going to the office in what’s considered to be Denver’s high-rent district! The Colorado life style for the most part is fairly business casual, and if someone shows up in hiking boots and a sweater, it is considered appropriate winter business attire in many circles. I suppose, that’s how I’ll start out using them. I think these Vasque St. Elias boots have a clean enough look to pass for somewhat fancy enough office attire.
How do you actually break in a pair of leather hiking boots? That is something that gets asked a lot? I googled it, and the results were quite astounding. Obviously, breaking them in slowly over a period of time is the right way to go. I was half tempted to stick them in the tub, and wear them around soaking wet to help mold these to my feet. That is one recommended method, but I never got that far.
Vasque’s claim was that these would be comfortable right out of the box. I vehemently disagree…. I’m just kidding. My first time wearing these, they were still a bit stiff. I’d say within a few hours of running errands going in and out of the car, they had started to soften and break in nicely. A few days later, my feet had molded to them and I was sold on these boots from a comfort standpoint. At this point, I’d be ready to hit the Appalachian trail. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but a local hike would definitely be possible.
Instead, we went on a week-long trip of Colorado visiting several ski resorts. In that sense, these Vasque St. Elias boots became more utilitarian as I schlepped ski gear and supplies in and out of the car and the handful of places we stayed. That also included trouncing through quite a bit of snow at a cabin in the woods. These were my pre and après ski go-to’s as I made my way from condo to ski village to town and to the car.
The Vasque St. Elias has clean lines, good design, and smooth transitions from the leather to the midsole to the bottoms. The heavy duty buckles and lace clasps play their part to give it a bit more of that rugged look.
Work in a snowstorm
We got to our cabin at night, and that usually means I have to get to work for a good hour or so. Hauling in all the gear and food. Getting the utilities up and running as well as bringing firewood for the wood stove. What I’ve noticed is that the grip is working really well on the slippery and icy surfaces. It’s not that I’m jumping around on wet rocks yet, but I feel quite comfortable while wearing these no matter the surface conditions.
In the City of Denver, we see some snow. Nothing like the mountains, but I did wear these to scrape 3-5 inches off the sidewalks several times.
Next Summer’s Hiking Plans
Now, I am usually on a bit of a timeline to get product tested and reviewed to bring it out to the masses. Hence, I am not able to report on their function on longer rocky technical trails. That said, I have big plans next summer to take these boots on some rather intense hikes up a few of Colorado’s 14-ers.
The ‘approach’ is usually anywhere from 4-6 miles from the trail head up a logging or mining road to the more intense technical hiking. Then the terrain will kick up above tree line. For the most part, the defined trails are highlighted by the occasional cairn to keep me on track. Towards the summit, the trail can become more challenging to follow when steeper and rockier terrain is encountered. At times, the trail can completely disappear amongst the scree fields, and require more rigorous bouldering and scrambling. That’s where the sturdiness of the leather will be tested. I will update and report on the Vasque St. Elias performance at that time.
The heavy duty metallic lace brackets do stick out slightly. I have the misfortune of rubbing my ankles a lot when running and hiking. And over the duration of time I’ve had the pleasure of wearing these, I have knocked the buckles or claps together a few times. It has not done any damage, but I will see how that works after years, many miles, and hundreds of mini clashes. My Vasque Erickson’s have a similar set up, and are working just fine (for what its worth). Here’s thinking and hoping that the St. Elias will also perform as intended.
Final Thoughts On The Vasque St. Elias Hiking Boots
The boots are well-built, stylish, sleek, durable, and will handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. I’ve appreciated the simplistic design which has allowed me to wear it on numerous occasions. The full grain leather panels are thick and solid, yet have enough flex in them to mold comfortably to my feet. Plus, I suppose there’s some give on technical terrain to stay firmly put and not roll an ankle. In line with that is the grip which is superb and gives me the confidence to tackle a wide variety of terrain.
At $230, you do have to make a considerable investment, but I fully feel that is worth it. Take my Vasque boots from 10 years ago, and they are still part of the rotation. I have burned through many others, but I feel like these will also stand the test of time. The value for the quality is there. The Vasque St. Elias Hiking Boots will be available this Spring. For more information, visit www.vasque.com.