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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Kayland Hunter USA Boots > Test Report by Brett Haydin

KAYLAND HUNTER USA BOOTS
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 12, 2011
FIELD REPORT - July 26, 2011
LONG TERM REPORT - September 27, 2011

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 38
LOCATION: Salida, CO, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST: 42 in (107 cm)
WAIST: 36 in (91 cm)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Hunter USA
Image courtesy of manufacturer
Manufacturer: Kayland
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: www.kayland.com
MSRP: US$ N/A
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 4 lb 5.9 oz (2.0 kg)
Size Tested: 10.5 US
Sizes available: 8-13 (half sizes), 14

Other details provided by manufacturer:


  • UPPER: Oiled suede 2.8-3.0 mm
  • water repellent + full rubber rand
  • CONSTRUCTION: Board lasted
  • FIT: Comfort
  • LINING: eVent« Cambrelle«
  • MIDSOLE: I.A.D.S Pro
  • SOLE: Vibram FourÓ
  • INSOLE: Track
  • Made in Romania

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

Insoles
Insoles provided with the Hunter USA
The Kayland Hunter USA boot is a "heavy-duty backpacking boot" designed for heavy loads over long distances. In simple terms, it has a lot of support! At 9.5 in (24.1 cm) tall the Hunter is one of the taller boots I have owned, which is the first striking feature of this pair of boots. Looking over the boots, it is quickly apparent that these were made with care and attention to detail. There are no loose stitches or excess glue anywhere.

The boots come in a tan leather color; the only color choice. As mentioned earlier, the upper is constructed of a solid piece if leather that extends more than half way up the boot. There is a leather strip at the heel that I suspect acts as reinforcement over the single seam. There is also a stamped Kayland logo on the outside of each boot as well as on the tongue. The collar is about 3 in (7.6 cm) high and is well padded. The padding is much softer leather, almost like a micro suede couch would feel. It is stitched so there are three ridges of padding running horizontally.

The tongue is gusseted, which is great for keeping out debris. The tongue is made out of the same suede as the collar and is also padded in the center. There is a leather "cover" over the suede to make it more durable. The tongue also extends well above the boot by 1.5 in (3.8 cm). There is a hook for the laces about 2/3 of the way up the tongue as well to help keep it in position.

The lacing is pretty straight forward. There are 5 d-rings and 5 hooks on each side, plus the hook on the tongue. The included lace is a similar shade of tan to the rest of the boot. There is a tan-colored rand that wraps around the entire bottom of the boot that is 1 in (2.5 cm) wide.

The soles are a Vibram FourÓ sole. I had to look at Vibram's website to determine what that meant, but it is well suited for hiking. The lugs are reasonably aggressive and have wide spaces between them so rocks and mud shouldn't get stuck. I find that the soles are quite stiff and it takes a lot of work to get the boots to flex.

The inside of the boot is lined with an eVent Cambrelle lining. The eVent technology refers to Kayland's patented waterproof membrane. According to the manufacturer, this technology allows moisture to escape up to twice as fast as other membranes. The lining is soft and comfortable. There is amble room for my feet, but not so much that I feel like I am slipping around in them. The insoles are a simple reinforced felt construction. They are molded at the heel but are otherwise quite simple. A picture of the insoles appears to the right.

The midsole is Kayland's I.A.D.S. Pro midsole (Integrated Absorbing Drive System). The manufacturer states that this is specifically designed for heavy loads. However, the manufacturer also states that that the technology in the midsole should realize significant energy savings which would be great!

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Hunter USA's are a very sturdy boot. At first glance they remind me of a military style boot with the high collar and rugged-looking construction. Ironically, the manufacturer states that the U.S. Military is currently using them! While the boots are heavier than others I have worn, they aren't as heavy as they look.

Out of the box these boots feel like they need a fair amount of time to break in. I have been wearing them for about two hours each day for three days and they are now starting to flex a little more. I have an upcoming trip to the highest mountain in Colorado this coming weekend so I am glad I received them in time to break in.

The boots are pretty comfortable. The collar especially feels great and offers great protection. What I am excited about is that this fit really seems to hold down my heel. Time will tell if it minimizes blisters for me, but the fit is snug and secure. I haven't found the boots to be overly hot so far. While still early in the spring, summer hiking is just around the corner.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

There was very little information included with the boots. There were two hang tags attached to the boots with information on the Vibram sole and the eVent membrane. When I first went to the manufacturer's website, I couldn't find the boots anywhere. While there were many hits on an internet search, there is almost no way to know if the information is valid or not.

I called Kayland's phone number and spoke to a really great customer service representative. After walking me through the website layout, I was able to find the page with the Hunter USA's specs. My mistake was going to the international English site, as opposed to the American English...

SUMMARY

The Kayland Hunter USA Boots are a well-made backpacking boot. The high collar is something I am not used to, but it has been comfortable enough wearing around to break the boots in. I hope that the boots loosen up after a couple of hikes since they are pretty stiff at the moment. Frankly, I would expect a full-leather boot to arrive stiff. While I was a little disappointed that the insoles are pretty weak, I normally replace them in new boots I buy.

This concludes my initial report. Please check back in about two months to see how they are holding up after a few trips! I would like to thank Kayland as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

sand dunes
On top of High Dune

Since receiving the Kayland Hunter USA Boots, I have worn them on four backpacking and/or car camping trips. The first was a weekend trip to Missouri Mountain in the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado for a gathering of hikers. While we car camped, we also hiked a lot, including a 12 mi (19 km) out and back to the 14,067 ft (4,288 m) peak. Temperatures were pretty mild for the season with daytime temperatures around 50 F (10 C) and sunshine all around.

My next trip was a three day trip to the Goblin Valley State Park area in Utah. While the temperatures were warm and the sun was plentiful, the wind was incredibly outrageous. We ended up hiking in some slot canyons to try and escape the wind, which was successful, but relaxing at our campsite it was again miserable when we were exposed. In all, I hiked about 20 mi (32 km)

Another trip was an overnight to the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to hike Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks. I encountered snow a little earlier along the route than I expected but managed to find a good spot to camp in the trees. Temperatures were from 35 to 50 F (2 to 10 C) and clear skies. Other than the hike in, I was on snow for much of the 12 mi (19 km) hike.

Finally, I took a three-day hike in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness in southern Colorado. I set up a base camp at 11,700 ft (3,570 m) and hiked a couple of peaks from there. My total mileage for the weekend was 25 mi (40 km) along a mix of snow (crampons used), scree, tundra and subalpine terrain. There was a lot of class 3 scrambling as well. Temperatures were between 35 and 75 F (2 and 24 C). It was sunny with small amounts of rain at times.

I also wore the boots on day hikes ascending several peaks and lakes, four in all. This added an additional 19 mi (31 km) with the boots. Together, I have 88 mi (142 km) with the boots.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Let me begin by saying that I think these boots are quite well made and durable. I have come to learn that while many boots fit certain types of feet, but these boots are probably not meant for me. My biggest challenge with these boots has been managing heel blisters, a problem I have had with a number of boots.

Before I get into the fit of my boots, let me comment on some of the really great features of these boots. First, these boots have excellent moisture management properties. Despite hot days hiking in the Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, the boots kept my feet almost sweat free. Seriously, I was amazed at the job it did. Not only am I able to cross small streams without gaiters, the desert-like qualities of the Sand Dunes were equally comfortable. In my opinion, the eVent membrane is superior to any other waterproof technology I have used so far.

crestones
Scrambling in the Crestones
I was also impressed with the ability of the high uppers to keep debris out of my boots. Most times, I wear some form of gaiter because of the potential for snow or wet conditions. I skipped gaiters many times and was able to keep rocks, pebbles and even sand out for much of the time. Only when I ran down the sand dunes did sand sneak in, however my feet did sink in well below the boots... I attribute this not only to the high uppers but also the soft conforming nature of the collar. It hugs my lower legs and helps to keep things out.

The traction provided with these boots is more than adequate for my needs. I have done some fairly difficult scrambling on solid rock and the Hunters have been up to the task. The picture to the left shows me hiking at Crestone Peak in a somewhat exposed gully. On this peak as well as Crestone Needle I always felt like I had solid boots beneath me. Whether it was wet, snowy or dry these boots held firm. The other advantage is that the high uppers hold my ankles in place and have seemed to prevent ankle injuries on my descents.

I was able to wear crampons with these boots, which is always a bonus. The Hunters do not have grooves for crampons and so while I could wear them, they did fall out from time to time. I don't think I have much more snow climbing in my summer plans, but it was good to know I could use them this way in a pinch.

As I mentioned before, the fit of the Hunter USA Boots has been an issue for me. I have a very pronounced protrusion on my heels that cause friction in many, if not most boots I have owned. No amount of moleskin or preventative measures keeps me safe from overly stiff boots. My best guess is that because the Hunters have remained quite stiff, my heel is constantly rubbing along the back. With as many miles as I have logged with these boots, I doubt they will break in any more than they already have. I can't fault Kayland for this issue and in every other way I can measure, the boots are quite comfortable.

IMAGE 3
Signs of the rand peeling
I have one other concern developing. The image to the right shows the view of the boots at the toe. The rubber rand on both toes is starting to peel away from each boot, one more so than the other. The rand is quite large but I do wonder if it will survive through the next two months. The leather, the laces and the lugs are all holding up quite well. Despite the sharp rocks I climb on, the leather in particular is doing rather well!

SUMMARY

After wearing these boots the past two months, I can understand why special forces units wear these in Afghanistan. They are comfortable, waterproof and exceptionally breathable.

Things I love:


  • Superior waterproof and breathable membrane
  • Excellent ankle support
  • High collar keeps debris out
  • Great traction

Things I don't like:

  • Causes blisters on my heels
  • Toe rand peeling is a bit of a concern


This concludes my Field Report for the Kayland Hunter USA Boots. Please check back in another two months to see how well they are holding up after a number of futures hikes! I would also like to thank Kayland for their generosity and the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Terrain
Terrain typically conquered with the Hunter USA Boots

Since my last report I have worn the Hunter USA boots on two more backpacking trips and another car camping trip. This has resulted in an additional two more nights of backpacking use for a total of nine nights and over 118 mi (190 km).

My first trip was a five night car camping trip in Salt Lake City, Utah. My family attended a trade show in town but camped at a campground. Temperatures were quite warm; 55 to 90 F (13 to 32 C) and with only one rain storm (overnight), the weather stayed great. I wore the boots on three occasions for an estimated 10 mi (16 km).

Next, I took an overnight trip to the Mt Massive Wilderness in Colorado to hike to the top of this 14,421 ft (4,396 m) peak. Conditions were below average for the summer with overnight lows of 40 F (4 C) and highs at about 65 F (18 C). It was quite windy at times, and there was also a slow drizzle for most of my hike down to camp and then out to my car. The round trip took me 14 mi (23 km) through subalpine forests and rocky summits.

Finally, I made a quick overnight on Mt Huron in the San Isabel National Forest. My friends and I camped just under 12,000 ft (3,660 m) with clear skies and temperatures dipping to 35 F (2 C). Again, there was varied clear terrain in forests and over rocks, but this time there was ice to hike on in the morning. This trip was shorter at 6.75 mi (10.9 km)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Kayland Hunter USA boots have served me well over the past two months. The peeling rand has not gotten any worse since the last report and overall the boots are in great shape. Dare I say that they have many more miles left in them until they fail!

I noted in my field report that the breathability of the boots is superior to any membrane I have used before and that opinion remains unchanged. There just clearly is a difference in these boots that is a pleasant surprise. I had given up fill leather boots in part because of the heat factor in the summer, but I may need to rethink that. The other feature I really enjoyed was the high uppers. While not as bomb-proof as a gaiter, the boots did a great job at keeping stones and debris out of my boots. I did notice a couple of stones sneak in while climbing Mt Huron, but that was rare.

I happened to have my annual checkup during the field report. I bring this up because my physician noticed my calcium deposits on my heels and asked if they caused me discomfort. I explained that they did and he was not surprised. This is the only spot the boots caused blisters on and my doctor felt like the calcium deposits were a significant contributing factor. I'm not sure when I will get this corrected but I should retract any negative comments about the heels given this new information.

One thing I did notice more of these past two months were my toes hitting the front of the toe box. Coming down Mt Massive I noticed it the most. I have had this problem with shoes that were too small, but that didn't seem to be the case with these. The boots still fit well enough overall, but this was a minor concern.
The Hunter USA boots are still quite stiff in the sole. There is some benefit to this, however. I feel like on the downhill sections, my foot really "rocks" down the trail; as if there is a perfect curve that eases my foot down. This is really nice over the long, arduous trails I have hiked. There continues to be excellent traction thanks to the aggressive lugs on the soles as well.

SUMMARY

Overall most of my opinions remain unchanged with these boots. While I have had some issues with fit, the quality of the waterproof, breathable membrane is unmatched. These are as rugged and durable boots as I could ever hope to own.

Things I love:


  • eVent is absolutely awesome.
  • The high uppers really act like low gaiters.
  • Durable and bomb-proof (not literally).


Things I don't:

  • I had some fit issues.
  • Stiff soles were a bit of a turnoff considering no opportunity for crampons.


CONTINUED USE

It pains me to say that I will likely retire these boots after this test. Because of the fit issues, I just can't make these boots work for me. Until I can treat the calcium deposits (which requires some recovery time) they just won't do. However, the eVent membrane is excellent and I am sad to let that go. Overall I like the boots. I felt pretty burly in them; especially knowing that these are used by Special Forces.

I would like to thank Kayland for their generosity as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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