Winter hiking is a family affair in the Boyle household and my 10 year old daughter is accompanying me on more of my hikes. She asked if she could test gear too and 4alloutdoors and Baffin obliged her request. She is testing the Baffin KIKI Women’s boot this winter. I am writing on her behalf, but the review is hers. Read more on her initial thoughts below.
The Baffin KIKI Women’s boot is a high top winter boot that has a waterproof suede leather upper, faux fur collar, and rubberized sides. The boot closes with toggle and loop closures on the side and has a moderately aggressive sole with little flower lugs built into the sole. The rubber and the suede leather upper are supposed to be waterproof and the boot also includes a removable liner. Baffin states that the boot is rated for temperatures down to -40C/-40F though I doubt we will get to those temperatures here in Southeast Alaska.
Addison wears a size 8 in tennis shoes and that is the size I initially requested from Baffin. This was a mistake, the women’s size 8 boots that initially arrived were way too small. I thought I remembered that our local outfitter carried Baffin boots and we visited the store and my memory was correct. They had similar style boots with an inner liner and we determined that Addison needed a women’s size 10. Addison and I were both surprised that she needed to go up two full sizes. Baffin graciously sent another pair and we returned the size 8 boots. The first lesson learned – size up and try them on first if possible.
The larger boots arrived and they fit, but putting them on is a bit of a challenge for a 10 year old. I coached her through pulling the liners out and putting them on first and making sure to undue all the toggles. This made it easier to get the boots on but still took some effort on her part. The toggles look stylish but they are hard for her to manipulate and close, but with practice should become easier.
We took a short hike on the Auke Lake trail in Juneau to ensure that they fit ok and that she would be able to test them. She noted that they felt good and kept her feet warm. We will evaluate the boots on durability, comfort and ease of use over the coming months.
Update 1 April 17, 2016
Winter has come and gone and spring is upon us. Addison and I did a fair number of hikes this winter putting almost 40 miles on the Baffin Kiki boots. They continue to perform excellently, keeping Addison’s feet dry and warm no matter the conditions such as hiking in snow, snowshoeing, or traipsing through puddles in the rain. Her only complaint is the toggles and liner make the boots difficult to put on. Read on for the rest of her report.
Addison and I have done 14 hikes around Southeast Alaska in the boots. Our favorite hikes have been on the Auke Lake trail, a second growth rainforest trail around the lake, and in Dredge Lakes which were formed as the Mendenhall Glacier receded. Additionally, we have been snowshoeing at Eaglecrest our local ski resort. Conditions have ranged from packed snow to bare trail in the rain. Temperatures have ranged from the 20’s to 50’s with the occasionally sunny day.
I generally evaluate boots on ease of use, durability and in this case waterproofness. Ease of use continues to be challenging for Addison. She has become more adept at putting the boots on by herself, but the toggles and challenge of putting them on means she has only worn them for our hiking trips and not for when she goes out and plays in the forest with her friends. In her words, her tennis shoes or rubber boots are easier to put on. That being said she is significantly more proficient and what was taking 5 minutes at the beginning now only takes a minute or two, but in the mind of a 10 year old, a minute or two is forever.
Durability is the second criteria. Many of the trails we like are very rocky now that the snow has melted, but even after 40 miles the boots still look new. The soles are still in great shape with no wear spots. The flower shape built into sole is pretty cool and something that Addison likes to look at every time we leave a boot print in the sand or mud. The uppers are great shape too. The elastic on the toggles are still tight and keep the boots closed tightly. Additionally the rubber rand is great. She used the boots with Kahtoola micro spikes on snow packed trails and the spikes didn’t leave any marks on the boots. Overall the durability of the boots is great.
Waterproofness is the third criteria that I evaluate boots on. Addison has stated that her feet have been warm and dry in all conditions – packed and slushy snow and on muddy wet trails. This is a plus because nothing ruins a family hike faster than wet feet.
Overall, I am very pleased with the boots. The only negative Addison notes is that they are hard to put on. We will continue to use them through the spring as we explore the trails.
Final Update – Baffin Kiki Boots
May 31, 2016
Summer is in full swing in Southeast Alaska which means temperatures are finally hitting the 60s and sunny days mixed in with the rain that come from living in a rain forest. It also means it is time for us to transfer which has limited the number of hikes that Addison and I have taken, but we have gotten in a few more miles on the boots. Overall the performance is stellar and the boots have become her favorites. Read on for her final thoughts on the boots.
We did an additional four hikes with the boots bringing the total mileage to 46 miles or so. Mostly the hikes have been on maintained trails in the rain with our new puppy. The boots have continued to perform well causing no blisters or hot spots while hiking. As the temperatures rose, the boots became very warm and Addison preferred tennis shoes to the boots because they were hot.
Addison has become more adept at putting the boots on and figured out how to pull them on without undoing all of the buckles. This made her decision to wear them much easier. Durability has continued to be excellent with no wear on the sole or uppers. The boots continued to keep her feet dry hiking in the rain which is a positive since wet boots quickly ruin hikes. Overall the boots performed admirably and I foresee many seasons of use out of the boots, if her feet stop growing.
Thanks to Baffin for providing the boots for testing.