Vasque’s Bitterroot GTX Hiking Boot

You might say the design of the Vasque Bitterroot GTX hiking boot is “old-school,” with an upper made of thick, 2.4 mm leather, and beefy lugged outsole. Of course, there’s a reason backpacking boots are still made this way – they support the weight of a big pack, and they last a long time.

Of course, the knock against such leather boots is they’re heavy, stiff and take a long time to break in. But the leather of the Bitterroot GTX broke in nicely after about a dozen miles. And this boot never felt uncomfortable, thanks to certain details in the design. For example, the thick padding that surrounds the collar of the boot and lines the ankle area offered soft support as we crossed an ankle-twisting rocky path.

These boots also allowed us to hit a natural stride. The midsole and outsole have a built-in curvature, so you roll easily from the heel to forefoot with each step. The midsole also has resilient polyurethane foam to cushion each step, while a urethane shank serves as a rigid platform to stabilize the foot on uneven terrain.

While scrambling up a rocky wash, our testers noted that the outsole rubber really stuck well to the limestone and granite, and the lugs on the sole effectively put on the brakes while descending steep dirt paths. The rubber on the outsole is somewhat soft for improved traction, so you do give up some long-term durability. But, it’s a fair trade-off.

One other thing we should note is that the boot lived up to its claims of being waterproof, as the Gore-Tex membrane kept feet dry during rainy weather and stream crossings.

Our one quibble with this boot concerned the positioning of the lace eyelet that sits between the upper collar and the forefoot. It was difficult to get our feet completely seated in the heel pocket of the boot, and we had to really fidget to pull and secure the laces.

As for the overall fit of the boot, our testers found that it’s best for people with medium to wide feet. And one nice aspect of the Bitterroot is that it’s available in widths.

While there’s still a major trend toward lightweight boots, the Bitterroot GTX is a solid choice if you want a true backpacking boot that will stand the test of time.

Traveler’s Notebook

Want to know more? Go to www.vasque.com.

Retail price: $190

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