I’ve said it before, I really do test out all the gear I get for review. That’s why during the last window of sunshine, I was stomping around in a muddy creek not far from my house. That day I walked five miles in a pair of Keen Voyageur Hikers. My hope was that they’d leave my feet content enough to warrant packing them for an upcoming hiking trip in the Austrian alps.  The verdict?  Oh, so close.

I’ll admit to a bit of skepticism, the Keen sandals that everyone is so, uh, keen on (sorry) have never fit my feet properly. I wasn’t sure that these would either — I was pleasantly surprised. As always, ordering clothing or shoes on line is a bit tricky — fit seems to differ wildly between brands. These hikers were true to fit, the 8 was indeed an 8, the fit was perfect. (Note that the Keen site says they run about a half size small, I didn’t find that to be true.)

Keen VoyageurI was surprised to learn that the Voyageur hikers are not waterproof — this seems like an oversight to me, though in my stomping around through muddy creeks and on the edge of Puget Sound my feet stayed dry. This lighter weight boot is designed for wicking — meaning the moisture is meant to move out of your shoe — it’s more of a hot weather hiker than a creek crosser.

Keen’s Voyageur Hikers come in a low and a mid height. I opted for mid for the extra ankle support, something I appreciated in the scrambling – can’t find the trail head — oops are we lost? — part of my test hike. Fatigue after long walks means my ankles sometimes give out, too, so it’s worth a bigger boot with a little extra weight to save myself from a sprain. The lacing is easily adjustable for a secure fit, too; that’s probably part of why the fit is so solid.

Because the Voyageur is made for warm weather hiking, the uppers are a mix of fabric and leather. This means you get a little color in your earth toned hiker, and hey, that’s kind of cute. That fabric, however, could be tougher, the tongue on my pair started to fray after a few days of city wear and that one long hike. That’s too soon. Keen does have a 30 day “no questions asked” return policy.

As for how the hikers felt on the trail, they were great, just great. I walked on a rocky beach, in sand, on a moss covered tree, in a muddy creek, along a slippery boardwalk… You name it, that big hike covered the range of terrain and the soles were grippy and solid on every surface. My feet were comfortable the whole time, and they weren’t sweaty or damp when I took the boots off at the end of the walk. (Mind you, I was also wearing really good socks.)

Here’s what I want: I want this boot in a waterproof model. And I want it to not show the early wear and tear on the materials. The Voyageur is so trail friendly and such a good fit for my feet that I was genuinely disappointed to find it anything less than perfect. Once more — Oh, SO close.

Keen makes the Voyageur for men or women, in a low or mid height version and in a few different colors. The mid costs $110 directly from Keen, or check prices on Backcountry.com.

Interested in other trail shoes? Tim reviewed the Viper, here and the Boulder from Wenger, here. (And if you need to waterproof your hiking boots that didn’t come that way to start, check out our review of products from Nikwax.)

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