KEEN's Versatrail shoe may look like a trail runner, but don't be taken in, it's actually a quirky lightweight hiking shoe with unusual styling that works brilliantly in warmer conditions thanks to the unlined mesh upper. It's light, comfortable and decently cushioned with good heel hold.
The looks are distinctive, particularly in the green colour scheme featured, its not particularly water resistant thanks to that mesh and the sole tread works best in dry to medium conditions. Fore foot not as broad as traditional KEEN offerings.
Outdoors Grabbit? - Mini Verdict
It's quite different from KEEN's more traditional hiking footwear, but for warm weather wandering over dry to medium terrain - avoid mud - the Versatrail works really nicely with a secure feeling fit and good breathability from the mesh upper and breathable foam tongue.
The thick mid-sole gives good all-round cushioning too. Not as roomy as traditional shoes from the brand, but that makes it an option for those who found earlier KEEN shoes a little bit 'swimmy'.
Specification: £79.99 / 690g (pair size 43) cushioned trail-walking shoe / non-marking rubber out-sole / Cleansport NXT anti-odour treatment / Dual density compression-molded EVA midsole / Exterior EVA heel counter / Lightweight breathable mesh and synthetic upper / KEEN.Zorb strobe construction.
Full review below.
KEEN Versatrail Up Close And Personal
When we first saw the Versatrail, we assumed it was a trail-running shoe, but it's not, it just has styling that gives a nod to sportier footwear. In fact it's a lightweight, cushioned, warm conditions hiking shoe with distinctive looks.
The only real nod to KEEN's heritage is the classic toe-bumper that's part of the shoe, though it's smaller than usual. The rest is bright and quirky. Take the webbing straps that connect the lace eyelets direct to the sole area and give really good foothold as well as extending to hold the heel in place.
Or the unusual external EVA heel counter that looks like nothing we've seen on a shoe before, but seems to work. The uppers are mostly made from super breathable mesh with a tongue fashioned from perforated foam. No waterproof liners or solid panels.
Finally, KEEN's easy-to-use speed-lacing system is present and correct, but you could always replace it with conventional laces if you , oh, have shares in a lace manufacturing company or something. We found it fine in use.
If you're expecting KEEN's traditional massively wide forefoot, you'll be disappointed. The Versatrail's close to the new, narrower European breed - it's made in China if you were wondering - and has more of a medium fit.
We found it instantly comfortable with the speed-lacing and webbing loops giving a secure, reassuring fit with plenty of heel hold. The fat-looking sole is pretty cushioned and happy on hard surfaces and we found the mesh upper was ace in warmer weather, though obviously rain goes straight through it.
It definitely has more of a low-level feel than a high mountain vibe and the flexible, squishy sole doesn't get on with scrambling, but then it's not really supposed to. Otherwise grip on hard to medium surfaces is pretty good, though it doesn't like proper gloopy mud.
If you like the styling and suit the slightly smaller volume, 'new school' KEEN fit then the Versatrail makes a light comfortable, cushioned and very breathable warm-conditions hiking shoe.
Footwear use is quite a personal thing, but we suspect for most users, the shoe will work best at lower levels and on well-surfaced trails rather than higher mountain rockiness and on scrambles in particular.
It would also make a nice all-round travel or day-to-day warm weather shoe.