Keen are one of the industry giants when it comes to outdoor footwear – especially so in the US. The NXIS Evo are a lightweight and breathable choice for fast and comfortable hiking.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Light weight
- Good environmental credentials
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- May not be the best fit for narrower feet
- A bit pricey
Keen are a big name when it comes to hiking footwear and have a great reputation for making high quality products. The NXIS EVO doesn’t disappoint in this regard. With its trainer-inspired fit and styling, it’s a good-looking shoe that’s very comfortable straight out of the box. What’s more it’s very lightweight and breathable too, plus Keen boasts some impressive environmental credentials regarding their production methods and materials for these shoes too.
Compare to Similar Products
- Danner Women’s Trail 2650
- Adidas Terrex AX4 Gore-Tex Hiking Shoes
- The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack
- Main review guide: 20 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Analysis and Test Results
The Keen NXIS EVO are a very lightweight shoe from one of the biggest and most respected names in the outdoors industry when it comes to footwear. The NXIS is a major product family for Keen and there are numerous variants ranging from mid-high boots to hybrid sandals. the NXIS EVO is what Keen describe as the ‘fast and light’ variant, taking its design cues from trail running shoes. These shoes pack in a lot of Keen’s own in-house technology and take their styling and fitting cues from running shoes. Keen’s shoes are well known for their slightly wider front section which many buyers absolutely swear by and, coupled with the brand’s reputation for creating shoes with a minimal breaking-in period, these present a very interesting and potentially very comfortable option for those with slightly wider feet. However, there’s more to these shoes than their fit and give good traction and breathability alongside some admirable environmental credentials on Keen’s part in terms of their manufacture.
The Keen NXIS EVO shoes make use of Keen’s in-house ‘KEEN.ALL-TERRAIN’ rubber soles which feature a deep thread pattern and regularly spaced lugs to help improve traction. The sole material is slightly soft to help things even further when crossing wet, slippery hard surfaces. Relevant to traction, the NXIS EVO shoes also feature a technology Keen call ‘KonnectFeel’ which adds tension around the heel of the shoe. The idea is to help your feet feel secure in the shoes which can have a knock-on impact on how positive their traction feels.
The Keen NXIS EVO features an upper section made mostly of breathable mesh – this is backed with a ‘KEEN.DRY’ waterproof, breathable membrane – essentially Keen’s in-house answer to Gore-Tex. The breathability in these shoes is very good and they perfect of use in very warm conditions or if your feet are prone to getting sweaty.
The NXIS EVO are shoes, so on first inspection, you might think that they don’t offer great ankle support. However, this isn’t the fully story as keen fit these shoes with another one of their in-house technologies – the ‘KonnectFit’ Heel capture system. This set of tensioned panels around the lower ankle and heel isn’t unique to Keen, but it none the less helps your feet feel securely anchored in the shoe and, whilst it doesn’t directly provide ankle support, it can help you feel like there’s a more positive connection between your body and the shoe, thus boosting your perceived stability.
Like all the other products in our round up, the Keen NXIS EVO has minimal arch support tout of the box. However, most buyers are not likely to find this a problem. Arch support tis a very personal preference and, if you feel like these – or indeed any – shoe don’t offer enough, it can easily be added by swapping out the provided insoles with an aftermarket pair that offer greater arch support.
Keen talk about the ‘iconic’ fit of their footwear int their marketing material, and if you chat to hikers about their footwear preferences, it’s easy enough to find Keen devotees. So, what’s the Keen fit and why is it Iconic? Well, the brand’s footwear has a slightly wider forefoot section which allows your toes to spread out more. For those with wider feet – even though with normal width feet – this can make a noticeable difference to the shoe’s comfort. These NXIS EVO shoes feature this shaping, so Keen devotees will certainly be happy! This actually makes for a very comfortable shoe that we’ve enjoyed wearing.
The Keen NXIS EVO are fully synthetic. That’s becoming increasingly common with high tech and especially so lightweight hiking shoes. Modern synthetic materials have proven to both lighter and at least as durable as traditional materials like leather and canvas. Synthetic materials, however, can often have poor environmental credentials. Keen are actively promoting the eco-friendly credentials of their shoes and these NXIS EVO features ‘forever chemical’ free waterproof coatings and pesticide free anti-odor treatment.
These are thoroughly modern looking shoes with a very prominent Keen logo. The design emphasizes the different physical characteristics of the materials used in their manufacture – contrasting the coarse mesh texture with smooth rubberized sections. The shoes are available in six color ways – some muted, some vivid. They all feature white mid-soles which will surely discolor with time spent outdoors. All in all, we like the look of these shoes, but if you’re after a design statement, there are other more striking options.
One of the trade-offs with lightweight gear is that it often isn’t as durable as more heavyweight equipment and that statement is as true for shoes and boots as it is for any other gear. That said, just because an item is light, it doesn’t mean it’s delicate, and these Keen NXIS EVO shoes certainly present as well-made. The chunky sole and rubberized upper sections all add to sense that these shoes could last a long time indeed. As with any trail shoe, they will wear out eventually if you use them regularly, but we have no reason to doubt that they won’t give a good, long usage life.
You’re looking at 644g/1lb 6oz for a pair for these NXIS EVO shoes. That’s very impressive and makes them the lightest shoes in our round up. The inspiration from running shoes that Keen say is behind the NXIS EVOS clearly runs deeper than the shoes’ looks! Lightweight footwear is always a good buy – even if you don’t normally buy lightweight gear. It’s been experimentally proven that weight carried on your feet disproportionately fatigues the wearer at a greater rate than if the same weight were carried in, say, a backpack. Indeed there’s truth in the old saying that one pound on your feet equals five in your pack! Lightweight footwear is an obvious choice for trail runners or those who like to hike at speed, but beyond this it can enable you if you simply want to go further in the outdoors to achieve just that.
The Keen NXIS EVO shoes come with a fairly generic pair of removable insoles. We think that the vast majority of buyers will be perfectly happy with these. However, if you feel the fit of your shoes isn’t quite right, then changing out your insoles is a cheap and easy way for you to fine-tune the comfort of your footwear. Whether you want to improve arch support, add cushioning fine-tune the fit if you fall between sizes, it’s a great way to achieve this and can also greatly increase your comfort.
Keen make a big deal about the out-of-box comfort of their shoes and along with their signature fit, it’s this comfort your often find cited as a reason why so many hikers love Keen’s products. We don’t think any shoe is completely without a breaking in period, but the NXIS EVO does get close and is indeed comfortable from the get-go. Despite this, we’d strongly advise against wearing a brand new pair of shoes on a long hike. A better strategy is to wear them on a few shorter walks first to see if there any issues – because if there are, uncomfortable feet on a lengthy hike can be very unpleasant indeed. That said, these shoes were extremely comfortable right away and we felt confident wearing them for long hikes soon into having them.
The Keen NXIS EVO shoes use regular laces. This may seem like a fairly trivial point, but laces are actually a really versatile thing and allow you a great deal of potential to fine-tune the fit of your shoes. You tighten or ease off the laces in areas to adjust the localized fit of your shoes and it’s also possible – though not widely known – to change the lacing pattern you use and this can have a substantial impact on the comfort of your footwear – check out or guide for more info on this.
The Keen NXIS EVO shoes feature a reinforced rubber section around the toes. This won’t provide the same level of protection as you might get on a more rigid boots, but it’ll still definitely soften any impacts and save stubbed toes if you trip, tumble or accidentally kick something.
Hiking Shoes v Hiking Boots
The choice of shoes versus boots when hiking is very personal and subjective. Some will definitely prefer more rigid and supportive boots, but shoes have their advantages too – typically being far lighter and allowing greater ankle mobility. If you’re hiking quickly or even trail running (both of which are suitable usage cases for these Keen NXIS EVO shoes), then these are all positive qualities and make shoes a logical choice over boots.
Keen are a major industry player when it comes to hiking footwear and the NXIS EVO shoe shows that they can still innovate. It packs a lot of Keen’s impressive technology into a very lightweight and breathable package with some nice environmental credentials to boot. Plus, we like how they look too. Keen have a very devoted following in the outdoors community for offering comfortable footwear – especially amongst those with wider feet. If you hike in warm places, like to move quickly or simply want a lighter pair of shoes for when your regular hiking boots just seem too much, then the Keen NXIS EVO would be a great choice for you.
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