[Note that on 5 September 2012, Webtogs Limited went into liquidation, but its business has been continued in the name of Dorset Mountain Sports Limited, t/a Webtogs, with whom I have had no contact whatsoever, nor did the liquidator of Webtogs Ltd respond to my enquiry as to whether any members of the public had lost money as a result of the liquidation.]
After the demise of my last pair of trail shoes, the relatively smart HI-TEC V-Lite Thunder HPi ‘Adventure Sports’ Shoes, I was delighted to receive these Keen ‘Walking Shoes’ for review from Webtogs.
Out of the box they seemed chunkier and more substantial than the 400gm HI-TECs. Weighing in at 490gm for each shoe for my size 9’s they are a little heavier as well.
Anyway, I put them on straight away and have worn them on 11 outings since they arrived three weeks ago, culminating in a 27 mile Challenge walk a couple of days ago. So they have done about 100 miles in anger already and are well and truly broken in.
The shoes have a wide toe box, but the UK size 9 / EU size 43 shoes are only just long enough for my feet. Keen’s website does observe that “We find this style runs about a 1/2 size small”. Really?
Made in China, they look to be solidly constructed, with an upper of leather, webbing and mesh, and a ‘non-marking rubber outsole’, but it’ll be some months before I can comment on their longer term durability.
Unlike any trail shoes I have previously owned, these feature a ‘KEEN.DRY™ Waterproof membrane and breathable textile lining’. My initial impression is that this lining is brilliant. I’ve been out walking on dewy mornings and in boggy conditions that have rapidly given my walking companions soaking wet feet due to water flowing through the fabric uppers of their trail shoes. These Keens have repelled the water, although the leather has got pretty wet from the dew. On return home, I have simply washed off the mud and sprayed on some proofer. The insides of the shoes were just a little damp from sweat, but the whole lot dried out remarkably quickly and they could have been worn dry again immediately. This is quite a revelation to me, as my previous trail shoes have all needed time to dry out after a good wash.
The sole seems quite solid and grippy, but you’d need to be careful to avoid using the plastic at either side of the midsole to balance on a plank, rock or stile, etc – it could result in a nasty slip.
I found the heel box rather roomy and initially tried to reduce the volume by way of tight lacing, in an attempt to pull the tape you can see below as tight as possible. That was a mistake, it pulled the laces tight over the thin tongue and caused a tendon on the top of one of my feet to rub painfully. The other foot had its problems as well, as the fabric on the outer side of the shoe came right up to my ankle bone and rubbed it slightly but annoyingly.
So these shoes weren’t a perfect fit. But the rubbing tendon is now better, and for longer walks I have purchased some ‘Gel Heel Cups’ - £5 from Sports Direct – that lift my heels slightly and reduce the volume, to the extent that the 27 mile Challenge walk was completed with no problems whatsoever, confirming that the initial teething troubles had been completely overcome. At no point has either shoe even vaguely threatened to give me a blister.
I’ve been using the shoes casually as well as for walking, and apart from the minor ankle rub they have been comfy with any sort of sock. I won’t hesitate to use them for serious mountain walking in summer conditions (in fact the above-mentioned Challenge walk included 1750 metres of ascent), but I will sometimes choose to wear ankle gaiters to eliminate stones and avoid rain draining into the shoes from my waterproofs.
So, to summarise:
Fit and Finish:
- the EU size 43 (UK 9) shoes are roomy, but only just long enough for me, so the shoes may be ideal for people with bulky feet, but not so good for long, thin feet
- the Chinese construction appears to be good, but I can’t yet comment on long-term durability (regular readers will realise that the treatment they will receive will challenge any claim to durability!)
- these are reasonably respectably casual shoes, though personally I find the wide slab of rubber across the front of the toe box functional but ugly
- Keen’s stated features are reiterated below
- unlike HI-TEC’s ‘ion-mask hydrophobic technology’, the breathable waterproof lining in these shoes really does seem to work. Brilliant
- the shoes are comfortable, once broken in, and in my case with the aid of Gel Heel Cups, for anything from walking to the shops to serious mountain walking, for which I would recommend the use of ankle gaiters to keep out stones, etc
- at 980gm (490gm each), they are relatively heavy, so probably not ideal footwear for those who wish to run over the fells. But I haven’t noticed their weight or bulk when trying to move quickly, and I’ve quite happily jogged in them, though the old HI-TECs were better for that purpose
- these shoes now sit in the porch and are my first choice for anything from an evening out in casual wear, to a serious mountain day walk in dry conditions
- the shoes are robust and the soles (apart from the plastic mid section) grippy in the mixed conditions and ground over which they have currently been used
- so far, (3 weeks, 100 miles, in mixed conditions) they have kept my feet dry. But it’s early days - ‘watch this space’ as they say! (See below)
- I’ll reiterate a comment made in relation to their HI-TEC predecessors: ‘with limited ankle support, many users may be reluctant to use the shoes on certain steep ground such as some of the scree slope crossings in the Dolomites, where the additional ankle support provided by lightweight boots may enhance both comfort and safety’
- available from Webtogs for £80.99
- there are lots of alternatives to these high spec trail/walking shoes, but I suspect that these relatively ugly shoes are more robust than most. As always with footwear – different products suit different feet
- these shoes got off to a questionable start, causing discomfort to both feet, but with the addition of Gel Heel Cups (only needed for more serious excursions) and the benefit of quite a few outings, they are now well moulded to my feet and will provide me with comfortable day to day use for the limit of their durability. They do appear to be good all-round performers, with the waterproof lining coming as an unexpected bonus
- October 2011 (after six months) – I’ve been wearing these shoes all summer for walking (650km) and cycling. For example, on the recent Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon I used them together with ankle gaiters and some old Sealskinz socks. I washed them in a puddle after the ride, and didn’t need to remove them until I got home. My feet, and the Sealskinz socks, were perfectly dry. I didn’t see anyone else with dry feet. The route was very boggy in places, and at times it was not at all easy to cycle through these bogs, so the shoes endured some deep dunks. The Keens really are versatile shoes, and the waterproof membrane seems to be largely intact, though I’m sure that continuous walking through wet grass or similar would result in some seepage. Here’s what they currently look like – exhibiting signs of wear but still with a fair amount of life in them. The grey bits on the sole are coming adrift from the main sole, probably largely as a result of abrasion from the aggressive lugs on the pedals of my bicycle.
- October 2012 (after 18 months) – these shoes have now walked 1400km and have been used for mountain biking. The waterproof membrane seems still to be largely intact. Here’s what they currently look like – whilst their basic structure remains impressively intact, the shoes are exhibiting signs of serious wear – the lining inside the heels has now split, the laces have had to be replaced, and the soles have worn fairly smooth, with the heels being particularly worn down. They continue to be really comfy, so long as the heel inserts are used, and I’ll probably not be using them in slippery conditions. However, they aren’t yet destined for the bin – I’ll provide a final report at that stage.
Note: Whilst the gear was provided by Webtogs, this review, over which I have total editorial control, is totally independent of that on-line retailer.
FEATURES of the KEEN Men’s Targhee II Walking Shoe, according to KEEN
- 4mm multi directional lugs
- Dual-density compression molded EVA midsole
- KEEN toe protection
- KEEN.DRY™ Waterproof breathable membrane
- Removable metatomical Footbed
- S3 Heel support structure
- Torsion stability ESS shank
Shock, suspension, stability – otherwise known as S3 – is engineered to support the foot on impact, dissipate shock and reduce your odds of twisting an ankle. KEEN.DRY
A proprietary waterproof, breathable membrane that lets vapor out without letting water in. METATOMICAL FOOTBED DESIGN
This internal support mechanism is anatomically engineered to provide excellent arch support and cradle the natural contours of the foot. KEEN.PROTECT
Can a sandal* protect your toes? The answer is yes. The reason is KEEN Patented Toe Protection where the shoe outsoles wrap up and over the toes for ultimate protection.
* this must be Keen’s standard wording, as this shoe is definitely not a ‘sandal’!