EDIT: Kahtoola Flight System FR -- Jason Boyle
- Hi Jason. You're sure giving these a thorough test! Thanks for including lots of photos. I have a few comments and edits for you to consider. Go ahead and upload when ready, and delete your FR in the Test Folder. Thanks! Will Rietveld, Test Monitor.
FWIW: Both "floatation" and "flotation" are used to mean buoyancy, but "flotation" is more common. When I Google it, "flotation" is used more often. You use both in your report, I suggest you choose one spelling and use it consistently.
The only thing I don't like is that I cannot put my shoes into the FLIGHTboot
while wearing them; I have to take them off.
COMMENT: I had to read this several times to get the meaning. Perhaps it would help to elaborate. Apparently your shoe fits very tightly in the FlightBoot, so you can't just slip it in. Later on you mention that you got a hot spot from your shoe sliding inside the FlightBoot; that seems to conflict with this.
The steel cleats on the boots have provided good traction and the boots
themselves have provided good flotation while on packed trails.
COMMENT: Here you use "flotation"; in the summary you spelled it "floatation".
floatation was only ok, but it is what I expected based on the size of the deck
and the unusually dry, fluffy snow that we received before and during my trips.
COMMENT: "floatation" this time
The boot cleats are
definitely showing signs of wear, but no more than I expected based on the harsh
conditions that I have put the through.
EDIT: .put them through.
As I mentioned earlier in my Field
Conditions, I walked for a total of 3 miles on a muddy gravelly trail that had
some bigger rocks. Not the ideal situation for the boots, but it is all I had
and I knew the snow would get deep as I gained elevation.
COMMENT: The reader will be wondering how well the boots did in the mud and gravel. Any damage to the boots, or did the mud on the boots interfere with putting the decks on later?
I have not noticed any wear or
problems with the flexible hypalon where the binding connects to the deck.
EDIT: Hypalon is a proper name and is capitalized.
They did a good job shedding snow and did
not seem get wet during stream crossings or breaking trail.
EDIT: .did not seem to get wet.
The boots did not freeze solid like I expected, but where a little bit
difficult to get on the next morning.
EDIT: .but were a little difficult.
Please check back in several months for my Long
COMMENT: about two months
----- Original Message -----
From: Jason Boyle
To: firstname.lastname@example.org ; willi_wabbit@...
Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 10:28 PM
Subject: Kahtoola FR - Jason B
Here is my FR, html can be found here http://tinyurl.com/2vmpm2
Field Report - February 28, 2007
I think the Kahtoola Flight System is a very neat system. I have been happy with the boots especially on packed trail and how much warmth they provide. The deck provides decent floatation and performs well on packed trail, but doesn't perform very well in off trail or side hilling conditions. Additionally, I have had one problem where the boots froze to the deck and I was unable to remove the boots until the boots had thawed out at home.
I have used the Kahtoola's on 4 trips so far; three day trips and one overnight backpacking trip. The terrain for the trips included packed trails, unpacked trails, and some serious off trail snowshoeing with a 30-45 degree ridge ascent. One of the trips also included using the boots on a mostly muddy/gravel trail with some rocks for a total of 3 miles. Temperatures ranged from 8 F to 32 F (-13 C to 0 C). Elevation ranged from sea level to 4700' (1433 m) and I encountered pouring rain, blowing snow and a single clear day!
The Kahtoola Flight System is a very interesting product and based on my experience thus far I would say the system is best suited for packed trails or trails that require little sidehilling. I am extremely happy with how easy it is to use the entire system. I have continued to use my Nike Air Zoom Cascades as my trail shoe inside of the FLIGHTboot. These trail runners have worked well and I have been able to take them in and out of the boots with little effort. The only thing I don't like is that I cannot put my shoes into the FLIGHTboot while wearing them; I have to take them off. The zipper and hook and loop fastener are easy to open and close and still look new. The ratcheting buckle on the boot has also performed well, but requires adjustment several times a hike to ensure a tight fit. Snow can build up underneath one end of the tab causing the tab to come up and loosen the ratcheting mechanism. I was surprised by this the first time that it happened, but once I realized what happened I began to check the ratcheting mechanism on my rest stops. The steel cleats on the boots have provided good traction and the boots themselves have provided good flotation while on packed trails. Off of packed trails the boots sink into the snow like any other boot would.
The decks are super simple to use as well, especially the step in feature that the decks provide. While my hiking partners are fumbling with straps and gloves, I set the decks down and line up the front cleats with the SKYHOOK binding and step in then I eat a snack while my partners catch up! When I am ready to take the decks off I usually have to just pull the T handle and shake my foot a bit and the decks come off. I say usually because I had one instance where I could not get the boots off of the deck. They had frozen to the deck. This is a serious problem for me because the last thing I want to happen on an overnight or multiday trip is to not be able to take off my snowshoes. I talked to Kahtoola about this problem and they are aware of it and working on a fix. They explained to me that there is a gap on the binding where snow can enter and if enough of it packs into the binding it can freeze and not allow the boot to be released. It has only happened to me once, but it is enough to make me wary about using them on another overnight trip.
Not everything is rosy though. The traction provided by the decks leaves a lot to be desired on the terrain that I find myself on here in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the trails in the Cascades are fairly steep and skirt the side of ridges requiring snowshoes that have good sidehill traction which the FLIGHTdecks do not have. On two of my trips, my hiking partners were easily crossing angled ridges while I was slipping and sliding off of the trail. The floatation was only ok, but it is what I expected based on the size of the deck and the unusually dry, fluffy snow that we received before and during my trips.
The boots and decks appear to be pretty durable. The boot cleats are definitely showing signs of wear, but no more than I expected based on the harsh conditions that I have put the through. As I mentioned earlier in my Field Conditions, I walked for a total of 3 miles on a muddy gravelly trail that had some bigger rocks. Not the ideal situation for the boots, but it is all I had and I knew the snow would get deep as I gained elevation.
The deck is showing some signs of wear near the heel block from the rear cleats on the boots contacting the protective plastic surrounding the heel block. So far I have not pierced the plastic, which is good, but I will be watching this area over the long term report. I have not noticed any wear or problems with the flexible hypalon where the binding connects to the deck.
Another area where the FLIGHTboot excelled is warmth. I never had any cold issues with the boots while snowshoeing. If anything my feet were too warm and the boots caused my feet to sweat. They did a good job shedding snow and did not seem get wet during stream crossings or breaking trail. The only time I soaked the boots was my slog on the snow free trail in the pouring rain. Everything I had wet out that day.
I have had problems with footwear freezing in the winter and becoming very difficult to put on and to warm up. Not these boots. On one of my trips, I built an igloo for my shelter. It was a balmy 28 F (-2 C) inside of the igloo compared to the 8 F (-13 C) that it was outside. I left my trail runners in the boots inside the igloo overnight in anticipation of what I would find the next morning. The boots did not freeze solid like I expected, but where a little bit difficult to get on the next morning. However, after just a few minutes of walking around getting breakfast ready my feet had warmed up and stayed warm the entire morning!
I have noticed some foot fatigue on long days while using the system. On a prolonged three hour downhill slog, my trail runners slid to the front of the boot and started to cause a hot spot on the balls of my feet. I have never had blisters wearing these trail runners, so I can only attribute it to my trail runners moving inside of the boots.
There are several areas where I would like to make recommendations for improvement. The first is regarding the traction of the decks. I think the shoes would perform better if the current longitudinal cleats were moved closer to the edges of the shoe. This would provide a larger tooth footprint for the deck. I think a third set of longitudinal cleats would also help. Another area that needs improvement is the binding system. As I discussed earlier snow can cause the boots to freeze into the binding system on the deck. There is a gap in the binding that needs to be sealed. Maybe it can be permanently closed with an epoxy or made into a single piece where snow cannot enter. My final suggestion would be to allow me to be able put the FLIGHTboot on without having to take off my footwear.
This ends my field report. Please check back in several months for my Long Term Report. Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Kahtoola for allowing me to participate in this test.
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