If you are a traveler, or more specifically, an adventurer, chances are you’ve heard of KEEN Footwear, the uber-successful American company that specializes in rugged but lightweight shoes and boots for hiking, watersports, and other sporting activities. As most people note, their light weight makes them ideal for travel.
The company has an impressive business model with their Care Program, wherein they strive to reduce their impact on the environment, partake in planet protection initiatives, and give back to communities in need. It’s definitely a company consumers can feel good about. But the big question is, do the shoes live up to the hype?
We decided to check out the Women’s Terradora Waterproof Hiking Shoe (also called a Trail Shoe) which comes in sizes 5 to 11 and includes half sizes. This particular style retails between $129 and $165 (USD) depending on where you buy them. They come in 9 striking colour options and weigh only 11.3 ounces because there is no heavy leather to weigh down the shoe, everything is synthetic and easy to clean. The shoes also feature odor control technology; a breathable lining; a dual density footbed for comfort, support and durability; as well as a non-marking, non-slip rubber sole.
Taking everything into account, the shoes sound ideal. Surely, they have a lot going for them. For the most part, they’re comfortable and the ankle support is commendable. The non-slip sole wasn’t quite as grippy as we expected it to be, but it wasn’t bad.
Unfortunately, the shoes do have some drawbacks. For starters, regarding sizing, they tend to fit much more snuggly than similar sneakers, which can become uncomfortable if your feet swell in hot or humid weather. It might be best to opt for the next size up if you feel the shoes are pinching even in the least during try-on because its unlikely that breaking them in will result in the shoes becoming much looser. Additionally, with respect to size, the toe box is narrower than similar shoes causing toes to feel cramped. Women with a wide foot or long toes will likely find the fit problematic. Issues continue with the toe box area as this is precisely where the shoe bends during use and it shows wear and tear rather quickly with the fabric ripping away from the protective membrane. For our review purposes of only a few months wear, the shoe did not hold up as well as we had expected.
The men’s hiking shoes and boots are known to take a lot more punishment, but even they are not without their issues as we discovered when male colleagues reported on the sole separating from the shoe notably early in their wear. While researching the hiking boots online, we discovered that sole separation was an issue raised by several buyers.
But back to the women’s trail shoes, in all honesty, we found greater comfort and greater durability in our test with Sketchers, notably the lace-up Flex Appeal 3.0 (First Insight) and Wave-Lite Fleeting with bungee lacing. Both proved to be more comfy to wear and were more stylish, in our opinion. Not to mention that the Flex Appeal 3.0 has far more colour options – 13 to be exact. We fully realize that Sketchers are not waterproof like KEEN, which limits their use, and the styles we chose lacked the ankle support offered by Keen’s Terradora. However, the Sketchers are every bit as lightweight and, dare we say, offer even more sole and arch support with a shock absorbing mid-sole. They also feature air-cooled Memory Foam insoles, and a highly flexible sole with great traction, all at a lower price point than Keen’s Terradora.
Overall, the KEEN Terradora Hiking Shoe/Trail Shoe is a good shoe from a great and eco-friendly company, but the design in question needs improvement with its sizing and durability, especially when the cost is almost double that of our chosen Sketchers models.