Kayland Explore GTX
I recently tested a pair of Kayland Explore GTX hiking boots. They have a Vibram sole, a Gore-Tex membrane, and are made out of suede and synthetic material. Also, they have laces (though they’re a bit long).
Break-in time was moderate, and after wearing them for a few days they were fairly comfortable with the notable exception of the gusset on the tongue. On the right boot, it dug into my ankle and repositioning it did not seem to help much.
Over time, it became less problematic but at the time of writing it is still fairly uncomfortable. I suspect that as they break in, this problem will go away.
Soles and Tread
The soles seem very durable, showing no damage after two months of regular hikes. They handle decently in most terrain, though, like most Vibram soles, are no good on wet slick surfaces. Wet clay, ice, and slick rocks posed problems.
I would have liked to see a more aggressive tread with deeper lugs but the tradeoff would have been decreased durability. The tread on these boots seems like it will last for a long while, even when worn on pavement (not that I would advise wearing hiking boots on pavement).
Grip on most other surfaces was pretty solid, including packed snow, wet grass, and the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese. On a related note, I discovered that wearing muddy hiking boots in the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese is frowned upon.
The boots did their job in protecting my feet from rocky terrain, roots, that one corner of my desk that gets me every time, and other toe destroying hazards. The toe guard probably didn’t hurt in this department and will also likely go a long way in ensuring the boot’s long-term durability. The sole was stiff enough that rocks did not hurt my feet, even with a 40-lb pack.
The footbed was fairly comfy once the boots were broken in (my arches are fairly normal, not high, not flat). Ankle support was adequate and I would feel comfortable carrying a light to moderate weight pack with these boots.
The footbox was roomy enough so that my toes weren’t crammed together, nor did I suffer from the dreaded toe-bang (stop giggling) while going down hills. I would say that the sizing for these boots is accurate.
The breathability of the boots was also pretty good. They were worn in temperatures of up to 75 degrees during high activity levels and my feet were fairly comfortable with some medium weight wool socks on.
Moisture was not much of a problem, even with the membrane, which performs in-line with the reputation that Gore-Tex has earned for itself (read: good). So far, the boots have had no trouble with water seeping in. However, once water had seeped in because I decided it was a good idea to walk through a stream in my boots, they took a few days to completely dry out (which is not unusual for footwear that has a membrane).
If you’re likely to encounter water past your ankle I would advise bringing gaiters or just wearing mesh trainers that will dry quickly. Using a bridge or swinging across the water on a vine would probably also work (and you have to admit, the vine thing would be pretty awesome).
Note: There was supposed to be a picture here of me swinging on a vine over a river but unfortunately we were all out of vine.
My overall impression of these boots was fairly positive. The only major problem I’ve had so far is the gusset that I mentioned earlier (though it’s just on the right boot, and it could very well be due to the shape of my feet and ankles).
If you’re looking for a solid pair of warmer weather hiking boots, these are worth trying on. Just remember that when buying boots, the most important thing is that they fit your feet.
As I wear these boots more, this review will be updated with longer-term impressions.
Price Paid: Sample boots provided as a test pair for review by Kayland.
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