VASQUE KOTA MID SHOES
TEST SERIES BY CHARI DAIGNAULT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE INITIAL
REPORT [March 26,2007]
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE
FIELD REPORT [June 18, 2007]
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM
Orlando, Florida U.S.A.
5' 6" (1.68 m)
135 lb (61.20 kg)
I've been an ultra light hiker for 35 years -- I take the bare minimum with me and prefer a pack under or close to five pounds. I've hiked all the Florida State Forest trails in Central Florida and climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan when I was nine. I have hiked dry & sandy, rough & rocky and wet & boggy trails and as a result, have found what does and doesn't work for me in terms of equipment and clothing. Central Florida affords a lot of sun and rains, with high temperatures and massive humidity. It's a great testing area for clothing, footwear and headgear.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: Vasque
MSRP: US$ 130.00 [per Vasque website]
Listed Weight: 1lb 14 oz [womens size 7] [0.85 kg]
Measured Weight: 1 lb 2.5 oz [0.52 kg]
Available Colors: Taupe/Rose
Size tested: Womens 9
The Vasque Kota Mids arrived in a retail box, wrapped in Vasque logo paper. The shoes themselves had pressed paper foot-shaped mouldings inserted inside that were removed with some effort after loosening the laces of the shoes. There was a retail tag for the GORE-TEX® XCR® technology used in the construction of the shoes' uppers attached to one shoe.
|Side and Top of Vasque
Kota Mids XCR|
The Vasque Kota Mid XCR incorporates something called a Keystone Control System which has a nylon webbing support system to help keep feet locked into the heel pockets and footbeds when the shoes are laced snug. The shoes did not come with any instructions or documentation on this feature, so I will have to experiment with lacing to see how this is implemented.
The weight of the shoes felt pretty light, considering their size. I tried bending a shoe by grabbing the toe and pushing it up, but it was very sturdy and didn't "give" as a running shoe would. Inside, the footbed felt like it offered plenty of arch support. The toe box looked wide enough from the outside, but seemed a bit narrow at the point where my food would be the widest: across from the little toe over to the first joint on my big toe when the shoes were put on.
After trying the shoes on with my lightweight hiking socks [no seams], I adjusted the tightness of the laces to accommodate the width and height of my feet within the shoes. They felt comfortable, and the tops came up just over the area where my ankle bone juts out. It was surprisingly comfortable. I have not worn or tested any mid-height shoes yet and was happy to find that the Kota Mids don't rub my ankle area raw.
The shoes' weight was a surprise as well; I expected a bit heavier feel. They were light on my feet and it didn't appear to take any more effort than normal to walk in them.
The laces are round and despite that, they stay tied. I like the toe of the shoe, as it's tipped up slightly and is capped with the same material and tread as the bottom sole. This gives great traction from the toe and was evident when I checked my foot imprints in dirt -- the toe area was much deeper than the rest of the foot.
My first hike with the Vasque Kota Mid XCRs was on asphalt, grass, dirt and loose sand. They performed well on all of these surfaces, especially in the loose sand. No sand entered the shoes and I didn't slip or slide while trying to walk. I was able to keep my footing and my forward movement was not impacted.
The toe box did end up causing a problem for me. After two miles, I could feel a tender spot forming on the outside of both of my little toes. I returned from the hike immediately, removed the shoes and felt the area inside the shoe where my little toe would rest. I could feel no unfinished seams or any other protrusion that could cause discomfort. The inside of the shoes were dry, as were my socks. The Gore-Tex liner appears to have worked well at wicking sweat away.
The next day, I decided to loosen the laces even more across the widest part of my foot. I double-checked my socks to make sure they were snug and fit properly. I again checked the inside of both shoes to ensure they felt smooth, then I put on the shoes and went hiking along a streambed and some lakes.
The shoes were waterproof, as advertised. After crossing the stream [precariously on water-logged boards and wet rocks], I found that even when my entire foot got dunked [just below the top of the shoe], no water entered the shoes, even through the laces. Mud was easily removed by dunking the shoes in water again, or allowing the mud to dry and knocking it off. I haven't cleaned the shoes yet but will report on that in the field report. The traction on the wet wood and rocks was outstanding.
|Side and Bottom of
Vasque Kota Mids XCR|
Once again after just over three miles, my little toes became painful. This time, blisters had formed on the outside of both toes. I decided to employ a stretching device in each shoe overnight. The stretcher I use is wooden, shaped like a foot and has removable plastic "bunions" that can be placed in appropriate locations on the stretcher to target areas inside a shoe that need more room. I placed a "bunion" on both sides of the wooden foot at what would be the widest point on my foot. I left the stretcher in overnight, one shoe at a time [two nights] and will report on the success or failure of this in the field report. I will also continue to experiment with the lacing system [Keystone Control System] to see if this can assist with the issue.
In the meantime, I am going to apply moleskin to the affected areas of my little toes to keep them from becoming any more irritated. I do wish to note that I had calluses on both toes in the blistered areas prior to the testing of these shoes.
Other than that, these
shoes make me want to move! They seem to propel you forward as you're walking
and almost energize your legs. I am really hoping I can work the toe thing out,
as I really do like these shoes.
So far, aside from one setback with my toes, the shoes perform as advertised. They have proven to be waterproof, have effectively wicked sweat away from my foot and sock and are reasonably comfortable. They offer excellent traction and are lighter than regular hiking boots.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Various locations throughout the Orlando Metro area plus a five-night camping trip to Madeira Beach near St. Petersburg, Florida. I have also worn the Vasque Kota Mids for a couple of monthly community litter cleanups, and during my daily hikes that range from 3 to 5 miles [4.83 km - 8.05 km].
The five-night, six-day camping trip at Madeira Beach was unseasonably cold and wet with high temperatures from 56 to 67 degrees F [13.33 C - 19.44 C] and lows from 39 to 49 degrees F [3.89 C - 9.44 C]. On day one, we had almost a half inch [1.27 cm] of rain. The terrain was sandy and flat, at sea level and on the Gulf of Mexico. During this time, the weather [mid-April] was chilly, wet and windy. We were on the intercoastal and experienced a lot of rain, salt spray and wind.
In the Orlando area, temperatures lately have been averaging around 89 degrees F [31.67 C]. During field testing, temperatures have ranged from 42 F [5.6 C] some mornings earlier in the testing phase, to 95 F [35.00 C] in the afternoons. We've experienced some extremely windy days, a few severe thunderstorms, and full sun without the hint of a cloud.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
With the use of a shoe stretcher, I was able to widen the toe box of my Vasque Kota Mids to make them comfortable during extended use. Since stretching them, I've not experienced the pain in my little toes that I had initially.
The soles of the Kota Mids offer good protection against heel bruising when hiking over rocks. Although they are thin enough that you can feel the rocks beneath your feet, this never escalated into any pain. My feet felt comfortable, dry and energized.
During my hikes, one thing that occurred that bothered me slightly was kicking up of debris. This debris would end up [if it was mud] stuck on the backs of my calves. If the debris was sand, it occasionally ended up around the tops of my socks. Depending on the sock, the debris occasionally entered and I'd have to stop and remove it. The bottom of the Kota Mids' soles grab the terrain and tend to take some of it with them, thus causing the kick up of debris. This could also be a feature of my anatomy and the way I walk; so I can't completely blame it on the shoes.
My feet stayed dry the entire time during all hikes and during the two monthly litter cleanups I attended. Most hikes included me navigating some streams or rivers and usually entailed dunking my entire foot at one time or another. The litter cleanups were along some lakes with marshy terrain, and the Kota Mids performed wonderfully. It was nice to have clean, dry feet even though my legs and the tops of my socks were muddy and wet. The shoes also stay pretty cool inside, even during very hot weather.
I did not have any problems with traction; whether on loose sand or wet surfaces, the Kota Mids have held tight. I've also noticed that while hiking in loose sand, my lower legs don't get over tired with the Kota Mids.
So far, I have only cleaned the shoes by hosing them down outside and allowing them to dry overnight. There are a few stains on the suede leather above the toe area, but everything else washed off easily.
The Vasque Kota Mids have thus far provided cool, dry, injury-free hiking. They provide great traction and clean up well. I have honestly enjoyed testing them.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Various locations throughout the Orlando Metro area plus a two-day hiking trip on a couple of trails in the Flamingo area of the Everglades National Park in South Florida.
The end of June through July was very humid with much rain and thunderstorms. By August, the rain had stopped, but not the humidity. Temperatures in the Orlando area have been averaging around 95 degrees F [35 C] with humidity so high that the heat index reaches 105 degrees F [40.5 C]. The terrain included asphalt, concrete, grass, sand, mud and dirt trails.
In the Everglades, the temperature hit 94 degrees [34.4 C] both days with very high humidity. There was one late afternoon thunderstorm on our last day out, but it hit just as we were leaving the park. The trails were sandy with matted grasses interspersed with pockets of very wet, marshy areas. There were alligators everywhere supposedly, but we didn't see any; they're obviously too smart to be out in the heat.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
With the weather we've had here in Florida, it's not very comfortable slogging around in a mid-height boot. My feet stayed, for the most part, dry; even though I sweat like a pig from head to toe. But the shoes felt heavier than they did in the cooler temperatures and less enjoyable to wear. I honestly don't think it's a fault of the shoe, rather an indicator of the heat and this shoe is better suited for cooler, dryer climates than the mid to high 90s with 70% humidity.
Even with the added moisture levels, I did not experience any blisters or tender spots. I did still experience the kicking up of debris I had described earlier in the Field Report. Particularly when walking wet, muddy locations, the backs of my calves would be covered with dots of mud, wet grass and sand. Again, I can't say this isn't a feature of my anatomy and the way I walk, versus any kind of over-traction issue with the shoe.
The traction of the shoes continued to be excellent. I didn't experience any slippage on wet surfaces, and was able to navigate deep sand without too much added effort.
Upon returning from South Florida, I washed my Vasque Kota Mids in the washing machine and used a special shoe rack in the dryer to dry them. I set the temperature to a low setting and used mainly the flow of air to assist with the drying process. The shoes did not come apart at any point that I could see.
The shoes now have some 250+ miles [403 km] on them. The soles don't show much wear, there are a few stains that did not come off even with washing, but overall they're still in great shape.
I will continue using these shoes for my hikes during the
Fall, Winter and Spring months. During the Summer, I will be looking to find a
lighter hiking shoe or trail sandal that doesn't feel so heavy when worn in high
heat and humidity.
This concludes my Long Term Report. Many
thanks to Vasque and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Vasque
Kota Mid XCR shoes.
This report was created with the
Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.