The KEEN Versatrail is a low hiking shoe that runs wide and has a spacious toe box. Designed for casual use and for easy day hikes, it’s a very stable hiking shoe that defies ankle rolling, but lacks the traction you’d require for more technical hikes that require rock scrambling. It’s only available *without* a Gore-tex or waterproof breathable liner, which is big departure for KEEN, since most of their closed shoes (hiking mids and boots) have always come with some sort of waterproof breathable layer. This is a good thing in my opinion, since it means your shoes can drain quickly and dry once they get (inevitably) wet.
The front of the Versatrail has limited toe-kick protection in front of the toes, with just a soft gray rand that wraps around the front foot box. In contrast, the rear of the Versatrail is overbuilt to help lock in your heel, providing additional ankle stability and to help prevent heel rolling that can lead to a sprained ankle. Unfortunately, the Versatrail’s heel area does not have a gaiter trap to secure a Dirty-Girl style gaiter, kind of a missed opportunity, since many serious hikers use them to keep trail debris out of their hiking shoes and trail runners.
The interior of the KEEN Versatrail is a bit unusual because the tongue fits like a sleeve or sock when you slide your foot into the shoe. The effect is quite pleasant, giving the shoe a very soft feel and eliminating the hot spots and discomfort you can feel in a low hiker when you crank down the laces. Made out of mesh, thin, and very lightly padded, the tongue exerts very little pressure on the top of your foot, which helps increase interior volume as well as breathability.
Out of the box, the KEEN Versatrail comes with speed laces that you can pull tight instead of tying. However, if you prefer regular laces, they’re also included in shoebox so you don’t have to source a separate pair. Personally, I prefer wearing regular laces with these shoes because I feel they provide a tighter, more secure fit, especially since the Versatrail runs noticeable wide compared to other low hikers and trail runners.
The KEEN Versatrail low hiker has a modest sole designed for comfort and stability rather than aggressive traction over rocky or wet terrain. Interior arch support is minimal and you’ll want to switch to a firmer footbed if your foot requires more support.
All in, the KEEN Versatrail is a nice shoe for casual and light trail hiking featuring excellent comfort and breathability. I was particularly impressed by the shoes stability and resistance to ankle rolling while evaluating it, and recommend you try it for that reason if ankle stability is a concern that is preventing you from switching from hiking boots to a lighter weight low hiking shoe.
- 8mm heel to toe drop
- Cleansport NXT™ for natural odor control
- Dual density compression molded EVA midsole
- Exterior EVA heel counter
- KEEN.Zorb strobel
- Lightweight Ariaprene tongue construction
- Lightweight breathable mesh and synthetic upper
- Mesh lining
Disclosure: KEEN provided Philip Werner with a sample pair of Versatrail shoes for this review.
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