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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Kayland Convert > Test Report by Ray Estrella

Kayland Convert Boots
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
August 15, 2008



NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.


The Product


Manufacturer: Kayland, Outdoor Division of Novation S.p.A
Web site:
Product: Convert
Year manufactured/recieved: 2008
Size: Men's 11 (US)
Weight listed (each): 640 g (22.6 oz)
Actual weight of test boots each: 794 g (28 oz)
Color tested: Vintage Brown, also available in Blue


Product Description

The Kayland Converts (hereafter called the Converts or the boots) were delivered to me in their retail box. They came in excellent condition and are what I expected after viewing the boots on the Kayland website noted above. The Converts are part of Kayland's Light Hiking line, but for the style of hiking I do and the loads I carry, I expect these to do expedition duty.

They are full height hiking boots. They stand 7.5 in (19 cm) high. The outside is made primarily of brown suede leather, along with what they refer to only as "Breathable abrasion resistant textile". All of the major seams on the boot are double stitched.
A well padded ankle cuff is cut lower at the back and is covered inside and out with Lycra, which stretches all directions with ease. It seems to be filled with a slightly dense type of foam and feels very nice. It is not cheap open cell foam that is for sure. At the back of the ankle cuff is a nylon pull loop that just has enough room to get my finger through.

The suede-faced tongue is padded with the same foam and is constructed "bellows style". The sides of it reach almost to the lowest point of the of the cuff so I am hoping that will translate into nothing coming inside the boots as long as I do not submerge them.

And the reason I may get close to submerging them is because the Convert has a waterproof breathable lining made of eVent fabric. This is my first pair of boots with this liner and I am excited to see how it performs.

Inside the boots are a pair of insoles that Kayland calls"Roll". I have no idea why, but they are not the standard foam insole I am used to seeing. Although they are white it is almost like a dense pressed felt, not foam. And the lower half, from the arch to the heel, is covered with a dense, waffle-patterned material that feels like aerated plastic. (Yeah, that makes it a type of foam I guess…) The top is covered with soft micro fleece. While I am not normally impressed with stock insoles and usually replace them with custom insoles, these do feel pretty comfortable out of the box.

The toe of the Convert is covered with a knurled rubber toe rand to help protect the tootsies and add durability to the boots. It is glued on and I could not find any loose spots around the edges of either boot. An extra lip of rubber comes up onto the very front of the toe from the sole also for an extra bumper.

The semi-round nylon laces run through a combination of eyes and nylon loops and culminate at three sets of lace hooks at the top. Kayland calls it the Convert Lacing System. The lowest set of hooks, offset far to the back, have a cord attached that runs to the side of the boots to create an ankle lock system to hold the heel in place. This looks like a cool addition and I will see if it translates into less blisters on the trail, as I am prone to them at the back of my heels.


The soles, what Kayland calls "Active Sole features a high-traction rubber outsole, a molded EVA midsole, and molded TPU stabilizers in the arch and heel". Just feeling them, the lugs seem to be very pliant and could well live up to Kayland's claims of superior traction. (As I spend a lot of time on rock I will find this out, have no doubt.) They are attached to the boot with some type of adhesive.

The quality of my test boots seem to be very good. The stitching is all straight and uniform. There are no loose threads or blemishes other than the natural look of the leather. It has been a long time since I had a leather boot for 3 season hiking and it is kind of neat to be strapping something that looks like God made it rather than fluorescent man-made materials on my feet. (Thank goodness nobody has pictures of my first plastic-doubles in neon fuchsia…)

There is a lot more information about the construction and features on Kayland's web site but it is time for me to start thinking about getting the Converts dirty! I will be taking them for a break-in hike next weekend and two days later on a 30+ mile (48 km) backpacking trip with over 5000' (1525 m) of gain and lots of creeks to splash through.


Quick & Dirty Nitty Gritty

The Kayland Converts are some of the most comfortable full hiking boots I have tried with hands down the best traction. But the toe box is too wide and the insoles are lacking. Read on for the details please.

Field Data

The Kayland Converts were used on the following trips.

1: Jenn and I went to San Jacinto for an overnighter and set up camp in Lower Chinquapin at 9000'. The low was 38 F and the high was 54 F (3 to 12 C) but felt warmer because of the bright sun. There was still a lot of snow with the trails being about 50% covered. I only put 6 miles (10 km) on the boots here. Starting pack weight 26 lb (11.8 kg).

2: This from my hiking log: Dave and I went to Fish Creek trailhead and took the Pacific Crest Trail to the top of a ridge north of the Whitewater River and back. It was a grueling 30 mile (58 km) trip. 6000' of downhill in new boots with a too-roomy toe-box made for some bad blisters. We found a pretty nice camp site on Mission Creek, the low only got down to 57 F (14 C). It was pretty hot, 86 F (30 C) and the climb back with 10 miles (16 km) of almost uninterrupted climbing was torture. We crossed creeks and springs 78 times in two days with trails consisting of dirt, sand, scree and exposed granite. Starting pack weight 28 lb (12.7 kg).

3: Two day hikes in Minnesota, all at 900' (300 m) elevation and on dirt farm roads. Temps were from 39 to 67 F (4 to 19 C) and I carried no pack. I walked 8 and 10 miles (13 & 16 km) consecutively.

4: Jenn and I went to Limber Pine Bench in the San Gorgonio Wilderness for an overnighter. The trails were fine, dirt and rock, until just above 8500' (2590 m) where we started hitting lingering snow. Temps were from 67 F to 40 F (20 to 4 C) with enough wind to keep the mosquitoes away. We had 3680' (1122 m) of elevation gain in 6 miles (9.6 km) and a total of 12 miles for the trip (19.2 km). I started with a 41 lb (18.6 kg) pack weight.


The Kayland Converts got off to a pretty good start. I used them for a short overnight trip to break them in. I was very impressed by the comfort of them right from the start. I wore them with medium weight wool Teko hiking socks and my normal Fox River X-static liners. I had no major problems at all on this easy six mile (10 km) hike that only saw a total of about 1400' (430 m) of elevation gain and loss over two days.

The traction was superb. I have never had a pair of boots that did this well coming right from a creek or snow patch and onto slab granite without slipping. As I have just started learning technical rock climbing I can appreciate how sticky the soles of the Converts are. Here is a picture of them on a snowy trail.

snowy trail

The only thing I did notice was that the fold of the gusseted tongue on my right boot lands right on the top of my protruding ankle bone. I had to loosen it twice to make it stop aggravating me.

After I went home from that hike I changed gear, dropped my wife at the airport, grabbed a little sleep and met my brother-in-law Dave for a much more strenuous hike. This monster is described above at #2. The Converts did not fare well on this trip which saw me in the same liners and medium weight wool socks from Teko (1st day) and Fox River (2nd day).

Within a few minutes of hiking I could feel my feet were too loose in the toe area. I stopped and adjusted the laces tighter. (Still trying to keep the top from being to tight against my ankle bone.) But within a few miles of the huge descent that first day I could feel a hot spot forming on the outside of my big toe on my left foot. I stopped and put a blister pad on it. By the end of the day I could feel the other toe hurting in the same area. I did not stop to address it although I tried to tighten the laces some more to no avail. By the time I made camp I had a very bad blood blister on the left toe (the blister pad peeled off from the rubbing and then tore the flesh underneath making it fill with blood) and another not quite so bad on the right toe. I also had a huge blood blister on the back of my right heel that was a reoccurrence of a blister I had got 10 days before (so I won't count that) and two small blisters on the side of my left heel, a place I have never had a blister. I did some major work with moleskin and tape in my tent that night.

The next day saw us climb almost non-stop back to the trailhead. The insoles of the Converts felt like they were made of wood, not felt. My feet hurt very badly by the time I got done although I did not get any more blisters. I had tingling, shooting pains in the bottom of my feet, the right foot the most. I gave it the college try, but it is time to switch to after market insoles. I am going to try wearing a heavier sock also to see if that will take up some of the room in the toe box.

One good thing to report already is the water tightness of the Converts. Both trips saw plenty of wet spots for the boots. The trip along Mission Creek had 78 crossings (yes I counted them all on the way back) with only a few logs to cross on. I happily splashed across each one. I stopped to wet my hat or splash my face right in the middle of the creek many times. I slipped off a submerged rock once going in over the top of the boot but my gaiter kept the water from flooding in. I did not get a drop of water through the liner of the boots. Here is a picture in a creek at San Jacinto State Park.

water walker

I put custom moldable Ultra insoles from Sole Footbeds in the Converts, and took them to Minnesota to use on some long dayhikes with low weight to try to break them in further and test them out before the next big hike. I wore them with Fox River Explorer, heavy wool/synthetic blend socks.

I wore them on two (it was supposed to be three) day hikes of increasing length to make sure that I did not get more blisters. With the Sole footbeds in the Converts were much more comfortable and my toes did not slip and rub as they did before on the first hike, which was in cool weather. I had no hot spots and no foot pain or discomfort.

The next one was only two miles (3.2 km) longer in length but the weather warmed up and it had rained in the early morning so I was sweating a lot more. (I may be reaching here; I am trying hard to understand why these boots won't fit right.) I wore the same socks as the day before but at 7.5 miles (12 km) I felt my right big toe getting a hot spot on the side. A little bit further and my toes of my left foot were getting sore. By the time I got back I had a reoccurrence (again) of the blood blister on my right heel, which had been sucked back in. I decided not to do the planned 12 miler (19 km) the next day because I had too many hikes in the near future that needed my feet in walking shape.

At this point I decided that the Converts were not going to work for me as big distance boots. But as they had been very comfortable for short distance I decided to use them for some big-load, short-distance hikes I had planned.

So the next hike saw me in the San Gorgonio Wilderness where they did great for the fairly steep 6 mile (9.6 km) climb. The traction again was superb even through the snow we encountered up high. With the new insoles I had no problems with my heels getting hot-spots or any foot pain. They were comfortable enough that I wore them in camp.

As we had to collect a lot of water (as the nearest source was 0.3 miles (0.5 km) and another 300 ft (100 m) of elevation gain from the camp site) I spent a long time standing in Limber Pine Creek filling reservoirs. Not a drip seeped inside. Then while filtering water the collapsible bucket that I use for prefilter collection slipped off the rock knob I had it hooked too and flipped spilling its entire load onto my right shin, ankle and, of course, Convert boot. I felt the icy water seeping through the Wigwam Wool-Silk Hikers I was wearing. I decided to leave them on instead of changing into dry socks. Over the course of the rest of the day and evening my (considerable) body heat drove most of the moisture away from my foot and through the Event. At 8:00 PM when I took the Converts off my feet themselves were no different from each other. My liners felt the same too. I did notice that the right wool sock was slightly wetter than the left. I consider this a very good showing of the breathability of the eVent liner.

But again I was disappointed by the Converts. The next day we descended to the trailhead, an almost unbroken drop for 5.7 miles (9.1 km). By half way I was getting toe pain and feeling hot spots. I tried tightening them to no avail. My feet just will not fit snug enough in the toe box while descending. Here is a picture of them comfortably climbing on the way to our camp site.

Loaded to Limber

I am going to use the Converts for a couple more short distance hikes that will see me carrying very heavy loads. At this point I see no good coming from trying the long distance stuff with them.


Field Data

I have used the Converts for twelve days on the following trips during the last two months of testing.

Two days at a primitive campground on the edge of the Mt San Jacinto State Park Wilderness at an elevation of 6500' (1980 m). Temperatures ranged from 76 to 55 F (24 to 13 C). We just did day-hikes from camp, only on one did I carry a pack.

I took my twins Emma and Ray to Itasca State Park , the birthplace of the Mississippi River where we got a permit for one of three sites at Myrtle Lake.(Backpacking sites are issued, a new one for me.) This four mile (6 km) round trip hike was on easy terrain as it is almost all grass, at the worst dirt. I carried a big pack as I brought lots of creature comforts as well as cold pizza for my picky eater son. Temps were from 64 to 80 F (18 to 27 C) at an elevation of 1500 ft (460 m). My pack weight was around 42 lb (19 kg).

I wore them as Dave and I took the three nine-year olds to Round Valley in San Jacinto State Park for an over-night trip with lots of boulder climbing. We only hiked six miles (10 km) with 300 ft (100 m) of elevation gain and loss, but I carried a lot of gear, including my biggest three person tent and a soft-sided cooler. My pack weight was over 50 lb (22.7 kg) walking on packed dirt and rock. The temperatures ranged from a low of 55 F to a high of 80 F (13 to 27 C).

I wore them on a hiking/climbing trip with Jenn to Malibu Creek State Park. The approach hike put 3 miles (5 km) on the boots in temps that reached near 90 F (32 C).

I wore them on a two-day trip taking the South Fork Trail to a camp site at Lodgepole in the San Bernardino National Forest. This 11 mile (18 km) round trip hike had 3400 ft (1036 m) of gain and loss. It got up to 83 F and only down to 59 F (28 to 15 C). I carried a 35 lb (16 kg) pack starting out up very rocky trails.

And last I wore them with Emma and Ray again on a three-day backpacking trip to Maplewood State Park in Minnesota. We stayed at the Beers Lake Backpacker site the first day and at the Grass Backpacker site the second. The weather was great for two days then rained the last. The temperatures were from 79 down to 61 F (29 to 16 C). We backpacked for 6 miles (10 km) with another few miles (5 km) of exploring. The elevation was 1340 ft (408 m) above sea level. My pack was near 50 lb (22.7 kg) starting out. The trails were all dirt or grass. Here is a picture of my son and I at a lakeside trail.

with Raymond


Nothing has really changed in the past two months of testing. As may be seen above I have used the Converts in a limited fashion most of which took place on trails that did not have a lot of downhill travel. This is where I have got the most blistering from the loose toe box.

They are still very comfortable to wear. The support has been stellar on the heavy weight-carrying trips of the Long Term Report phase. The cushioning is probably the nicest of all my boots. I find myself leaving them on as I set up camp instead of getting into my sandals as soon as possible as has been the case with other boots that left me sore.

The traction has continued to be very good and the sole are in good shape, although they did not get the distance that I expected to put on them. All the seams and joins are still tight, and the eVent liner still keeps water out. I purposely walk through every stream I cross, and have never had a drop come through.

One thing that I unfortunately must admit is that the Converts give me the smelliest feet I have had since I was 20. I wear the same socks and liners that I use with all the other footwear I have written about here over the past few years. Yet none of them have ever proven odiferous. The Converts absolutely reek the hotter and harder I hike. Even wearing them on a camping trip that only saw some short day-hiking had my feet smelling enough to make my wife comment. I do not think that the boots breathe all that well being full leather.

I will not be wearing the Converts any longer now that the test is over. I am sorry that they did not work for my feet as they are pretty nice full-on backpacking boots. Maybe they will change their last in the future. If so I will try Kayland's products again.

My thanks to Kayland and for the opportunity to test these boots.

with Emma

Pros & Cons


Good support
Great traction


Insoles weak
Wide toe box translates into blisters for me
Make for smelly feet

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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