KURU CHICANE HIKING SHOES
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
INITIAL REPORT - April 14, 2009
FIELD REPORT - July 02, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - August 28, 2009
ed dot morse at charter dot net
Grawn, Michigan USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Late last summer I did a 2 week hike on Isle Royale. My starting pack weight was 32 lbs (14.5 kg), including 10 days of food and 3 qt (2.8 l) of water. I am slowly learning what lighter gear works for me.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.kurufootwear.com/
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 31.4 oz (890 g)
Available Mens size: 7-12, 13
Size tested: 10.5 US
Color tested: blkolive/majorbrwn
Only one color available in leather
The Kuru Chicane hiking shoes arrived in a standard shoe box. The shoes I received are very sturdy feeling leather shoes. I expected a soft shell shoe that would be easy to pack and would not require a break in period.
There was a note on the website (when I looked at the shoes to be tested) that stated the shoes ran a half size small. When I put in my order I requested a size 11 and added a statement that if the shoes ran small as stated I would need a size 11. I received a call from someone at the company asking about the size I needed. He said these would be a new model and would be true to size. I said that in that case I would need a size 10.5.
I received a size 10.5 and the fit is correct. I checked the website again and there is a statement that the shoes run true to size - for the leather shoes. After checking the website several times I learned a little more. The soft shell shoes run a half size small while the leather shoes run true to size, according to the website. There are two color choices in the softshell: gunmetal or Java. The leather shoes appear to only be available in one color: black olive/major brown.
The leather uppers are very smooth leather and feel like Nubuck leather to me. The asymmetrical lacing system looks odd but does feel comfortable at first try on.
|Kuru Chicane leather hiking shoes
The rubber soles are completely covered with small round lugs.
According to the website the leather shoes have the following features:"
" BombrSpec™ leather rand
" Premium, water-resistant full-grain leather uppers
" Asymmetrical Kribs™ Lacing System wraps around the foot
" Anatomical KuruSole™ Midsole Chassis with Orthotic HeelKradl™
" Breathable, moisture wicking lining
" Dual-density rubber outsole
" Mens Size: 7-12, 13
" Fit Notes: Runs true to size. "
The shoes appear to be well made with no obvious flaws.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
There were no care instructions included in the box. I found no care instructions on the website.
TRYING IT OUT
The first day after the Kuru Chicane hiking shoes arrived I wore them in the house all day. The next day I wore them when I went to town for some shopping. At this point in time the shoes feel stiff and rub my toes where the shoes bend. The Kuru Chicane hiking shoes are much stiffer than the trail runners I've been using. Break in time (for both my feet and the shoes) is necessary.
The third day I went for a ten mile (16 km) hike with a 35 lb (16 kg) pack. I wore my older hiking shoes for the first seven miles (11 km) then I switched and put the Kurus on for the last three miles (5 km). By the end of the first mile the Kurus felt too tight on my toes (not short - just tight) and too loose on my heels. I sat down on a log and changed the lacing. I re-laced without going through the two loops closest to my toes. Then I pulled on the laces and tied them tight. The last 2 miles (3 km) were better, with less discomfort. The toes were still a little too snug. The heels felt very good with no slippage at all. I was wearing new and fairly thick hiking socks. I will try the next hike wearing thinner socks.
In my experience it is best, for me, to gradually increase the hiking distance and the load carried when breaking in new hiking shoes.
This summary completed April 14, 2009.
I expected to get a softer hiking shoe, more similar to trail runners. These stiffer leather shoes will take a week or two for me to be hiking longer distances. The Kuru Chicanes are well made and innovative hiking shoes with some interesting features. At this time my negative views are as much about stiff leather as the features of the shoes.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I've been wearing the Kuru Chicane hiking shoes nearly every day since I got them. I have worn them on four day hikes, I wear them shopping and for doing yard work. I did not wear them for the 134 mile (216 km) hike in Minnesota since I thought the trail would be too rough and wet for these shoes.
I wore the Kuru Chicane hiking shoes for three outings since the Initial Report.
April 24 & 25, 2009 was an overnight hike in the Manistee National Forest. I hiked the loop consisting of the Manistee River Trail (MRT) and a portion of the North Country Trail (NCT). I was wearing Kuru Chicane leather hiking shoes, REI gaiters, and Bridgedale socks. My pack was loaded with 40 lb to prepare for the May hike in Minnesota. It was 55 F (13 C) when I left the trail head. I stopped for lunch at 12:15 with a distance hiked of 5.9 miles (9.5 km). The weather was now clear and 62 F (17 C). I hiked through several muddy (mucky) places on the MRT. There is a boardwalk about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north of Red Bridge (the south end of the loop) that is nearly always under water. I walked through about 2 inches (5 cm) of water to cross this area.
|ready to eat
April 25, 2009
I woke at 6 AM to the sound of rolling thunder. It was just light enough to see heavy dark clouds. I decided to get packed and hope I could at least be hiking before the rain started. I ate a quick breakfast and got packed.
I started hiking at 7 AM. I got to the NCT at 8:20 and 2.48 miles (4.0 km). The shoes were much more comfortable the second day. Getting wet must have helped them stretch and soften a little. At 9 AM the thunder got louder and the wind picked up again. Then the rain started. I stopped, put on rain gear and the pack cover. The rain quit about 10:30 and I stopped to take off the rain suit which was very wet. Twenty minutes later it started to rain again. This time I put on a dry shirt and a wind shirt. This worked better than I expected. I was warm and it didn't rain hard enough to soak through the wind shirt. I got back to the parking lot at 12:15 with a distance today of 10.88 miles (17.5 km). I had managed to split the distance evenly for the two day hike. The shoes are slowly getting broken in.
The second trip, in June, was a two night stay on South Manitou Island, in Lake Michigan and about seven miles (11 km) from the nearest point of land in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Our group of eight backpackers had reserved a group campsite. After the ferry boat ride to the island we hiked to our campsite and got our camp set up for the weekend.
The Kuru Chicane hiking shoes were one of four test items I had along for this trip. The first day three of us hiked 7.6 miles (12.2 km) and got back to camp at about 5 PM. This hike was all on forest trails with a few steep and sandy hills. The Chicane shoes did well but my feet had a few red areas.
It rained during the first night but all three days were clear and sunny. The low temperature each morning was 40 F (4 C) and highs each day were 65 F (18 C). Dick decided he wanted to walk around the island along the shore. Since this is at least 10 miles (16 km) and others were planning hikes of about five miles (8 km) so I went with Dick. The shore was a constantly changing area of beach sand, small rocks, frequent areas of bigger rocks and, at times, steep climbs to stay out of the lake.
We hiked along the shore 5.8 miles (9.3 km) and met Rick. It was nearly noon so we decided it should be time for lunch. While eating we changed plans and decided to go up to the top of the dunes. We were nearly to the north end of the dunes. We went a ways north and found a relatively easy place to hike to the top. We walked along the top of the dunes and stopped at the trees. After some study of Rick's map and my GPS we determined to bushwhack to an old farm road that showed on both maps. First I gave Rick the UTM coordinates from the GPS and he plotted our location on the map and measured the bearing to the nearest point on the road. Then I scrolled the GPS pointer to the nearest point on the road. We each had very close to the same bearing. Rick set his compass to the bearing and we followed the compass to the road. We came out at the old Hutzler farm by plain luck and no planning on our part since the farm did not show on our maps. We read all the signs and looked at and in everything there. We were about to walk on when a group tour stopped. The guide/driver invited us to listen to his talk. We listened and learned a little about island history. We followed the old dirt road and trails back to our campsite. We had hiked 12.0 miles (19.3 km) when we got to camp.
June 15, 2009
I woke at 5:30 again and packed most of the stuff in the tent. Then I got the food bag down and started fixing breakfast. By the time I started eating others were up and getting their food ready. I cleaned up, took the tent down and finished packing. I went for a short hike with Rick. Rick and I returned at 10:30 after walking 4.8 miles (7.7 km). We got our gear packed and hiked back to the dock. The boat was scheduled to leave at 4 PM but we had to check in by 11 AM in case of bad weather. Dick & I walked to the Bay Campground to look around. This is a very nice campground and closer to the dock.
June 30 & July 1, 2009 I did an overnight out and back hike. The purpose of this hike was to get some exercise and test some gear. I went because the weather prediction people called for 4 days of mostly rain. This hike was in the Manistee National Forest mostly parallel with the Manistee River. The rain had been falling all night and stopped just as I parked at the Trail Head. It was 54 F (12 C) when I started walking and slowly fell to 44 F (7 C) by the time I got to my campsite. The last 2 miles (3.2 km) was across Leitch Bayou, an open area mostly covered with tall grass. The rain started again sometime during the night. It was still raining while I ate, cleaned up, packed up and hiked back to the trail head. I hiked a total of 17.0 miles (27.4 km) on this quick trip.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Kuru Chicane leather hiking shoes were giving me some problems during the April hike. If I kept them laced tight enough so the heels didn't slip they were tight on my toes which seemed not to have enough space. The shoes are long enough (a bigger size would be too big) but the toe box is snug. The leather is stiff enough that break in time is needed. I wondered if my pack was too heavy for "light hiking" shoes. The other problem I had was trail mud and dirt staying on the soles between the lugs. When I go home I had to use a stick and a water hose to get all the mud off the soles.
The three day June hike on South Manitou Island was a combination of smooth forest trails, both sandy and rocky beach hiking and thick forest bushwhacking. The Chicane hiking shoes did very well on this hike. The shoes gave me the support I needed and I had no sore feet or even red areas. They were comfortable enough that I wore them while fixing and eating both breakfast and supper.
|breakfast on South Manitou Island
The following picture is along the top of the dunes on South Manitou Island. My hiking buddy, Rick the botanist, is squatting down to get a picture of a rare wild flower. The dunes are 300 feet above Lake Michigan at their highest point. This was rough hiking but the Kuru shoes did very well for me.
|South Manitou Island dunes
When I hiked the last day of June the shoes were very comfortable. My problems, which were expected, started in the last 2 miles (3.2 km) when I was hiking in tall rain soaked grass. By the time I got to my campsite the shoes had soaked through in the toe area and my toes were wet. After I got my camp set up I took the shoes off and set them out hoping they would dry at least a little.
The next morning, with rain gear on, I walked about 300 feet (90 m) to get my food bag down. By the time I got back to the tent my feet were wetter than they had been the day before. On the walk back my feet were soon completely soaked. I wrung water out of my socks when I got back to the trail head. The leather uppers of the shoes were completely soaked through. I know the shoes aren't waterproof. I just wanted to push the limits.
The Kuru Chicane leather hiking shoes were still comfortable with very wet wool socks to hike the 8.5 miles (13.7 km) back to the trail head where I parked. I had the same mud problem as I had after the April hike. Trail dirt and mud just sticks to the soles. The garden hose and a knife seem to be the best method I've found to get all the trail dirt off the soles.
I was very much not happy with the Kuru Chicane hiking shoes when I first got them. I expected shoes with soft uppers that would require no break-in and could easily be stuffed into my pack. Instead I got shoes with very sturdy leather uppers. The shoes and my feet are finally getting along very well. In my opinion, these are good light hiking shoes but they do require considerable break-in time. Hiking dry trails, smooth or rough, or a little mud or water is the right environment once the Chicanes are broken-in. Hiking through two miles (3.2 km) of wet grass will soak through most plain leather shoes, whether they are treated or not. I was very surprised at how well the soles grip on wet bridges and boardwalks.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the last two months I've mostly used the Kuru Chicane hiking shoes for casual wear. I've worn them for travel and driving. Some of the driving was to and from trail work on days where leather boots are required for the work. I also wore the shoes on a two week driving trip from Michigan to Maine and back. This included a three hour walk around the town of Freeport, home of the main L. L. Bean store.
I have worn them on just two hikes, one day hike and one overnight hike, in the Manistee National Forest. The day hike was in early August. The weather was partly cloudy with temperatures from 65 F (18 C) to a high of 70 F (21 C), which I consider just about ideal hiking weather. I hiked about 8 miles (13 km) mostly off trail.
The overnight hike, in late August, was also in the Manistee National Forest. It had rained the night before I started so the trail and all wood structures were wet. I hiked 10 miles (16.1 km) the first day with sunny skies the temperature holding close to 62 F (17 C) all day. The trail was frequently muddy between and, frequently, on steep hill sides.
I hiked 11.4 miles (18.4 km) the second day under cloudy skies and the temperature slowly rising from the predawn 47 F (8 C) to 58 F (14 C) when I finished. The second day I hiked on high and dry trails with frequent hills.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The shoes did very well for driving and casual travel wear. The objective was to test the Kuru Chicanes as hiking shoes. I think they fall short of good hiking shoes in the north east part of the country. Rain is common and seems to pay no attention to what the weather forecast people have to say. Wet and muddy trails are more the rule than the exception.
The shoes generally have a very good grip. Whether I'm hiking hilly trails or bushwhacking the shoes hold in place where I step. I expected this from the knobby tread pattern. What I did not expect was the good grip on wet bridges and boardwalks. The only place I've hiked where the shoes did slip at all was the muddy clay and silt mixture created by side hill springs on the Manistee River Trail. I almost always wear gaiters over low cut shoes for hiking. Here is a picture from late afternoon the first day of my overnight hike, while I was waiting for my evening meal to rehydrate.
|day is done
After I cleaned up and hung the food bag I walked another hour just exploring the immediate area. This was all bushwhacking without my pack.
Here is a picture back at the parking lot after I finished the second day. I took off the gaiters and rolled up my pant legs so the shoes would be visible.
|end of the hike
In my opinion the Kuru Chicane hiking shoes are pretty good light hiking shoes for distances up to about 5 miles (8 km). Most of my hikes, whether day hikes or backpacking, range from about 8 to 15 miles (13 to 24 km). My feet start to feel tired with these shoes after about 5 miles (8 km). I have to keep the shoes laced tight to keep my heels from slipping. When laced tight the front part of the shoes are just a little tighter than I find comfortable.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
The shoes are starting to show a little wear. The leather uppers are a little scuffed. Some of the lugs on the soles are definitely worn down. I would guess the soles are softer than most of my hiking shoes which could be they have such good grip on wet bridges and boardwalks.
* The foot bed is very comfortable with good support
* Overall the shoes seem to be true to size
* The shoes feel sturdy and solid
* The soles give good grip on the trail and wet board walks
" The toe box is wide enough but too snug vertically
" The shoes rub my toes where they bend
" My toes feel so snug they are almost pinched
* Considerable break-in was required
* Soles pick up and hold trail mud and are very hard to clean when I get home
My thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Kuru for the opportunity to test the Kuru Chicane hiking shoes. This concludes my Long Term Report.
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Read more gear reviews by Edwin L. Morse