I don’t know about you, but when I think about the KEEN footwear brand, I think about sandals. That has a reason, because with their Newport sandal from 2003, they became the trendsetter for an entirely new category of Hybrid footwear in the outdoor world. From that starting point, they began to fuel adventures, connect communities and inspire people from all over the world to get outside.
But don’t think that’s it: this is an outdoor brand that doesn’t just create quality footwear, they are a company with a heart. When the tsunami hit the Indian Ocean in 2004, they decided to put their entire $1 million advertising budget into disaster relief and right away shaped a brand culture of giving back.
So when they reached out to me if I wanted to test some of their shoes, I was excited to dig a bit deeper into their story and show you some new shoes that they recently added to their successful 2017 Women’s Terradora Collection (featuring 7 individual styles): the Terradora Ethos and the Terradora Mid WP.
KEEN FOR WOMENS SANDALS: TERRADORA ETHOS PRODUCT REVIEW
The KEEN Story
If you don’t know KEEN yet, this footwear brand has the mission to make shoes to make a difference. They believe that we need to strive to do better (have better adventures, better experiences, better work days) and to make a better world by taking action. They like to give back and reduce their impact.
This company is committed to creating strong communities and protecting the open spaces around us. Since 2013, their grants programs have funded over 70 non-profit organisations in 12 different countries, 35 of which in the U.S. alone.
They are also committed to ensure that the materials they use in their products are safe for employees, customers, and the environment, for example by researching sustainable chemistry in their manufacturing processes. KEEN is one of the first companies in the outdoor industry to adopt the “Higg Index” (a self-assessment tool used by companies to elevate sustainability in manufacturing) for benchmarking sustainability.
KEEN products are manufactured around the world from the United States to Cambodia, China, India, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam and they are committed to standards that ensure working conditions in their supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with dignity and respect, and that processes are environmentally responsible.
KEEN has global headquarters in Portland, Oregon in the U.S, Toronto, Ontario in Canada, Rotterdam in The Netherlands (jeeh!) and Tokyo in Japan. You can connect on social media via the hashtag #BetterTakesAction (also #KeenEurope and #Terradora) for a chance to be featured.
THE TRAVEL TESTER IN ACTION
In this Keen hiking shoes review, we’ll go into all the different elements of the product, as part of our (in)famous 5-senses test:
1. What does it SOUND like?
The Terradora range is part of a movement that KEEN calls TrailFit: turning any trail, mountain or city into an opportunity to get outside and get fit. That sounds like a great mission to me!
I often find it much easier to be active when I travel, but finding a versatile hiking boot / hiking sandal can often be a challenge, as they are usually heavy, take up so much space in your suitcase and are not easy to use for anything else than hiking.
I apologize ahead for the dirt you can still spot on the shoes here and there, this is clearly not how you receive them, but I forgot to take photos before our hike and did a pretty poor cleaning job after. Ah, well, at least you can tell they were used!
2. What does it LOOK like?
I’ll be honest, my first impression just looking at the Ethos shoe wasn’t: wow, that is a sexy shoe, although I must say that I find them prettier than most ‘casual’ hiking shoes (but still, not a shoe I would wear to do a city trip with personally). The silhouette is very streamlined, and the three colours that they come in (Grape Wine (Grape Kiss), Neutral Grey (Gargoyle) and Blue Turquoise (Mulch), the colour that I picked) are actually really nice and will give a nice accent to your outfit.
The main thing that will catch your eye are the little holes at the side of the shoes, which are there for delivering breathability and make the shoes ideal for warm-weather walks or work outs. This does mean that any sock you’ll wear will show, but I just happened to have bought a pair of turquoise Bridgedale hiking socks, that matched the shoe, lucky!
Another feature that stands out immediately is the secure-fit lace capture system, which is a fancy way of saying that you’ll never have to worry about loose laces ever again. *insert sound of angels*.
3. What does it TASTE like?
As soon as I put the shoes on, they were so incredibly comfortable, that I got an immediate taste of how nice they would be to hike with. And it turned out to be true! On the (average difficulty) trail in Luxembourg, they worked their magic. I didn’t have to break them in at all and it felt like wearing bath slippers all the time because they were so flexible, loved it.
I read a question online where someone was asking: ‘Do Keen sandals run true to size?’ and I can say that personally, I have super wide feet and they fitted perfectly on my regular size (EUR 40, UK 7 – the website said they run small, but I don’t agree with that at all), but I did feel that the shoes were easy to slip out of. There were some puddles along the way and twice my feet came out of my shoe. I made the laces a bit tighter after that and it didn’t happen again, so maybe that was just it, but something to think about, safety wise. I have to add that at no point did I feel my feet slipped on things like rocks and moss, the soles had REALLY good grip.
Just to make sure I add in all the facts, the sole had a removable dual density PU insole, low density EVA midsole, ESS stability shank for support and all-terrain rubber outer sole with 4mm multi-directional lugs. In laymen’s terms, that means:
- The insole is the foundation of the shoe, the midsole provides cushioning and shock absorption and the outsole touches the ground (the actual sole).
- PU is a synthetic (man made) leather, that will look and feel like real leather, but is not. It’s less durable, cheaper to produce and might not last as long as genuine leather, however this material is for the most part waterproof and easy to clean and maintain. Unlike PVC (that produces harmful dioxins and uses highly toxic chlorine in production), PU is completely breathable, so it totally avoids the issue of sweaty feet. What’s more, it is far less toxic to produce than PVC.
- EVA (Ethel Vinyl Acetate) is a foam that provides gentle but resilient support to the heel and arch. The lower the density of EVA, the weaker and more flexible the sole gets.
- Shanks are what keep your shoes in shape, I couldn’t find what ESS means, but I’m guessing it’s a type of plastic.
- Lugs are the indentations that improve the stability and traction of footwear.
The Ethos gave me a good taste of what they are like on a 2-3 hour hike and I would definitely wear them again when it’s a bit warmer outside.
4. What does it FEEL like?
One of the things that anyone trying on these shoes will probably tell you is just how incredibly lightweight the shoes are. As a travellers who often travels with handluggage only, this is a HUGE plus of course.
Another interesting point to make is that these shoes are specifically constructed to the needs of the female foot (if you didn’t know your feet had special needs, now you do). Yes, KEEN offers many walking shoes in women’s styles, but the Terradora series is the first by the brand built for women from the ground up.
Basically, this shoe has a reduced instep (as women tend to have a slightly higher foot arch) and is a bit narrower through the heel (our ankle bones don’t stick out so much as they do on most men) to make sure the fit is secure and increases the stability you have.
And again, I cannot stress this enough, these shoes are just SO COMFY. I wear them at home even as a slipper, not kidding!
5. What does it SMELL like?
The KEEN Ethos are water adaptable and dry very quickly. Their Cleansport NXT ™ treatment ensures that you don’t get smelly feet, as this gives you natural odour resistance by bonding naturally occurring, live micro-organisms to the fibers of the fabric. Perfect!
If you’re wondering how to clean Keen sandals, then I have good news for you. After my muddy hike, I found that washing Keen sandals is actually really easy. All you do is gently brush the shoe with a soft bristle brush or damp towel/sponge to remove loose dirt and debris. When cleaning keen shoes if they have heavy stains, you can treat them by lightly rubbing a gum eraser in a circular motion over the location and lightly brushing afterwards, or even treat stains with a mixture of water and a little vinegar on a damp cloth (but that might slightly discolour things).
After our 5-senses test, we’re ready to answer our final (and perhaps most important) question in our KEEN Terradora Ethos Sandals Review:
6. Does this product make us happy?
YES! I think I’ve found the perfect shoes for warm weather walking/hiking and I cannot wait to bring this pair on my next trip (will take them probably to Morocco and Sri Lanka later in the year!). Biggest plusses are the facts that these shoes are super lightweight, quick drying, super comfortable and the only reason the final score isn’t higher is probably because I think they are not stylish enough for per personally to comfortably wear these on a city break, for example. They still feel very ‘outdoorsy’ to me, but for trips where that is the main focus, they are definitely perfect.
I hope you enjoyed this KEEN sandals review!
GET YOUR OWN KEEN SANDALS FOR WOMEN
Women’s Terradora Hiking Trainers & Women’s Terradora Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots > www.keenfootwear.com/terradora
The Keen Terradora Womens Hiking Trainers Ethos are around £85 / $110 / €110
The Keen Terradora Waterproof Womens Mid Hiking Boots are £110 / $140 / €140
Disclaimer : We worked in partnership with Keen Europe to do this Terradora Ethos and Keen Terradora mid review. All photos and opinions are 100% our own.
For the meaning of our product review ratings, please check this page!