Once in a while, I come across some gear that its difficult to deliver a neutral review on. I've been using these boots for the past year and I'm hooked. In this video I will explain why these are my favorite boot but I will make a point to give a detailed review of what you are getting and the considerations.
Form and function
Right out of the gate, Vadatek is a smaller family owned company. These boots are made by a kiteboarder / wakeboarder who is passionate about making the best boots around and to that end, I would say that he has succeeded. Looking the boots over, no expense was spared in the design or the build.
These are really good looking but more important is they are functional and they bring something new to the table. A step in system that comes with a lot of benefits for kiteboarders. It's a simple and reliable system too. There is a toe cap similar to snowboarding bindings and a heel plate. You set the toe cap where you want it and simple step in until the heel plate locks in place. To get out of the boots, you just release the cap by pulling back on it.
This is a huge for newer kiteboarders who want to try boots. One of the biggest issues is getting in and out of the boots while trying to fly your kite. Being able to step in really solves this issue. It is possible to do this under the water as well. I have walked out into shallow water or past a shore break to step into them. They are easy to ratchet down on the water if you need to body drag out past a swim area or anything.
Protection for your feet
Not every beach is sandy! Some beaches are rocky, others might be full of shells in the sand or just under the water. Something that I have come to appreciate is you can walk around in the boots while setting up your gear, hiking out of a nasty spot on a down winder or on rough terrain in general. During the colder months, I have been wearing wool socks inside of these and it's great having warm feet while I set my gear up.
In some locations like Hatteras there are clam shells that can really tear your feet up. Having boots that I can walk in make a huge difference. If you ride in a swampy area or don't care to step in muck or other plants at your cable park, or local beach these are a game changer. Making kite videos, I often find myself standing in less than desirable locations holding a camera. These have been great to that end as well!
Gotta trust your boots if you're doing this
The Build Quality
Two major concerns I had when getting these boots was the durability and reliability. I wondered if they would hold up for the season and if they would come apart on me when it mattered like mid trick or when sliding on a rail.
Funny thing is these were actually recommended to me by Chris Bobryk, Aka the American Sledge Hammer! He had used a pair for a season and he trusted them wholly. Now, They call him the Sledgehammer for a reason. He rides and crashes hard! With that in mind, I decided to give them a go. After 8 months of hard crashes, riding cable park daily, freestyle kiteboarding, loops and grinding features, I too feel that the build quality is top notch.
Its not an exaggeration to say that I wear these 5 days a week for 2 or 3 hours a pop at our cable park. Thats on top of all my kiteboarding and traveling. They still look new in spite of often being dirty. I have also come to trust them to not come apart on me while riding.
They Release on a Hard Edge Catch
This might sound scary at first but it's been a life saver for me. They will not just pop off for no reason but on a hard heel side edge catch, the toe cap will release a boot or both boots. Now to give you perspective, I've had one or both of my feet torn out of boots on hard crashes and it always hurts. When the toe cap releases, it actually softens the impact and has mad hard falls a lot more mellow. I do not know if this was by design or a happy accident but it has really inspired confidence in my riding. They feel more akin to wearing foot straps that let your feet out when you catch an edge. This has led to me trying more spins on the kite and cable!
This will not happen on a regular crash and you can still catch your toeside edge like regular boots. So don't worry, its not like you will lose your board like when wearing straps. The release only happens halfway though a hard heelside edge catch! I've had many regular falls where the boots stayed on my feet and I kept going at it.
Another huge benefit is when I am packing a car. With booted boards, you have to play a lot of Tetris to get a full car loaded right. Being able to pop the boots off, allows me to stack boards and saves a ton of space. Its also nice if you have a small apartment or something. I do take the bindings off when packing an airline bag however. You might be able to get away with it but frankly, its not worth the risk. It takes 1 minute to take them off.
There are more moving parts
The first complaint would be limited sizing. Granted, as this is a new company and its the first run of the boot, I can't fault them for not having really small boots. My girlfriend is always asking if I know when they will make a size for her small feet haha. As of now, they work if you are between a mens US 8 -12.
The other drawback is that there are more moving parts. They are similar to snowboarding bindings with the toe cap opposed to just a pair of boots bolted on. If you are going on a long trip, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have some spare parts on hand. Regardless of my boots, I always have extra hardware! I've yet to have an issue on a trip but if you are in the third world, its not going to be easy getting unique parts.
Stiffness & Flex
For me, these boots have hit the sweet spot in kiteboarding. Rigid enough for support yet flexible enough to allow for grabs. This could be a pro or a con depending on the rider. If you like really stiff boots, I can say that they are not as stiff as Slingshot KTVS. If you like flexible boots, then most of you would enjoy these. I've read some people online felt they could be less stiff so I guess thats totally subjective. To me, they are similar to the broken in LFK boots I've been using for a couple years.
These are my favorite boots. As long as MACkite carries them, chances are I will be using them. They might not be for everyone. But for all the benefits I covered in this review and video, I'm stoked on them. They are light weight, the perfect flex, they release when I need them too, they pack well and they are bombproof.