Lightweight, decently waterproof and highly versatile hiking shoes
Wear them in the rain, the mountains, around town, traveling, or out on the trail. The Keen Explore Waterproof Low Hiking Shoes are the ideal companion to all your adventures, wherever they may take you. Lightweight and stylish enough to be worn as an everyday shoe, but supportive and weatherproof enough for the rough and tumble of the trail in moderate conditions. These trainer-like hiking shoes may just be the only active footwear you need in your life…
Keen Explore Waterproof Low: The stats
|Best for:||Everyday wear, summer hiking and wet weather|
|Weight:||610g / 21.5oz (per pair size US7)|
|Waterproof:||Yes, KEEN.DRY membrane|
|Uppers:||Synthetic mesh and TPU overlays|
|Eco-conscious:||PFC-free, eco anti-odour|
Features of the Keen Explore Waterproof Low
OutsolesThe soles are made of KEEN.All-Terrain rubber that grips very well on dry rocky terrain as well as hard-packed mud trails. The multi-directional lugs are 4mm deep.
The removable insoles provide good arch support thanks to the dual density footbed. They are also treated with Eco Anti-odour: probiotic technology that naturally breaks down odour in sweat. No nasty chemicals or heavy metals are used.
To help shed water from the shoes, the mesh uppers are treated with a PFC-Free water repellent coating. The uppers also feature TPU overlays for durability.
The round laces feed through eyelets that are reinforced with cord loops for extra durability. The laces are easy to adjust, though keeping them done up is rather challenging!
There is a load of cushioning around the ankle and also over the tongue, making the shoes feel very comfortable and plush.
Keen Explore Waterproof Low Hiking Shoes review
I have to say, I love the big-bumpers of Keen’s classic Targhee range. The Targhee’s were my first pair of hiking shoes and I totally loved them. These new trainer-like hiking shoes have a very different feel about them. They’re way more casual, cross over to everyday wear seamlessly, and they don’t scream “beefy hiking shoes coming through!” whenever you wear them.
Keen call the Explores a “one-shoe wonder”. And although I didn’t fall in love with them immediately, the more I wear them, the more I’m inclined to agree.
Fit and comfort
Though the Targhees are by no means a heavyweight shoe (740g per pair), the Explores are most certainly in a different league when it comes to how lightweight they feel. They were instantly comfortable and, together with their low weight, feel much more like a running shoe than a hiking shoe. However, the plush cushioning around the ankle and heel provides more comfort than most running shoes, further adding to their luxuriously featherweight feel.
Unlike the fit of the Keen Targhees, the Explores don’t have a ton of room in the toe box. That’s not to say the toe box is cramped, but just not what you might be used to if you’ve worn Keens before. But if you’re expecting (and needing) lots of room at the front for your toes to splay, then you won’t get it. The Explores fit true to size for regular width feet. Wide footed folk should try the Targhees too, to compare.
Grip and stability
There’s little about the look of these shoes that sets them apart from everyday trainers. But, despite the sporty-looking midsole and casual design, there’s some nifty technology that very much puts them in the hiking shoe category.
First up, these shoes are surprisingly stable, especially laterally. Of course, they’ll never compete with high ankle boots in this department, but for such lightweight shoes I’ve not felt vulnerable at the ankles at all, even when carrying an overnight pack. Additionally, the Konnectfit heel-capture system is designed to lock the foot down. It does so without feeling tight and restrictive.
Next is the grip. The lugs are relatively shallow for hiking shoes, so don’t expect great things in muddy conditions. That said, the rubber outsoles provide reliable grip on dry, rocky trails and hard-packed mud/dirt trails.
There’s no big toe bumper like the classic Keen designs, but the outsole extends around the front of the toes slightly to give a little extra protection on demanding terrain. However, there’s a good amount of bumper around the heels of the shoes.
Waterproof Keen shoes feature Keen.Dry. This is a breathable and waterproof membrane that behaves in a similar way to Gore-Tex. This, together with the DWR coating, provides decent waterproofness in occasionally wet conditions. Plus, the gusseted tongue raises the depth of water that you can confidently skip through without water getting in through the laces. Unfortunately, prolonged periods walking in the wet or in long grass will see the shoes slowly become damp on the inside.
I would always favour trail shoes to go running in. However, if I had to wear these out on a run, I’d be very happy and comfortable in them. They also seamlessly bridge the gap between everyday wear and active wear. And because they are decently waterproof, they get a lot of everyday wear during the shoulder seasons when it’s not cold enough to wear boots.
What I love the most about the Keen Explore’s
I really love how versatile they are. The less items we can all have in our lives the better, in my opinion! So to have one pair of shoes that do the job of two or three is a major plus for me.
What I don’t love so much about the Keen Explore’s
The laces. They just don’t stay done up! Be sure the double knot them. Also, the waterproofness could certainly be better. They’re great for short walks in the rain or wet. Even splashing through puddles or crossing shallow streams. But prolonged exposure to wet conditions and they start to become saturated. A little disappointing on this front.
With comfort that rivals running shoes but support that competes with hiking boots, the Keen Explore Waterproof Low hiking shoes offer the perfect solution to almost all your active adventures. Plus, they’re stylish enough to wear with jeans or casual clothing. Be aware, however, that the waterproofness isn’t as reliable as it should be after prolonged exposure to wet conditions.
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 reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.