Keen Marshall Mid WP, $140 keenfootwear.com
The Good: Lightweight and one of the comfiest hiking shoes you’ll ever wear.
The Bad: Some people might like brightly colored hiking boots. Not me.
The Awesome: Straight out of the box goodness. No need to break them in.
With most hiking books it would be stupid to take them straight out of the box and then hike 10 miles up the face of mountain. You’d be asking for blisters and misery.
Not with the Keen Marshall Mid WPs. Last month I slipped these boots on for the first time and hiked up the Sandia Mountains outside Albuquerque. When I was done hiking there wasn’t a blister to be found and my feet stayed comfy the entire way.
Keen’s secret? They seem to have developed a boot that forms a nice blend between comfort and stability. They don’t feel as cushy as a running shoe, but the Marshalls are much nicer to your foot than a typical, mid-weight hiking book thanks to things like a lightweight, breathable mesh upper and a high-rebound polyurethane midsole that helps absorb the impact of each step.
All the comfort doesn’t mean less function, however. Climbing over scree fields and up steeper switchbacks I always felt like I had enough grip and support thanks to things like a solid rubber high-traction outsole, a thermoplastic urethane shank that helps with torsional stability, and Keen’s patented toe protection.
The pair of Marshalls I tested had the company’s KEEN.DRY waterproof membrane (they also offer a normal version of the Marshall Mids that are $20 less expensive). The membrane did a great job of keeping my feet dry during several stream crossings but also breathed well as the day got hotter.
These boots might not be my choice for a week-long backpack trip, but for most everything else they’re great. I’d have no problem putting 15-plus miles on these per day during shorter backpack trips and they’re definitely going to be one of my go-to shoes for the rest of the summer and fall hiking season.