KEEN EXPLORE VENT SHOES
TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
December 20, 2019
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6' 2" (1.88 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started hiking about 50 years ago. My first backpacking trip was about 45 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay in the Western half of Oregon and Washington. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 12 lb (6 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, down bag, simple bag style pack.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.keenfootwear.com/
Measured Weight: 34.8 oz (987 g) for a pair of US Men's size 13
The Keen Explore Waterproof is a hiking shoe/sneaker. I think that means it's designed for either hiking on trails or walking/running in the city. I'll be doing my testing on backpacking with some city walking.
The uppers have some sort of synthetic fabric over the toes, on the tongue, and around the ankle. There's also some suede looking material probably synthetic. There's also some rubber. They are glued together. There is some stitching at the heel and around where the laces are.
There's a tab of the rubber material at the heel to hold onto while putting on the shoes.
The laces go through holes, plus it's reinforced with nylon (?) cord. The laces are round synthetic (nylon?) that's slightly stretchy.
I got the magnet/bright yellow color. "magnet" is a dark gray color. There's a bright yellow strip at the top around the ankle. There's also bright yellow accents on the laces. There are also several bright yellow logos. There are three other color combinations available.
The Explore Waterproof has a waterproof breathable membrane called KEEN.Dry. I'll determine how waterproof and breathable it is during my testing. There's also an Explore model that doesn't have the waterproof breathable membrane.
Inside, there's a fabric lining. The insoles have a yellow foam layer on the bottom and a dark colored fabric layer on top. The foam layer is about 1/8 " (3 mm). It's thicker at the heel and wraps around the heel a little (to keep my heel from shifting sideways?).
The soles are a black rubber material with lugs that are 3/8 " (4 mm). The soles are about 1 3/8" (35 mm) thick at the heel, and 3/4 " (20 mm) thick at the ball of the foot. The sole seems fairly stiff.
The shoes are 13.5 inches (343 mm) long, 4.5 inches (114 mm) wide at the widest point, 3.5 inches (89 mm) wide at the heel. The shoes are 4.75 (121 mm) inches above the ground at the rear, 3.75 inches (95 mm) above the ground at the side.
Front and back of shoes, insoles:
Sole and inside:
I examined the Explores and they seem well made. All of the seams look good. No globs of glue or missed stitches. Everything looks symmetric.
I tried them on and they felt good. I'm looking forward to getting out there and testing them.
They look good to me. I wouldn't mind walking around the city in casual settings.
The Keen Explore Waterproof are waterproof/breathable hiking shoes/sneakers.
They're fairly light weight for hiking shoes.
They look good.
They look well made.
I'll test them on two backpack trips during each of the Field Report and Long Term Report periods..
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Aug 23, 2019 - 4 night backpack and 1 night car camp in the Goat Rocks in central Washington. 36 miles (58 km), 7000 feet (2100 m) elevation gain, 45 to 75 F (7 to 24 C).
Sept 11, 2019 - 4 night backpack and 2 night car camp in the Trinity Alps in northern California. 36 miles (58 km), 7600 feet (2300 m) elevation gain, 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C).
I wore breathable gaiters with the Keens. Typical rocks I walked through in Trinity Alps:
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During the Field Report period I took the Keens on two trips, 8 nights of backpacking and 3 nights of car camping. I walked 72 miles (116 km) and did 14600 feet (4500 m) of elevation gain.
The Keen's were quite comfortable. I never had any blisters or hot spots. I did a good range of uphill, downhill, rocky, and developed trails. They fit like other size 13 shoes I've worn, so I think their sizing is accurate.
The soles provided good traction on dirt, gravel, and muddy surfaces. Hopefully I'll get to test them on some snowy surfaces during the long term test period.
On the Goat Rocks trip it was fairly warm (up to 75 F/24 C). My socks got quite damp from sweat. Other waterproof breathable shoes I've worn have been better.
On the Trinity Alps trip one day I had to walk through wet brush for several hours. The Keens were totally wet - this is about the worst case for testing water proofness. At the end of the day my socks were totally wet, much worse than other waterproof breathable shoes I've worn.
On both shoes after two trips there is a spot where two pieces are becoming unglued. It's about 1/2 inch (1 cm) long, right where the shoes flexes when I bend my toes:
I have had similar problems with some other shoes/boots I've used.
Overall, I had mixed feelings about the Keen Explorer shoes.
They were comfortable.
The soles had good traction.
But they weren't very breathable in hot weather or waterproof in wet weather.
And the seam on the outside next to my little toe is starting to come apart.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
November 16, 2019 - 6 night car camp in Mill Creek Wilderness in central Oregon. 29 miles (47 km), 650 feet (200 m) of elevation gain, 20 to 50 F (-7 to 10 C), 1 day of wet snow.
December 4, 2019 - 6 night car camp on the Deschutes River in north central Oregon. 38 miles (61 km), 1500 feet (450 m) elevation gain, 28 to 45 F (-2 to 7 C), dry.
December 24, 2019 - 5 night car camp on the Metolius River in central Oregon. 25 miles (40 km), 1200 feet (350 m) elevation gain, 18 to 42 F (-8 to to 6 C), 1 day of wet snow.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During the FR and LTR test periods I did 8 nights of backpacking and 20 nights of car camping. I did 164 miles (264 km) and 18000 feet (5500 m) of elevation gain.
The Keens were very comfortable over a wide range of conditions. No blisters or hot spots. It was on regular trails, paved trails, uphill, downhill, on boulders,...
During the three trips of the LTR period it was cold and only a little wet. At the end of each day my socks were only a little damp from sweat, maybe a little worse than most other shoes I've used, so the breathability was fine but it was pretty cold so not a good test. During the FR period when it was warm my socks got pretty damp.
On two trips of the LTR period there was some rain and my socks stayed pretty dry, so the water proofness was fine, but this wasn't a very good test because it wasn't that wet. During the FR period when it was quite wet, my socks got pretty damp.
During the Mill Creek and Metolius trips it was very cold (20 F/-7 C). My feet stayed pretty warm. Of course this also depends on the other clothing I was wearing and I would not think these Keen shoes were really intended for very cold weather, but it's nice to know they were warm enough.
The soles maintained a good grip on muddy trails and on slippery snow.
On the inside of each shoe, even with the base of the toes, where the shoe flexes, the shoe is starting to delaminate:
At the top, rear, inside of the shoe where my ankle rubs against the shoe, it's beginning to wear a hole in the lining:
Both of these failures are common with other shoes I've tested, but this wear is unusually early in the shoe's life.
After the last official trip for this test, I put a dab of polyurethane sealant over the defect and did one more trip. The red arrow points to where I put the sealant:
Overall, I was satisfied with the Keens with some reservations.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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The Keens were very comfortable.
I like the low weight of low shoes.
I was not happy with the premature wear on the sides and at the heel. I would expect a pair of hiking shoes to last longer than this.
I was not happy that they weren't very breathable in warm weather, and they weren't very water proof in very wet conditions. But the breathability was fine in colder weather and the water proofness was fine in light rain.
With the polyurethane sealant on the holes on the side and heel I will continue to use these for a few more cold weather trips where it won't be real wet. I expect that with this repair they will have a reasonable lifetime.
Thanks to Keen and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test these.
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Read more gear reviews by jerry adams