KEEN Shoes Review – Are They The Best Shoe for Travel?

Last Updated on by Jeremy

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Prior to leaving to our 465-day trip around the world, we were really excited to be sent a few pairs of KEEN shoes to wear on our journey.

We were particularly interested in these shoes as they were clearly designed by someone who had our type of journey in mind.

Comfortable for city walking, rugged for mountain hiking, and waterproof just for good measure, they really did seem to be the best shoe for traveling on an adventure such as ours.

But did they live up to the hype?

After 15 months on the road, visiting 38 countries on 5 continents, you could say that we put them through the ultimate test to find the answer.

Is KEEN Footwear The Best for Travel?

Angie's KEEN shoes for women after 15 months of travel
Jeremy's KEEN shoes for men after 15 months of travel

When we say we put our shoes through a good test, we really mean it.  Our waterproof shoes underwent some pretty incredible feats (pun intended).

From trekking to Everest Base Camp, climbing snowy mountains in Switzerland, hiking in Patagonia, walking through the desert of Oman, going on safari in Africa, to walking miles upon miles in the cities of Europe, there is no element they didn't see.

But we have to be honest, putting these shoes through all of that wasn't our original choice. 

KEEN Footwear in Nepal

We originally were going to pick up a few other pairs of shoes during our travels that would be better suited for our individual tasks. Cost, and planning logistics, stopped us in our tracks before we could do so- and we're really glad that we did not.

Had we bought new hiking boots in Kathmandu for the Everest Base Camp trek, for example, we would have been in extreme pain for that eleven day journey as the shoes would not have been broken in for the hike. By having our well-worn shoes (which had just endured five months in Europe), we saved ourselves from the countless blisters that come with hiking in new boots, and as it turns out we really didn't even need that KEEN boots with ankle support at all- the regular waterproof shoes were perfect!

Throw in many more situations like this throughout our journey, and you can imagine why we can't speak nothing but positive things about the shoes as we quite literally put them through every situation imaginable.

KEENs Sandals in Greece

The only case where these shoes did not hold up were around the beach, mostly because the waterproof nature of the shoe meant that once the sand got in, it never got out until you took it off and shook it.

Thankfully, we had pair of KEEN water shoes, the Newport H2s, that covered all of the other cases where we needed a more open sandal. These were also so rugged that we also wore them hiking at times, but it is worth keeping in mind that since they are open so much, if there is any debris found on the hike (such as twigs or plants with spines) they could find their way to your foot.

That never stopped us, but it is definitely worth considering for that function.

How Did Our KEEN Sneakers Hold Up?

As you can see, Jeremy's KEENs are tore up in the ankle.
Angie's KEENs have similar wear, but not as bad.

Normally my shoes have an average lifespan of about one year. Stretching out an additional five months (accounting for the month we wore them before we left and the month we've worn them since being home), and accounting for the crazy conditions we put them through, it is easy to say that they stood up quite well.

And that is before even realizing that I'm really hard on my shoes in normal cases!

I never untie the shoe laces and generally wear out any ankle support they have very fast.  You can see this in my KEENs very easily as the padding around the ankle started to disappear at the 9 month mark and became even worse by the end.   Still, other than looking bad they performed just fine.

Some of the padding on the soles were damage, but nothing serious.
Our shoes also got very, very dirty.

Angie's shoes are starting to show similar wear, but it is to a lesser degree because she actually unties her shoes like a responsible person.

Other than these two noticeable differences, one pair of broken shoe laces at the end of our trip, and the general layer of dirt that builds up on the outside of the shoes after wearing them for a long time, we had no performance reducing wear that we could point out.

There was one feature we wanted to find out more about prior to publishing this review, and it was this: are our shoes still waterproof?  The fact that they survived everything we put them through on our trip gave us a thumbs up and made us want to purchase another set right away, but how did the waterproofing hold up?

For this one, we needed to perform a test.

This test is outlined in the video at the top of this page (sticky on sidebar for desktop users), and we highly recommend scrolling up to watch in case you missed it.

Within the test we did something very simple, and submerged each shoe in a bucket of water in order to mimic a stream. Not just any stream, but a deep stream that we stayed in for quite some time. This did not really happen on our journey at all, as more often than not we'd bounce in and out of a stream really quickly.

However for this test we went pretty hardcore for a long submersion to find any leaks at all.

The results were pretty surprising. After fifteen months on the road, through every condition imaginable, our shoes were still waterproof for the most part! We could definitely notice a small leak here or there (each in our right shoe), but for those who only cross streams for a brief second, as we would normally do, we'd call this still mostly waterproof for its intended use.

For that, we have to say, our KEEN shoes were amazing. The perfect shoe for a trip like ours!

Our KEEN shoes after 15 months of travel

To buy your pair of KEEN footwear, click here to check out their products directly on their website or click here to purchase a pair on Amazon.

We'd like to thank KEEN Footwear for providing our shoes for our long-term trip. All opinions featured within this review are our own.

Looking to book your next trip? Check out the following services we use!

6 thoughts on “KEEN Shoes Review – Are They The Best Shoe for Travel?”

  1. RE:ARROYO 3 Sandals 2019
    I’ve worn my new Keen Arroyo III sandals about a month.
    I like the look and feel of the sandals. I bought the Arroyo 3 to replace my aged Arroyo 2 sandals.
    I’ve gotta say, I do have a serious issue with the Arroyo 3 sandals. These feel like a shoe, they’re hot !! It’s March in Colorado and my feet are sweating and wet. The vents are too small, the webbing prevents the air from entering the sandal. If I wanted all this webbing, I’d wear socks !! The webbing is impossible to remove, it is part of the sandals tongue. I’ll wear them for short periods of time. I’m now seeking out another brand of sandal for anything over 3 hours of wear.
    As for Keen, I’m disappointed you ruined a great sandal, oh, and they do run smaller than the Arroyo 2, seems like less leather too. Disappointing !!

  2. Being a Kiwi I have wide feet (barefoot childhood) and over the years have had all brands of outdoor shoes – most of which failed sooner or later then I got a pair of Keen Targhee – best shoes I have ever owned! – I pretty much only buy Keens now – long lasting and comfortable.

  3. I don’t have any Keens more than 3 months,salomon dont survived more than 5 months, design quality Is problem, they don’t support most stressed zones and all of my shoes die soon and that really matters if I paid 80 or 180 all is same, I used REI store return policy, to have them replaced

  4. My Keen Whispers are the best summer hiking shoes/sandals I’ve ever worn. There is just no breaking in time. They are comfy from the moment you get them on. We find ourselves deliberately looking for trails with streams to cross. I just ordered KEEN Targhee II Mid for the upcoming fall hiking season and can’t wait to give them a try. For winter, I’m going with KEEN Revel III. It gets cold here in NE Ohio. I’m going to see if they keep my feet as warm as my Columbia winter boots.

  5. ive always loved my keens! But the last pair i purchased has me second guessing them! The tongue doesn’t have a shoe string loop! And the tongue want stay down! Thinking about tring merrel next time! But all my others were well worth the money!!

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