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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Vasque Kota Mid > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Vasque Kota Mid boots
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW
December 13, 2008

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
GENDER: M
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: Vasque
Web site: www.vasque.com
Product: Kota Mid
Year manufactured/received: 2008
MSRP: US $130.00
Size: Men's 11 (US)
Weight listed: N/A
Actual weight of reviewed boots: 2 lb 8.8 oz (1.16 kg)
Color reviewed: Graphite/Green

Kotas

Product Description

The Vasque Kota Mid boots (hereafter refered to as the Kotas or the boots) are boots that Vasque describes as, "Multisport shoe meets day hiker". While they position them for use between a trail runner and up to day hiking, I use them for multi-day backpacking as well.

As the name implies the Kotas are mid height hiking boots. They stand 5.5 in (14 cm) high. The uppers are made of 1.8mm waterproof Nubuck and pig suede leather. It is very soft and has remained so during the course of my use.

Front and back


The ankle cuff has excellent padding. What is different is that the padding extends down into the boot further than I would think by looking at the green fabric covering the cuff. The cuff runs at an angle down towards the back of the boot, but it swoops up right over the heel where it has a very shallow divot at the back center to allow some relief for the Achilles tendon. It has an excellent pull loop at the back that I have no problem getting my beat-up fingers through.

The padded tongue has a short wing of material to help keep debris out, so short as to make me wonder at it usefulness. But when laced up the sides wrap around it quite well and nothing gets in. The tongue does not have a lace loop on it, but again as it was held so well by the sides it too was never missed.

The round nylon laces run through four pairs of nylon loops, then through a pair of plastic D-rings that are attached to the small straps that make up the Keystone Control System. This is a nylon strap that runs in a V pattern from the bottom of the boots up to a spot just about where my ankle starts. As the laces are tightened it pulls the sides of the boot in closer to my foot to give added support and stability. Above this D-ring the laces run through two pairs of regular metal ringed eyes.

The Kotas come with some very thin insoles that are ridged to give added cushioning.

Soles


The outsole system is what Vasque calls Racer X. They say that the, "Cleat-inspired lugs provide exceptional off-road traction. Stealth rubber version offers superior friction."

"Compression molded EVA midsole is reinforced in the heel with the ExoTec fabric & TPU wrap. TPU plate delivers underfoot protection and enhanced rearfoot support."

My Kota Mids do not have the Stealth rubber version.

Field Data

On top of old grey top


I wore them for the first time on a two-day 11 mi (18 km) trip to the top of Mt San Jacinto by way of the Marion Mountain Trail. I spent the night in Little Round Valley. This little break-in hike gained over 4400 ft (1340 m) in 5.5 miles (8.9 km) over rough trails in temps reaching 81 F (27 C) carrying a pack that topped 37 lb (16.8 kg). Welcome to Ray's world Kotas…

The next weekend I took Jenn to the same place, but we made a three-day trip out of it, stopping the first day at Little Round Valley where we made a base camp. Temps ranged from 54 to 81 F (12 to 27 C). Total miles for the weekend was around 14, or 22 km for my metric friends.

Next was two days in Yosemite National Park for a very hot and hard 44 miles (71 km) in temps up to 84 F (29 C) with 7790 ft (2374 m) of gain carrying a 36 lb (16.3 kg) pack.

I wore them on a 23.2 mile (37.4 km) hike in San Gorgonio Wilderness to Mt San Gorgonio via the Dollar Lake trail. This hike starts at 6680 ft (2040 m) and goes to the summit at 11500 ft (3505 m) elevation. It is a very rough trail with a lot of loose rock and scree in places. The trail had a lot of ice in it above 10000 ft (3050 m). The temperatures only went from 45 to 31 F (7 to -1 C). The picture above is at the highest rock on the peak. Gettin' high…

Next Jenn and I went to the Ortega Candy Store trailhead and did the Bear Canyon/Bear Ridge loop in the San Mateo Wilderness. 6.8 miles (11 km) in temps to about 80 F (27 C) on up and down trails that were either sandy or rocky. We had 1100 ft (335 m) of elevation gain and loss. Below is a picture from this trip, I am on a rock pretending that I am high…

Lastly Dave and I went 27 miles (43 km) on the PCT from Green Valley to Vasquez Rocks. This hike saw 5000 ft (1525 m) of gain as we went over three passes in temperatures that hit 70 F (21 C). The terrain was either dirt, scree or rock.

On a rock in SMW

Observations

I have owned a couple pairs of Vasque boots in the past and had to stop using them as the last that they built their boots on was just too narrow at the front of the foot for me. While my foot is narrow at the back and middle (along with high arches) at the front my feet are wide and low. Think of a duck, give it a backpack and point it at a peak. Now you have Ray…

I got a pair of Vasque trail runners that fit great. That made me decide it was time to try their boots again. The result is here with the Kota.

While the boots fit better I do have to say that they are still tighter than I like. I bought the same size as my Velocity trail runners but they fit tight enough that I was forced to wear a mid weight sock with them. Almost all use was with Teko EcoMerino mid weight hiking socks, and as at first I only had one pair of them (I bought another pair in the middle of this review period) I also used REI Merino wool mid weight socks on a couple trips. Half the trips included Fox River X-Static liner socks under the wool socks.

I only got to put 127 miles on the Vasque Kota Mids because I tested a pair of boots during the time I could use them, and I needed to take some full height boots on my longest trip of the year. But the distance I did put on them was very steep and rough with some big days and a lot of gnarly climbing. Like dog years are factored at 7 to 1, I think that my footwear should be factored in Ray miles…

Here is what I think of the Kota Mids.

The comfort out of the box was great. I did not give these any break-in time whatsoever starting off with them on a short distance hike with killer altitude gain on a rough trail. And I was carrying a lot of weight for me. And I repeated it the next weekend with my wife carrying even more weight.

Yet I had zero problems with the boots. I did not get any blisters. Nor did I for the rest of the trips but one.

On a trip in Yosemite a changed trail led to some extra distance that I did not plan on. Then when I got to the river that I planned to stop at I found that it was dry. I was forced to put in a 30 mile (49 km) day to get to water. I started feeling a hot spot develop at about the 24 mile (39 km) mark but waited a bit longer to do something about it as I am eternally optimistic…

I stopped and changed into fresh socks and put some moleskin on the forming blister. By the time I got in to White Wolf I had a huge blister on the bottom of my foot, an area I do not normally get them. I do not fault the Kotas as I went much farther with more weight than they were ever made to be used for. I should have attended it sooner.

While they are not touted as being waterproof I was impressed by how well they did. I had to make a conscious effort not to walk in creeks as I normally blast through. But on one crossing that I slipped off a very slick rock I caught my self on another that still was 4 in (10 cm) under water. Then as I hightailed it across I stepped in more as I figured what the heck, I am already going to be changing socks. My brother-in-law Dave who hikes in shoes and is very careful at crossing said, "Bummer". But when I got to the other side I did not have a bit of water inside that I could feel. After that I tried it a couple other times just to see and again I had no leaking. I did not stand in the water though.

The boots breathe quite well, but not as good as models that employ more mesh. Yet they sure kept my feet cleaner than the high mesh content models. I never experienced the dreaded cheese foot effect. No smelly feet at all even on the longest, hottest days.

While my boots do not have the Stealth Rubber with the Racer X soles they were still some of the best gripping boots I have used. And the wet traction has been excellent. (Slimy river rocks excluded…)

The stability has been very good too. The Keystone Control System seems to do a good job of pulling the sides in tight to my feet. I had no sprained ankles while using the Kotas. Yeah!

Wear where?


The quality of construction and durability has been very good. The uppers are still in good shape. But the good traction has a trade-off in sole longevity, at least on the terrain I frequent. They are wearing quite fast. As the picture here shows the lugs are wearing fast, especially at the front as all the climbing I do puts a lot of pressure on this area. Again, I doubt that Vasque had crazy guys like me in mind when they made this, yet it works well for what I do anyway.

The insoles leave a lot to be desired. On long days or when I would get into scree fields my feet would feel every rock. The only reason I did not put an after market pair of insoles in was I did not have any thin enough to fit without wrecking the fit of the boots for me.

One thing I would like to see different is the two boot lace eyes at the top. I would like to see these changed to hooks to make it easier to put them on and take them off. This was the only thing that I did not like about the Kotas. I can live with or fix anything else.

Winter is here and it is time for the Kotas to go away. Maybe next year there will an improved version that will make this an even better light weight comfortable hiking boot. I leave with a pic of the Kotas taking me up the trail near the Marion Mountain/Deer Springs junction on the way to Mount San Jacinto.

My back yard

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

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