I won’t deny that I’m a city boy when it comes to travel. Though my voyages have taken me far and wide on this great earth I usually don’t get too far outside of the city limits, and even then, it’s on a high speed train bound for the next city.
Things on my most recent vacation, however, I knew would be different. New Zealand just isn’t the sort of place where you land on the tarmac, take the subway to a few wine bars and sleep until noon. The vast, varying landscapes require – nay, plea to be tread upon, with sprawling lakes, huge mountains and cavernous canyons. For a trip like this, I would need something with traction. I would need a pair of hiking shoes.
Recommended by a colleague at Gadling, I was able to track down a pair of Keen Redmonds before I left the United States, a simple, low cut pair of shoes with all of the features found in a normal pair of hiking boots and only a fraction of the weight. Despite never having tried a pair of Keens on in my life, I faithfully ordered my size, crossed my fingers and waited until two days prior to departure before they showed up. And to my delight, they worked out fantastically.Now, before I get into the deep details of how the Redmonds worked out on the trail I’ll give you some insight into my needs as a city boy in the woods. They’re pretty basic: my shoes need to be comfortable, stay dry, grip the trail and not smell. Whether the shoes are made out of Gortex PCB297 bulletproof material, polymethyl-methacrylate or cotton candy doesn’t matter to me, as long as my needs are kept.
And how the Redmonds hold these virtues. The first thing I noticed when I put on my new shoes (two days before I left) was how comfortable they were. With a wider footprint, my feet had plenty of room to breathe while still snugly tied into the backbone of the shoe. While I figured a small nick or corner would eventually start to bother me while trekking across an entire country, these faults never arose.
Indeed, throughout the entire trip my Redmond’s performed well, staying dry after dunking them in the water in Tongariro National Park, smelling fine after tromping through the natural springs in Rotorua and keeping traction when heeling on a SailNZ yacht.
Now, long past my return from Oceania I understand why Keen has a cult following among outdoor enthusiasts. It fits well, it’s always comfortable and it performs damn well on the road. What more could you ask for?