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Reviews > Footwear > Boots > Keen Voyageur Mid > Owner Review by Paul Schilke


October 01, 2009


NAME: Paul Schilke
EMAIL: paulschilke(at)
AGE: 36
LOCATION: Mogollon Rim, Arizona, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I have been a serious backpacker since 2002. I enjoy lightweight camping. I use several different kinds of stoves. Nowadays I prefer using water filters to chemical treatments. I have camped under a tarp, but have also spent several sleep-deprived nights buzz-bombed by rodents. I hike and camp in the deserts and the mountains. Although I have spent up to 7 months backpacking, I usually only get out for 3 to 5 days. I have very limited use of my left arm. My wife and I have a two-year old daughter who enjoys camping with us.


Manufacturer: KEEN
Year of Purchase: Early 2009
Manufacturer's Website: KEEN Footwear
Measured Weight (both boots): 33.9 oz (960 g)

Sizes Available: US Men's 7 to 17, available in half sizes through size 12
Size tested: 9

KEEN's Website lists the Voyageur Mid's technical features as follows:

"- S3 heel support structure
- Torsion stability ESS shank
- Removable metatomical footbed
- KEEN toe protection
- Non-marking rubber outsole
- Dual Density Compression Molded EVA Midsole
- 4mm multi-directional lugs


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.

This internal support mechanism is anatomically engineered to provide excellent arch support and cradle the natural contours of the foot."



I have used these boots on two different backpack adventures in Arizona. The first overnight trip first was a four-day trip into the Red Rock/Secret Mountain Wilderness with a load weighing over 50 lb (22 kg). The other backpacking trip was a three-day hike into the Blue Range Primitive Area with a pack weight of 50 lb (22 kg) where I covered about 25 miles (40 km) on trails in mostly good condition but with significant changes in elevation. I have also worn the shoes extensively for day hikes in Arizona, biking around town (including some off-road bike trails) and everyday life.


According to the manufacturer's website, the KEEN Voyageur Mid hiking boot is a lightweight "rugged cruiser... (designed) ...for a secure ride from valleys to mountaintops." KEEN uses the term Hybrid.ologies to reinforce the idea that KEEN products are a crossover between hiking sandals and hiking boots

Never before this purchase have I considered KEEN as a manufacturer of backpacking shoes and boots that I would buy. I purchased the KEEN Voyageur Mid because they have lace locks. The manufacturer website lists a lot of features but does not list this one feature, the deciding factor for my purchase. If I hadn't noticed that they had lace locks in the retail store, I never would have known to try them. It is difficult for me to find a decent pair of boots which I can tie tightly, as I struggle to tie them with one hand. Generally, I cannot achieve a good tight tie when using speed lace systems, except for systems which end with either holes or lace locks. The lace locks work by holding the laces securely as I tie the shoe using one hand.

The Voyageur Mid also includes another interesting lacing feature called the ESS Shank. As indicated in Image 2, the second lace loop from top is routed under the ankle bone to an anchor point on the back of the heel. This feature is intended to provide secure footing which the wearer may adjust. I am no podiatrist, but this feature might work better if the ESS loop were somehow routed over the top of the ankle bone to the back of the heel.
Keen Voyageur Mid

I have found the Voyageur Mid to be something of a weakling when it comes to tread. The lugs are too shallow for off-trail hiking on slopes or on-trail hiking in bad conditions. The Voyageur Mid might work better with a Vibram sole. Some of the tread started to delaminate pretty quickly after my first backpacking trip with a load weighing over 50 lb (23 kg). The delamination stabilized, nothing fell off, and nothing flops around as I hike.
Worst of the Delamination

The KEEN toe, a hallmark of many KEEN products, is an answer to a question I have never asked of my hiking footwear. The toe box is roomy and I never stubbed or bruised my toes while wearing this shoe, but I cannot say that I have ever stubbed a toe while hiking with other hiking shoes. However, I have not felt the need to furiously trim my toenails after climbing thousands of feet over eight miles like I have when wearing other hiking boots. The boots did feel a little snug when wearing thick hiking socks in cold weather. I usually wear thin technical wool and synthetic socks when hiking and save the thick socks for nighttime wear around camp. The KEEN toe is still firmly attached to both boots.

While using the Voyageur Mid over the past eight months, I have found that that the boots are lightweight and require no significant break-in time. They are comfortable. The Voyageur Mid hiking boot is acceptable for most trail hiking, pavement pounding and low-intensity bike riding. However, I prefer hiking boots and shoes with a stiffer sole than provided by the Voyageur Mid. Finally, the shoelaces provided by the manufacturer are too long.

The Metatomical Footbed shows the indentation of my feet. If I were headed out for a long distance hike consisting of many months on the trail, I might choose an aftermarket footbed.
"Metatomical Footbed"


The Keen Voyager Mid is for lightweight hiking or walking and not for heavy-duty or rough trail/off-trail use. I only purchased them because they have lace locks, a feature I appreciate because I can only use one hand to tie shoes and boots. I probably would not purchase these shoes again because I prefer a stiffer sole and better traction, even in a light hiker. Also, the lace locks would be more helpful at the top of a full-ankle hiking boot rather than at the top of a mid-ankle boot.


Lace Locks
Lightweight, quick break in
Easy to tie, take off and put back on


Insufficient traction
Soft soles
Shoe laces too long


Paul Schilke

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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