Kalenji Kapteren Crossover - long term review

Kalenji Kapteren Crossover - long term review

Initial Impressions

The Kapteren Crossover is a low cut, lightweight trail running shoe. Although similar to other trail-running shoes, they are ruggedised, especially at the toe, sides and midsole. The design is simple with large mesh panels and synthetic uppers. The sides and toe are reinforced with water resistant rubber armour. Insoles are removable, and are not glued into place. Overall construction appears tidy. The stitching and glue joints are clean and gapless, although the upper has exposed seams. They are not cut at the instep; this rules out the use of gaiters with these shoes.  

Specifications

  • Manufacturer - Decathlon (Kalenji)
  • Model - Kalenji Kapteren Crossover
  • Colour - Orange
  • Weight - Pair 690 grams for size 43 (8 1/2)
  • Outsole - Rubber with 3 mm lugs
  • Upper - Synthetic and mesh
  • Price - Rs. 3999
  • Manufactured - 2014
  • Purchased at - Decathlon, Zirakpur (Punjab)

Field Location and Conditions

I have owned these shoes for over four months. They were worn around town on tarmac roads, on day trips with a light daypack, and on multi day backpacking treks across the lower Himalayas. The trekking was done during the spring and summer, on trails and cross country routes with elevation ranging from 1800 to 3500 meters. The trek terrain varied from grass to scree and rock with a few sections over hard packed snow.

Field Test

Field Notes

My initial comfortable fit in the Kapteren Crossover has remained throughout the field test, albeit with a couple of niggles. The first day of my multi day trek involved a difficult section over hard rock and scree. It was during this stretch that I noticed the foot arches. My feet have shallow arches and the arches on Kapteren Crossover are curvier. This affected both my feet for the first couple of days, and while there was no blistering, my feet were sore by the time I had camped for the day. Luckily, the problem did not repeat after a couple of days, therefore either my feet have adjusted or the shoes have been broken in.   
On one of my treks to Chorgala, I was caught in a thunderstorm. This meant descending quickly through mud gullies and slush. On this descent, I found that the shoes struggled with grip through anything more than a couple of inches of mud. I reckon larger lugs on the outsole would have helped them grip better through deep mud and slush.

Grip

Barring this one incident the shoes deserve praise for their grip. Over rock, scree and grass they provide traction right up to a fairly steep angle. When the grip does fail, it fails in a fairly predictable manner.

Fit

My feet are wider than average at the toes, however the shoes fit me quite well. Their fit is improved further by their foot cradle design. The foot cradle is a set of diagonal stripes that stretch along the sides of the shoe from the shoelaces to the insole. These stripes act as compression straps when the shoelaces are tightened. This foot cradle helps maintain a close and comfortable fit, especially on steep downhill sections where onetends to walk sideways rather than in a straight line. 
The toe box is roomy and my toes don't jam against the shoes on steep descents. This helps prevent blisters on long multi day treks.

Waterproof

The shoe is not waterproof, nevertheless it does resist water quite well owing to its built in rubber armour and synthetic construction. This means that your socks shall get wet after a few hours of walking through slush and wet grass. However, the shoes do not hold water or get heavy. Once the shoes get completely wet e.g. after fording a stream, they take around four hours to dry out with my body heat. 

Breathability

Since the shoe has large mesh panels at the top and on the sides, it breathes quite well. They have seldom been overwhelmed by my own body heat and sweat. On exceptionally hot days with temperatures over 35 degrees, I had to remove them every couple of hours to allow my feet to cool down.


top tip.png

Top Tip: Double up your socks to prevent blisters.
Hiking blisters are caused by friction. A single sock is more likely to stay with your shoe than with your foot. This leaves the sock moving against your skin, which causes friction. With two socks, especially a thin inner wicking liner and a thick outer hiking sock, the outer sock moves against the inner sock instead of against your foot and less friction is created. Less friction = fewer blisters.


Long Term Report

After four months and over 700 kilometres in the Lower Himalayas, this shoe has served my trekking and hiking needs quite well. I am yet to receive a single blister, and they have held out reasonably well to my use and abuse. The outsole is showing signs of wear and the midsole is not as cushy as it once was. The glue holding the outsole has also given away in a few places. The upper however, is in a better condition. It has not suffered any tears or cuts, although a few seams have frayed. All of this is not unexpected given the mileage and terrain the shoe has been put through. In fact, they are far more durable than I expected. We would have preferred an outsole that was more hardwearing, but that would have compromised its grip. 

Suggested Improvements

A better outsole rubber like Vibram coupled with 5 mm lugs on the outsole would help these shoes over difficult and technical sections. A cut in the instep would make these shoes gaiters friendly. Finally, wider rubber armour strips on the sides would help protect vulnerable areas better.

Overall Conclusion

In conclusion, the Kalenji Kapteren Crossover makes an excellent three season hiking shoe, if your backpack weight is under 15 kilos. The shoe is relatively lightweight, well built and robust. In price and features, they sit between the Kalenji Kapteren 200 and the Kalenji XT3 in the Decathlon trail running lineup. They are better built than the Kapteren 200 and they retain almost all the features from their more expensive cousins -- the XT3s, other than pronation support. Even when compared with competitors from Salomon (XR Crossmax 2), Merrell (Trail Glove 2) or Adidas (Marathon 10 Tr M) we were impressed with their build and feature set at almost half the competitors price. In conclusion, If you are in the market for reasonably priced, lightweight, three season backpacking shoe for easy to moderate trails, you should definitely consider the Kalenji Kapteren Crossover shoe. 

Conclusion - Pros

  • Value for money
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent grip across a variety of terrain
  • Reasonable durability

Conclusion - Cons

  • Lack a cut in the instep for fitting gaiters
  • Grip compromised in deeper mud and slush
  • Laces too long
  • Heel cup is on the larger side

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