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SFS Gear Review: Keen Hybrid Life

Everyone’s seen the Keen sandals – the ones that characterize the feet of kayakers all over and arguably create their own style. Keen, however, also offers shoes more in line with their motto of “hybrid life” – that is, they are supposed to be good for a life on-the-go for someone who only wants to carry one pair of shoes.

I received such a pair as a birthday gift from my mother – the source of most shoes in my life. She bought them because they were “cute” and because they came in green, a color that pervades my wardrobe. So they’ve passed the mom test on style. How’d they do on function?

I’ve put quite a few miles on these shoes already, wearing them almost every day. Sometimes I wear them with thin socks, sometimes with thick, and sometimes with no socks at all. They still smell fine, which is an accomplishment after spending time in the vicinity of my feet. Even as new shoes, they didn’t cause blisters or even hot spots. As everyday shoes, they’ve been wonderful.

They recently had a good test as a travel shoe over a couple of weeks in India as my sole footwear. They’ve held up quite well, only one loose stitch in the back. They were great climbing over rocks while tide-pooling and easy to slip on and off when we visited temples. They fit the rest of my travel wardrobe by not sticking out as obvious tourist wear, as well. On the days we walked 5 or 10 km, they could have stood a bit more padding on the comfort scale, but I never needed to seek out a second pair of shoes for respite. They’re slightly waterproof, but I wouldn’t recommend a full submerging like is advertised with the original Keens, as water stains show on the outside fabric and the insides would probably take a while to dry. But overall, they’ve succeeded in being my only shoes for a fairly long trip with varied activities.

Utility: 4. I’ve been hiking with them and given presentations with them. That about runs the gamut of what I need in a shoe.

Durability: 3.5. I’ve had them for 6 months as an everyday shoe and they definitely have that well-loved look, including a few loose threads. But I suspect they’ll make it at least a year, if not more.

Comfort: 3.5. My only complaint is that they need a wee bit more padding as they’ve aged.

Price: $$-$$$. They’re on the pricier end if you get them from a store like REI but my mom seems to consistently find them at discount places like DSW at 50-70% off manufacturer’s prices.