Keen Verdi Mid WP Review
Fans of Keen tend to tout the quality, durability, and overall comfort of their product as the reason they never seem to wear anything else. It’s true, Keen has been around for quite some time, and while they make a wide variety of products, everything they make has a slant to the outdoors. Keen’s mantra involves not only getting outdoors, but also caring for each and the world around – in all of our dealings with Keen, they certainly put their money where their mouth is.
The Keen Verdi Mid WP is a new offering from Keen for this spring as part of their Trailhead collection. It was designed for and around the day hike and every day wear. While Keen writes that certain features of it can handle technical and challenging terrain, this boot is really meant for the weekend warrior and/or casual hiker who wants a solid, dependable pair of mid height boots that will last for a few years of day hikes and overnight car camping trips. I’ve had many, many pairs of keens in my time, and the Verdi Mid is no exception to the rest of their lineup. Let me start with a few first impressions.
Out of the Box
Looking at them in the box, it was apparent that Keen remained true to their hallmark design (the large rubber toe bumper distinguishes Keen from any other shoe on the market). The height of the shoe was consistent with other mid-hikers in coming to just below the ankle, and the lacing system hasn’t changed at all from the myriad of hiking options in the Keen carousel. In contrast, though coloring is fairly distinctive. Listed as dark shadow/chili pepper, the dark brown of the leather is absolutely great, but the chili pepper accents appear to be a little on the pink side.
My first wear of the Keen Verdi Mid WP consisted of a couple of minutes walking around the house to get a feel for them. I was actually surprised, as the feel of these shoes were different from all other Keen products I’d worn in the past. The plushness that I’ve come to expect from Keen was mostly gone, replaced with a supple yet firm midsole that reacted quickly to every step. At first I was disappointed, but soon became intrigued by the fit of the shoe. Yes, the plushness was gone, but it appeared to be replaced by a sure footedness that I’ve never found in Keen before.
My testing parameters were slightly different on this boot than with other boots. Yes, I took them on a few short day hikes to see how they reacted on different surfaces. I did not, however, get the chance to take them on an overnight trip. Instead, I wore them for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for three weeks as my normal scope of employment allows for wearing them as such. I was able to put them through just about every condition you’d expect from a camping trip, and then some – snow, ice, rain, mud, gravel, and multiple hours standing on asphalt. After numerous hours, I can say with confidence that even though the initial plushness is minimal, the comfort I love from Keen is still there, and in spades. I experienced no hotspots, soreness, or discomfort from any of the multitude of features that the Verdi WP offers. This is not to say the boot is absolutely perfect, however – some features outshone others.
Nitty Gritty Details
As I stated before, Keen’s use of a dual density molded EVA midsole (metatomically shaped for each foot) was very comfortable, and allowed for ease of wearing all day. They combined it with KEEN.DRY technology in the upper for waterproofing and breathability. Certainly, the waterproofing worked – I experienced no leakage from the Verdi Mid, even in heavy wet snow. However, I didn’t feel that the breathability was the best feature of the shoe. My feet tended to get clammy and cold in snowy conditions; I tested these with a variety of socks (even going so far as lambs wool tech socks) and they didn’t breathe all that well. This was only a problem in colder conditions, though. On warmer days, I didn’t experience any issues. As I didn’t test these on any days above 60 degrees, it will be interesting to see how they react to very hot days.
The leather upper and rubber outsole of the Keen Verdi Mid WP were a few high points of the boot. I really liked the way the leather reacted to all sorts of debris and wet conditions. Some leather tends to fade right away, and look pretty haggard after only a few exposures to water. The leather on the Verdi Mid is wearing in nicely; the creasing and wear tends to make them look even better, much like your favorite baseball glove from back in the day. The rubber outsole performs as well as the rest of the boot – it was stable on all surfaces, and found traction on all but the iciest surfaces (I couldn’t get traction with them on an asphalt driveway with a steep pitch covered in glaze ice, but I’d have needed ice spikes on this, anyway.)
The best part of the Verdi Mid, however, lies in the fit and function of the boot overall. As I briefly stated before, while the plush feeling is largely gone, it has actually been upgraded to a more balanced interaction with the ground. After my first day of wearing them, I was much more impressed with how the boot felt than I’ve been with any other Keen product of the past. It’s almost as if Keen took the feel a daily training shoe and incorporated it into a hiking boot. They feel quick in terms of reaction time to uneven ground (I felt very stable on my light hikes across scree and slick rock), but still protective enough to keep my feet from bruising on jagged rocks and rough terrain. Overall, it’s a much more balanced and active feel. If this is a new direction for Keen (and I hope it is), I’m really excited by it.
If you aren’t a fan of the Chili Pepper coloring, Keen offers two alternate colors; the downside is that neither of which has that rich, dark leather color. In terms of sizing, I’d recommend going down a size from a running shoe size to your normal shoe size – for instance, I’m a 10.5 in pretty much all running shoes, but a 10.0 in all other shoes. I had to send the 10.5 back and wait to test the 10.0’s as these were a much better fit. Keen states they run true to sizing, but sizing for a non-active shoe as opposed to an active one. At a MSRP of $120.00, I’d say they are competitively priced, especially for the wear you’ll get out of them. Head on over to www.keenfootwear.com to check out the Verdi; while you’re there, I suggest spending some time checking out their corporate philosophy as well.
If interested in other Keen models reviewed on AGR, check out https://www.activegearreview.com/brands/keen/