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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > Kuru Footwear Chicane Hiking Shoe > Test Report by Will Dalen Rice

KURU CHICANE HIKING SHOE
TEST SERIES BY WILL RICE
LONG-TERM REPORT
April 19, 2009

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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Will Rice
EMAIL: will.dalen at gmail.com
AGE: 28
LOCATION: Charlotte, NC, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 7" (1.70 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

I began backpacking at the age of 13 when I first went to summer camp (1993). In 1999, I started working with a college tripping organization in outdoor trip logistics (in gear preparation), and then as a leader. My most frequented hiking locations are in the Carolina Appalachians and the Smoky Mountains during the cold early spring and the summer. I stopped being a trip leader in 2004, and now I average about 4 backpacking trips and 4 day hikes per year. I carry between 25 and 35 lbs (11.3-15.8 kg) on multi-day trips.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Kuru
Model Name: Chicane
Color: Black Olive- Major Brown (nubuck)
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.kurufootwear.com/
MSRP: US$99.95
Listed Weight: None
Actual Weight: 28 oz (794 g)
Size: 8.5

Features from Website:

" 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
" Men's Size: 7-12, 13
" Fit Notes: Runs true to size.

IMAGE 1
Shoes

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The shoe is made up of 9 panels and a tongue. The junctures on the lower part and towards the front are double stitched, and the thin joining piece in the back and the upper heel are single stitched. The outer material is nubuck leather with a rubber bottom sole. The bottom of the shoe has a dot pattern for traction. Half of the dots are smooth for better dry, smooth surface traction and half the dots are grooved for traction in dirt. The lacing pattern curves down and to the inside of the foot allowing the toe to be cut almost entirely from the same piece that wraps around the outside. The shoe laces are a brown, semi-flat synthetic material.

The first thing I noticed right out of the box is how comfortable they feel, both to my hands and my feet. The leather exterior and the double stitching on the lower part of the shoe make me think that this shoe is going to be durable, but I am worried about the laces holding up. The interior padded mesh makes me think its going to be breathable. I know from wearing the shoe so far, that it is also very comfortable.

I am not generally very picky about aesthetics, but I don't like the brown laces. I am also a little worried about what will happen to the shoe if it gets really wet (e.g. from slipping off a rock into a creek). I have always heard that leather and water don't mix but have never owned a pair of leather shoes that I used in the outdoors. Also, I am wondering if the leather is going to maintain its currently very nice appearance.

TRYING IT OUT

I hiked 2 miles on trail the day after I got them. They were very comfortable. I again hiked 2 miles today on the same trail, post-rain. I avoided most of the really bad mud, but still got some stuck to my shoes. The dots on the bottom are not very deep though, so even with the shoe treads filled with mud, there was not a noticeable difference in shoe weight (i.e. none of the "heavy mud foot" feeling). I came to a rather treacherous creek crossing, but the shoe was stable enough and still gripped well despite the mud. I have also had the chance to use the shoe on a very steep, grassy hill, and the shoes really stayed fitted to my foot on the slopes. It really feels formed to my foot.

TESTING STRATEGY

Thanks to a new trail discovery near my residence, I will be able to walk a minimum of 6 miles (9.7 km) a week in these shoes, "off-road." I also am going on a backpacking trip this weekend, so it will get used then. During my ample stream research hiking, I will carry this shoe for use (once I remove my waders) in hiking back to my car or out to the road to get a ride home. Otherwise, for any outdoor activity on foot (including approach hikes for some rock climbing, day hikes, and off-trail bush whacking during Frisbee golf) I will use this shoe.

The majority of my test reporting will be on comfort in a wide range of hiking/ backpacking uses and durability in all weather conditions.

SUMMARY

So far, so good. The shoe seems to work in dry and muddy, flat ground situations. I am looking forward to trying it out in mountainous areas and with a backpack.

Likes:
- smells like leather, feels like leather, is leather.
- Fits to my foot

Dislikes
- worried that leather and shoe might not hold up after getting really wet
- color of laces

This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

Thanks to BGT and Kuru for the opportunity to walk miles in your shoes.


FIELD REPORT

CONDITIONS and PERFORMANCE

I.
Date: 4/17-4/19
Location: Stone Mountain State Park, North Carolina, USA
Weather: 40-75 F (4.4-24 C), Calm to windy (gusts of 10 mph/ 16 knots)
Elevation: 1700 ft (518 m) to 3428 ft (1044 m)
Terrain: VERY rugged

Activity: hiking (~8 miles/ ~12.8 km), backpacking (10+ miles/ 16+ km)

Performance:
This was the first time I wore the shoes to really judge how they were going to work as a piece of gear away from civilization. Since the shoes were still pretty new, they gave me some hot spots and small blisters. This does make sense though since shoes with this much leather on them require breaking in. I taped my feet and tightened the laces a little more and they worked fine.
The shoes were generally comfortable and wear well. The backpacking I was doing was incredibly rugged, so I got very hot and I noticed that the shoes also were very warm. They have a full wrapping leather outer, so they don't keep my feet as cool as my mesh tennis shoes. The shoes do have a really strong and thick sole though so I didn't notice much of the rock I was stepping on.
I did notice that they don't have as much grip as I would have liked. I slipped on a rock and was unable to recover, so I fell. I don't fall often, so this was unexpected. I didn't get hurt, but having originally thought this shoe was going to be super-grippy (see IR), I was unpleasantly surprised.

Unexpected Benefit:
When I got to my campsite, I was able to untie the shoes and just tuck the laces in. This let the shoes loosen up, but because of their stiffness, they still stayed on my feet and worked for casually walking around.


II.
Date: 5/4
Location: Charlotte, NC
Weather: Heavy Rain (approx. 1"/2.53 cm in an hour)
Terrain: Flat

Activity: light day hiking in heavy, unexpected rain

Performance:
I was using the shoes to hike back to my car after wading in streams all day. Then, the sky opened up and it rained very hard. Initially, the Chicane kept my foot dry from water on the ground. After a few minutes though, the downpour was too great and the shoes became soaked through. Even while soaked though, the shoes were comfortable and stayed in position and worked well for hiking. Unfortunately, it took a couple days to completely dry out. The shoes maintained their construction despite being fully soaked and are still very much intact.
The shoes feel really good in terms of protecting my feet. Walking through brush and or banging my feet against rocks by accident or walking across sharp edges doesn't feel any different from walking on blacktop.

III.
Date: 6/2-6/4
Location: Appalachian Trail, Northern Virginia
Weather: Sunny with afternoon thunderstorms
Elevation: 2000-3000 ft (609-914 m)
Terrain: Moderately Rugged

Activity: Backpacking, low mileage

Performance:
On this multi-day trip, these shoes were the only pieces of footwear that I brought. They worked well for hiking with the shoes tight. Then, when I got to camp, I untied them and tucked the laces in for a more leisurely feel. They were the only shoe I needed to bring, as mentioned on their website.

IV.
Date: May and June
Location: Charlotte, NC
Elevation: 1000 ft (300 m)
Weather: hot and humid, sometimes rainy
Terrain: level with slight ups and downs of 10 ft/ 3 m

Activity: hiking back to my car along streams, bushwhacking, rock hopping, usually carrying 15-20 lbs (6.8-9 kg)

Performance:
These shoes have worked very well for these purposes. I wear them as I hike to my input spot for whatever stream I am going to be looking at. This means sometimes I am hiking on paths, game trails, and even bushwhacking. I have had unfortunate run-ins with lots of blackberry, which have thorns that generally mangle everything else I am wearing. Now, I lead with my feet, stepping on thorns and trapping them with my shoes. The Chicane turns the thorns away and doesn't show any wear-and-tear from it.
Then, when I am done walking in the streams, I pull off my waders and my soaking socks (from sweat and/or leaking boots) and I put on the shoes. In my bare feet, the Chicane still holds well and doesn't give me blisters. I usually don't even tighten the laces, and they work just fine.
Lately, I have been having a little bit of trouble getting them to stay tied. They don't seem to come untied while bushwhacking, but more so when I am on a trail. It's annoying. I do have enough lace to double knot them but I don't like to do that.

Unexpected Benefit:
I really didn't expect the shoe to work so well when I am not wearing socks. It is quite the nice surprise.
Somehow, with all the sweating my feet do and with all the creek soaked feet contact, these shoes still haven't taken on a "shoe" smell. They still have a fairly neutral smell inside.

IMAGE 1

IMAGE 2

TEST Points from Application

Leather toe and side rand
So, this makes it sound tough. What if they get wet though? How about mud? (I am likely to encounter plenty). THE SHOE HAS HELD UP VERY WELL TO MUD, DIRT, WATER, AND EVERYTHING ELSE.

Lacing system to wraparound foot
This sounds comfortable. I have had issues with shoes/boots in the past because of an abnormal stride that can sometimes cause pain towards the outside of my foot where there is lacing. Would this be an issue? I HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED ANY PAIN OR UNCOMFORTABLE COMPRESSION FROM THE LACING. IT HAS A VERY NICE, LARGE OUTSIDE OF THE FOOT SPACE.

Water/ Stain resistant shell?
I am the kind of person who just walks on anyway, despite obstacles. What if water gets inside my shoe? Will it still dry out? Will it fall apart? Will the inside be water and stain resistant? THIS SHOE STAYS WET FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

Collapsible Uppers
Compressibility and packability are a big issue for my small volume ultralight backpack. THE SHOE SEEMS VERY STIFF TO ME AND I WOULD NOT ADVERTISE IT AS COMPRESSIBLE. THIS MAY HAVE ORIGINALLY BEEN INTENDED FOR THE MESH MODEL.

Breathable Liner
How well does the breathable liner work with the leather outer? THIS SHOE DOES NOT BREATH WELL. AGAIN, THIS MAY HAVE BEEN REFERENCING THE MESH MODEL.

Dual Density Rubber Outsole
This sounds like it may give better traction and shock absorption. This would be key, since as I mentioned, I prefer to just go on instead of realty evaluating better routes. This means sometimes I am jumping onto and off of rocks and slipping and sliding here and there. A light, agile, gripper would be ideal. Is that what the Chicane is? AS PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED, THIS SHOE DOES NOT GRIP AS WELL AS I THOUGHT, AND I HAVE SLIPPED AND FALLEN TWICE WHILE WEARING IT.

Anatomical Chassis and Orthotic
My stride is messed up. My legs are different lengths. Is this shoe comfortable enough to compensate? Do these support features really work to make a noticeable difference from a tennis shoe? THE CHICANE IS VERY COMFORTABLE, SO I WOULD SAY THAT THESE CLAIMS ARE VALID.

Other Questions
Is it durable and cleanable enough to wear a bunch in the woods, and then wear in civilization also? YES
How durable are the laces? THERE IS SLIGHT FRAYING, BUT THEY ARE HOLDING UP WELL. How well does it retain odor? NOT AT ALL...AMAZING.
How warm is the shoe? Breathable shoes often compromise warmth. THIS SHOE IS VERY WARM.

SUMMARY

I have hiked/ backpacked an average of at least a mile a day (40 miles/ 64 km) in these shoes so far.

The shoe has worked really well for me. It has lived up to most of my expectations and I have enjoyed wearing it and being forced to walk more in order to test it.

Likes
- rugged, tough shoes
- appearance is still decent looking
- can wear them without socks, with wet feet
- they don't smell bad

Dislikes:
- laces come untied
- not as much traction as I would like
- they take a long time to dry
- they make my feet hot under heavy use in hot weather

TESTING STRATEGY

I plan to keep wearing them as much as possible while doing my stream research and other leisure activities.


This concludes the Field Report for the KURU Chicane Hiking Shoe. Please check back in two months for the Long Term Report.

Thank you to KURU and to BackPackGearTest.org for giving me the chance to test this product.


LONG-TERM REPORT

CONDITIONS and PERFORMANCE

I.
Date: 7/19
Location: Linville Gorge, Pisgah National Forest, NC
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 75-85 F (24-29 C)
Terrain: VERY rugged, elevation drop of 1300 ft (400 m), 2.7 miles (4.3 km) hiking roundtrip

Activity: strenuous hiking with 4-8 lbs (1.8-3.6 kg) pack
Performance:
This trail is a very rocky trail with many of the rocks sticking out of the ground like knives. Conditions were not slippery or wet and I felt nimble and confident in the Chicane. For this type of hiking, I have come to prefer this shoe over my hiking boots, which are much heavier and clunkier.

I did have problems this day (and other days) with getting my shoes to stay tied. I don't know if it's the weird design of the laces or their arrangement relative to the lacing pattern, but whatever it is I cannot get these to consistently stay tied well (using a single knot).

II.
Date: 8/1
Location: Mallard Creek, Charlotte, NC
Weather: Sunny, warm, humid
Terrain: flat
Activity: hiking, creek crossing
Performance:
Since I have historically fallen twice while wearing these shoes on slippery surfaces, I didn't bother attempting to stay dry during this creek crossing. I just walked through the creek. The shoes got soaking wet. Despite this, they still functioned very well. They became heavier while using them, but they still work well when soaked.
After this incident, when I returned home, I put the shoes outside to dry. Since the leather tongue is attached at the sides, the shoes cannot be opened fully to allow for faster drying and airing out. This resulted in the shoes taking much longer to dry, especially since the outer is leather and not breathable. Also, I think this helped contribute to the lingering smell of creek which is now inside the shoe. Up until this point, the shoes had retained no odor in spite of my sweating a lot in them.
Once the shoes did completely dry, the leather became stiffer than it was when I first received the shoes.

III.
Location: Charlotte, NC
Weather: Sunny, warm, humid
Terrain: slight hills
Activity: hiking, backpacking
Performance:
I have continued to use these shoes as my general outdoor set of footwear. If I suspect I will be on anything less than pavement, I wear the Chicane. My foot feels protected in this shoe and I am therefore confident on most terrains. The thick soles also keep me from feeling each stone or stick and make it more comfortable for me to hike in, with or without a pack.

DURABILITY

As can be seen in the pictures, the shoes are starting to fray a little around the sew point between the liner and the outer and the tongue (white circles). Otherwise, there are minor leather stress wrinkles (green box) and what I think are stretch/shrink marks from water absorption and then drying (blue box). The rubber bottom is holding up well, with only very minor tread loss noticed after meticulous inspection.

IMAGE 1

IMAGE 2

SUMMARY

Overall, the shoe performed above my expectations. Other than not staying tied and not being as "grippy" as I want, the shoe works well for backpacking and hiking.

Additional Likes (since FR)
- shoe still looks good enough to wear in populated urban areas
- shoe has not fallen apart and shows very small signs of wear

Additional Dislikes (since FR)
- now smells like a stream I walked through
- tongue attached, hard to open up to air out

CONTINUED USE

The first thing I am going to do with these shoes is to condition and waterproof the leather. I think this will help the shoe to loosen back up and better withstand anymore creek crossings and/or rain.
I might also change out the laces to something that hopefully stays tied better.
Lastly, I intend to continue using the KURU as my primary backpacking shoe (and I am especially excited to see how warm they are in the cold).


Thank you to KURU and to BGT for the opportunity to test this shoe.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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