When you are heading out for a day outside, how do you choose what to put on your feet? When packing for a road trip for which you have limited room in your bag, how do you pick the sole pair of shoes that will mean you can do anything you want to and be comfortable the whole time? If you err on the side of comfort rather than fashion, then you will most likely pick your footwear based on the activity that you are going to be undertaking that day/that trip. But what if you’re going to be doing all the activities?
Taking in the view at Knockan Crag.
This post started as one about what to wear on my feet when I walk to and from work. The result of a search for the perfect supportive but flexible shoe for pounding the pavement. But it has ended up being about one pair of boots I can wear for pretty much everything. I’ll start at the beginning…
I am a little bit (or maybe a lot…) spoilt for choice when it comes to walking shoes and boots. I’m a very lucky outdoors loving girl, and I can take my pick from a handful of decent pairs. But the fact is that none of them, not even my favourite Merrell Chameleon Shift, are good for the walk to and from work. I don’t do the 4.5 mile walk each way very often, it has to be said, but I do enjoy it and so like to walk it when I have the time. My route takes me along concrete footpath all the way, so the hour-long walk is very hard on my feet and knees. I need something that is light and provides comfortable cushioning, but that still good and supportive. Trainers are okay, but with knees and ankles like mine I always prefer something with more support and that also offers some waterproofing.
Looking out to sea near Applecross. Yes, for real – not posed! And no, this isn’t my commute!
KEEN (check them out on instagram) got in touch and said their new Terradora would be just the thing for my commute. Designed for women (and only women – not just a scaled back version of a men’s shoe), they are said to be as at home on the city streets as they are on the countryside trail. I was actually invited to the launch event, but being down in London on a weekday it just wasn’t possible for me to make it for the active trail walk and bootcamp style session. I was super excited to still receive a pair in the post – I’m a sucker for new trail shoes of any kind, and these had so much hype around them I couldn’t wait to try them out.
KEEN Terradora women’s hiking boots
And when I say hype I really mean it. I have seen so many popular fitness bloggers and YouTubers talk about these, and there seems to be advertising wherever I click online. They are forming part of the new TrailFit movement for KEEN, encouraging women to exercise outside in all kinds of ways, fronted by a whole load of super fit girls. But here I am, a pretty ordinary person looking for a shoe to wear for the walk home from work, and these are my honest thoughts.
Okay, I’ll say it. They are SO comfortable. Really. I know I’ve said that a lot about walking boots before, but it’s true. It is like putting on a pair of decent trainers. They are light, with a breathable mesh upper, and have a lovely soft foamy foot bed that provides plenty of comfort. If I was buying I might have plumped for the shoe rather than the boot, but KEEN suggested the mid height boot would provide that little bit of extra support that would make these more of an all-rounder for me given the distances I like to walk. They were right; the boot element means I can just go and walk wherever I end up rather than having to consider changing my footwear. They were comfortable straight from the box – the light and flexible shoe and low collar allows freedom of movement as well as support. And after a long day on my feet I don’t even mind putting them back on again the next day, and that’s saying something.
Boots for tarmac. Great stuff!
Size wise I have my usual hiking boot size – so half a size up from my normal shoe size – and I find them to be plenty wide enough around the toe area (a personal preference of mine). The boot is a mid-height and is very well cushioned around the ankle, the laces are long enough to tie in a double knot, and when tied well the boot feels very stable and supportive in all the right places. If I had chosen my own I’d probably have picked a more neutral colour, there are quite a few to choose from, but actually I’ve learned to love the orangey purple KEEN chose for me, it stands out but not in a garish way.
One Boot for Every Activity
After using the KEEN Terradora for my commute a handful of times I decided to pack them for our week long break at Center Parcs. I wouldn’t normally pack hiking boots for going there, but I’m glad I did this time – they were the perfect base for the high ropes challenge and climbing wall activities, were great for running around the paintball field, took me on my after-dinner walks all over the woodland site, were light and flexible enough for cycling around the village, and even came with me when kayaking and rowing on the lake (although that was potentially a risky move!). The fact that they look more like trainers than full on hiking boots probably helped with being happy to prance about in these all week in my jeans, leggings, walking trousers and even shorts. And at no point during the week did I wish I’d brought a different pair.
Racing to the top of the vertical obstacle course at Center Parcs. Photo by David Radford.
Based on that I packed these as my hiking boots when I went up to Scotland to road trip my way around the North Coast 500 – I wanted to try them out as actual hiking boots, you know, seeing as that’s what they’re meant for in the first place. We did a couple of short but strenuous hill walks (oh Scotland you are SO beautiful), and plenty of flatter cliff top and shoreline walks, and I was very impressed. To be honest, being as flexible as they are, I don’t think I’d wear them for something too scrambly as I’d choose something a bit more solid for that, but I really liked how I could bounce along the terrain in these (rather than stomp!), and how I could feel the shape of the ground when walking along rocky paths. It genuinely did feel like I was just wearing trainers. They also proved to be as waterproof as I needed when running around the campsite putting the tent down in a rainstorm, and when accidentally paddling in the sea (yes, accidentally, you know how it goes).
Bealach na Ba Summit, near Applecross in Scotland.
What I’ve ended up with in my KEEN Terradora is one pair of shoes that are great for any activity. They help make the walk to and from work a pleasure as they provide that trainer like feel that makes concrete slabs more comfortable, they work brilliantly in the hills and low level trails, and being so light and flexible they work for all kinds of other things too.
I would whole heartedly recommend the KEEN Terradora to any lady wanting a lightweight walking boot for home and away, concrete and trail, trees and beaches!
Kayaking at Center Parcs, Elveden.
*I received my KEEN Terradora boots for free but this is not a sponsored post and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. I genuinely like them. Even the colour!