In Memorium: My Keen Boots

I love shoes. I have more than 200pr of stilettos. Shopping for regular shoes is all about fashion, not function. My quest to find hiking boots was completely different… 

When I started hiking, my primary concern was ankle support. I’ve had 8 ankle sprains/breaks & 3 ankle surgeries. I’m cursed with high arches and somewhat wide feet. I read a lot of reviews to find which boots tend to run wide. I even tried some men’s boots, figuring they would be wider. Vasque was the only manufacturer offering women’s boots in wide sizing, so I decided on these:Unfortunately, they left my feet unhappy. I ended up mummifying them in moleskin and tape to deal with hotspots and blisters. Layers and layers of moleskin. I bought a slew of different socks and liners – hoping for some kind of magical combination to keep me blister-free. No such luck. I had blisters UNDER blisters. 

My pedicurist threatened to quit seeing me. I sought help from a podiatrist. I never had these issues with my stilettos. I was on the verge of abandoning hiking altogether.

I was at my first (and most likely last) REI Scratch & Dent sale (which is the outdoor enthusiast’s version of The Running of the Brides) and encountered a pair of Keen boots for a steal. Someone had mentioned Keens ran wide. Gave them a whirl… and HAPPY FEET!

The Keens were much lighter and very comfortable. I switched back to my Vasques for my Coosa Bald backcountry hike because they have more traction for the elevations. Unfortunately, even with preventative taping & wearing liners/wool socks, I had the beginnings of blisters in the first 2 miles. I was planning to retire my Vasques to paperweight status.

A few weeks ago, I was helping another hiker navigate crossing Hickory Creek. Fortunately, she made it across, but I ended up in cold water up to my knee (Arrrrrrgh!) And I lost my pair of expensive sunglasses too! Lovely shot though, isn’t it?
I had my ‘back-up’ Vasque boots, but I like my Keens SO much more, someone recommended setting them close to the fire to dry. They were more than arm’s length away from the flames. I kept adjusting them every 30mins or so as the group sat around the campfire after dinner. I went to my tent to grab my headlamp, came back & to my horror… someone had moved them closer to the fire and the inner lining had caught fire!!!!!

The “someone” attempted to patch my beloved boots with duct tape, but sadly, my Keens were so crispy, it was futile. I was too heartbroken to memorialize their campfire semi-cremation. (My inner soundtrack is humming “And I will always love yooooooooooooou!”)

Now I’m in search of new Keen boots. I am not as enthusiastic about this shoe shopping. It’s like Cinderella (glass hiking slipper) meets Goldilocks (too tight, too heavy) meets fear of blisters.


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