From the high gaiter and light weight to the durable sole and surprisingly low price tag, Tom Ripley finds a lot to like in these B3 boots.
I've worn the Kayland Apex Plus GTX boots for in the region of forty to fifty days in Scotland over winter and into spring. They've been used for everything from hillwalking and scrambling to general winter mountaineering on classic routes like the Forcan Ridge. I've been up grade V ice and mixed routes in them. I've also used them for a couple of overnight bothying trips and have even climbed a few diffs in the rain whilst wearing them. And after all that the soles and the uppers of the boots are still in great shape and the Gore-tex lining is still going strong. My conclusion? They're great value for money. This may be a B3 boot, but its lightness and comfort makes it an especially versatile one, and well suited to general year-round mountaineering as well as technical winter climbing.
Fit and sizing
Fit with boots is a tricky one. I'd always recommend that folk (especially those new to wearing big boots) head to a specialist independent shop, with plenty of time to spare, and try them on. I didn't have this luxury and guessed size 43.5 as that is my size in Scarpa and La Sportiva mountaineering boots. Thankfully I lucked out. I would say the fit is on the narrower end of medium. They're probably not the best choice if you have really wide feet. Unfortunately no female-specific version is available, though my wife Nikki happens to have the same size feet as me, and she got on well with these boots.
The uppers of the Apex Plus are all synthetic (making them ideal for vegan mountaineers). Synthetic micro fibre is used to give the boot structure, for example, where the eyelets for laces are attached. Whilst a kevlar mesh is used on high wear areas around the forefoot. After a winter in Scotland this is starting to show some signs of wear.
One of the best features of the Apex Plus is the extra-big elasticated gaiter, which finishes roughly a third of the way up one's calf. Like the rest of the boot the gaiter is Gore-tex lined, right up to the elastic cuff. This makes the boot especially waterproof, and over many full Scottish days out in the winter just gone I rarely had wet feet.
The Apex Plus use Gore-tex Insulated Comfort to provide insulation to one's feet. I have not found the Apex Plus to be a particularly warm boot and on occasion have had cold feet whilst wearing them. That said I don't think they're particularly poorly insulated as I've had equally cold feet wearing my Scarpa Mont Blanc Pros. Interestingly I recently learned that water conducts heat 30-50 times faster than air, which explains why I have suffered cold feet on damp days when the temperature has been around freezing, whilst on very cold days during the 'Beast from the East' my feet paradoxically seemed warmer!
According to my kitchen scales my pair of Kayland Apex Plus in size 43.5 weigh 1822g without footbeds, lighter than my Scarpa Mont Blanc Pros, in the same size, which weigh 1944g; you'll find lighter winter boots, but perhaps not with this level of durability and general support.
The Kayland Apex Plus uses a Vibram Teton outsole. This is a traditional thicker lugged sole rather than one of those modern, thinner, climbing zone soles, which in my experience wear through very fast. I have been very impressed with the Teton. It is sticky on the rock without being too soft, it edges well when you're climbing without crampons, and it has deep lugs, which are helpful when kicking steps on hard snow or stomping about on the usual Scottish wet grass and steep mud. The heel ridge provides good braking on loose downhills too. The Teton sole seems exceptionally durable and after around fifty days of wear is nowhere near the end of its life.
These boots feel very well made. After a full winter of use, capped off with several spring scrambling days, the only sign of wear is some slight rounding to the sole edge and a some minor abrasion to the Kevlar uppers. I'd say that counts as durable!
I have worn the boots with a wide variety of crampons, using both fully strap on, semi strap on and clip on bindings. All of the crampons I have tried had a good secure fit, with plenty of front point on show and none of them have fallen off! However it's always worth trying a new pair of boots with your own crampons when you're in the shop, because no boot ever made is going to fit every make and model of crampon.
The Kayland Apex Plus has a RRP of £320 making them outstanding value for money. As a random comparison, the La Sportiva Nepal Cube retails at £440, whilst the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro is £400.
In conclusion, the Kayland Apex Plus is a rare beast, being lightweight, durable and good value for money. Although they are not the warmest boots on the market, I've found them warm enough for Scottish winter climbing and I would be happy using them for continental icefall climbing too, and Alpine climbing in places likes the Alps or Patagonia in summer. There isn't much bad I can say about these boots; in fact they'd be top of my personal list if I was buying a new pair of B3s.
Technical boot with integrated gaiter, developed for winter mountaineering and suitable for use on ice and mixed terrains. Extremely performing and dynamic, this model represents the perfect balance between comfort and performance, thanks to its advanced construction system and lightweight. Reduced volume and overall protection for this automatic crampons compatible, fully resolable boot.
- Sizes: 6 - 12.5 (UK - men's only)
- Shape: Mountain Pro Last: medium width last providing excellent lateral and toe stability, without tightening the toe area too much
- Upper: Microfiber + Fabric
- Membrane: GORE-TEX INSULATED COMFORT
- Midsole: Bi-Density Injected Pu + Tpu: adapts its consistency to different temperatures, hardening when cold to improve hold of crampons and softening with heat to permit optimal shock absorption.
- Outsole: Vibram Teton
- High precision on technical terrain
- Ankle Lock System
For more info see kayland.com
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