It's not easy to build a boot with the perfect blend of comfort and support, but Kayland hit the mark with the Convert, which is one of the best boots we've tested in a while. Living somewhere in that land between a hiker and a backpacking boot, the Convert weighs 2.82 pounds a pair (men's size 9), and feels surprisingly light considering the support and protection it provides. We took these boots on three-day backcountry trips with 40-pound loads and came out smiling.
Due to the Convert's solid construction, you can feel confident wearing it on extended treks in rough terrain. The upper, made primarily of suede leather, will protect your foot when scraping through scree. Plus, there's a burly rubber toe cap, so you can bang your way through rocks and debris without hesitation. The upper's leather and a rigid heel structure combine to stabilize your foot on uneven terrain, even while carrying a load. But the upper is also flexible, requiring virtually zero break-in time. Also, the Convert is constructed with the Event waterproof/breathable membrane, so it doesn't limit you to fair-weather excursions.
Probably the boot's finest aspect is its ankle support, making this a great choice if you tend to be concerned about injuries from twists and rollovers. Key to its success is the lacing system, which includes loops set toward the heel. These effectively seat the back of the foot into the heel pocket and keep it secure. The loop on the outside of the boot is attached in a way that allows it to float side to side. Basically, the laces remain taut to stabilize the ankle, but also flex to be less restrictive and more comfortable. The high collar also plays an important role. While it hugs the ankle to prevent painful rollover, portions of the collar are made with soft foam, so your foot doesn't feel as if it's been placed in a chokehold.
As for the guts of the boot, the midsole has ample EVA cushioning for a soft ride, while TPU stabilizers at the arch and heel create a solid framework to shoulder the load placed on your feet. At the base of the boot, the outsole is made with rubber that grips well and is soft, but not so soft that it will break down before you've made good use of the boots.
As for the basic fit, our testers found that it fits medium- and low-volume feet best. And Kayland outfitted it with a toe box that gives you plenty of wiggle room. The laces also allow a good amount of adjustment, and they extend to the toe so you can really dial in the fit throughout the length of the boot.
Honestly, if there is a drawback to this boot, we're still searching for it. In short, the Convert should work nicely for anyone who needs something that is not too bulky for day trips, but also functions well for the occasional long weekend in the backcountry.
SNEWS® Rating: 5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested retail: $184.95
For information: www.kayland.com