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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Kayland Convert > Test Report by Wayne Merry

Kayland Convert Boots

Test Series by Wayne Merry

INITIAL REPORT: 28 June 2008

Field Test Report: 1 Sept 2008

Long Term Report: 29 Oct 2008

About Wayne, the tester:

Age: 35
Gender: Male
Height: 1.8 m (5' 10")
Weight: 90 kg (200 lb)
Email address: wayne underscore merry at yahoo dot com dot au
City, State, Country: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Backpacking Background: I started overnight backpacking six years ago. I hike in various terrains from moderate/hard track walks to some off track and rivers. I like the temperature to stay above freezing, and have not camped above the snow line during winter. I enjoy going on weekend and multi-day walks up to two weeks as well as day walks. I carry a moderate weight pack, enjoying a few creature comforts at camp. I would normally do at least 2 overnight or longer walks every three months, in addition to a number of full day length walks.
About the test environment:

I will be testing the Kayland Convert boots in Victoria, Australia. Elevations will vary from 0 m to 1750 m (5750 feet). The test will be conducted in the winter and spring seasons with temperatures varying from 5 C (41 F) to 30 C (86 F). Humidity varies widely during this time of year. Conditions could vary from quite wet to very dry.

I will be testing the Kayland Convert boots on all my overnight or longer walks that I have planned during the test period.
Product Details:
  • Manufacturer: KAYLAND divisione sport della Novation S.p.a.
  • Web site: http://www.kayland.com
  • Year of shipping: 2008
  • Place of manufacture: Romania
  • MSRP - not available
Convert boots image from Kayland

Photograph Courtesy of Kayland!

Manufacturer's description:

Drawing upon the finest elements of perennial best sellers, the Contact 1000 and the Vertigo High, the Kayland Convert is sure to convert outdoor enthusiasts looking for optimal comfort, light weight, durability, and versatility for backpacking and hiking.


Specifications for product as tested:

  • Manufacturer specified:
    • Weight: 640 g (1.41 lbs). It is assumed this weight is for a single boot.
  • As tested for size 8.5 (UK) / 9.5 (US):
    • Weight: 723 g (1.59 lbs) for each boot, 1.44 kg (3.17 lbs) total
    • Length from toe to heal: 30.5 cm (12 in)
    • Height from sole to tongue: 19 cm (7.5 in)

Initial Report: Item Receipt & First Impressions:

28 Jun 2008

Kayland Convert boots Collar

Item Receipt: I received the Kayland Converts in excellent condition, looking just like they do on the Kayland website. The boots were supplied without any paper stuffing inside the boots. The insoles were supplied inside each of the boots. My pair of boots are coloured Vintage Brown as shown in the picture above. The look of the suede is pleasing to the eye (well at least mine!).

Construction and materials: The Converts use a "Kayland Active IADS" sole that is pictured below. This is very cleanly joined to the upper suede. I could not find any excess glue in the join. The suede is in 5 pieces that are double stitched to each other. The stitching was visually very clean, with no loose threads seen anywhere. The lip of the upper is Lycra, which is an interesting choice of materials. It feels good to the touch and I could slide my foot in and out quite easily. Lycra is quite a dynamic (stretchy) material, so it will be interesting to see how it performs in the test as I find this area first to wear. The boot is lined with eVent which is identified by Kayland as "Breathable abrasion resistant textile". This lines the inside of the boot on the sides and top. There is a collar that joins the tongue to the boot upper on the sides. It consists of eVent on the inside and Lycra on the outside (shown above). This collar runs the entire length of the tongue. The boot is capped with knurled rubber.

Feel and lacing of the boot: The Lycra creates a nice feel in putting the boot on and off. The lip did not feel hard against my leg. The lacing (picture below) is quite unusual for me. There are 6 grommet holes on the inside of the boot, but only 4 on the outside - two at the toes, and two towards the heel. The lace is anchored by nylon material at the other 2 points on the boot outer which appears (and feels) to run down towards the sole of the boot. Above the grommets is a anchor point for the lace that helps lock the ankle in place. It will be interesting to see how this performs. Some old boots of mine had this feature, but it made the boot very hard to put on and take off. The Convert system looks superior, but this is a preliminary opinion only. The lacing system finishes off with two hooks either side above the ankle. In my initial tests at home I did not find the lacing system hard to use and it gave the boot an overall good feel. My ankle was well supported, and the boot felt good around my arch and toes. My one area of concern was some of the collar material. It felt not quite right on the front side of the ankle on the few short walks around home that I have done. It awaits serious walking out on track.

Tread Lacing

Insoles Tread and Sole: The tread (pictured above) has a cross pattern that grabs at the skin quite noticeably when I press my hand sheer against it. It appears that quite a good amount of friction is generated, and I am regretting that I did not have these boots in time for my last walk that had extensive coastal rock formations! The insoles are three layered at the heel and two layered at the ball and toe. The top is covered with a microfibre which feels quite nice. Underneath this is a thick felt like material, which has a lattice foam structure attached at the heel end. The insole is pictured to the right.

Overall, I am impressed with the Kayland Converts "out of the blocks". The build quality looks excellent, the lacing system looks well done, the insoles appear above average. I look forward to getting my Italian boots out onto the track. The real test of a pair of boots is how comfortable my feet feel after a hard day's walk and I will only know that after the field test. Thanks to BackpackgearTest and Kayland for the opportunity to test the Converts.

Field Test Report:

1 Sept 2008

Field Test Locations and Conditions:

  • "Two Bays", Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia: Forested, open fields and coastal, on-track, two-day walk with elevations from sea level up to 300 m (1000 ft). Temperatures were cool: 10 C (50 F) to 15 C (59 F) with humidity medium to high. About 5 mm (0.2 in) of rain fell overnight.
  • Beeripmo walk, Mt Cole State Forest, Victoria, Australia: An on-track, two-day walk in a hilly forested area. Elevations were from 400 m (1330 ft) up to 950 m (3120 ft). Temperatures ranged from 0 C (32 F) to 10 C (50F). Conditions were very windy with wind gusts up to 100 km/h (62 mp/h). Rainfall was solid overnight with 15 mm (0.6 in). Some precipitation was in the form of sleet, but quickly melted on contact with the ground.
  • Point Nepean, Victoria. Scrubby coastal walk, on-track with a beach section. Some sections were on paved roads. Temperatures were around 10 C (50 F) with moderate humidity.
  • "Walk into History", Yarra State Forest, Victoria. Forested on track walk. Temperatures ranged from -5 C (23 F) to 10 C (50 F). Humidity was high, and there was a significant amount of rain and sleet. Track conditions were quite muddy in places and one section featured a very steep decent with no track construction.
The Field Test period included a total of 7 days and 4 nights walking.

Field Test Observations: My Kayland Converts have now lost their sleek stylish Italian leather look, and now look like a pair of used walking boots. The boots at the time of this report are pictured below. There has been a good amount of mud exposure, and this has resulted in the flawless suede leather looking less so today, however these are hiking boots, not expensive dress shoes! There is a significant amount of difference in the look of the leather on the upper boot, where my gaiters provided protection compared with the lower boot area that has been fully exposed to wet grass and mud.

Boots at time of Field Review Side of boot at time of Field Review

I have found the Converts to be significantly water resistant, and possibly being close to fully water proof. The "Two Bays" walk featured a large amount of wet grass, which can make short work of porous boot materials. The boots remained dry through this exposure, even though the outsides of the boots were quite wet. My feet do tend to sweat a lot, however I was able to shed most of this moisture throughout the day, even in the wet environment. I found my feet slightly damp at the end of each day. This compares with very damp in most boots I have used up to now - so I am quite impressed with the eVent fabric which lines the boots.

The "Walk into History" saw a great deal of mud exposure, and some creek water crossings. The Converts were unable to keep all of this out, and my feet were quite damp at the end of each day. It is hard to judge how much of this dampness is from external water, or from sweat. If the outside of the boot is covered with mud, and the upper boot is covered with gaiters, there may be nowhere for the moisture inside to go. This walk was the first that I have done with the Converts where I needed to change into dry socks at the end of the day. I also reacquainted myself with the feel of wet socks the following morning just prior to putting the boots back on.

The Converts have a reasonable feel for my feet. Reasonable in that I find the toe box a good size for me. My foot is well anchored in the boot and my heel does not slip around - however part of the tongue gusset presses against my inside ankle on both feet. I noticed this in the Initial Review above, and it certainly continued to feel that way during the field test. I received small blisters on both my ankles where this sensation is felt. The pressing feeling is stronger if the boot is laced up tightly. Giving a small amount of slack reduces the feeling, but reducing the tension to the point of eliminating the feeling altogether results in some slippage around the heel. I decided to bear some of this pressure feeling on my ankles and found that it came and went throughout the day. It was more noticeable during climbs, and absent during descents. As for the other parts of my feet, they felt fine. I received no blisters elsewhere on my feet, even after some days which included 25 km (15.5 miles). In this respect, the Converts have outperformed other boots I have used. I have always found small blisters forming on the outer side of the heel and on the front end big toe side of the arch. These are my two hot spots and on the Converts they have been entirely clear on both feet throughout the entire period of the field test.

At this stage it is too early to say if the pressure feel on my ankles is a symptom that will disappear once the boots are "broken in". Overall the feel was quite nice in the boot on my first real walk, however I will need further testing in order to determine if the ankle pressure issue resolves itself as the boot continues to wear in.

I have found during steep ascents that I can feel hot spots on the back of my heels. These hot spots come and go to some extent, and have not resulted in blisters or even redness in the skin even through I have done some good climbs in the Converts. I have not found any discomfort in the toe box on steep descents at this stage. There was one occasion when the toes of my right foot felt sore, but this was on a level surface. I was worried as I had a major descent planned on the next day of that walk, but no trouble arose then.

I have used the Converts on sandy, muddy, forest litter and rocky surfaces. Grip is quite good, without being sensational. One walk had a muddy section followed then by a steep rocky descent. I am not a rock climber, so I am not aware of all the tricks of the trade to maximize friction, but I did find reasonable grip on the rock after the mud exposure. The Converts shed the mud at a reasonable pace. I did find that they can pick up new mud quite quickly if the track surface is breaking up.

The eVent fabric can make the boot more difficult to put on when it is wet. I found the material caught my heel to some extent, however this effect disappeared when the material was dry. The boot overall is more difficult to put on and remove when wearing thicker hiking socks than ordinary socks, but not excessively difficult. The upper hooks can be ignored when lacing the boots for use around camp.

The arch on the Converts allows sufficient room for gaiter straps without causing excessive wear. The gap between the top of the arch and level ground is around 10 mm (0.4 in). The gaiters I am using have a strap around 3 mm (0.12 in) thick, but it can find its way to the right place on the arch without me having to think too much about it. My gaiters overall tended to sit on the Converts quite well throughout the walking day.

Insoles at time of Field Review At this stage of the test, I am quite happy with the level of wear and tear on the Converts. The Beeripmo walk included a reasonable amount of rocky areas for me to stub my toes on and test the toe caps. The toe caps look in good condition with no obvious wear at this stage. The "Walk into History" walk presented more challenging conditions to the Converts. The boots were covered completely in mud on many occasions. After all of this exposure, all the seams on the boots still look in very good condition. I found one loose thread on one of the boots, however this did not appear to affect the double stitched seam nearby. All material joins have remained tight. The most obvious signs of change through the field test have been some warping of the leather due to environmental exposure - but I feel this could only be avoided by not using the boots in the field and does not present a concern to me, and some of the Kayland lettering is being rubbed off the insoles (pictured nearby). The insoles are showing some limited wear in the microfiber materials, however the foam and felt look in very good condition. The tread is showing no obvious signs of wear at all. The laces are in very good condition.

In summary, the things I like about the Converts at this stage are:

  • Overall comfy feel.
  • Lack of blisters in my usual hot spots, and my feet feel good at the end of the day.
  • My feet have tended to be much drier at the end of the day than my previous experience with other boots.
and my dislikes:
  • The pressure the boots place on my ankles is discomforting.
Thats it for this Field Test Report. Check back in about two months for my Long Term Report. Thanks to BackpackGearTest and Kayland for the opportunity to test the Kayland Convert boots.

Long Term Report:

29 Oct 2008.

Long Term Test Locations and Conditions:

  • "BSAR Weekend, VRA Rogaine", Brisbane Ranges, Victoria, Australia: Open forest, off track, two-day walk with elevations from 100 m (330 ft) up to 300 m (1000 ft). Temperatures were mild to warm: 15 C (59 F) to 25 C (77 F) with humidity medium.
  • "Mungo National Park", New South Wales, Australia. Mallee scrub to open. Arid region. Humidity was low, and temperatures were mild: 15 C (59 F) to 20 C (68 F).
  • "Murrindindi", Victoria, Australia. On and off track forest. Humidity was moderate. This region normally is quite wet, but drought conditions have intensified in recent months in Victoria. Elevations varied from 300 m (1000 ft) to 700 m (2300 ft).
  • The total number of days walking during the Long Term Test period was 5 days and 2 nights. I estimate that I walked a total of 210 km (130 miles) in the boots in the field during the entire test period - Field Test and Long Term Test periods combined.

Long Term Test Conditions and Observations: My walks during the Long Term Test period were all in dry weather and in dry terrain. The rogaine (which is related to orienteering) presented the biggest single day test of the boots that I have had up to this point. The rogaine was an event that involved mostly off track walking over a period of 12 hours with only a few very short breaks. The Kaylands held up to this level of use quite well. My feet had no blisters or wear points at the conclusion of the event, and still felt good given some of the Bush Search and Rescue training that took place the following day. This training event took me over much the same terrain as the rogaine.

The "pressure feel" on my ankles reported in the Field Test Report is still present, but seems to be getting less intense. Lacing up the boot very tight results in a great deal of pressure on my ankles, but lacing up with a small amount of slack seems to help. This small slack did not seem to cause problems elsewhere, even on the rogaine. I also did not have any repeat of small blisters on the ankles as seen in the Field Test.

As all of my walks in the Long Term Test period were in dry conditions, I have not had any additional experience with the Kaylands in wet conditions. I tend to sweat a significant amount and often I find boots damp at the end of a long walking day, but this has not occurred with the Kaylands.

I have noticed that I can feel "hot spots" on the back of my heel from time to time with very steep ascents. This was noted in the Field Test Report, and has continued to happen in the Long Term Test period. The effect is intermittent - I would only feel this on a few steps during a steep climb taking over 30 minutes. No blisters or other signs of wear have resulted from these "hot spots".

The boots are still in a good condition at the conclusion of the test. The leather shows that it has been in the field, but is sound at this stage. Both the stitching and glue joins show no signs of wear. The toe cap still looks in good condition. The laces are also in good condition. The insoles microfibre feels much smoother than it did at the beginning, but does not appear to be wearing through. Overall, the boots do not give me the impression that they are near end of life.

Overall I like the Kayland Converts and will continue to use them. They have performed well and are still in good condition. The outside material looks like it has been exposed to the elements, but it does not look like it is in anyway close to failing. The boots feel good, and don't cause me blisters, even with heavy use. The only occasion where I would use boots more heavily than used during the test period would be for a 24 hour Rogaine or my bushwalking club's 100 km (62 mile) in 24 hours event. My feet have come out really badly from these events, and given that my feet have been very good after 12 hours in the Kayland boots, I look forward to better feet after a 24 hour event.

In summary, the things I like about the Converts at the conclusion of the test are:

  • Overall comfy feel.
  • Lack of blisters in my usual hot spots, and my feet feel good at the end of the day.
  • My feet have tended to be much drier at the end of the day than my previous experience with other boots.
and my dislikes:
  • The pressure the boots place on my ankles is still discomforting.
  • I experience occasional "hot spots" on my heels.
That's it for my Long Term Test Report. Thanks to BackpackGearTest and Kayland for the opportunity to test the Kayland Convert boots.


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