Ariat Catalyst VX Boot Review

by Purposeful Footwear - Last Updated: April 10, 2018

The Ariat Catalyst VX Boot is probably one of the best footwear investments you can make if you work a demanding job. I should know as I spent quite a bit of time learning about these boots through comprehensive research. What I discovered is that aside from their cowboy-meets-extraterrestrial aesthetic, these boots boast a long list of unique design features that set them apart from other choices in the market.

Using Cobalt VX technology combined with VX Cradle insoles, the Catalyst VX just takes comfort to entirely new levels. So if you’re on the prowl for a pair of work boots that you can proudly and confidently wear to make that 9 to 5 a little easier on your feet, then you might have just found your perfect pair with the Catalyst VX.

Learn more about this premium boot design and why I think you shouldn’t hesitate to make that purchase by reading through this detailed review.

Outlandish Aesthetics for the Unconventional Wearer

I think it’s only right that we talk about the Catalyst VX’s look before anything else. At a glance, the boot looks almost like it just popped out of a sci-fi film, complete with neon green trimmings. The silhouette, although pretty standard, is overshadowed by the intricate stitches and combination of textures that make up the exterior of the boot.

Over the forefoot section of the uppers and around the boot’s shaft, sections made of Cordura improve flexibility and durability. For the most part, the manufacturer made sure to incorporate these robust fabrics on the areas that are most prone to damage from wear and tear. Aside from improving the boot’s overall performance though, I think the Cordura sections do wonders for the aesthetic as well.

Unbelievable Flexibility Straight Out of the Box

One of the things that caught my attention with the Catalyst VX is how easy it can pop on and off of your feet. If you’re used to wearing pull-on work boots, you probably already know how effortful it can be to put them on or take them off. Especially because a lot of work boot designs have unforgiving uppers.

The Catalyst VX changes that though by allowing you to slip your foot seamlessly into and out of the boot with little to no effort. This is mainly thanks to the design’s patented U-Turn technology that can be found along the posterior of the shaft. This section adds flexibility to the uppers, allowing room for your heel as you pull your foot in or out of the boot.

I was also surprised to find the boot offer the same, flexible comfort along the forefoot of the uppers. This lets you weight bear on flexed toes without the overpowering resistance of a stubborn boot preventing you from maintaining the position for long.

For these reasons, I think the Catalyst VX would be a great choice for service workers like technicians, electricians, or even plumbers who might need to take the shoes off quickly before moving into a space, or who expect to spend quite some time on down on their haunches.

A Dense Feel for Maximum Comfort

Lots of people tend to think that the softer and more pliable a footbed, the more comfortable it will be. But according to research, dense footbeds with a slight responsiveness to shifting weight is more ideal.

To that end, the Catalyst VX uses a VX Cradle Insole design with a Cobalt VX insert. Ultimately, this combination works to leave room for your foot’s natural arches and provides you a dense, responsive layer that just oozes with solid, reliable support. So instead of that buttery, soft, super pliable sensation under your feet, you get a bouncy density that’s ideal for long periods of walking and standing.

Image of the Ariat Men's English Cobalt VX Footbeds,Blue,8

I also want to mention that the Cobalt VX inserts are also available after market. So if in case your inserts give in to wear and tear (which I think is unlikely because they’re pretty durable), or if you simply want to use them for a different pair of boots you have, then you can purchase them separately.

Soles for Safe Transitions

Another reason why I think the Ariat Catalyst VX is ideal for blue collar workers is the outsoles. The non-marking Duratread lets you transition from surface to surface without the need to recalculate your step. This makes it a whole lot easier to move from carpeted floors, to tiles, to wood, and from wet to dry and vice versa minus the careful consideration needed to calibrate your step.

With that, you can easily transition from space to space with the same, uninterrupted pace. For lots of workers, this can make lots of tasks a whole lot less of a hassle. I see this working really well for individuals in food service who need to move from wet kitchen floors to tiled dining areas because it significantly reduces the chances of slipping.

The Duratread outsoles are also particularly resistant to wear. That’s why the Ariat brand uses the material for almost all of its work boots as it does stand well against the test of daily use.

Keeping It Cool with XStatic

If you’ve ever had to work in a pair of leather work boots, you probably already know how hot and heavy they can get. That’s one of the downsides of leather work boots because the usual design prevents air from flowing through the material.

To counteract that, the Catalyst VX uses an XStatic material that maintains a cool, comfortable climate inside the boot at all times. It also works to wick away moisture to prevent foul odors and bacteria from thriving.

Lastly, this premium sock liner also offers some impressive durability. It covers a lot of the inside of the boot, keeping leather from making contact with your skin and socks. This helps maintain the quality of the leather by keeping it from the acidic moisture of sweat.

Suitable for Wider Feet

Whether you’re an electrician, a restaurant worker, or even a competitive roping enthusiast, you’ll be sure to find a proper fitting Catalyst VX for your needs. The design is also available in a wider variation which is often overlooked by a lot of other brands. So buyers with wide feet – rejoice! TheAriat Catalyst VX Wide Composite Toe Work Boot offers a lot of the same features and performance as the original.

The only main difference is the aesthetic. The wide toe version doesn’t have a lot of the trimmings, and the leather is slightly a little more resistant to movement. The sole tread pattern and the exterior toe box also saw a few changes with the wide design. Nevertheless, the design does still perform well, especially when you consider the fact that not a lot of premium boot designs are offered in wider size variations.

Toe Box Could Use Some Space

As a square-toed boot, the Catalyst VX has a sleeker silhouette than round toes. So to maintain that sleek structure, the manufacturers had to remove some vertical space from the toe box. This leaves the boot with a slightly tighter toe area which could be a problem if you like wearing thicker socks.

Based on what I’ve read, a lot of users would have appreciated some more room up front. However adding any more height than the boot already has could take away from its overall aesthetic appeal. But if you can do away with the thick socks, then it won’t be too much of a problem.

Pros of the Catalyst VX Boot

  • Super flexible construction thanks to the leather welt and U-Turn technology.
  • VX Cradle Insole in combination with the Cobalt VX insert makes a very comfortable and stable step.
  • XStatic sock liner wicks away moisture, maintains comfortable climate, and prevents bacteria build-up.
  • Duratreads let you transition from different surfaces and terrain without having to calibrate or adjust your step.
  • One-of-a-kind aesthetic adds a touch of character to the boot.
  • Really pliable and flexible straight out of the box, with zero break-in time required.

Some Possible Downsides

  • Toe box might lack the proper vertical space to accommodate thick socks or extra inserts.

The Bottom Line

With its impressive, intuitive, and functional design, the Ariat Catalyst VX Boot is a footwear design that I can definitely recommend. If you’re a blue collar worker, I’d even go as far as saying that you need these boots in your arsenal. The way the different elements of the design come together make for premium, unmatched performance that I’ve yet to see with any other boot. Plus, with a very forgivable, singular design flaw, you can be sure that it really doesn’t get any better than the Catalyst VX.

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