8 best Keen hiking shoes

Based on reviews from 12 experts and 5,889 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to Keen hiking shoes. Updated Oct 2019.

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Capable footwear, such as a pair of Keen hiking shoes, will always be a necessity to make your adventures successful. These hikers exude the brand’s expertise in creating gear that can prove to be valuable for outdoor enthusiasts. Keen’s low-cut shoes are designed to help you overcome various trail conditions without restricting your movement. They are built with lightweight, yet sturdy materials to keep your journey as comfortable as possible. These products also come with various technologies to prevent your feet from getting wet or smelling bad while you’re outdoors. If you’re going to invest in quality footwear, Keen’s hiking shoes should be one of the options you should consider.

Virtues of the best Keen hiking shoes

best Keen hiking shoes

Best Keen hiking shoes - August 2018

Hiking sandals offer less traction and protection on the trail. On the other hand, it takes a significant amount of effort to wear burly backpacking boots over a multi-day trek. Keen hiking shoes are placed right in the middle. This footwear provides a balanced choice when it comes to weight, comfort, and grip, among others. Here are some benefits you’ll gain while using a pair of Keen hiking shoes for your next outing.

Fit

Everything starts with how a footgear fits you. If it’s either too tight or too loose, your mobility will be severely affected. Keen hiking shoes come loaded with several features to give you a precise fit. Select hikers are equipped with a classic lace-up closure system with leather eyelets  to keep your foot secure inside the shoe at all times. Keen also included a heel wrap  to keep your foot anchored to the footbed. Lastly, you’ll find a pull tab on the heel and tongue for an easy on and off. These shoe components work together to hold your foot in place so you’ll worry less while hiking.

What should I remember when getting a new pair of Keen hiking shoes online?

There are two ways in which you can get low cut-hikers from Keen. You can either check them out at your nearest outdoor gear store or order a pair online. The former gives you the freedom to try on these shoes for a precise fit. Purchasing Keen hiking shoes from an online store is a bit more complicated because you won’t be able to check them first. As such, here are some essential details to remember before purchasing a new pair.

  • Keen hiking shoes are available for men and women. Sizes for men range from 7 to 17. Women’s shoes  are from size 5 to 12.
  • Keen also offers hiking shoes for children at sizes 1 to 13.
  • The brand offers half-sizes so you can get a precise fit from their footwear.
  • When in doubt about your foot size, you can refer to Keen’s footwear guide. This contains a sizing chart for men, women, and children.
  • Remember to compensate for additional factors when measuring your foot. Your socks add a little bulk whenever you wear them inside the shoe. Your foot swells a bit in the afternoon as well. The safest course of action is to get a shoe that is half a size bigger so you won’t have any fitting problems.

Comfort

You won’t get far on the trail if your feet aren’t comfortable. Keen hiking shoes provide a cozy feel so you can focus more on your hike. In fact, there’s almost no need to break them in when you first get these shoes. You can wear them straight out of the box. Several shoe components render the comfort your feet needs. The combination of a padded tongue and collar keeps your foot comfortable throughout the hike. Mesh panels are found all over the upper for enhanced breathability in hot weather.

Keen hiking shoes feature an EVA midsole designed to cushion and absorb shock. The brand’s footwear also features Cleansport NXT technology  to combat odor-causing microbes. Overall, Keen hiking shoes deliver the comfort your feet need when you’re out and about.

Weight

One of the main attractions of a hiking shoe is its lightweight design. Hiking boots are known to weigh an average of 1,000 grams per pair. In comparison, the best Keen hiking shoes top out at 850 grams  each pair. The shoe’s low cut design, coupled with mesh panels in its upper, reduces the overall weight. Thanks to the lightweight nature of Keen hiking shoes, you can move faster and freer on your trip.

Traction

One of the worst things that can happen to a hiker is to slip in the middle of a treacherous trail. Keen hiking shoes are engineered to give you adequate traction, so this scary scenario won’t occur. The outsole is filled with multi-directional 4mm lugs that bite well into varied ground conditions, such as mud and wet rocks. There’s enough space between the lugs to prevent debris from building up underneath the shoe. Keen’s in-house rubber outsoles help you be more confident in tackling any obstacle without the risk of slippage.

Support

Most hiking shoes in the market are leaning towards a lighter and slimmer design. This layout often compromises how the footgear is going to support you. Keen hiking shoes are built against this trend to afford your feet with the support they need on the trail. The brand’s patented footbed is designed anatomically to give exceptional arch support. It conforms to your foot’s contour to accomplish this goal. There’s an injected heel-capture system made from thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, to stabilize your footing. Majority of Keen’s low-cut shoes are furnished with compression-molded, dual-density EVA midsoles to render sufficient cushioning. Some shoe models use a midsole made of polyurethane  for improved resiliency. An ESS shank is also present to add more rigidity and structure to the footwear. Finally, premium Keen hiking shoes are supplied with S3 technology. This feature helps reduce impact, dissipate shock, and lessen the chance of twisting your ankle. These shoe features and components help deliver more support and stability to your every stride.

Can I use my Keen hiking shoes for an upcoming trek?

Going on a trekking trip is way different from a hike. You’re going to carry a heavier load on your back while tackling countless difficulties on the trail. Also, the entire trek will last for more than a day. These demanding factors entail a pair that can keep up. Keen hiking shoes don’t have the necessary features to support the extra weight or protect your ankles from rolling. These low-cut hikers will be more of a detriment to you. It’s recommended to get burlier and stiffer backpacking boots if you’re planning to go trekking. They support your ankles and the additional weight on your back better.

Protection

Going on a hike isn’t a simple walk in the park. You’re going to encounter all sorts of dangers that can harm your feet. Keen hiking shoes are manufactured to keep your feet protected. As mentioned earlier, some of the brand’s hikers are fitted with large rubber toe caps to shield the toes from accidental knocks. Most of Keen’s shoes use sturdy nubuck leather uppers to protect your foot. You’ll also find a gusseted tongue that hinders debris from entering the shoe.

The brand imbued some of its shoe models with a waterproof liner to help you cope with rainy weather and wet trail conditions. Thanks to this feature, you can wade through streams, cross dew-soaked grass, and tackle puddles without getting your feet wet. Just remember not to submerge your Keen hiking shoes, and you’ll be fine.

Durability

Investing in a pair of Keen hiking shoes is a decision you won’t regret. These low-cut hikers are made from durable materials that can endure varied trail conditions. The nubuck leather upper is resistant to abrasions. The heavy-duty rubber outsole can withstand constant friction against the ground. Keen uses a dual density EVA midsole in most of its hikers to endure persistent bending. These components work in unison to make your Keen hiking shoes more durable against agents that bring damage.

How can I best preserve my Keen hiking shoes?

Although the brand’s hikers can last a long time, it’s wise to stay on the safe side of things. Here are a couple of maintenance tips you should do for your Keen hiking shoes:

  • Use a brush with soft bristles or a hand towel to clean your hikers. These items are a must so your shoes won’t end up damaged when you clean them.
  • In the event you find stains on your Keen hiking shoes, a gum eraser is needed. Rub it lightly on the affected area in a circular motion and brush it afterward.
  • When a gum eraser isn’t effective, mix a little bit of vinegar with warm water. Apply the mixture on the stain using a damp cloth. Take note; this process might discolor your shoe so be extra careful in cleaning it.
  • After quite some time, your Keen hiking shoes’ will lose a portion of its waterproofing ability. It is recommended to apply the brand’s recommended waterproofing spray on the shoe’s upper every three months to preserve its water-resistant coating.
  • Select Keen hiking shoes come in a nubuck leather upper. To keep these uppers free from scuff, you should apply a leather cleaning product recommended by the American footwear brand.

The formula behind the best Keen hiking shoes

Popularity

Since its inception in 2003, Keen Footwear has grown from a simple concept to a trusted name in the outdoor industry. Its founder, Martin Keen, initially wanted to have a sandal that can be used for boating. Keen, a competitive sailor by nature, dreamed of comfortable footwear for his endeavors. From that premise, the brand has expanded to other activities, such as hiking.

The brand’s hiking shoes can be easily found in outdoor gear stores and online shops. Perform a quick search on Keen hiking shoes, and you’ll find one that fits your preferences. The high-performance of this footwear, coupled with its protective features, make Keen hiking shoes rank high among consumers and expert reviewers alike.

Prominent Keen hiking shoe lines

Keen produces hiking shoes that fall under various categories. Some of the brand’s shoes are targeted towards beginners while select models are designed for experienced hikers.

  • Targhee hiking shoes are considered to be the brand’s finest offering. They come in waterproof and non-waterproof versions for different climates. These Keen hiking shoes are endowed with the brand’s best technologies to provide the protection and performance you need outdoors.
  • The Oakridge line is composed of two versions – one with a waterproof membrane and one that isn’t. Like the Targhee range, these Keen hiking shoes are fitted with various features for your outdoor benefit. Some shoe components are omitted to differentiate it from the Targhee while being lighter at the same time.
  • The Keen Voyageur is a decent choice for hikers looking for a breathable and lightweight shoe. This shoe model is similar in most qualities to the Targhee line. The only exception is the Keen Voyageur doesn’t come with a waterproof liner. Keen advertises this hiking shoe as the perfect complement for outdoor lovers who are planning to hike in warm weather.
  • The Gypsum shares most of the Targhee line’s notable technologies. The differences include the absence of an injected TPU-heel capture system and eco-friendly leather upper found in Keen’s top-of-the-line hiker.
  • The Saltzman line is currently the lightest hiking shoe Keen is offering. Its main features include a waterproof liner for those rainy days, a nylon support shank for added structure, and a high-performance rubber outsole for a better grip. Unlike other models, this hiking shoe uses a midsole made of polyurethane, making it more resilient to wear and tear.

Pricing

Keen hiking shoes are priced according to the technologies they feature. Entry-level shoes start at $95  while premium models have a suggested retail price of $135 . The brand’s low-cut hikers are priced competitively, making them an attractive option to any outdoor junkie.

Shoe Technologies

Keen hiking shoes are packed with various technologies to improve your hiking experience. Unlike other outdoor footwear manufacturers, most features found in these shoes are solely developed by the brand. These technologies are found primarily in the finest Keen hiking shoes. Footwear from the brand’s entry-level line is also fitted with some of these features to lower their cost.

  • Dry. This is Keen’s proprietary waterproof technology. The Keen.Dry membrane hinders water from soaking your feet while allowing moisture vapor to escape the shoe’s insides.
  • Protect. This is the brand’s patented toe protection technology where the outsole wraps the forefoot section. It is characterized by a rubber cap covering the majority of the toe box area. This feature prevents stubbing while you’re hiking.
  • Metatomical Footbed Design. The word Metatomical is an abbreviation of Metatarsal and Anatomical. The former refers to the five largest bones in a foot. The latter means the footbed is engineered to cradle the contours of your foot. The result is a supportive and comfortable experience whenever you use Keen hiking shoes with this technology.
  • Cleansport NXT. A Smelly foot is an issue every hiker may encounter on the trail. Keen hiking shoes equipped with Cleansport NXT prevent this problem from happening. Specialized microbes are bonded inside the shoe’s interior fabric. These microbes work by reducing the odor generated by sweat to keep your feet from smelling bad.
  • S3 stands for Shock, Suspension, and Stability. Keen hiking shoes that are fitted with S3 technology are exceptional in diminishing shock, supporting your foot, and lessening the chances of ankle twisting.

Frequently asked questions about the best Keen hiking shoes

There’s a squeaking sound whenever I use my Keen hiking shoes. What should I do about it?

There are times when the slick interiors of the shoe slide around . When this happens, a squeaking sound is generated when you use this footgear. You can remedy this problem by removing the footbed and buff the interior lining at the bottom using medium-grit sandpaper. While you’re at it, buff the bottom of the footbed as well. If this method doesn’t work, the squeaking sound may come from the outsole. In this regard, you can have your defective Keen hiking shoes exchanged for a new pair.

What are the details on Keen’s warranty policy for their hiking shoes

In the event you find a defect on your Keen hiking shoes, it’s crucial to have this concern remedied right away. This is where the brand’s warranty policy comes in . Keen offers a one-year warranty for their products. If a defect is found, you can send an email to the company about your predicament. You’ll be asked to fill out some forms. Once your claim has been approved, you’ll get a product voucher in the amount of your purchase.

Can I wear my Keen hiking shoes in a snowy environment?

In a nutshell, you can’t. Keen hiking shoes don’t have any form of insulation built into them. Wearing this footwear will leave your feet exposed to the cold. When that happens, your mobility will be severely affected. Worse, you’re going to suffer from frostbite or hypothermia. Also, you can’t attach crampons to these shoes for the traction you need in this kind of terrain. Choosing a pair of winter hiking boots will give you more protection and performance in a snowy environment.

My Keen hiking shoes don’t smell good. What’s the remedy?

Cleaning your footwear after a hike is essential. If an unpleasant odor remains after washing your Keen hiking shoes, the footbed might be the cause of the problem. Place these footbeds inside a washing machine on a gentle cycle setting. Afterward, apply a dose of tea tree essential oil on the footbed and the shoe’s upper lining to make it smell better. If your footgear doesn’t have a removable footbed, you can wash the shoe’s insides by hand. Go for a gentle cleaning product so you won’t affect the quality of your Keen hiking shoes.

6 best Keen hiking shoes

  1. Keen Targhee Vent
  2. Keen Targhee III Waterproof
  3. Keen Voyageur
  4. Keen Oakridge
  5. Keen Oakridge Waterproof
  6. Keen Venture WP
Author
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Paul Ronto

Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.

paul@runrepeat.com
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