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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Kayland Convert > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

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courtesy of http://www.kayland.com


Kayland Convert Hiking Boots

Test Series by Ryan Christensen

Last Update - August 25, 2008

Kayland Convert
Converts As Received

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
May 6, 2008
FIELD REPORT
July 1, 2008
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 25, 2008

INITIAL REPORT
May 6, 2008

Reviewer Information:

Backpacking Background:

Name: Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  43
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (102 kg)
Email address: bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:  Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA
I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago and began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. For several years, we have hiked or camped nearly every month, year-round. We vary our experience: desert, forest, meadow, and mountain; spring, summer, fall, and winter; sunshine, rain, wind, or snow. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.

Product Information:

The information below comes from the Kayland website and product card.

Kayland Convert

Manufacturer:

Kayland

Manufacturer website:

http://www.kayland.com

Place of Manufacture:

Romania

Year Manufactured:

2008

Materials:
Uppers
Liner
Soles

Suede 1.6/1.8, Breathable abrasion resistant textile, Lycra
eVent® (waterproof / breathable fabric)
rubber outsole, molded EVA midsole, molded TPU stabilizers in the arch and heel

Men's Sizes Available:

6 - 13 UK (with half sizes)
7 - 14 US (with half sizes)

Women Sizes Available:

3 - 8 UK (with half sizes)
6 - 10 US (with half sizes)

Men's Colors Available:

Vintage Brown
Blue
Women's Colors Available:

White
Green

Warranty:

"Kayland guarantees its products for one year against all faults in material and manufacturing. In order to validate the guarantee, please fill in the voucher and return it with a proof of purchase within one week of purchasing the boots.

Kayland reserves the right to repair or replace the products and to refuse claims if the product has been abused or subjected to improper use. All shipping costs are the responsibility of the purchaser."

MSRP:

Not Available

Product Specifications

Manufacturer' Specifications


Listed Height:

Not Listed

Listed Weight:

640 g (1 lb 7 oz) [unsure which size]

Actual Measurements


Size Tested:

Men's 9.5 UK (10.5 US)

Height:

7.5 in (19 cm)

Weight:

1 lb 10.8 oz (758 g) each [3 lb 5.5 oz (1.57 kg) for the pair]

Color Tested:

Vintage Brown

Product Description:

The Convert is a high-quality Italian-designed hiking boot. It is a new member of Kayland's Light Hiking Line. Kayland advertises its Light Hiking Line as "designed for light backpacking, day hikes, and moving fast on the trail." Kayland also says that "Drawing upon the finest elements of perennial best sellers, the Contact 1000 and the Vertigo High, the Convert is sure to convert outdoor enthusiasts looking for optimal comfort, light weight, durability, and versatility for backpacking, hiking, and other mountain endeavors."

Convert Outside Both Boots Convert Inner

The Convert is listed as a high-cut hiking boot. They are approximately 7.5 in (19 cm) high (from the bottom of the sole to the top of the collar). This is 0.5 in (1.3 cm) taller than the tallest mid-cut hiking boots I own.

The majority of the upper is constructed of split-grain leather. However, there is some synthetic fabric around the lower part of the collar, where the ankle flexes. There is also a small amount of synthetic fabric where the leather and dense foam padding of the collar meet. The gusset is also made of split-grain leather. The entire length of the gusset is padded. On the exterior, at the top of the gusset, there is a 2.5 x 0.75 in (6 x 2 cm) cutout in the leather. The dense collar padding fills this area where the gusset will rest against the shin. On the inside, this padding extends approximately 2.5 in (6 cm) down from the top. There is "webbing" between the gusset and the boot which appears to be synthetic leather on the exterior side. There is about 1.5 in (4 cm) of dense foam padding at the highest point on the collar. This decreases to about 1 in (2.5 cm) at the back of the collar. However, the entire heel cup feels like it is padded with what feels to be the same type of foam. Just below the collar, on each boot, there is a webbing pull loop with the Kayland logo on it. The toe rand is knurled rubber, and is about 1.5 in (4 cm) wide.Outsoles It is a bit wider across the top of the toes. It appears to be fairly stout.

The Convert has an eVent liner, which is waterproof and breathable. The manufacturer of eVent claims "eVent fabrics lets sweat escape up to twice as fast as common waterproof/breathables. eVent fabrics let the sweat out.™" In addition, the manufacturer says "eVent fabrics get their unique properties from a proprietary and patented waterproof membrane. Its unique composition allows millions of tiny pores to breathe at their full potential. Sweat vents directly to the outside of the fabric in one easy step, the manufacturer calls this "Direct Venting™ Technology." This liner also covers the inside of the gusset webbing.

Kayland calls its sole "Active Sole." This sole is comprised of an aggressive rubber outsole, a molded EVA midsole, and molded TPU stabilizers in the arch and heel. Kayland says that the components of its Active Sole "combine to ensure superior grip, stability, and cushioning on and off trail." This sole includes Kayland's Integrated Absorbing Drive System (IADS) which is supposed to absorb shock during heel strike and provide improved stability as weight transfers from heel to foot. According to Kayland, this "grippy" sole is supposed to enable the wearer to "move safely and securely, even over wet, slippery terrain."

The insoles are approximately 0.125 in (0.32 cm) thick. As shown in the photo to the right, they appear to be a pressed felt insole, with a suede-like top material and a plasticized cushioning cover that extends from the arch to the heel on the underside. There are twenty-five penetrations through the insole in the arch and forefoot area. I assume these are to aid in ventilation and flex. There is not much arch support in this insole, but the heel is cupped.Insoles

One of the Convert's unique features is its lacing system. The series of three photos above gives one an idea of the lacing system. There are six pairs of eyelets/web loops in the traditional location. The leather is cut out such that there are two pairs of eyelets/loops per tab. I assume these cutouts are to allow the boot to better flex with the foot. In the middle section, there are two eyelets on the inner edge and there are two web loops on the outer edge. On both sides of the boot, at the ankle, there is an additional loop. The loop on the inner side is a web loop attached to a leather tab. On the outer side, there is a loop of nylon cord sewn in to the boot. On this cord, there is a plastic loop that slides on the nylon cord and allows the lace to slide through it as well. It appears these loops are to help secure the heel. Testing will prove how well this lacing system works.

Initial Impression:

Immediately, I was impressed with the Convert boots. They are rugged and "bad looking." The first thing I noticed as I pulled them from the box is their unique lacing system. I am anxious to test how well it works. In addition, I really like the padding in the gusset, collar, and heel cup. Hopefully the combination of the lacing system and the padded heel cup will reduce my inclination to develop blisters on the back of my heels.

I have not owned a pair of boots, or garment for that matter, with eVent fabric. I own several boots with waterproof, breathable linings, and have been quite pleased with them. Therefore, I am very keen on this eVent liner. I can not wait to see how well it keeps the water out. However, I am more interested in seeing whether it actually breathes significantly better than other waterproof, breathable linings. The proof will be in the testing.

Another feature that intrigues me is the sole. I like the aggressive tread, the grippy feel, and what appears to be a great shock-absorbing mid-sole. In addition, I am keen to see whether the "Enhanced Rocker" is noticeable. Unlike the tread, this is not an obvious feature. However, Kayland claims the last, or solid form around which the Convert is made, was designed with "an enhanced rocker to promote a natural, rolling, forward motion and reduce energy expenditure." Will this "Enhanced Rocker" really reduce how tired my feet and legs become? Again, testing will tell.

Initial Testing:

My initial testing consisted of a thorough examination. I weighed the boots and measured several parts. I also donned them to test for initial fit. They felt quite comfortable. Like my other Italian-designed boots, there is not a lot of room between the foot and the boot. With a medium-volume foot, I like this feature. I believe these will be very comfortable to wear for extended durations.

What I Initially like:

  • Aggressive Tread
  • Padded Gusset
  • Padded Collar
  • Padded Heel Cup
  • Two Cinch Hooks on Collar
  • Knurled Toe Rand
  • Unique Lacing System
  • Initial Fit

What I Initially Dislike:

  • Nothing At This Time

Top of Page


FIELD REPORT
July 1, 2008

Summary:

During the Field Test Phase, I wore the boots more than forty days, including thirteen days walking trails in the backcountry. The boots have seen rain, snow, mud, cool and warmer temperatures. The soles are showing minimal wear. For the most part, they have provided good traction and have kept my feet dry. Nevertheless, I expected these Italian designed boots to perform better in terms of comfort and durability than they have to date.

Pros:

  • Aggressive Tread
  • Padded Gusset
  • Padded Collar
  • Padded Heel Cup
  • Two Cinch Hooks on Collar
  • Knurled Toe Rand
  • Unique Lacing System
  • Initial Fit

Cons:

  • A seam in the leather upper on the right boot is separating.
  • Wearing them for eight consecutive days (6:00 am to 10:30 pm) made the outer edge of my big toes sore.

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

During May, I wore the boots approximately sixteen days to work and kicking about in Idaho Falls, Idaho, which is approximately 4,700 ft (1,433 m) above sea level. Weather conditions included rain and temperatures ranging from the low 30s to the high 80s F (1 to 32 C).

In June, I wore the boots twenty five days. On June 5-7, I wore them on a church youth retreat near Hebgen Lake, Montana. Hebgen Lake is 10 miles northwest of West Yellowstone, Montana at an elevation of 6,547 ft (1,996 m). The sky was overcast and we had rain, snow, and hail. Temperatures ranged from a low of 27 F to a high of 49 F (-3 to 9 C).

Later in June, I wore the Converts an additional ten days, eight of them consecutive, while serving as a Scoutmaster at the BSA Grand Teton Council’s Cedar Badge National Youth Leadership Training camp at the base of the Teton Mountains approximately 10 mi (16 km) east of Driggs, Idaho. The elevation is approximately 6,500 ft (1,981 m). On June 13-14, the temperature ranged from 28 F to 72 F (-2 to 22 C) and there was 3 in (8 cm) of snow on the ground. June 21-28 the temperature ranged from 37 F to 81 F (3 to 27 C) and the snow was gone. I wore the boots walking the packed dirt and rock trails and climbing the hills in camp for more than sixteen hours a day.

Observations:

Convert On BasaltAlthough not hiking with a pack on my back, the Converts got a good workout during the Field Test period. The first few weeks I wore the boots everyday to help break them in. I wore them to work and kicking around. Initially, I wore medium weight merino wool socks. But after a week or so, I also wore cotton socks. My feet were not sore in any way; I believe I could have hiked in them after a day or so out of the box. After a couple of days, I felt like they were broken in fairly well, and felt great on my feet. Consequently, I believe the break-in period for these boots to be very short. During this initial period, I particularly noticed what Kayland calls its "Enhanced Rocker." As I walked, it felt as if there were springs in the heels helping the boot roll forward. I really liked the feeling. Most of the walking during this period was on asphalt and concrete. The soles showed minimal wear.

On the youth retreat near Hebgen Lake Montana, we did a lot of experiential learning activities outdoors. Unfortunately, we had predominantly wet, cold weather. We had rain, hail, and snow off and on the entire weekend. Consequently, the boots were exposed to very wet and muddy conditions. I wore medium weight merino wool socks, so my feet were nice and warm. The eVent liner in the boots did an excellent job keeping my feet dry. The aggressive tread provided excellent traction in the mud. The outsole even provided good traction as I climbed over a 12 ft (4 m) plywood wall in a light drizzle. However, the traction was not so great on the wet, smooth, basalt rocks. In fact, at times, it felt as if I were climbing on ice blocks because of the limited of traction. The soles were not as "grippy" as I had hoped they would be. In fact, I did not feel like the boots lived up to Kayland's claim to "enable the wearer to move safely and securely, even over wet, slippery terrain" at least as far as the wet rocks were concerned.

On my June 13-14th outing near Driggs, Idaho, the boots again provided excellent traction in the snow and mud. They also kept my feet dry. The leather did not even get too wet. I noticed that the leather did not even get overly dirty, even with all the mud.

The June 21-28th outing near Driggs, Idaho, provided an excellent workout for the boots. I wore them sixteen plus hours a day. For most of the time, I wore medium weight merino wool socks. However, toward the end, I wore official BSA socks, which are mainly cotton. Regardless of which sock I wore, my feet were not overly sweaty. I believe the eVent liner breathed quite well. I am not sure if it is due to too much room in the toebox, or whether the insoles are insufficient, but by the end of the eighth consecutive day walking the rocky trails of camp, the outer edge of the pads on my big toes were really sore. I did not experience any hot spots, blisters, sore arches, or sore heels, just very sore big toes. I will carry my third-party insoles with me in the future in case I begin to experience sore toes again. That way I will be able to determine if the insoles are insufficient, or if something else causes me the discomfort.

The photos below are the Converts at the end of June. Notice the separating seam in the first two photos. This occurred sometime during my June 21-28 outing. I was quite disappointed when I noticed the splitting seam as I took the boots off at home the night of June 28th. Also notice that the leather uppers have "sueded out," or become rougher than they were new [compare to photos in Initial Report seciton].

Convert Seam 1 Convert Seam 2 Well-Worn Converts

I contacted Kayland USA regarding the splitting seam. Kayland's timely response and willingness to make things right was very impressive. After sending the customer service representative a photo, he informed me that this should not have happend in the short time that I have had the boots. Furthermore, he told me that this is completely covered by their warranty. He suggested that I use a silicone sealant on the seam to get me through the balance of the test period. At the conclusion of the test, I am to contact him for a Return Authorization Number so that I can send the boots back. Kayland will in turn send me a new pair of Converts. It was a pleasure dealing with Kayland Customer Service.

Overall, the boots have performed well in terms of traction and keeping my feet dry. The boots are easy to lace and the unique lacing system seems to do its job of holding the heel in place. Not once did I feel my heel slip. In addition, the padded heel cup and collar are very comfortable. There is a lot to like about the Converts. Nevertheless, I expected these Italian designed boots to perform better in terms of comfort and durability than they have to date. I will continue to monitor the seam separation and other durability issues during the long-term test phase.

Top of Page


LONG-TERM REPORT
August 25, 2008

Summary:

During the Long Term phase, I have been hampered with lower back problems. Nevertheless, I wore the boots for approximately fifteen days during this phase of the test. In addition to wearing the boots to work, I was able to wear them on three outings. With the exception of the splitting seam mentioned in my Field Report, the boots have held up well, the soles continue to show minimal wear. The boots continue to provide good support and traction. They also keep my feet dry.

Pros:

  • Aggressive Tread
  • Padded Gusset
  • Padded Collar
  • Padded Heel Cup
  • Two Cinch Hooks on Collar
  • Knurled Toe Rand
  • Unique Lacing System
  • Clean Up Easily
  • Kayland honors its warranty

Cons:

  • A seam on the right boot began separating during the Field Test phase. However, it did not get worse during Long Term phase
  • Roomy toebox makes my toes sore
  • poorly cushioning insoles

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

During July 8-11, while on a BSA High Adventure with my two oldest boys, I wore the boots five additional days. We were in Saint Charles Canyon approximately 6,300 ft (1,920 m) in elevation. The campground is approximately 26 mi (42 km) from the North Beach area of Bear Lake State Park located in the far southeast corner of Idaho. Straddling the Idaho / Utah border, Bear Lake is 20 mi (32 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) wide. Bear Lake is 20 mi (32 km) south of Montpelier, Idaho at an approximate elevation of 5,900 ft (1,798). Recorded nighttime temperatures in nearby Paris, Idaho ranged from 45 - 47 F (7 - 8 C). We hiked to Minnetonka Cave, 9 mi (14 km) west of St. Charles, Idaho, entrance elevation 7,700 ft (2,345 m); Bloomington Lake, a glacier lake, located about 20 mi (32 km) north and west of Bear Lake, elevation 8,186 ft (2,495 m); and hiked nearby trails.

August 8-9, near Garden City, Utah which is close to Bear Lake at an elevation of 5,965 feet (1,818 m) I wore the boots. The nighttime low temperature was 47 F (8 C). Winds were 17 mph (27 km/h) with gusts up to 20 mph (32 km/h). There was also thunder, lightning, and a little rain.

On August 23, I wore the boots on a day hike in Hell's Half Acre National Landmark. The elevation is approximately 5,300 ft (1,615 m) above sea level. The temperature was in the 50s F (10 - 15 C), winds were calm, the sky was overcast and there was a slight rain on one of the hikes. Hell's Half Acre is a 66,000 acres (267 km2) lava field and is the youngest of the eastern basaltic lava fields of the Snake River Plain of southeastern Idaho.

Observations:

For the most part, the boots have performed well. They provided great support and traction while hiking. However, traction was poor while hiking certain sections of Minnetonka Cave. The 0.5 mi (0.8 km) route through the cave is quite wet due to the considerable dripping of water from the cave's ceiling. The route through the cave passes over several large rocks, and the boots did not provide much traction on these smooth, wet rocks. I really did not expect them, or any other footwear, to provide traction in this situation. The traction on the muddy sections of the trail was great however.

On my August 23 trip, I purposefully walked in ankle deep water to test the eVent liner. It did an excellent job of keeping my feet dry. The Converts dried quickly, which was impressive after being submerged in Bear Lake. The boots are easy to cleanup as well. After being wet and muddy, I simply took a firm-bristled brush, some water, and very little soap to them and they were as good as new.

In addition to keeping water out, the eVent liner allowed my feet to breathe quite well. My merino wool socks were minimally damp, which indicates to me that the eVent liner permits moisture to escape.

I really like the unique lacing system Kayland employs in the Convert. The sliding ankle lace hook enables me to get a snug fit, and my heel remains securely--and comfortably--in place. The toebox is another story. After wearing the boots for several hours, my toes get quite sore. In an attempt to remedy this, I replaced the original insoles with a pair of heat molded insoles, which helped some. Nevertheless, the toebox is a little too roomy for my narrower width (C - narrow D) medium volume feet. I believe the toebox is better sized for medium to wide higher-volume feet.

As noted in my Field Report, I will be sending this pair back to Kayland for repair/replacement due to the separating seam. I will continue to experiment with insoles and socks to see if I can get a better fit in the toebox as I really like the overall fit, comfort, and performance of these boots.

This concludes my test series.
Thanks to Kayland and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to test the Convert hiking boots.




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