Kayland HyperTraction Review
Cons: Zipper under laces is annoying, Walk poorly due to slightly downturned sole under toes
Our Analysis and Test Results
The HyperTraction is the heaviest supergaiter style boot in the review, weighing 2.5 pounds per boot for a size 44.
Rock Climbing Ability
This is the measure of how well a boot climbs dry rock without crampons. The HyperTraction was not designed to primarily climb rocks. The stiff sole and supportive upper, which make this boot climb ice so well, end up making this boot difficult to climb in without crampons. The boot does, however, have an edging platform beneath the toe, which makes standing on edges easier. Unfortunately, the edging platform causes this boot to walk poorly, and causes more wear in the toe area due to the extra amount of kick needed to push off while walking on firm ground. If your route is mostly dry rock, you would be better off in a lighter more flexible boot like the La Sportiva Trango S Evo - Men's or just switching to rock shoes for the rock pitches.
Ice Climbing Ability
The HyperTraction climbs ice very well due to a combination of a supportive leather upper and a stiff sole. Crampon fit on this boot is very good with modern step-in crampons, such as the incredible Petzl Lynx. The sole has less rocker than other boots, which makes for a easy and secure crampon attachment. We never had a crampon pop or shift during our tests due to sole flex or poor bail fit. For pure waterfall ice, we like a boot that has a good amount of fore/aft stiffness and the HyperTraction has just the right amount. For more mixed climbing, we prefer a boot with slightly more lateral flexibility than the HyperTraction, which allows you to use your crampons to push in more varied ways than needed when climbing pure ice. Heel lift was never a problem in the HyperTraction when standing on front points due to the well-molded heel cup and the secure lacing system. The zipper beneath the laces did hurt just a bit over the top of the foot when really cranking down the laces though. If you have very narrow feet or ankles and typically need to crank down your laces to prevent heel lift, then this may become more of a problem.
The hiking ability of this boot is it's main detractor. The edging platform under the toe of this boot is aligned in opposition to the rocker of the sole, which makes the boot very flat underfoot. Combined with the super stiff sole, the lack of overall rocker make this boot walk somewhat like a ski boot (awkward!). The HyperTraction requires extra energy to overcome the toe rocker when walking on hard surfaces, which makes it our least favorite boot for long approaches. Basically, the features that allow this boot to climb ice well make it a poor choice for long hikes. Also, if laced tightly, the RiRi zipper beneath the laces begins to bite on the top of the foot during long approaches. During our testing, we wished that Kayland had placed the laces on the inside of the super-gaiter rather than on the outside of it.
Super-gaiter style boots like the HyperTraction or the La Sportiva Batura are inherently warmer than traditional, single mountaineering boots due to the small amount of extra air space between the inner boot and the outer attached gaiter. The HyperTraction is different than other super-gaiter style boots in that it's laces are on the outside of the attached gaiter. Essentially, the HyperTraction is an inside-out super-gaiter style boot. This means that the gaiter is crushed down against the foot when the laces are tightened. This not only takes away from some of the added warmth of a super-gaiter boot, but it means the RiRi zipper is painfully crunched on the top of your foot. All of the other boots in this category have laces which are covered by the outer gaiter, which is then closed by some sort of zipper. In the case of the HyperTraction the laces are exposed to the elements and can soak up water and become frozen. Even thought this boot has some design flaws, it is still a very warm boot suitable for climbing in cold conditions. It's warm enough to climb just about anything in the US outside of Alaska. For Alaska or prolonged multi day cold weather climbs, use the La Sportiva Spantik which is a much warmer double boot.
The Kayland HyperTraction is very waterproof. The boot remained dry even after walking through standing water and slush for many hours. The leather portion of the boot did become soaked after prolonged use in wet snow, but did not penetrate to the inside of the boot. This is due to the waterproof eVent membrane and the RiRi zipper. Since the boots laces are exposed to the elements rather than being protected by the super-gaiter, they will soak up water. While this moisture won't penetrate to the inside of the boot, it makes retying the boot less comfortable in cold conditions.
The Kayland HyperTraction is a very durable boot. After a year of hard use, the only area of this boot to show excessive wear was the tip of the sole, which began to round off due to the added kick needed to counteract the stiff sole and shallow rocker when walking. The boot's upper showed very little sign of wear after our testing. The RiRi AquaZip kept working perfectly.
The Kayland HyperTraction is best suited for cold weather and winter ice and mixed climbing below 6000 meters. It is a great boot for pure ice or moderate mixed climbs as long as the approach is on the shorter side. The HyperTraction falls into the super-gaiter style boot class, along with the Best in Class winner the La Sportiva Batura 2.0. The HyperTraction will keep you warm and dry in winter conditions anywhere in the lower 48 or the Canadian Rockies. It is also an affordable option for Patagonian ice and snow objectives like the amazing Exocet on Cerro Standhardt.
We used the Kayland HyperTraction as our main climbing and glacier travel boot on a month long trip to Patagonia's Chalten massif. The HyperTraction's waterproof eVent layer and RiRi AquaZip kept us dry in full blown sideways rain and blinding sloppy snowstorms. The biggest weakness of this boot is the downturn of the sole under the toes which made approaches on dirt and dry glaciers more work than another boot with a smoother sole rocker. Also over the long haul, the super-gaiter closure zipper beneath the laces became increasingly uncomfortable.
The HyperTracton retails for $499.99 making it the least expensive super-gaiter style boot in our review. We were easily able to find many online deals for much less than the retail price, making this boot an even better value. We recommend buying this boot if you are looking to spend as little as possible on a warm, dry boot for ice and mixed in cold conditions, especially if your objectives have shorter approaches.
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Most recent review: April 8, 2013
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