“There’s no such thing as bad weather. Only inappropriate clothing.” I don’t know who said that, but odds are, he was wearing waterproof shoes. As anyone who has spent much time outdoors knows, there are few things more uncomfortable, more demoralizing, or more downright withering as wet feet. Conversely, there’s a certain joy and smugness that goes with being able to step in puddles and plow through snow banks with reckless abandon. The Keen Obsidian WP hiking shoes ($125) are designed for just such fun.
We like Keens here at Gear Patrol. Their variations on a trademark theme always seem fresh and appeal to both metrosexual and mountainsexual guys alike, easily transitioning from creek to canyon to café. For the backcountry, the Obsidian WP Hiking Shoe bristles with trail technology. The S3 heel is designed to dissipate shock on impact and reduce the likelihood twisting an ankle. There’s a plate sandwiched between the outsole and the insole to protect against bruising from stepping on sharp rocks. And a torsion stability plate keeps the footbed stable when hiking on uneven ground or carrying a pack.
The most obvious feature – a waterproof membrane called Keen.Dry – that not only keeps water out but lets your feet breathe as well. Waterproof-breathable fabrics are no longer big news but it’s is a welcome addition to a light hiking shoe. I’ve been testing the Obsidian WPs out the past few weeks in slushy, sloppy Minneapolis and they’ve proven grippy and dry and comfortable right out of the box. The off-center lacing prevents hot spots, while the trademark toe bumper and thick lugged outsole inspire confidence.
Still, the low cut and soft sides aren’t cut out for heavy load bearing. That means that this isn’t the shoe to reach for when you set out to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. But for overnight backpacking trips, bagging 14ers or day hikes, your feet will thank you for going light and fast.
The Obsidian WP’s black-on-black color scheme actually seems to work better around town than in the woods, where earth tones seem more appropriate. And while I wouldn’t recommend them for a job interview or gallery opening, they can easily go urban for rainy day museum hopping or a long weekend exploring a new city.
Buy Now: $125