Review by Tony Lourens
When buying a new pair of trekking boots what are the criteria you are looking for? These are mine, in order of priority.
Comfort: This is paramount. Without good comfort you may as well cast the boot aside and move on.
‘Grippyness’ and sensitivity of the sole: When walking through muddy areas, over rough terrain and scrambling up rocky sections, you must have faith in the performance of your soles. This makes a tremendous difference to how you walk and to the overall experience.
Stability: When wearing your boots, your feet must feel safe and invincible. There should be good ankle support, and the sole should be fairly rigid over the length and breadth. Not only does this add huge stability while trekking over rough terrain, but vastly reduces foot fatigue over long days.
Durability: Of course, with the cost of good mountain footwear these days, you would want your boots (soles and uppers) to be able to stand up to the rigours of tough mountain use, and last a decent amount of time.
Just recently K-Way gave me their flagship boot, the Kilimanjaro, to try out in the field, and seeing that I was on my way to Montagu, I thought a day-trip up Bloupunt Peak – a demanding 16 kilometre, 7 hours round trip with almost a 1000 metres of elevation gain (and the same down again) – would be a fair test for any trekking boot. The trail also involves river crossings, muddy paths, wooden ladders, rocky scrambling and steep descents. Yes! Quite perfect I thought.
The instant I put the boot on I was impressed with the soft comfort on the inside, and contrary to the narrow toe box of most European boots, the toe box on the Kili’s is roomy, which allows for thicker socks (which equals more comfort). The soft, padded uppers also came a full 5 cm above the ankle, and with the padded tongue and effective lacing system – from the toe join to the very top of the boot – the boot felt snug, secure and ready for the task ahead.
While walking along the trail I was constantly looking for little tests for the boot. I’d kick rocks, to see if it affected the ends of my toes, tread on wet slimy stones and clamber over boulders to test the traction of the soles and the general stability of the boot. The Kili’s were performing admirably and I was surprised at the stickiness of the Vibram soles on damp lichenous rock and the purchase on the wet logs that were put in the shallow rivers to facilitate the many crossings.
So onward and upward we climbed, all the while waiting for a tender spot to appear on my feet. Normally with me it would be the back of my heels on the steep up hills, and/or the outside tips of my pinkie toes on the descents. On the summit, 8 kilometres from the start, my feet felt absolutely awesome, no tender spots and no feeling of fatigue, and after a welcome cup of tea and a spot of lunch we started the long and relentless downhill. And it was long and very relentless, but even so, my toes came away from the ordeal with nary a chafe, nor rasp. And thanks to K-Way’s breathable, waterproof membrane, my feet stayed warm and dry the entire trail, even though we were trudging through wet, muddy riverbeds, with frost still lying thick on the ground in the shady kloofs at midday.
All the boxes were ticked, except for durability, which one can only tell after substantial use, but I must say, that the boots still looked perfect after scaling Bloupunt. The only thing I would’ve liked to feel is a little more rigidity (lengthways) in the sole, but that is a matter of taste, as many people enjoy less rigidity.
The new Kilimanjaro boot is made specifically for scaling Africa’s highest peak, and I have no doubt that they will be more than equal to the task. Available for men and women.
Weight: 1.34 kg/pair (size 8)
Height: mid boot
Upper: Nubuck and suede
Lining: K-Way waterproof/breathable membrane
Sole: Grivola Vibram
Innersole: Removable ortholite footbed
Shank: Steel shank and Polypropylene board reinforcement
RRP: R 1999
Available at: capeunionmart.co.za