Recently we visited San Francisco so I decided to check out one of the trails recommended by our guest blog, Top 5 Dog-Friendly Spring/Summer Hikes in the Bay Area by Hikes Dogs Love. Right before the trip, I had to say farewell to my beloved Salomon Ellipse GTX Hiking Shoes. After two years of weekly hikes, they were finally worn out and it was time to say good-bye. I decided to pick up a new pair when I am in the bay area.
Similar to REI but by offering cheaper prices, Sports Basement is a popular retailer in the bay area for quality outdoor gear. We visited one of the locations and found just handful options of women’s hiking boots. I don’t do Merrill because I find them too narrow and never look good on me and Danner boots were out of my budget even with the sale price. Besides I am loyal to the brands that have worked for me in the past. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Salomon hiking shoes or boots for women that day. Then when I was about to give up, these pink Keen mid-height boots caught my attention. I personally like shoes over boots but I decided to give them a try. I walked around in them while Xena was watching my purse and anticipating my reaction. Normally, they were $145 but they were marked down to $84. For that price, I had to try. The pink was too cute to pass.
I took them out on a 9-mile hike in Oakland and gave them a real trail test. These boots were tested in the rain and on different types of terrain including mud, rocks and uneven terrains due to tree roots.
- Brand: Keen
- Style: Women’s Terradora Pulse Waterproof Mid
- Retail Price: $145
- Weight: 13.2 oz / 375.1 g
Design – 4.5/5
- KEEN.Dry® waterproof, breathable membrane
- Molded collar for comfort
- Cushion panel takes pressure off the Achilles
- ESS shank offers lightweight support
- Waterproof synthetic upper
- KEEN all-terrain rubber outsole for high-traction grip
- Low-density EVA midsole caters to a woman’s foot
- Breathable mesh lining
- Dual-density PU foam footbed with arch support
These boots were very comfortable right out of the box and did not need a break-in period. They were well cushioned all around and light. The cushion panel took pressure off the Achilles as advertised. After 9 miles, they were still comfortable. So comfortable that it felt like I was wearing running shoes. I had no problem bending them whichever way. Maybe too soft? I will get to that.
Function – 3.5/5
The boots performed great in the light rain. It rained during the first 1.5 hours of the hike. The boots were waterproof and breathable. My feet were never too hot or too cold. The rubber toe cap and the mudguard in the toe box provided protection on the rocky trail and from the mud as expected. The outsole had a great grip. It gripped on to the mud, slippery rocks and exposed tree roots on the trail. I felt stable on any surface whether on the ascent or the descent.
Although I love the high-traction grip of the outsole, its softness was a concern. After 7 miles into the hike, my soles began to feel tired and started developing a hot spot on both of my big toes. Eventually, it caused IT Band Syndrome (ITBS) on my right side. Although it is a recurring issue for me on long hikes with high elevation gain on technical terrain, I can usually avoid the flare-up with pre-hike stretches, proper shoes and by eliminating excessive stress on my feet with using trekking poles. This hike had 1,360 feet of elevation gain over the stretch of 4.5 miles. I would’ve been fine with my old Salomon. This was a big disappointment and a deal breaker for me.
Quality and Durability – 3/5
The boots seemed well-made and held up well after a day of abuse in different terrains and the weather conditions. After the hike, I didn’t notice any early signs of low-quality materials and craftsmanship. Although it was too early to tell after one hike, judging by the softness of the soles, I can only imagine that it won’t be able to keep up with my weekend adventures too long. Maybe a year? I expect more durability from hiking boots. These seem to be made for light hiking or even urban walks.
Fashion and Fit – 4/5
I didn’t like the look when I tied the lace all the way to the top so I left the top-level eyelets unused. I am used to hiking in shoes rather than boots so I liked it better that way. I like having free ankles. Mid-cut is just an awkward height in my opinion.
For reference, my dress shoe size is 7 and I wear two socks under hiking shoes. Unusual for Keen, this style runs narrow so I had to get a half size bigger than my usual size 8. It felt nicely snug on the sides, roomy in the toe box and it perfectly cupped my heel. They looked super cute on! Don’t judge. I like it when we match.
Overall – 3.75/5
I wanted to like Terradora Pulse Waterproof Mid boots because they were super cute on and incredibly comfortable. But at the end, they were returned to the store because I need hiking shoes that can handle technical terrains and withstand the mileage I am going to put on. Although the boots did not work for me, I still liked them. I’d recommend them for day hikes with a difficulty rating of *Easy to *Moderate in any weather condition.
- *Easy: Think of kid-friendly trails. Easy terrain with not much of elevation gain
- *Moderate: Less than 10 miles in distance with less than 1,000 ft of elevation gain