The Vasque Monolith UD Mid wins the award for our best value hiking boot this year. Out of all the less expensive, lightweight hiking boots we tested, the Monolith scored highest in all categories. They are comfortable and stable in all types of terrain, and held up to stream crossings almost 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.
The Vasque Monolith UD Mid gains the best value title this year as a great, affordable option for a mid-weight hiking boot that is both durable and comfortable.
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 longer 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 and the Keen Targhee II – 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.
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 2, 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.
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 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.
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 makes 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. They win our award for Best Value as a great day hiking boot that will hold up in most conditions.