Columbia Peakfreak XCRSN Xcel (2015)


The Columbia Peakfreak XCRSN Xcel is exceptionally lightweight, and that is its main advantage. The upper is very open mesh with synthetic overlays, which won’t be as durable as leather, but this does keep the weight down. The upper isn’t very stiff, and neither is the sole, but you get good, deep lugs for grip. The waterproof option is the Peakfreak XCRSN Xcel Outdry at £80. 3/5


The sizes available are 6 to 14 for men and 3 to 10 for women, which is an exceptional range. On the foot this fits closely with good room for toe movement. The soft upper and flexible sole mean this fits closely with a little tension on the laces to mould the shoe to the foot. 5/5


The low weight makes the Columbia Peakfreak XCRSN Xcel feel comfortable, as do the flexible sole and upper. But comfort will drop quickly on rocky ground, as the upper and sole aren’t very stiff, and also in the wet as there’s no waterproof lining. The foot also has to work pretty hard as there is so little support from the shoe. 3/5

In use

Used on dry, level ground the Columbia Peakfreak XCRSN Xcel is ideal for travel and trekking. But performance rapidly drops off as soon as the ground becomes uneven, as it isn’t very stiff and that upper offers only minimal protection. I’d doubt this would be as durable as heavier shoes with leather or rubber reinforcement either. 3/5


A great price, but the £80 Peakfreak XCRSN Xcel Outdry with waterproof liner is probably a better choice for the UK hillwalker. 4/5


If you want the lightest shoe then the Columbia Peakfreak XCRSN Xcel is great for the money, but beware of the performance drawbacks if you head onto more challenging terrain. 3.6/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine May 2015