OR - Vasque Kota boots - Ray Estrella
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Vasque Kota Mid boots
By Raymond Estrella
November 29, 2008
NAME: Raymond Estrella
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in
many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and
average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to
lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike
hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a
freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I
am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Web site: www.vasque.com
Product: Kota Mid
Year manufactured/received: 2008
MSRP: US $130.00
Size: Men's 11 (US)
Weight listed: N/A
Actual weight of reviewed boots: 2 lb 8.8 oz (1.16 kg)
Color reviewed: Graphite/Green
The Vasque Kota Mid boots (hereafter reffered to as the Kotas or the
boots) are boots that Vasque describes as, "Multisport shoe meet's day
hiker". While they position them for use between a trail runner and up
to day hiking, as you will see I use them for multi-day backpacking as
As the name implies the Kotas are mid height hiking boots. They stand
5.5 in (14 cm) high. The uppers are made of 1.8mm waterproof Nubuck
and pig suede leather. It is very soft and has remained so during the
course of my use.
The ankle cuff has excellent padding. What is different is that the
padding extends down into the boot further than I would think by
looking at the green fabric covering the cuff. The cuff runs at an
angle down towards the back of the boot, but it swoops up right over
the heel where it has a very shallow divot at the back center to allow
some relief for the Achilles tendon. It has an excellent pull loop at
the back that I have no problem getting my beat-up fingers through.
The padded tongue has a short wing of material to help keep debris
out, but as the sides wrap around it quite well it was not a problem.
It does not have a lace loop on it, but again as it was held so well
by the sides it too was never missed.
The round nylon laces run through four pairs of nylon loops, then
through a pair of plastic D-rings that are attached to the small
straps that make up the Keystone Control System. This is a nylon strap
that runs in a V pattern from the bottom of the boots up to a spot
just about where my ankle starts. As the laces are tightened it pulls
the sides of the boot in closer to my foot to give added support and
stability. Above this D-ring the laces run through two pairs of
regular metal ringed eyes.
The Kotas come with some very thin insoles that are ridged to give
The outsole system is what Vasque calls Racer X. They say that the,
"Cleat-inspired lugs provide exceptional off-road traction. Stealth
rubber version offers superior friction."
"Compression molded EVA midsole is reinforced in the heel with the
ExoTec fabric & TPU wrap. TPU plate delivers underfoot protection and
enhanced rearfoot support."
My Kota Mids do not have the Stealth rubber version.
I wore them for the first time on a two-day 11 mi (18 km) trip to the
top of Mt San Jacinto by way of the Marion Mountain Trail. I spent the
night in Little Round Valley. This little break-in hike gained over
4400 ft (1340 m) in 5.5 miles (8.9 km) over rough trails in temps
reached 81 F (27 C) carrying a pack that topped 37 lb (16.8 kg).
Welcome to Ray's world Kotas
The next weekend I took Jenn to the same place, but we made a three-
day trip out of it, stopping the first day at Little Round Valley
where we made a base camp. Temps ranged from 54 to 81 F (12 to 27
C).Total miles for the weekend was around 14, or 22 km for my metric
Next was two days in Yosemite National Park for a very hot and hard 44
miles (71 km) in temps up to 84 F (29 C) with 7790 ft (2374 m) of gain
carrying a 36 lb (16.3 kg) pack.
I wore them on a 23.2 mile (37.4 km) hike in San Gorgonio Wilderness
to Mt San Gorgonio via the Dollar Lake trail. This hike starts at 6680
ft (2040 m) and goes to the summit at 11500 ft (3505 m) elevation. It
is a very rough trail with a lot of loose rock and scree in places.
The trail had a lot of ice in it above 10000 ft (3050 m). The
temperatures only went from 45 to 31 F (7 to -1 C). The picture above
is at the highest rock on the peak. Getting' high
Next Jenn and I went to the Ortega Candy Store trailhead and did the
Bear Canyon/Bear Ridge loop in the San Mateo Wilderness. 6.8 miles (11
km) in temps to about 80 F (27 C) on up and down trails that were
either sandy or rocky. We had 1100 ft (335 m) of elevation gain and
loss. Below is a picture from this trip, I am on a rock pretending
that I am high
Lastly Dave and I went 27 miles (43 km) on the PCT from Green Valley
to Vasquez Rocks This hike saw 5000 ft (1525 m) of gain as we went
over three passes in temperatures that hit 70 F (21 C). The terrain
was either dirt, scree or rock.
I have owned a couple pairs of Vasque boots in the past and had to
stop using them as the last that they built their boots on was just
too narrow at the front of the foot for me. While my foot is narrow at
the back and middle (along with high arches) at the front my feet are
wide and low. Think of a duck, give it a backpack and point it at a
peak. Now you have Ray
I got a pair of Vasque trail runners that fit great. That made me
decide it was time to try their boots again. The result is here with
While the boots fit better I do have to say that they are still
tighter than I like. I bought the same size as my Velocity trail
runners but they fit tight enough that I was forced to wear a mid
weight sock with them. Almost all use was with Teko EcoMerino mid
weight hikers, and as at first I only had one pair of them (I bought
another pair in the middle of this review period) I also used REI
Merino wool mid weight socks on a couple trips. Half the trips
included Fox River X-Static liner socks under the wool socks.
I only got to put 127 miles on the Vasque Kota Mids because I tested a
pair of boots during the time I could use them, and I needed to take
some full height boots on my longest trip of the year. But the
distance I did put on them was very steep and rough with some big days
and a lot of gnarly climbing. Like dog years are factored at 7 to 1, I
think that my footwear should be factored in Ray miles
Here is what I think of the Kota MIds.
The comfort out of the box was great. I did not give these any break-
in time what so ever starting off with them on a short distance hike
with killer altitude gain on a rough trail. And I was carrying a lot
of weight for me. And I repeated it the next weekend with my wife
carrying even more weight.
Yet I had zero problems with the boots. I did not get any blisters.
Nor did I for the rest of the trips but one.
On a trip in Yosemite a changed trail led to some extra distance that
I did not plan on. Then when I got to the river that I planned to stop
at I found that it was dry. I was forced to put in a 30 mile (49 km)
day to get to water. I started feeling a hot spot develop at about the
24 mile (39 km) mark but waited a bit longer to do something about is
as I am eternally optimistic
I stopped and changed into fresh socks and put some moleskin on the
forming blister. By the time I got in to White Wolf I had a huge
blister on the bottom of my foot, an area I do not normally get them.
I do not fault the Kotas as I went much farther with more weight than
they were ever made to be used for. I should have attended it sooner.
While they are not touted as being waterproof I was impressed by how
well they did. I had to make a conscious effort not to walk in creeks
as I normally blast through. But on one crossing that I slipped off a
very slick rock I caght my self on another that still was 4 in (10 cm)
under water. Then as I hightailed it across I stepped in more as I
figured what the heck, I am already going to be changing sock. My
brother-in-law Dave who hikes in shoes and is very careful at crossing
said, "Bummer". But when I got to the other side I did not have a bit
of water inside that I could feel. After that I tried it a couple
other times just to see and again I had no leaking. I did not stand in
the water though.
The boots breathe quite well, but not as good as models that employ
more mesh. Yet they sure kept my feet cleaner than the high mesh
content models. I never experienced the dreaded cheese foot effect. No
smelly feet at all even on the longest, hottest days.
While my boots do not have the Stealth Rubber with the Racer X soles
they were still some of the best gripping boots I have used. And the
wet traction has been excellent. (Slimy river rocks excluded )
The stability has been very good too. The Keystone Control System
seems to do a good job of pulling the sides in tight to my feet. I had
no sprained ankles while using the Kotas. Yeah!
The quality of construction and durability has been very good. The
uppers are still in good shape. But the good traction has a trade-off
in sole longevity, at least on the terrain I frequent. They are
wearing quite fast. As the picture here shows the lugs are wearing
fast, especially at the front as all the climbing I do puts a lot of
pressure on this area. Again, I doubt that Vasque had crazy guys like
me in mind when they made this, yet it works well for what I do
The insoles leave a lot to be desired. On long days or when I would
get into scree fields my feet would feel every rock. The only reason I
did not put an after market pair of insoles in was I did not have any
thin enough to fit without wrecking the fit of the boots for me.
One thing I would like to see different is the two boot lace eyes at
the top. I would like to see these changed to hooks to make it easier
to put them on and take them off. This was the only thing that I did
not like about the Kotas. I can live with or fix anything else.
Winter is here and it is time for the Kotas to go away. Maybe next
year there will an improved version that will make this an even better
light weight comfortable hiking boot. I leave with a pic of the Kotas
taking me up the trail near the Marion Mountain/Deer Springs junction
on the way to Mount San Jacinto.
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