Hikers usually have to choose between boots that are lightweight and boots that are protective and supportive. Kayland’s Zephyrs override that dilemma with a polyurethane exoskeleton that gives the boots leatherlike rigidity, while keeping them lightweight (about 2.5 pounds for the pair) and relatively breathable.
This exoskeleton is a black plastic framework that’s injected directly into the underlying mesh. Combined with the shoe’s padding, this gives your ankles and heels plenty of support on foot-twisting, rocky, rutted trails, while leaving wiggle room and toe protection.
The Zephyrs are lined with something that Kayland calls “eVent Cocona,” which keeps them from becoming a steam locker for your feet. Despite all that padding and infrastructure, the boots don’t heat up much, and they dry out reasonably quickly.
They also sport Vibram soles with aggressive treads, making them serious all-terrain boots, and an EVA midsole keeps them bouncy and flexible.
We wore the Kayland Zephyrs through a rainy Bay Area fall and winter, stomping up and over sandy, rocky, muddy trails and through filthy, puddle-marred San Francisco streets (as well as in the frigid confines of the sporadically-heated get-gadget offices.) The boots hold up well and kept our tootsies comfortable in all these conditions. But best of all? We never experienced any of the Frankenstein-esque trudging common to most hiking boots. These babies left us feeling fleet-footed and twinkle-toed.