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Keen Zionic Waterproof Mid - Women's Review

This modern hiking boot showcases style, comfort, and waterproof performance but unfortunately sacrifices support and durability
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Keen Zionic Waterproof Mid - Women's Review
Credit: Trish Matheny
Price:  $170 List
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Manufacturer:   Keen
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 25, 2023
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 20
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Support - 25% 5.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 8.0
  • Weight - 10% 8.9
  • Durability - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The Zionic Waterproof Mid is one of the most comfortable options that we've ever tested from Keen. This rather minimalist design sheds the rigid, bulky leather upper and beefy outsole in exchange for a polyester ripstop mesh with substantial flexibility and waterproof performance. Unfortunately, our testing team wasn't pleased with the lack of support, though we found that the single lacing hook could be more functional if we wrapped the laces twice in order to lock the ankle into place. The TPU outsole and 4mm multidirectional lug pattern improved our confidence on slippery and polished boulders but we couldn't help but notice how easily sharp rocks and scree impacted the soft rubber. That being said, this stylish boot is perfect for single-day missions on popular trail systems.
REASONS TO BUY
Wide toe box
Ample traction
Waterproof protection
Comfortable out-of-the-box
Good price
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Soft rubber outsole easily damaged
Lacing system lacks support
Not enough structure to support the weight of a heavy pack
Only one lacing hook on ankle cuff

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Bottom Line A well-priced option for all-day comfort and waterproof performance on well-maintained trailsWhile less supportive than a traditional leather hiker, these boots excel in comfort and agility while saving weightA great choice for day hikes and moderate backpacking trips, these boots lack support and padding for shouldering heavier loads on extended tripsThis hiking boot offers impressive performance in exchange for a modest price tagThis boot features a very cheap design that lacks comfort, ankle support, and durability
Rating Categories Keen Zionic Waterpr... La Sportiva Ultra R... Merrell Moab 3 Mid... Columbia Crestwood... NORTIV 8 Waterproof...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Support (25%)
5.0
8.0
7.5
7.5
3.0
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.5
Water Resistance (15%)
8.0
8.0
7.5
8.0
8.5
Weight (10%)
8.9
7.8
5.6
7.1
5.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Specs Keen Zionic Waterpr... La Sportiva Ultra R... Merrell Moab 3 Mid... Columbia Crestwood... NORTIV 8 Waterproof...
Measured Weight (per pair) 1.50 lbs (size 8.5) 1.68 lbs (size EU 40) 2.06 lbs (size 8) 1.80 lbs (size 8.5) 2.02 lbs (size 8.5)
Upper Performance ripstop mesh with TPU overlays AirMesh, microfiber, TPU Leather, mesh Leather, mesh and webbing Suede
Width Options Regular Regular, wide Regular, wide Regular, wide Regular, wide
Waterproof Lining KEEN.DRY waterproof/breathable membrane Gore-Tex Waterproof membrane Omni-Tech Yes, not specified
Heel Height 1.5" 1.8" 2.0" 1.5" 2.0"
Shaft Height 6.0" 5.0" 4.9" 5.0" 5.5"
Midsole Direct-attach, air-injected PU MEMlex Super Rebound Compound TechLite Shock Absorbent MD
Sole Nonmarking, high-traction TPU FriXion XF 2.0 Rubber Vibram TC5+ Omni-Grip Rubber

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Zionic Waterproof Mid features comfort directly out of the box thanks to a soft, flexible polyester upper and air-cushioned pockets inside the outsole. The roomy toe box favors those with wider feet, though the lacing system is easily cinched (especially when wrapped twice around the single hook) for those who prefer a more narrow fit. The waterproof performance is on par with other high performers in this review, though the lightweight design lacks the support and durability we prefer for multi-day trips. If single-day hikes on groomed trails are your jam, these stylish boots won't disappoint.

Performance Comparison


This boot was perfect for afternoon hikes with the dog in the Eastern Sierra.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Comfort


After testing many variations of Keen footwear, our lead tester believes the Zionic Waterproof Mid is the most comfortable Keen boot yet. This lightweight and modern hiking boot offers comfort directly out of the box, especially for those with wide feet. For those with narrow feet, the flexible polyester ripstop mesh upper is easily cinched down, and the Keen contoured fit technology hugs the foot's natural shape for a more customized fit. A cushioned panel surrounding the Achilles and air pockets on the soles also enhance comfort within this rather minimalist design.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - a flexible upper and a wide toe box made these boots comfortable...
A flexible upper and a wide toe box made these boots comfortable right out of the box.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Support


Though a standout in comfort, the Zionic lacks the stability and support we prefer in a hiking boot. The soft and flexible polyester upper was easily twisted in our lateral stability tests, and the floppy laces don't inspire a ton of confidence when moving through steep and rugged terrain. That being said, the boot does offer stability shanks for improved mobility as well as KEEN LuftCell technology with micro air pockets inside the soles to help encourage rebound with every stride. As with any of the boots that we test that only offer one lacing hook, we recommend wrapping the laces twice so as to lock in your ankle for additional support. Overall, this boot has enough stability within the wide base and soft, flexible upper for those looking to tackle well-maintained trails on single-day hikes, but there just isn't enough support for multi-day trips while carrying the weight of a heavy pack.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - although these boots only have only metal hook for the lacing system...
Although these boots only have only metal hook for the lacing system surrounding the ankle, we found that wrapping the laces twice helped to lock the foot into place without causing discomfort.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Traction


The outsole of the Zionic is constructed from non-marking, high-traction TPU (thermoplastic urethane), which helps increase traction on uneven and slippery terrain without sacrificing flexibility within the structure. In addition to the TPU outsole, the boot also has a 4mm multidirectional lug pattern through the entire base of the boot, which helps to increase confidence through sure footing on those polished and popular trails. Our testing team was impressed with the overall performance, whether navigating slippery boulders or steep sand and scree. Our only concern is this soft, flexible outsole's overall durability, which is easily impacted when moving through sharp rocks and pokey sagebrush.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - the outsole is constructed from non-marking, high-traction tpu that...
The outsole is constructed from non-marking, high-traction TPU that holds its own on slippery and polished boulders as well as scree slopes.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Water Reistance


Our testing team experienced no issues in the waterproof performance of this boot, thanks to the KEEN.DRY waterproof/breathable membrane combined with a PFAS-free water-repellent coating that successfully kept our feet dry and allowed water to bead off the top of the boot. The lightweight design, quick dry lining, and breathable membranes allow this boot to breathe better than most that we've reviewed. The performance ripstop mesh also kept our feet warm when fully submerged in a cold runoff stream.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - impressive waterproof performance whether fully submerged in a local...
Impressive waterproof performance whether fully submerged in a local stream or moving through the residual mud from yesterday's thunderstorm.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Weight


Weighing only 1.72 pounds for a US women's size 8.5, the Zionic offers a competitive performance in this metric. Unfortunately, our testing team couldn't help but notice the support and durability compromised in order to achieve the lightweight feel. The lack of rigidity in the polyester ripstop mesh, the floppy lacing system, and the softer rubber in the outsole do help decrease the overall weight; however, we question the longevity of these materials.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - these boots offer a solid performance at a fraction of the weight.
These boots offer a solid performance at a fraction of the weight.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Durability


As with many of the lightweight modern hiking boots that combine the stability of a traditional hiking boot with the nimble performance of a trail running shoe, the Zionic Mid sacrifices durability by using lightweight materials. Though the polyester ripstop mesh is beefed up with overlays in key wear zones near the toe cap and forefoot, we question the longevity of the mesh, especially when hiking on technical trails. We also noticed that the soft rubber in the outsole is easily impacted when moving over scree and navigating sharp boulder fields. The design (including the toe cap) is minimal, which not only compromises durability but also lessens protection from debris on the trail.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - the soft rubber and minimal toe cap were areas of concern for...
The soft rubber and minimal toe cap were areas of concern for overall durability.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Should You Buy the Keen Zionic Waterproof Mid?


The Zionic is a great option for those looking to shed the weight and bulk of a traditional hiking boot in exchange for the comfortable, lightweight, breathable, waterproof performance you'd expect from a trail running shoe. However, this is not without caveats in terms of support and durability. That being said, if you are looking for a super comfortable and stylish hiking boot that will offer enough performance for single-day hikes on well-maintained trail systems, this boot is available for a reasonable price and won't disappoint.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - out-of-the-box comfort, waterproof performance, and solid traction...
Out-of-the-box comfort, waterproof performance, and solid traction make this boot a great choice for those looking for the extra support of an ankle cuff without the rigidity of a traditional leather hiking boot.
Credit: Trish Matheny

What Other Hiking Boots Should You Consider?


For those of you looking for a lightweight hiking boot that features a flexible upper in addition to more support and better traction, check out the Altra Lone Peak ALL-WTHR Mid 2. This boot also offers a roomy toe box that is perfect for those with wider feet. If you are after a little more rigidity in the upper to maximize support and versatility, check out the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid Gore-Tex. And if you're looking for a boot that can do it all without the additional weight and bulk of a leather hiking boot, check out the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid GTX.

keen zionic waterproof mid for women - a great boot for tackling miles on popular trails.
A great boot for tackling miles on popular trails.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Trish Matheny