Kayland M11 | $449 | 4 pounds 2 ounces (for size 10.5) | Three stars
If you’ve ever wanted to dance on ice, the new Kayland M11 boots might be your magic slippers. At two pounds one ounce each, these babies are remarkably warm for their weight. Insulated with Primaloft and housed in an eVENT shell, the M11 kept my toes warm while snowshoeing, climbing and camping in Alaska’s Brooks Range, and dog sledding in -25 degree F temps along the Yukon River. For grins, I let my friends borrow them for trips to Valdez, the Canadian Rockies and Ouray. Everyone agreed that the light and nimble M11, sized mid- to low-volume, is just as warm as heavier, bulkier counterparts. Is this high-performance footwear warm enough for high-altitude endeavors? No, but it is surely adequate for just about any ice or snow adventure in the lower 48.
The M11’s exterior is built from the same material shark-handlers use for their gloves. Man-eating teeth, wayward crampons and jagged rocks stand little chance against the hide. The shell also does a good job of keeping water out. I purposely spent three minutes wading in a northern Alaskan stream, and my piggies stayed dry.
Unlike other boots I’ve worn, the M11 never pressed on my shins regardless of my foot placement. I could French technique my way up Sierra Nevada mountains as easily as I could frontpoint Lee Vining ice. The boots practically beg for vertical ice: They’re born to live in Ouray, Valdez or Banff.
These boots are all-day hikers, too, but they need to be broken in. I took the M11, right out of the box, on a four-mile hike and suffered a dime-sized blister on one heel, a problem easily remedied by inserting blister pads. In fact, I like the grace, warmth and lightness of these boots so much that they will become my boot of choice—if I can ever get them back from my friends.