Kayland Apex Trek Boot - GearReview.com
By Matt Smith
We strive to be a consumer driven publication, giving readers content on the products they are interested in. So, don't immediately blow off this review of the Apex Trex just because you are worried about looking like Flash Gordon on your next backpacking trip. The Apex Trex is great example of trickle down technology featuring many of the innovations that have been developed for Kayland's high altitude technical mountaineering boots.
Although a certain segment of the market is in a never ending quest for ounces, there are some of us who are destined to always have a heavy pack. Sometimes this is a result of carrying a lot of technical gear, sometimes it is because you are carrying 5 sleeping bags and pads so your kids don't burn out too fast. Sometimes you might even be carrying one of your kids. Whatever the reason, a stable boot is a must for us. Unfortunately, in most cases a stable boot corresponds to a heavy boot. Enter the Kayland Apex Trek
The Apex Trek is a synthesis of weekend warrior cost and functionality with technical performance. By utilizing an ultralight shank, a Vibram Tsavo outsole, Kayland's E.C.T midsole, the Apex Trek weighs in at only 760 grams, comparable to a much lighter and less stable trail boot. Even at this reduced weight, the boot offers a few unique features that set it apart from the pack. The innovative lace lock technology (borrowed from sailing cleats) and floating support strap helped me get an incredible fit. No more inverted lacing through the ankle eyelet to isolate the upper and lower lace systems. I was easily able to customize the lacing to lock my heel into the heel cup without cutting off circulation to my toes.
Kayland Apex Trek
The first thing I did was take the Apex Trex into the local canyons for a weekend workout of dust and mud. That got rid of the high-gloss silver look, and the boots took on more of a gun metal grey that I could live with. After a few day hikes to make sure I wouldn't blister, it was time for a week of backpacking by Joe's Valley. 100 degree days, combined with afternoon downpours were just the environment to evaluate the eVent liner. During that week I put plenty of miles on the boot, including nearly 20 off trail miles over scree and talus. Almost any boot or shoe can stand up to miles wihout a lot of weight, so I set my goal at about 50 pounds. This was easy to hit because I conveniently got stuck with a lot of community gear (as usual).
I have never been a big fan of waterproof breathable liners in boots. More often than not you end up crossing a stream deeper than your boot cuff and end up with boots that won't drain or dry until you get home. I still generally hold to that philosophy. That being said, the eVent liners performed well. Even at the end of a long hot day, my socks were only damp, not soaked with my sweat. Early morning miles through dew saturated meadow grass left my feet dry and comfortable, which doesn't usually happen with unlined boots.
Another downside with stable boots is the stiffness of the sole. A stiff sole can result in an un-natural gait, especially when combined with a high ankle. The net effect for me has been hot spots in places I don't have callouses. Kayland has addressed this with a fairly pronounced, but well shaped rocker in the sole. At a slow walk, especially on hard ground I could feel the rocking action. But at full stride, especially on dirt trails the rocking disappered and a smooth, natural stride emerged. Even after a week in blazing temperatures I didn't get a single blister.
Summary: The Kayland Apex Trek is a stable, relatively light weight trekking boot. It is a nice compromise between weight and technical performance. The Apex Trek retails for $268, but can be found for just over $200 if you watch for sales.
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Matt Smith Is a contributing editor at Gearreview.com and abuses himself exploring the dark, nether regions of the Colorado Plateau. Check out his blog with his latest trip reports and product test updates.