Keen Zionic Speed Review

Our Award: Best for Long Distances

This hiking shoe from Keen offers a lightweight and flexible feeling design with a good grip on more well-trodden paths. If you’re looking for something light and fast, this shoe is well worth considering.

KEEN Women's Zionic Low Height Waterproof All Terrain Hiking Shoes, Desert Sage/Ember Glow, 5

Great news: A similar shoe is also available in a men’s fit.

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight shoe which makes a good fast and light option
  • Good for wider feet

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Offers no waterproofing
  • The soles may wear easily

Editor’s note: This article is part of our guide to the best hiking shoes, be sure to check out the rest of this guide for our top buying tips:

This hiking shoe gives you everything you could expect from a modern trail runner – with lightness, a strong level of flex and upper mesh. It also marries that with strong and sticky traction on better maintained trails.

The shoe is ultimately very roomy too, so it’s a great option if you have wider feet.

Compare to Similar Products: 

Product
Danner Womens Trail 2650
Columbia Women's Trailstorm
Hoka Speedgoat 5
Adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-Tex
Keen Zionic Speed
Altra Lone Peak 7
Adidas Terrex AX4 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes
Keen NXIS EVO Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoe
La Sportiva Spire GTX
Merrell Moab Speed
Oboz Sawtooth X Low Waterproof
On Cloudwander Waterproof
Merrell Siren Edge 3
Danner 612836M Women's Trail 2650 3' Gray/Blue/Spectra Yellow 6M
Columbia Women's Trailstorm Waterproof Hiking Boot
HOKA ONE ONE Womens Speedgoat 5 Textile Synthetic Scuba Blue Black Trainers 8 US
adidas Terrex Swift R3 Gore-TEX Hiking Shoes Women's, Grey, Size 9.5
KEEN Women's Zionic Low Height Waterproof All Terrain Hiking Shoes, Desert Sage/Ember Glow, 5
ALTRA Women's AL0A7R7G Lone Peak 7 Trail Running Shoe, Light Gray - 5.5 M US
adidas Women's Terrex AX4 Primegreen Hiking Shoe, Magic Grey/Dash Grey/Acid Red - 5
KEEN Women's NXIS Evo Low Height Waterproof Fast Packing Hiking Shoes, Sea Moss/Ipanema, 11
La Sportiva Womens Spire GTX Low Hiking Shoes, Clay/Celery, 8.5
Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes for Women – Textile Construction – PU Foam Insole – FloatPro Foam™ Midsole Black 6.5 M
Oboz Sawtooth X Low B-Dry Hiking Shoe - Women's Slate - 5 Medium
ON Womens Cloudwander Waterproof Textile Synthetic Black Eclipse Trainers 8.5 US
Merrell womens Siren Edge 3 Hiking Shoe, Rock/Bluestone, 5 US
Buying Options
Our Ratings
Best Overall Women's
Best Budget
Best Lightweight
Best for Winter
Best for Long Distances
Best for Trail Running
Pros
Durable build. Extremely comfortable
Exceptionally good hiking shoe for the price point. Clever traction design in the lugs
Extremely well cushioned and comfortable fit. Deep lugs offer good traction on slippery surfaces
Well protected and durable. Great traction and feels very grippy
A great fast and light shoe. Roomy toe box, and comfortable for wider feet
Roomy toe box. Excellent traction.
Striking design. Makes use of recycled material
Light weight. Good environmental credentials
Light Weight. Ultra breathable
Lightweight. Iconic Moab fit and comfort
Durable build. Good water resistance
Excellent balance of weight and waterproofing. Stiffer design gives a more technical feel
Very light. Often very reasonably priced
Cons
Not the cheapest. We found they didn't keep our feet warm in wet conditions
Breathability concerns in warmer temperatures
Colorways are divisive. lacking in stiffness between outsole and midsole
Pretty rigid - not the most fast and light shoe on the market, can feel a little big
Not waterproof. Durability concerns on the sole
Less durable. Pricey
Looks may be too much for some. Slightly narrow fit may be unsuitalbe for wider feet.
May not be best fit for narrower feet. A bit pricey
Pricey. Some may prefer a more rigid shoe
Not most supportive. More expensive than the regular Moab
Heavy. Longer break-in period
Some may find them too stiff. Can be pricey.
Not Waterproof. Some durability concerns
Traction
Vibram outsole with medium/deep thread pattern
Extremely good
Very good
Extremely good
Average
Full rubber outsole with medium/deep thread pattern
Continental outsole with medium deep thread depth
Full rubber outsole with medium thread depth
Vibram outsole with deep thread pattern
Vibram outsole with medium/deep thread pattern.
Very good
Very good
Good
Breathability
Perforated suede outer with breathable mesh inner
Not so great
Good
Good, but Gore-Tex membrane does play in here
Excellent
Full mesh upper
Breathable mesh upper with Core-Tex membrane
Breathable mesh upper and lining with anti-odor treatment
Breathable mesh upper with Gore-Tex
Full mesh upper
Average
Good
Very good
Ankle Support
Minimal - Low top shoe with minimal ankle support
Minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Minimal - Low top shoe with minimal ankle support
Minimal - Low top shoe with minimal ankle support
Minimal - Low top shoe with minimal ankle support
Minimal - Low top shoe with minimal ankle support
Minimal - Low top shoe with minimal ankle support
Minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Arch support
Gentle arch support
Regular
Regular
Regular
Minimal
Gentle
Subtle arch support
Gentle arch support
Gentle arch support
Gentle
Good
Regular
Regular
Fit
Available in medium width and in sizes from US 5/ UK 3.5/ EU 36 up to US 11/ UK 9.5/ EU 44
Regular
Standard/slightly wide
Regular/wide
Standard/slightly wide
Roomy and good for wider feet with natural movement. Available in sizes from US 5.5/UK 3.5/EU 36 to US 12/UK 10/EU 44.5
Available in sizes from US 5/ UK 3.5 /EU 36 up to US 12/ UK 10.5/ EU 45.3
Iconic Keen fit' - Wider fit with extra space at forefoot. Available in sizes from US 5/ UK 3.5/ EU 36 up to US 12/ UK 9/ EU 43
Fits true. Typically suitable for normal to narrow feet. Available in sizes from US 5/ UK 3/EU 36 up to US 11/ UK 9/ EU 42
Similar to the Moab 3 - but a little more narrow but still suitable for most hikers. Available in sizes from US 5/UK 2.5/EU 35 to US 11.5/UK 9/EU 43
Normal and wide verisons available
Standard/slightly narrow
Normal and wide versions available
Materials
Suede and synthetic
Synthetic
Synthetic
Synthetic with 50% recycled upper
Synthetic
Fully synthetic
Fully synthetic with Gore-Tex membrane. Adidas claims upper contains a minimum of 50% recycled material
Fully synthetic with waterproof 'KEEN.DRY' membrane
Fully synthetic with Gore-Tex membrane
Fully synthetic. Merrell claim these sheos are vegan.
Synthetic and leather
Synthetic
Synthetic
Appearance
Modern design with classic elements and materials. Available in a wide range of colour ways.
Modern cross between hiking shoe and trail runner
Trail running shoe
Modern hiking shoe
Trail running shoe
A really nice looking shoe that could work well for multiple purposes such as hiking and trail running - with a variety of striking color designs
Striking angluar design available in a wide rang eof colour ways
Distinctive good looks available in multiple colour ways
Available in multiple colour ways with striking styling, typical of La Sportiva.
Does something inbetween a hiking shoe and trail runner and comes in a variety of striking colourways
Modern hiking shoe
Modern hiking shoe
Modern hiking shoe
Durability
Very high
Considering the price point, seems durable
Average
Rip resistant synethetic finish with durable Continental sole
Longer term durability concerns
Medium to high
Medium to high
Medium to high
Medium to high
Medium to high
Excellent
Good
Some durability concerns
Weight (pair)
680g/1lb 08oz
500g/1lb 3oz
460g/1lb
700g/1lb 7oz
544g/1lb 2oz
635g/1lb 4.5oz
758g/1lb 11oz
644g/1lb 6oz
740g/1lb 10oz
640g/1lb5oz
800g/1lb 12oz
640g/1lb 7oz
560g/1lb 4oz
Insoles
Removable three-layer cushioned insoles
Standard insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Removable padded insole
Removable insoles
Removable padded insole
Removable padded insole
Removable padded insole
Paded, shaped 'O FIT' insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Break-in Period
Minimal
Minimal break in
Minimal
Minimal break in
Minimal break in
Very minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Minimal
Very minimal
Short break in period
Short break in period
Very minimal
Lacing system
Standard laces
Ghillie lacing
Standard lacing system
Traditional laces
Traditional laces
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard laces
Toe Protection
Rubeerized, semi-rigid toe cap with rubber rand around front section of shoe
Rubber toe rand
Rubber toe rand
Rubber toe rand
Minimal rubber toe rand
Hard but not solid
Rubberized, reinforced, but non-rigid toe and front section
Hard, but not solid, rubber toe cap.
Non-rigid PU 'TechLite' toe cap
Hardened rubber toe cap
Reinforced toe
Rubber toe rand and small toe cap
Reinforced toe

Analysis and Test Results

The Keen Zionic Speed is well made and really lightweight – sitting as a minimalist hiking shoe that will do you well in fast and light conditions. 

It is a comfortable shoe pretty much straight out of the box and we’d recommend it mainly for well trodden paths that aren’t likely to throw you any curve balls. 

They have good traction too, which comes from the TPU outsole and gives good grip on a range of surfaces. However these shoes aren’t waterproof but that’s not really what they’re for! Despite this, we think they’re a good one to consider. 

Performance Comparison

Traction

The Zionic Speed has a pretty deep lug and sole, which we found did well when it came to slippery rocks and loose surfaces. Put them to the test in alpine environments and they can feel a little on the flimsy side – but if you’re sticking to better looked after trails, then they should be more than adequate. For example, a sandy park or National Park environment felt perfect for them.

What we did like about these hiking shoes is that they feel effortless to transition between the trail and town, looking great for both. On the whole, we feel a more traditional hiking shoe is generally better when it comes to tougher trails.

Breathability

This shoe uses a quick drying lining, so this is a great feature if you are hiking in hotter locations and waterproofing isn’t a big deal for you. This breathability that comes from the pretty extensive mesh used does make a difference as it massively helps on longer treks.

Ankle Support

Like all low-rise hiking shoes and trail runners, this shoe doesn’t really offer much by way of support around the ankle. If you require more support, this won’t be for you, and you would be best looking at hiking boots. That said, these offer a standard level of ankle support and for groomed trails or less demanding hikes, these feel adequate to give you what you need.

Arch Support

Keen make a point of talking about the lightweight feel of these shoes, and how this also delivers a supportive design. However, we found this to be really minimal and because these shoes are that little bit more flexible, they don’t offer much by way of arch support. If you have arch concerns then these might not be the right shoes for you, but if you don’t, then you should get on with them fine.

Fit

This hiking shoe has a slightly wider fit – making it suitable for hikers with wider feet. If you have narrower feet, you may not find this is the shoe for you, but if you have normal to wide, you will find this shoe to be pretty comfortable all round.

Materials

The Keen Zionic Speed hiking shoe uses a number of materials, with synthetic and breathable mesh used on the uppers to help with breathability, but also giving a good level of support to your feet whilst hiking. The outsole uses a durable yet flexible rubber which is sticky and grippy (though we’d stick to more well maintained trails in these). These shoes really are breathable and dry exceptionally quickly – we were extremely impressed here.

Appearance

As the Keen Zionic Speed is more of a trail runner, it has a pretty sleek look, which will appeal to some hikers, and others, not so much. It’s a fairly ‘low impact’ design. There’s nothing garish on these shoes, and there’s certainly nothing that you’d class as obtrusive or that will get in your way.

They are available in a good range of colors too, so you opt for something brighter or a bit lower profile depending on your personal taste. If you’re keen on traditional runners, we think you’ll like how this looks and feels.

Durability

It’s clear that Keen have prioritized a lightweight build with these shoes, but we did have some concerns about how they would handle when taken onto more full on trails. The answer is, we didn’t feel confident in them. They’re a great shoe for more well-trodden trails, and if you remember this, then they’ll do you well. We found that they were susceptible to a lot of bumps and knocks and they just didn’t feel geared up for the long haul.

Sustainability

Keen make a point on their website that these hiking shoes make use of recycled P.E.T. plastics. They don’t say exactly what percentage – as this could be any! We did reach out to Keen to ask them, but sadly didn’t hear back.  

Water Resistance

These hiking shoes don’t offer waterproofing at all – they are not marketed as such – in fact, this will work in your favor if you’re hiking in hotter places or temperate climates. Due to the lack of waterproofing or a waterproof membrane, they’re extremely breathable and quick to dry. If you do however want a waterproof hiking shoe, we’d recommend reading our roundup to the guide to the best waterproof hiking shoes.

Weight

These are certainly lightweight hiking shoes! The Zionic Speed weighs in at 544g/1lb 2oz – this is one of the lighter shoes in our reviews, standing closely to the Hoka Speedgoat 5 in a similar style of trail runner. However, we do feel that the trade off in weight means that you are obviously losing support, durability and waterproofing.

Insoles

The Keen Zionic Speed come with an average insole – this will be more than fine for most hikers, and we found them well cushioned. If you have any specific concerns, you can always look to add a specific insole that is suited to your needs as the insoles can be removed and replaced easily.

Break-in Period

The break-in period for the Keen Zionic Speed is short – they’re comfortable really quickly and you’ll find you want to wear them straight away. We would never recommend going straight out for a long hike in new hiking shoes, so always be sure to trial your new shoes with a few test hikes first. That said, within two shorter hikes, we found these ready to wear on longer trails.

Lacing System

The Keen Zionic Speed uses a standard, fairly traditional lacing system, but this does allow for good tightening and positioning to help you get the perfect fit. They’re really malleable, and you can get a fit that feels perfect to you really easily, which is an area we felt they really stood out.

Toe Protection

There is very little by way of toe protection in these hiking shoes – it is much more minimal than many of the other hiking shoes in our reviews. As we’ve said earlier on, these shoes really are best suited to well defined trails as they don’t offer a lot for rocky scrambles or less than perfect surfaces.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a hiking shoe or trail runner that is well priced and fairly minimal on the ground, you will likely love the Keen Zionic Speed and it should be high up on your list.

It has great traction for lower elevations and well looked after trails. However, you might be a little disappointed if you’re looking for something to take on more extreme trails and a traditional hiking shoe would be best for you. It’s also worth keeping in mind that it isn’t waterproof. 

That all said, if you are looking for a low rent shoe for quick hikes, then you won’t go wrong with this model.

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