KEEN bills the Versatrail as a “lightweight, high-performance hiking shoe.”
In an interesting marketing decision, KEEN packages this shoe with two types of laces: traditional and a quick pull system. With an 8mm heel to toe drop, this feels relatively close to the ground. Underfoot there is a dual density compression molded EVA midsole, an exterior EVA heel counter, and a Zorb Strobel, which promises to add spring to your step. Overall I found the shoes quite stiff, though more use may soften them up a bit. KEEN considers these a warm weather shoe, though I’ve been wearing them for much of the winter without issues. To keep feet happy, the shoe is constructed with a mesh lining, a lightweight breathable mesh and synthetic upper, and Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control. One miss for sure is the Ariaprene™ tongue construction – I wish they had connected the tongue higher, as it has a tendency to get pushed in as the foot enters the shoe.
Initially, I didn’t like this shoe very much. It has a LOT of toe box room, to the point where I felt like my feet were moving around too much. This is not optimal for hiking. It also felt stiff and clunky, also not particularly beneficial for hiking. After several months, I remained unconvinced. Until…
…until I decided to swap out the existing quick pull laces with the traditional ones. What a huge difference. For me, it meant I could tailor the fit much better, dialing in more snugness where needed. Night and day fit. Suddenly the shoe felt like an extension of my foot – still stiff, but working with my gait rather than dragging it down. The shoe, to me, still has a semi-roomy, somewhat disconnected feel to it, but not as noticeably negative as before.
Pros: two types of laces included; quality feel
Cons: Quick pull laces; somewhat disconnected feel; loose tongue
Opinion: Depending on your tolerance for the somewhat disconnected feel, these promise to be a long lasting addition to the shoe closet. I’m not sold on them as a fast-hiker, though they seem more than adequate for day hikes and regular, casual use as every day wear. Also, considering they are marketed as warm weather footwear, I’m impressed with how well they’ve handled winter duties.
Weight: Claimed 10.3 oz per shoe; my size 13 weighed 14 oz with traditional lace.
Price (MSRP): $120.00
Shoes provided for review purposes – all opinions are my own.