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Review: Keen Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Keen Zionic Waterproof hiking shoes

An eco-friendly, highly comfortable, waterproof and lightweight hiking shoe for exploring the outdoors.

If you’re looking for a comfy, lightweight, warm and waterproof hiking shoe with great eco-friendly credentials, then look no further than the Keen Zionic. I’m super impressed with these shoes, which are great for hiking in wet, muddy conditions as well as in the snow and on drier rockier terrain. The Zionic is designed for fast hiking and so far, have not disappointed. They are lightweight which allows for nimbleness while providing support in all the right places.They also handle well for short trail runs and are a great colour!

Keen Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoes: The stats

Best for:Fast hiking in wet or dry conditions
Weight:600g / 21oz
Waterproof:Yes, KEEN.DRY membrane
Uppers:Ripstop mesh upper with TPU overlays
Out sole:Higher-traction TPU
Eco-conscious:PFAS-free durable water repellent, water-based adhesives, 100% recycled PET plastic upper, Eco Anti-Odor for natural odor control
Overall rating:
 

Features of the Keen Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Outsoles

Outsole of Keen Zionic shoesThe soles are construted with higher-traction TPU for lightweight durability with 4mm non-marking multidirectional lugs. The lower lug pattern is designed to provide better contact with the ground to allow for faster hiking. The result is that they handle really well on rocks, as well as light to moderate mud and snow. I do struggle when it is really muddy resulting in a few comedy slips. But I think anything other than a full hiking boot wouldn’t handle those conditions any better.

Insoles

Keen shoe insoleThe PU insoles are removable and have an arch support for long-lasting comfort. As someone who is fairly flat footed I often struggle with arch support causing cramp or blisters but these don’t cause me any issues at all and are super comfy. The insoles also have an eco anti-odor treatment which is natural and pesticide free. I’ve had the shoes for a few months, have got them wet a number of times and they don’t smell yet!

Uppers

Keen shoe uppers with mudThe upper part of the shoes have a number of excellent features. They are quick drying using KEEN.DRY technology which provides a waterproof, breathable membrane allowing vapor out without letting water in. They also use PFAS-free durable water repellent which is a safe alternative to toxic chemicals and is therefore much kinder to our planet. I’ve pushed the shoes a few times in wet conditions and my feet stayed completely dry, other than when I pushed them too far and ended up ankle deep in freezing cold river water! Finally, they are made using recycled P.E.T. plastic, mainly from plastic bottles. The bottles are collected, sorted, and chopped into flakes. Then the flakes are melted down to make chips, which are melted to make plastic fiber, which is spun into yarn and used to make webbing and fabrics.

Laces

Shoe lacesThe laces are flat and a mix of ghillie style and normal hole eyelets. I’ve had no issues with them rubbing across the tops of my feet. Plus, they have stayed done up on all hikes and trail runs so far (I always double knot my laces!).

Cushioning

Shoe heelThe cushioning is lightweight with a high-energy foam midsole and a full-length stability plate that work together to create a springboard effect underfoot. It’s contoured fit allows your foot to feel more secure without being tight. The shoes are super comfy for hiking. So much so that I don’t even think about my feet whilst out. I have experimented with a few short trail runs and while they handle well in other aspects the cushioning isn’t quite enough for the trails. But if you’re away somewhere and only want to take one pair of shoes you could get away with using these for a couple of shorter runs.

Toe box

Shoe toe boxThe shoes aren’t the “traditional wide toe box” of Keen shoes but as I haven’t had Keen shoes before I don’t have a comparison. The toe box is a contoured athletic profile which provides better support when moving fast. The toe box is roomy so your toes can splay but without sliding about and banging into the end of the shoe or being squashed into the sides. Having lost a number of toenails previously, I really appreciated this feature!


Woman wearing green keen shoes

Keen Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoes review

I absolutely love this shoe. I’ve never owned a pair of Keen shoes before but I’ve been won over and have been really impressed with these. I use them in a variety of conditions/scenarios – hiking on dry rocky trails, wet muddy hikes, snow, some trail runs and walks about town. They handle well in almost all conditions, except for extreme mud. The only time my feet have gotten wet so far was when I pushed them too far and the water came over the top which was definitely user error!

Keen shoes

The shoes are super comfy and spacious but without causing me to bang my toes and lose toenails because of the space. For trail runs they could do with a little more cushioning, even for shorter runs. Despite that, they still handle the terrain really well at a fast pace.

My feet stayed super warm even in the snow. I’ve had no issues with wearing the shoes in and no blisters or rubbing from any of the activities. The shoes are lightweight but supportive.

Keen have put a lot of thought and time into the eco-credentials of this shoe. As a result of their research the shoe is made from recycled P.E.T. plastic, has Eco Anti-Odor and uses PFAS free water repellency.

Keen shoes in the snow

Warmth

On my recent outing out in the snow, they coped really well and I felt secure with the grip. I was surprised at how warm my feet stayed. Towards the end of the walk they were starting to feel a bit of chill but by no means cold and this was at the end of a day’s hike in sub-zero temperatures.

When they did get wet in the river, my feet were a little cold while the shoes were wet but they dried quickly (within 30 minutes). The fabric of the shoe stops the wind going through (unlike normal trainers, but similar to Gortex shoes) which really helps with the warmth factor. I’ve not been able to try them out in hotter conditions yet, so unsure whether the warmth factor will still be such a positive in hotter conditions…

Cushioning

For hiking and everyday use the cushioning is great but for trail running, there isn’t quite enough for me. I can feel a few rocks on the balls of my feet on the up hills and my knees feel a bit achy the following day which I don’t experience with my normal trail running shoes.

Fit

I am usually somewhere between a UK size 5 and a 6, depending on the brand. These are a 5.5 and feel slightly roomier than others but length-wise they feel true to size. The roomier-ness is due to the wider toe box compared with my other hiking shoes/trail runners. I have narrow feet and despite the extra toe space, my heel feel snug and secure.

Versatility

These shoes are pretty versatile for more than just hiking. I’ve used them on the bike and they are great. My toes do get a little cooler (but not cold) due to the increased speeds on the bike. Warmer socks help with this and they are significantly warmer than my standard trainers. The fact they are waterproof also makes them a good choice for cycling bike, especially with the Manchester weather!

I also really enjoy wearing as everyday shoes; trips to the shops, walking to the pub or weekends in the van. Plus, they look good with jeans so if you just want to take one pair of shoes for a trip away then these definitely do the job.

I’ve not yet worn them for a multi-day hike. On full day hikes with a light rucksack they have been great and remain comfortable throughout the day with no rubbing or blisters. I’ve also worn them with a medium weight rucksack on shorter distances (both hiking and walking back from the supermarket) and they handled well. My feet feel well supported, especially around the heel, and never feel like my ankle is going to roll.

Eco Credentials

Eco anti-odor

Keen have come up with a natural, non-toxic, pesticide free alternative to keep our shoes smelling lovely! They use EVOCO Cleansport NXT application (dubbed ‘Eco anti-odor’) which uses pro-biotic technology to control odour. Naturally occurring microbes are bonded to the surface of the fabric. Microbes lay dormant until they are activated by contact with organic material e.g. sweat. They then work to reduce odours. They are naturally occurring and safe for consumers and the environment. They do not contain pesticides, heavy metals, hazardous chemicals, toxic discharge, perfumes or masking agents, volatile organic compounds or genetically modified organisms. Keen state that they have prevented more than 180 tons of harmful chemicals being introduced into the environment since transitioning to Eco anti-odor.

PFAS-free

PFAS are a class of more than 5,000 fluorinated compounds also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They are manmade chemicals widely used to make everyday products more resistant to stains, grease, and water. They’re called “forever chemicals” because they never break down. Which wouldn’t be a problem in itself, but they’ve been found to be dangerous to environmental and human health. And they’re showing up everywhere — from Everest Base Camp to breast milk. Despite the clear and growing evidence that these forever chemicals are bad for humans and the planet, many businesses persist in using them.

What I love the most about the Keen Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoes

I love the comfort and warmth of these shoes. Having toasty feet makes a significant difference to the enjoyment of a hike and when wearing them I don’t think about my feet at all – other than how cosy they are!.

What I don’t love so much about the Keen Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoes

There actually isn’t anything I don’t like about this shoe. If I had to suggest something it would be that for trail runs the cushioning could be better. But the shoe is for fast hiking (which it does brilliantly) and not trail running so this is maybe a bit unfair?!


Woman walking in hills with her dog

Verdict

The Keen Zionic Waterproof Hiking Shoes provide excellent comfort and support with some appealing ethical credentials for planet-friendly hiking. The shoes are ideal for anyone wanting to get out and hike in a variety of conditions/terrains and are especially well suited to those wanting to hike fast. They are also surprisingly warm, providing impressive waterproof protection and with a reasonable price tag for waterproof hiking shoes.

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Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the

Claerwen Snell

Claerwen Snell
Claerwen loves the adventure of discovering new places – the more remote and challenging the better! Back at home in the UK, if she isn’t planning her next adventure, you’ll catch her hiking, biking, running or bivvying – but wherever she is in the world you will find her with a smile on her face and a cup of tea in hand!

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