Kayland Hunter USA Backpacking Boot Review

Used by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, the Kayland Hunter backpacking boot is rugged, yet incredibly comfortable.

Kayland Hunter USA boot

By Dan Sanchez

A short hike in the Rockies or a weekend backpacking trip into the Appalachian wilderness is no comparison to what the U.S. Military has to deal with in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, while civilians can’t “walk in their shoes,” Kayland makes it easy for us to backpack in the same shoes that the U.S. Special Forces use. The Kayland Hunter USA is a rugged, traditional-style backpacking boot that incorporates a high ankle support and an ergonomic design that is intended to improve comfort with a precise fit.

The company uses it’s Comfort Fit system that allows ample room for feet to swell during long hikes and carrying heavy loads.  The lacing system LST Technology, is also an ergonomic design that’s specific for each boot. On the Hunter USA, the lacing is long and reaches all the way up the ankle. We found it prevented any extra foot movement in the boot, and we could loosen or tighten the lacing around the ankle for times we needed extra support with a heavy pack, or if we were just exploring petrified sand dunes on a casual trip.

Kayland Hunter USA Boot photo copywright FreshAirJunkie.com
The Hunter USA boot is moderately rigid but has some flex, allowing for a more natural rolling motion of the foot that makes long treks easy and comfortable.

The Hunter USA boots have a mid-level of rigidity, meaning that they are rigid enough to carry a heavy load but still flex slightly to help you grip and maneuver over uneven terrain.  The boot’s e-Vent lining is a waterproof membrane that allows the foot to breathe and remain dry and allows perspiration to vent out faster than most popular waterproof/breathable membranes. To further aid in moisture management and odor control, the Kayland Hunter USA boot also incorporates Cocona technology that uses activated carbon from coconut shells.

Comfort comes from the combination of outer and inner sole technologies. The Vibram Foura outsole is designed for optimum traction for long paced treks. It features a reinforced toe for extra resistance to wear and added protection, while a mid-flexion line provides comfortable rolling of the foot and an undercut heel provides improved braking.

The insole uses an Integrated Absorbing Drive System that’s specifically designed for backpacking and mountaineering. It uses a cushioning system combined with stability layers that together, maintain the function of the midsole and outsole. The result is a boot that’s great for long treks and provides stability with heavy packs, but without sacrificing some agility and comfort.

The lacing system is ergonomic and keeps your foot firmly in place, yet doesn't create any pressure areas.
The lacing system is ergonomic and keeps your foot firmly in place, yet doesn’t create any pressure areas.

We found the Hunter USA very form fitting and required us to use a mid-weight sock like Lorpen’s Light Hiker that covers your foot all the way up the ankle. The boots gripped well on all types of terrain, including wet and slippery areas. While the boot is sturdy and comfortable enough for you to carry a 30-40 lbs pack, it’s not as rigid as a full mountaineering boot.

You can also unlace the top portion of the boot to allow for more ankle movement for short hikes and playing around, but it’s here that you’ll find that the boot is a little too rigid to use for simple day hiking.  We did however love the tan color and the one-piece oiled suede upper is comfortable, durable and easily repels water.

The boot weighs 900 grams making it one of the heaviest in the Kayland line-up of backpacking boots.  You can however, see why the military selected this boot for its Special Forces.  Kayland manufactures a variety of extreme mountaineering, backpacking and hiking boots, and used its knowledge of comfort design and rugged materials to create a rugged leather backpacking boot. So if you’re willing to sacrifice a little weight for more durability, the Hunter USA is a great choice that retails under $270. www.kayland.com

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