KEEN Footwear - New For 2016
Latest from the recent OutDoor trade show in Germany - see our highlights - is a look at what's new from KEEN for spring 2016 including a slightly different trail shoe, the Versatrail, new European-made hiking boots and a new version of the radical cord UNEEK sandal, which uses thicker, flat cord for improved next-to-skin comfort.
European-made Hiking Boots
Actually out this August, which is right about now - watch out for a review shortly - is the new Liberty Ridge hiking boot, which is manufactured in KEEN's European factory. It's a chunky full leather boot with a KEEN.DRY waterproof liner and a design that reminds us of the classic Salomon XA7 hiking boot, which is good thing, probably.
The European angle means tweaks to fit for more heel hold in particular, but otherwise you can expect the familiar KEEN lasting with plenty of forefoot space. The boot uses the same Direct Injection PU sole technology as the well-received Durand and retails for £150 in both men's and women's versions.
Back to the future, for spring 2016, it's joined by the classy-looking Madeira Trail (right), which has a top-notch, one-piece oiled nubuck leather upper along with a full leather lining. Again it uses Direct Injection with a full-length shank for underfoot support and stability. That eco-skeletal reinforcement running from the heel to the front of the ankle is designed specifically to improve heel hold.
It's designed as a hill and mountain walking boot with a more traditional sort of appeal than previous KEEN models and a price tag of £140.
Less technical is the new Wanderer WP, a light-ish hiker with a mid-height cut somewhere between a shoe and a full boot or mid and with a super soft, flexible ankle cuff so it doesn't feel restrictive - or that's the plan. Think of it as a sort of high-ankled shoe.
Upper is nubuck and suede leather with a waterproof liner. It'll retail for £120 and should keep your ankles unscuffed but without restricting their movement.
New Versatrail Trail Shoe
This is an interesting one - it's a KEEN trail shoe that, to put it bluntly, doesn't really look like a KEEN trail shoe. Despite the looks, it's very definitely designed for hiking and aimed at a younger audience, with a different concept of cool.
One really obvious departure is that the classic KEEN toe bumper has been pared right back, though it's still there at the front of the lightweight mesh and synthetic upper, with the sole also extending up behind the heel. It's light too at under 300g per shoe, helped by the use of a springy EVA midsole.
There's also a KEEN.ZORB Strobel 'full-length, foam-based cushioning layer' it says here, that is designed to add even more cush. Looks interesting with potential to manager anything from about town pottering to general hiking. And with a price tag of £80, it won't break the bank either.
The UNEEK sandal launched this year evolves further for next spring. It still uses the radical 'two cords and one sole' construction, but there are new colour options including camo cord, a new 8mm version using thicker cord for improved comfort in both round and flat varieties.
That makes sense to us, we've found this year's UNEEK super comfortable worn with thin socks, but less so with bare feet, when the cord occasionally rubs on protruding bony toes or other areas., but it looks like we may be ditching the socks from spring 2016 for added cool in both senses. The flat-laced sample we fondled certainly felt softer than the original and we're looking forward to trying it.
The camo laces have a stealthier vibe than the oh so bright original colours too. The new models will also be a little cheaper at £80 per pair versus the current £90 price-tag.
All the above due out in spring 2016, current KEEN range at www.keenfootwear.com/en-gb/