High Gear: Review of KEEN Versatrail men’s shoes
KEEN Versatrail hiking shoe, $120
Sizes: Men’s U.S. 7-15
Midsole: Dual-density compression-molded EVA
Upper: Breathable synthetic mesh
For more info or to purchase, see www.keenfootwear.com.
I’d always heard such great things about KEEN shoes, like how genuinely soft and cushy they were right out of the box, but never tried them out until easing my tootsies into the Versatrail men’s hikers.
Boy, were prior word-of-mouth reviews spot on. These all-purpose, mountain-inspired lows felt like old friends from the moment I clamped down the bungee lacing system.
With just enough traction to seamlessly transition from casual trail running to aggressively attacking hills, or even just for getting yourself around town, these lightweight, progressive shoes don’t disappoint. Granted, these aren’t Virbram-level outsoles made to tackle the toughest of treks, but they’re also a lot more comfortable than many of the shoes I’ve worn that possess those heavy rubber outers.
Icelandic field test
Wanting to really test the red-and-gray kickers out, I put them to the test during an Icelandic and European expedition this fall — and they passed the test with flying colors.
While my travel companion consistently complained of foot soreness from some traditional, low-profile Adidas Sambas each night, not once did I feel his pain. From hiking steep inclines of red rock and 1,000-year-old volcanic remnants en route to geothermal hot springs outside of Reykjavik, to conquering tens of miles of daily sightseeing hauls through London’s concrete jungle, the cushy and comfortable insoles, hideaway tongue and breathable synthetic uppers kept me ready for whatever random adventure materialized the next morning.
These shoes are sporty and stylish enough to blend into almost any scenario. Obviously no one questioned them on regular hiking excursions, but they fit just as well for exploring geysers and glacier lagoons through Iceland as for late-night pubs and basement concerts in Cardiff, Wales.
Breathable mesh also keeps them from getting too funky, no matter how much ground moisture, spilled beer or sweat you throw at them. The Versatrails boast the Cleansport NXT organic enzyme odor control to do you proper and keep your significant other from complaining about any stink. Pure win.
The bungee cord laces were new to me, but were an easy adjustment. Because I often just throw a pair of shoes on to make a quick trip to the grocery or another errand, these have great functionality — I don’t even need to batten down the hatches, so to speak.
My one complaint is that the bungees have started to wear out after some use and tend to loosen up during a day’s activities if left alone. This is not ideal if trying to keep after it on runs, trails or High Country jaunts. (I read online that Keen in fact warranties laces and offers free replacements on their customer service FAQs page.) I’ve yet to test the waters there, but if the Portland, Oregon-based company had my back if and when I make the request, it would dismiss my one real gripe.
Go getcha some. Great shoe, reasonable price and still haven’t shown much signs of wear, despite fairly heavy deployment and daily use. The KEEN Versatrails retail for $120, but can be nabbed for discounted rates if you do a little internet browsing.
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