I have a friend; Tim Wild, that is a keen master at reviewing products, so this review is dedicated to him. Every time I meet him, a new item is tested and recommended for any activity I choose. Probably the only thing he can’t sell me is bikes, but I’m sure he would make a good fist of it.
He has over the time I have known him recommended a good Arc’teryx jacket, >70% cocoa chocolate and most of all KEEN shoes. Ironically, as I write this article, I am wearing an Arc’teryx Atom Mid-Layer and wearing my KEEN Commuters, feeling like a bar of dark chocolate. Somehow he has influenced my decisions, but is clearly not doing it subliminally. He bought his for a hike in the Himalayas four years ago and still wearing the same pair today – swears by them.
KEEN shoes, for want of a better word, are sandals. Old men love wearing sandals. The only advantage for these are that they offer incredible comfort and practicality. Tims’ partner hates his KEENs. She stores them away, looks on in disgust at his suntan lines and has even bought him a pair of Birkenstocks (formerly the choice of sandal for lesbians) to appear more respectable in public. The only thing that could make KEENs less fashionable is a pair of white socks and a Degree in Geology.
A couple years ago I parroted Tim’s review to Tamsons’ father. He trusted my second-hand judgment and purchased a pair of KEEN runners in the Czech Republic. Although, when wearing these with denim jeans, a leather jacket and a marathon finishers t-shirt, it made for quite a sight. As I wasn’t going for quite the same fashion statement and pure practicality, I came across the KEEN Commuter. It comes with an indent for SPD cleats, a bonus for fast dismounting off the touring bike and walking around. Tam slips and slides in her shoes when her SPD’s (without indents) make contact with the ground and she has to change to a pair of jandals to walk anywhere. I am limited to about 200m though, any further and the clack of metal on pavement and friction start to make them impractical.
Originally, I had assumed that the shoes would smell less being breathable sandals. After 70 days on the bike, I can confirm that my feet have well overcome this barrier and I now look guilty when removing the offending pair. Note to self: wash and sterilise. I fear I may be cultivating something particularly on wet days. The air vents have not given tan marks too unsightly and only a few stones have found their way in.
The enclosed toe box (complete with a “!” caution symbol) prevent the toes from getting cold on descents or chilly mornings. They are also very hardy and can withstand riding over your own toes (trust me, you do this a lot). The sole and heel is quite narrow, so I had to send back the first pair I received and get one a full size up (the website recommends half) and the elastic cord laces over your arch could be a little tighter. Not a great option for fat footed people.
In getting over my fear of wearing sandals I have embraced the practicality of KEEN. Tam scrunches her nose in jealousy as I jump on and off the bike with ease. I may look more like an old man, but move more swiftly than ever before. Good find Tim. I look forward to your next purchase!